The enemy will not go near a creature of God when they are pure at heart
– Elder, how does one become a slave of one’s passions?
– In most cases, we let the enemy do harm to ourselves by our inattention or by becoming overwhelmed with pride. Just one careless thought or word might be enough to let the evil one take hold. I know of one strong and family. One day, the man said jokingly to his wife: “Watch out – I might divorce you!” His wife followed suit, and joked back: “It’s you who had better be more careful, as I might divorce you, too!” They were not being serious, but the devil was already standing by and rubbing his hands. He seduced them into having an argument that put them on the brink of divorce. They were so determined to go ahead that they could not think of anything else – not even the future of their children. Luckily, they met a priest who managed to bring them to their senses. “Are you seriously going to end your marriage over such a small thing?” he said.
The devil will enter any person whose heart is impure. He will not go near a creature of God when they uncorrupted.
“People become worse than the devil when the Grace of God leaves them”
– There is a lot of madness in the world. The devil has pretty much been given a free hand because the people today have let him have a lot of power. People are suffering terrible torments at his hands. Someone has said, quite correctly, “The devil used to court each person individually, but now he has stopped doing this. He just takes them to the beginning of the road and says to them, ‘Good luck’. The people do the rest themselves.” This is terrible.
– But some people are saying that the devil does not exist?
– Indeed. To them, the devil’s work is all about psychology. If they met any of the possessed people from the scriptures today, they would just take them to a psychiatrist and have them treated with an electric shock. Christ took away the devil’s freedom to do evil. The enemy can still harm us, but only when we let him. Not coming to Church and not partaking in the Holy Sacraments is an excellent way to empower the devil and fall under his influence.
– Elder, in what other ways is it possible to let the devil have power over us?
– Scholasticism, bickering, steadfastness, disobedience, and shamelessness are some of the other hallmarks of the devil. The extent of our vulnerability to the devil’s influence depends on how much these qualities are present in ourselves. However, when we cleanse our souls and embrace the Holy Spirit, the Holy Grace returns to us and fills us from within. But by becoming mired in the deadly sins, we let the evil spirit take possession of us.
People become worse than the devil when the Grace of God leaves them. This is because the devil does not do the evil himself, but tells the people to do the work for him. For example, the devil does not do wicked things himself, he manipulates people into doing them. People follow the devil’s command and become possessed by the devil.
The devil is disarmed by our repentance and confession
Some time ago, a man came to visit Mount Athos. He was a sorcerer. He used his witchcraft to planted invisible snares on the path that led to my cell. If anyone who had not confessed their sins had been caught in them, they would have come to serious harm, and not even known the cause. As soon as I noticed these snares, I crossed myself and trampled on them until they were all destroyed. Eventually, the sorcerer visited me in my cell. He disclosed to me all of his intentions, repented, and burned his books.
The devil has no power over a man of faith who goes to church and partakes in the sacraments. The devil can do nothing but growl at him in frustration, like a dog with no teeth. However, he can have great power over a non-believer who lets him yield his power over him.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds
Excerpted from: Spiritual Counsels. Vol. 1: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man.