“If a prophet rises among you....”
The Lord said if a prophet (i.e., charlatan) performs signs and wonders, don’t get excited about it (like little children). Don’t get carried away like a leaf on the wind. Don’t believe in other gods. Stay true to the Lord.
The Lord is testing you to see if you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
So it’s possible that mediums and so on can, as a concession by God and with the power of the Evil One, work “wonders.” Here are some of them:
“Communication” with the Dead
“There are some people who are so heartbroken by the loss of a loved one that they go to a medium (i.e., the devil), in order to hear the voice of the departed person, to talk to them, to find some kind of relief. Do they really hear the voice of the dead? Victor H. Ernest, the former medium, gave a blunt answer. The voice they heard isn’t that of their loved one but of a devil. And the poor unfortunate people are left with the illusion that they’re in contact with the soul of the person who passed away!
There are two kinds of telepathy.
A) Reading other people’s thoughts: According to Victor H. Ernest, this happens when a person’s intelligence is working hand in glove with an evil spirit, or when the whole person is actually under the control of an evil spirit. Doreen Irvine, a former prostitute and stripper who was actually crowned Queen of the Witches of Europe, had no difficulty, as a Satanist, in reading other people’s thoughts.
B) Seeing something that’s happening far away in a dream or in a trance: Two people at the séance attended by Victor H. Ernest were able to read the headlines of morning newspapers while they were still being run off at the printer’s, hours before they were delivered to the town. Some, who are even more “advanced”, can see into your house as if with a camera and can find hidden objects, etc.
“Miracles” with Fire
In Kalamata, some years ago, an occultist did the following in front of the audience: He drew lines on his hand with a lighted cigarette without feeling any pain at all.
Something similar happens every year in the village of Agia Eleni in Northern Greece on the day of the feast of Sts Constantine and Helen. A group of people holding icons of the saints dance in their bare feet on burning charcoal without getting burnt.
Victor H. Ernest comments that this is not an illusion. He says that fire-walkers really do walk on burning coals or sometimes on molten lava. Behind firewalking, he maintains, is the total surrender of the practitioner to the forces of darkness.
A while ago, in the main street of the town of Patras, in Greece, a magician, with the aid of evil spirits, was doing tricks. Through a variety of invocations, chairs and tables were lifted into the air as if made of paper. A crowd of people rushed to see this devilish spectacle. But by God’s providence a certain priest of the city, Fr A. K., was passing by and he made the sign of the Cross over these flying chairs and tables. They fell to the ground and remained there no matter what the occultist tried to do to move them. The power of the Cross had deadened that of the evil spirits.
No matter how impressive are the “wonders” performed by the agents of Satan (mediums, magicians, etc.), they can’t stand up to the power of the presence of the Cross. They disperse. They burst just as if they were soap bubbles. As indeed they are.
The Devil: Demonic Possession
The best proof of the existence of the devil is a person who is possessed. To anyone who doesn’t believe in the existence of the devil, we would say, “Come and see. Come and see the devil alive within a possessed person.”
Possessed people (when the fit is upon them) become unrecognizable: the face becomes distorted, the head twists, the mouth gapes. The tongue is thrust out and the victim howls. It is truly a horrible sight.
In this state, a possessed person is capable of revealing all your “achievements” (i.e., sins). It is not just general and vague, either, but specific and in detail. Without knowing you, they can tell you for example, your name, where you were and what you were doing the previous evening, and who you were with. (It’s worth noting that if you’ve confessed to a priest, the possessed are unable to do this).
- How do they manage to know your secrets?
- Why is it that sins confessed aren’t able to be seen?
During their fit, however, they show other symptoms.
- At the Divine Liturgy they feel as if they’re burning (although when they see fire they don’t).
- Before the Precious Cross, they feel as if they’re being cut to ribbons (although when they see a butcher’s knife they don’t).
- When a priest makes the sign of the Cross over them with the “spear” used in the Divine Liturgy by the priest to cut the Communion Bread, they feel as if their flesh is being pierced. One priest did this and the possessed person howled: “Why are you sticking that spear into my flesh. Why are you pulling at the spear and tearing my flesh?” (Yet the same person was able to bear the touch of a sharp knife without howling).
