Concerning Evil Spirits and "Internal Demons"

Martyr Leucius of Apollonia

Martyr Leucius of Apollonia

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

[The Orthodox Christian Teaching about the Nature and Activity of Satan and his Demons, Our Responsibility for Our Choices and Action, and How we Struggle Against "Self-temptation" and Addiction.]
By Archbishop Lazar Puhalo

"...Let us see how the Apostle understood the last line of the "Lord's Prayer":

"Our Father in the heavens, let Your name be hallowed, let Your Kingdom come, let Your will come to pass on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our offenses as we forgive those who offend us, and do not bring us into trials, but "deliver us from the evil one" (St. Matthew 6:9-13, correct translation). "But let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no'; anything more "comes from the evil one" (St. Matthew 5:37). "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins to "deliver us from this present age of the evil one" (Galatians 1:34).

"But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and "protect you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3). "The Lord will "deliver me from every attack of the evil one", and will bring me safely to His Heavenly Kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:18). For a more complete understanding of the subject, read the lives of the Saints, especially the paterikon. The Saints have faced Satan, endured all his assaults and, with Christ's help and the strength of Divine Grace, have conquered him. In their lives, we truly see the meaning of Christ's command to us to pray for deliverance from the evil one.


Evil spirits are angels who became evil by their own free wills. As the prayers of the Church constantly teach us, Angels are bodiless spirits. Because of our carnal condition, we are unable to see evil spirits but, "we have a more certain word of prophecy, and you will do well to pay attention to it as to a light which shines in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19). We cannot physically see the demons, but we can learn enough about them to defeat them. The source of this knowledge is the Holy Scripture which is lived, verified and made manifest in the life of the Holy Orthodox Church, and the experiences and teachings of our holy, God-bearing Fathers. From the beginning of the Holy Scripture, we encounter Satan as a truly existent individual. According to the testimony of the Book of Genesis (Old Testament), Satan entered into a serpent and convinced our first ancestors to violate God's Commandment (Genesis 3:1-19). The Holy Prophet Solomon affirms that the devil was the original cause of the sin which ruined all mankind: "God created man to be immortal and made him an image of His own eternity. Through envy of the devil, however, death came into the world" (Wis. 2:23-24). For this reason, Satan is called a "murderer from the beginning" (St. John 8:44).

From the book of Deuteronomy, we see that Moses was clearly aware of the existence of evil spirits. Enumerating the sins of the Hebrews, Moses says that they "sacrificed to demons, not to God" (Dt. 32:17), that is, as Saint John Chrysostom explains, they sacrificed to idols in which demons dwelt. The devil tormented the Righteous Job (Job 1:6-22); instigated David to "number Israel" (1 Chr. 21:1) and an evil spirit possessed Saul (1 Ki. 16:14-15 Orthodox Bible).

In the book of Kings (3 Ki. 22:19-23 Orthodox Bible) and in the book of the Prophet Zachary (3:12), the evil one is accorded the personal attributes of envy, falsehood, cunning and wickedness. In the first cause, he wanted to invite the King of Israel to violate God's Commandment, promising to become a spirit of falsehood in the mouths of Prophets and, in the second instance, he was calumniating the people of Israel. The Holy Evangelist John the Theologian binds the truth of the existence of evil spirits with the coming of the son of God into the world. "He that sins is of the devil, for the devils sins from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8; cp Mt. 12:24-29; James 2:19). From these words, it follows that a renunciation of belief in the devil leads us to the renunciation of the truth of the Fall and, consequently, also a renunciation of the mystery of redemption. Indeed, why would Christ have come to earth if the evil one did not exist? In thus renouncing the mystery of redemption, we must reject all of Christianity. The whole Gospel history testifies that the Lord Jesus came to earth in order to destroy the works of the devil, to "deliver us from the evil one."

Jesus Christ told the Jews: "You are of your father the devil, and you will also do the works of your father. He was a murderer form the beginning" (St. John 8:44). Then, in positive teaching and in the explanatory parts of the Parables, Christ taught about the evil one and his angels as about real, individual beings who were striving to harm humanity. Describing the last dread judgment, Christ says: "Then He shall say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels" (St. Matthew 25:41).

Christ pronounces this judgment on real, individual, totally sinful beings. It is quite clear from this that the evil one and his angels, for whom the everlasting fire is prepared, are real beings. Sinners inherit eternity in this fire by being followers of Satan. United with him, they are also united with his destiny. Christ the Savior Himself said that Satan desired to sift the Apostles like wheat (St. Luke 22:31). In other places of the Holy Gospel, we see cited the words of Jesus Christ about the existence of a whole kingdom of evil spirits, ruled by Satan, the malicious prince of this kingdom (St. Matthew 12:24-28), and Christ calls the evil one the "prince of this world" (St. John 12:31). How clearly did our Savior teach about the existence of evil spirits when He healed those possessed by demons. Never did He suggest that possession by demons was a natural disorder (St. Matt. 4:24; 8:16; Mk. 1:34; 7:29-30, for example). The Apostles, following Christ, also taught about the perniciousness of evil spirits and their ruinous influence on mankind. According to the Apostle, Christ took on our flesh so that, by His own death, He would deliver us form the power of "him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14). The Apostles also revealed that the demons are intelligent spirits (James 3:15) but evil (Acts 19:13). Being numerous (Rev. 12:7-8) they form their own dominion, at the head of which is Satan (Romans 16:20). Finally, in the "Lord's Prayer," He quite clearly taught us to pray, "deliver us from the evil one," asking for deliverance from the power and influence of a real, personal being.

The fact that evil spirits are real, individual beings is revealed to us through the lives of the great Ascetics who being illumined by the Holy Spirit, saw the true character of the evil spirits, fought with and, by their lofty, moral lives, defeated the demons and gained power to cast them out of others. This understanding is also taught by the Church's divine services and prayers. Thus, for example, in the eighth prayer before sleep, the Orthodox Christian prays to God: "Deliver me from the besetting presence of the devil…snatch me from the jaws of the pernicious serpent." In the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Baptism, the godparents are required; on behalf of an infant being baptized, to "renounce the devil and all his works and all his pride."

The Holy Scripture, therefore, clearly teaches that the devil exists as an individual spirit. And Saint John of Kronstadt says, "Stubborn unbelief in the existence of evil spirits is in itself actual demonic possession, for it bids defiance of Divine revelation; he who denies the evil spirits is a person already swallowed up by the devil (see 1 Peter 5:8) and sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, in no condition to behold the Sun of Truth."

Therefore, our Savior commands us to pray, specifically, "and deliver us from the evil one," and not "deliver us from evil."

(To be continued: Next: Characteristics of Evil Spirits)

Please note: Today, Christian clergy and bishops of other Christian confessions deny the existence of Satan, of evil, of sin, of Hell...and have opened themselves and their adherents to spiritual corruption, death and destruction. They claim to be 'all inclusive' and not 'exclusive'. What they 'include' are actions and life styles which are wicked and sinful. It has created "defective reasoning" and "confusion of thought". The adherents of their denomination who are alert and have the gift of discernment, run from that denomination and turn to the Orthodox Church.



The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


Glory Be To GOD For All Things!


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George