The Devil and Demons (Chapter 11)

Temptation of Christ

Temptation of Christ

Yesterday, Aug 25, we examined chapter 11 in the book in which Metropolitan Hilarion wrote (Orthodox Christianity, Vol II)about the Devil and demons in the Old and New Testaments and what has been said about them by the Church Fathers.  

We had a wide ranging discussion.  One point that stood out to me was when Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has asked permission to sift you like wheat, and I hav prayed for you...” (Luke 22:31-32)  We talked about who we might feel if Jesus had said that to us.  Note that Jesus did not say, “I denied Satan’s request,” but only that Jesus would pray for Peter.

I’m sure I don’t think of the reality of the the war in which I am engaged against Satan.  The Apostle Paul,reminds us that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12)

Metropolitan Hyperion quotes Symeon the New Theologian, who says:

This war [Satan vs mankind] is endless, and Christ’s warriors should always bear arms.  There is no rest from this war, neither in day or in night...We have bodiless enemies that stand before our faces interminably, though we do not see them; they vainly leave their footprints behind, whether or not one of our embers is laid bare so that they can plunge their arrows into us and kill us.  And no one can hide behind physical walls or fortresses...One can not save oneself by fleeing, nor can one man take up the fight for another, but every man must carry himself into the fray and either gain victory and remain alive, or be defeated and finally die.

Sadly, I rarely live as though I’m at war.

How should we fight the battle against a fallen angel of God?  Here is the best spiritual advice I’ve read:

The most important weapon to use against the devil is the Holy Cross, of which he is terrified. But make the sign of the cross correctly: with the three fingers of the right hand joined together, touch your forehead, your abdomen, your right shoulder and finally you left shoulder. The sign of the cross may be made in conjunction with prostrations. 

Communication with Christ, when it takes place simply and naturally and without force, makes the devil flee. Satan does not go away with force and coercion. He is sent away with meekness and prayer. He retreats when he sees the soul showing contempt for him and turning in love towards Christ. Contempt is something he is unable to bear because he is arrogant. But when you apply force to yourself, the evil spirit becomes aware of the fact and starts to fight you. Do not concern yourself with the devil, nor pray for him to leave. The more you pray for him to leave, the more tightly he embraces you. Show contempt for the devil. Don’t meet him head on. When you struggle against the devil with obstinacy, he flies at you like a tiger or a wild cat. When you shoot a bullet at him, he lobs a hand-grenade at you. And when you throw a bomb at him, he launches a rocket against you. Don’t look at evil. Turn your eyes to God’s embrace and fall into His arms and continue on your way. Abandon yourself to Him; love Christ; live in vigilance. Vigilance is essential for the person who loves God.

No one ever became holy by fighting evil. We only become holy by falling in love with Christ.
— —Wounded by Love, St Porphyrios