My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE SINNER'S CONDITION (Part II)
By Saint Theophan the Recluse
The Seduction of the Prince of This World
Even worse is the prince of this world who is unparalleled in his cunning, spitefulness and experience in seduction. It is through the flesh and materialism with which the soul became mingled at the fall that he has free access to the soul. In his approach, he kindles curiosity, self-interest, and pleasure-loving, self-comfort in various ways. Through various enticements, he holds the soul in these things with no escape; through various suggestions he suggests plans for satisfying them and then either aids in fulfilling them, or thwarts them through instruction of other more ambitious plans.
All this is accomplished with one purpose: to prolong and deepen a person's involvement in them. This is what constitutes the change of worldly misfortune and fortune, unblessed by God.
The prince of this world has an entire horde of servile spirits of malice that are subordinate to him. At each instant they scurry along every boundary of the inhabited world to sow various things in different places, deepen entanglements in the net of sin, repair traps that have become weak and broken, and especially to guard against anyone who might take it into his mind to rid himself of his bonds and escape to freedom. In the latter case, they hurriedly gather around the self-willed person. First they come one by one, then by detachments and legions until finally, the entire horde is there. This happens in various ways and forms so as to block all exits and mend the strands and nets, and, using the other analogy, to push back into the abyss any person who has begun to crawl out along its steep slopes.
The Invisible Kingdom of Spirits in Which Each Sinner is Immersed
This invisible kingdom of spirits has special places. There are the throne rooms, where plans are drawn up, instructions arrive and reports are received with the approval or reproaches of the chiefs. These are the inner sanctums of Satan, as Saint John the Theologian expressed it. On earth, in the middle kingdom of people, there are leagues of evil-doers, profligates, and especially nonbelievers and blasphemers whose deeds, words and writings pour out sinful gloom everywhere and block out the Divine Light. The aggregate of worldly ways, pervaded with sinful elements that stupefy and draw one away from God, is the organ through which they express their will and power here.
This is the structure of the sinful sphere! Each sinner is immersed in it, but is kept there largely on account of some particular thing. This thing, perhaps, is in appearance tolerable, even laudable. Satan has a single concern; that is, where a person is completely occupied in his consciousness, attention, and heart, that God not be the sole occupier, but that something outside him be attached to his mind, will, and heart, so the person has something in place of God and only cares about what he knows and what he enjoys and possesses. Here there are not only carnal and mental passions, but also specious things such as learnedness, artistry, and worldliness that can serve as the bonds of Satan for keeping blinded sinners in his power and not allowing them to come to their senses.
The Inner Mood and Condition of the Sinner
If one looks at the sinner in his inner mood and condition, it happens sometimes that he is knowledgeable, but is blind with regard to Divine things and the matter of his own salvation. Even if he constantly takes care and troubles over things, he is idle and careless in regard to arranging his own salvation; even if he continually experience anxieties or pleasures of the heart, he is completely insensitive to everything spiritual. In this regard, all forces of being are afflicted by sin; and there is blindness, negligence and insensitivity in the sinner. He does not see his own condition, and therefore does not sense the danger of his situation. He does not sense his danger and therefore does not take the trouble and care to be delivered from it.
The necessity to change and be saved does not even enter his mind. He has complete, unshakable confidence that he is at his proper station in life, wants for nothing and must therefore leave everything the way it is. Therefore, he considers any reminder about another kind of life to be superfluous for himself; he does not listen, and cannot even understand what it is for. He avoids and shuns it..." (Source: Orthodox Heritage)
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like as roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9).
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God