- When they look upon holy relics, they feel as if they themselves are on fire.
- Why should the possessed fear the Divine Liturgy yet not fear, for example, heart surgery?
- Why do they fear the Precious Cross, which, after all, is only two bits of wood, yet don’t fear a sharp butcher’s knife?
- Why is it that they feel they’re being cut open when the sign of the Cross is made over them?
- Why do they fear the relics of saints such as St Gerasimos, a poverty-stricken little monk who was full of love, yet don’t fear the remains of bloodthirsty Lenin, who slaughtered millions of his fellow-citizens?
All the above show us that there’s something about the possessed person that is very badly disturbed by the Precious Cross, the Divine Liturgy, and the relics of our saints. And this “something” is the same thing that can reveal your secret sins, unless you’ve confessed them.
For us Christians, this “something” is the devil. What about unbelievers? Do they just put it down to parapsychology and be done with it?
There are of course, those scientists who declare that all of this will one day be explained by the goddess of “science”. They’re sure of this. Yet this may not be the case, since it’s still in the future, so why are they so sure? What sort of logic is that? But never mind. If in the future science demonstrates that this something really is the devil, will they then believe it?
The Devil’s Bloodthirstiness
The possessed show just how bloodthirsty the devil is and how cruelly he tortures people. Here are a few instances:
The father whose son was possessed said to Christ: “Every time the devil bothers him, it throws him down, foam comes from his mouth and he gnashes his teeth and becomes catatonic" (Mark 9:18). Some know-it-alls explain this by saying the boy was epileptic. But so was Julius Caesar, who lived before Christ. People in the ancient world were familiar with the difference between epilepsy and possession. They weren’t as “backward” as we like to think.
Another possessed man never stayed at home, but went wandering around the deserts and graveyards. Summer and winter he walked around stark naked (Luke 8:27-39).
Another threw himself into the fire to be burnt and yet another into the water to drown (Matthew 17:16). The two possessed men of the Gaderenes were “exceedingly fierce”. They were so wild and aggressive that no one could approach them They were the bane of people’s lives (Matthew 8:28).
If a criminal is arrested by the police and is handcuffed, then no matter how strong he is, he can’t
break his bonds. His hands are tied, as it were. This isn’t true of people possessed. If they’re handcuffed, for example, even if they’re paralyzed, they’re capable of breaking open handcuffs. St Luke tells us in the Gospel that the Gadarene man who was possessed “was kept bound in chains and fetters, and he broke the bonds.” He was completely immobolized, but despite that he broke the chains!
It wasn’t the man who broke the chains, but the devil who was in the man. This demonstrates quite clearly that the devil has superhuman strength. So, he can work signs and wonders. If he wanted, he could:
- Bring up a hurricane to destroy houses and uproot trees.
- Whip up a storm that would sink all the shipping in the area.
- Drown men and beasts.
- Make an earthquake that would level towns and cities.
But he refrains from this. Why?
Wouldn’t he like to turn everything upside down? Certainly he would, if he could. He’s prevented from doing so by God. If God didn’t keep the mania of the demons in check, we’d see them playing with the world like a ball.
How Does He Fight Us?
The misanthropic devil doesn’t fight us with weapons that can be seen and which make a noise (stones, clubs, etc.), but with silent, invisible ones. ONE of these is THOUGHTS. He puts (bad) thoughts into our minds in order for us to put them into practice. If the bad thoughts don’t take root, then he’ll fight us with supposedly good ones, in order to trap us. Given this, you should be concerned and should ask yourself:
- Is what you have in mind perhaps seed sown by the devil? Is it perhaps misleading you towards seemingly good thoughts?
- Is, perhaps, your philosophy of life and death (which you think is correct), really a set of thoughts from the devil?
- Are even your thoughts on spiritual matters, as an Orthodox Christian, perhaps really thoughts of the devil? Perhaps.
One thing you can be sure of: the devil hasn’t made an exception of YOU.
From the book Confronting the Devil, Magic & the Occult, Orthodox Book Centre, Athens 2003
Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis