In times of crisis and faithless times – like today – no wonder that on the surface comes all that is dark and filthy, demonic and impious. More and more news that we are bombarded by the media come down to the blood and killings, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine and disasters. The man lost his backbone, his hand dropped the hand of God that led him safely, and now, helpless and flustered, he wanders in all directions, colliding with any evil, seeking answers to questions that are beyond him and his power.
Until recently, sorcerers and fortune tellers, magi and witches, and other similar bands, were something hidden and concealed; they performed their doings under the disguise of dark gowns of the night. Now, with all muddy marvels that emerged into the light of the day, they showed up too, opened their parlors, placed their billboards and neon signs and now sinful people rush for the secrets and answers. Many are frightened and imprisoned by the devil. There are families who are consequently separated, marriages destroyed, chances ruined. There are people who spilled over all their possessions into the hands of these tricksters.
The method is simple: as soon as someone gets the idea to knock on their door, it implies that one is shaken, uncertain, and often powerless. Trickster’s goal is to increase this uncertainty, to intimidate the unfortunate one and to bind him with his would-be power and supreme knowledge. So the victims are done: they will work and serve, bear and give, and god knows when and how, drained and distracted, they will be released and freed.
God revealed to us what we need to know and how much is enough for our salvation. Every other and every enforced advancing into the mysteries of God is demonic and impious. The rich man in the Gospel of Luke (16: 19-31) begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house, to testify to his brethren so they too are not caught in his hands. “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16: 29-31)
Demon is cunning. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years; yet it is soon cut off, and we fly away. (Ps. 90: 10) We say for older people that they are “experienced”. And demon, which exists from the time immemorial and which gathered into itself the experience of all human earlier generations, knows perfectly well how to deceive and cheat the poor man, and entangle him in its nets. It firstly offers to us small and tiny deceptions in order to take us from minor deceptions, slowly, into a deep and serious disaster. It starts with an overturned cups of coffee, and then through dreams and fortune-telling one gets to the occult activities, spiritism, and finally, to full service and servitude to the devil in the devil’s secret societies and organizations.
Someone who innocently begins to overturn a cup of coffee in order to know the future, may not even be aware that he thus established a communication with a demon, gave a demon the opportunity to address him and to lead him slowly. Being present form the olden times, wandering through earthly underworld and otherworld realms, the devil collects knowledge about us and some of that knowledge it serves us as truthful, together with many of his lies and deceit. Thus it gains our confidence and a man gives way. “She told me everything” say many when they come back from these sessions. As in many other cases, here we have the actual advice that is found under every window in all trains of the world: “Do not lean out.” One does not need to step outside his limitations and assaults the God’s will.
There are many and countless ways in which the devil tries a man. Recently, spiritism saw its revival, that is, sensory communication with demons. In our villages and towns, almost as a social entertainment, spiritism is spreading, through which the devil increasingly enslaves the souls of light-minded and gullible. What is going on? Someone buries his beloved one. In weak faith and despair, not able to come to terms with the loss, and not willing to accept God’s will above his own, he goes to sorcerer, to spiritist, who will “invoke” the deceased. The mentioned does so. And here comes a spirit of the deceased, it tells the story, far and wide, asking questions about everything, and gives advice, and never completing a story to the end. It cuts it all of a sudden, and promises a follow-up for the next time. And this unfortunate man comes again, today, and tomorrow and the day after, until at a certain point, exhausted and distraught, he completely collapses into the clutches of the demon.
The Holy Fathers teach us that in spiritist sessions souls of the deceased do not arise but are impersonated by the demons. Continuing through from the immemorial, as I said, they collect knowledge about us, and know more than we know ourselves. Then they appear in the likeness of the deceased, and they are the ones who talk. Father Seraphim Rose in his book “The Soul After Death” claims that even those modern scholars who have thoroughly investigated the phenomenon of spiritism – if, at least they partly preserved Christian criteria for judging – came to the same conclusion on their own.
The devil often flatters human pride. A man strives, with good intentions and dedication, for ascetic feat, he slightly unravels the first page with the first letters of the feat alphabet and demon appears in the form of angels, or someone holy, and it supposedly encourages him to just continue with the feat, telling him that he is very far off on the path, that he is unique and so it begins. We often meet “worshipers” who cannot be dissuaded that they were not visited by Saint Parascheva or Holy Mother of God, in person.
Demons, disguised in the form of luminous angels, managed to fool ascetics and priest and separate them from feats. Bishop Ignatius Birčaninov cites the example of St. Simeon the Stylite who was almost deceived by demon, who appeared before him in the form of angel and in chariots. Bishop Ignatius warns the modern Christians: “If the saints have been in such danger of being deceived by evil spirits, this danger is even more frightful for us. If the saints have not always recognized demons who appeared to them in the form of saints and Christ Himself, how is it possible for us to think of ourselves we will recognize them without mistake?” (Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, “The soul after death”, page 70.)
Nothing else but to arm ourselves with the true faith and follow the advice of God’s revealed words. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 Jn. 4: 1) Aren’t we warned by the Lord that there will “arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Behold I have told you beforehand.” (Mark 27: 24-25), our Lord says to us.
Sinful and fallen man is surrounded on all sides by the fallen spirits. They ruthlessly assault us. Don’t be afraid, we are not left alone. Therefore, “unable to break into us, they are imposed on us from outside, causing a variety of sinful thoughts and fantasies and thus overcoming gullible souls to commune with them.” (Ft. Seraphim, ibid. p. 66)
As much as they assault, the gate of our soul is closed to them and we are safe as long as we don’t open the gate for them.
The Holy Fathers give effective tips on how not to succumb to them. If demon, no matter in what form appears other than his own, ask yourself first: Who am I, sinful and unworthy, to be addressed by an angel of God or some of his Saints? And why me? Confident and encouraged, face a demon. Saint Anthony teaches us: “You have to know this for your defense: when you experience any kind of vision, do not be scared but sharply ask it: Who are you and where are you from? If it is a saintly appearance, you will be reassured. Your fear will quickly turn to joy. However, if it is a demonic appearance, when faced with the determination of your soul, it will disappear immediately, because your question is a sign of your brave soul. ” (Ft. Seraphim, ibid, p. 69)
And primarily, we have honorable and life-giving cross of Christ, a deadly weapon in the fight against all devil’s assaults. With the Holy Cross we check and overcome demons.