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At the threshold of Fiery Gehenna
Teachings of the Orthodox Church
concerning Evil Spirits and God's Judgment over Them.

by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)


"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel" (Gen. 3:15).

A man living only according to material interests and physical sensations does not reflect on such "abstract" questions as the existence of God, the existence of a spiritual world with good and evil spirits, and life beyond the grave. He is completely overwhelmed by his daily cares. But suddenly something unexpected shocks him, and he begins to feel the need to think about his life and to see the goal of his existence. And here, when he begins to reflect on the moral and spiritual side of life, he quickly becomes convinced that science, in which he had such faith before, is completely powerless to help him sort out these most essential and vital questions.

If religious feelings have not been completely killed in him, he will feel a necessity to turn to God; he will begin to pray and read the Holy Scriptures. And if this is not just a fleeting and superficial inclination but a serious break in his life, a true desire to become better, then God will begin to renew his heart and open new horizons to his internal gaze. This man will begin to clearly feel the guiding hand of God, His nearness, and His Fatherly love. He will begin to understand that the world has a much wider and richer content than it appeared to have before. He will begin to distinguish good from evil with greater perception; he will begin to recognize that there is a spiritual world and unseen beings which have an influence on his life, some in a good and others in an ugly direction, and that, besides God, there exist angels and demons. This awareness of the spiritual world is interesting and important. But from what source does a person come to know of it? The literature on this subject is very extensive, contradictory, and full of inventions and fantasies. However, the teaching of Holy Scripture on this theme, although very brief, is clear and exact. Holy Scripture teaches that there exist angels of light and goodness and that every Christian has a guardian angel. (A separate booklet in this series is devoted to angels.)

Scripture also teaches that there are demons. It and our own experience serve to convince us that demons truly exist and represent not an apparent but a real and continuous danger to us all. As in human society, in which normal and well-meaning people exist side-by-side with every sort of criminal, degenerate, psychopath, and sadist, so also in the spiritual world, along with angels of light and goodness there exist the "scum" of that world the devil and his demons. As in our world, in which no one is born a criminal, sadist, or libertine, but becomes one as a consequence of his improper and sinful activities, so also in the unseen world, every creature was initially good and well-intentioned, but a few of them, having chosen a bad path, degenerated and became consciously evil. As a consequence of their offensive actions, their angelic intelligence became dimmed, and they became evil, impulsive, and unscrupulous. They find pleasure in that which causes suffering to others and sows any kind of evil.

In this booklet we will introduce the reader to the Orthodox teaching on fallen angels, explain the goal they are pursuing and what their methods of tempting people and sowing evil are, and we will explain how to protect yourself from their intrigues. A special section is dedicated to the theme of modern occultism and demonism, which are captivating human society more widely and more deeply. Observing with anxiety the successes of modern "dark spirituality," the prophecy of the Scriptures comes to mind: "Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil has come down unto you, full of great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Rev. 12:12). But it is comforting that the same success of the prince of darkness foreshadows his complete defeat and punishment, at which time our Lord Jesus Christ will again come to earth, surrounded by the angels and the saints. Then "Rejoice thou heaven and ye holy apostles for God hath avenged you the devil who had deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 18:20, 20:10). After the defeat of the powers of the kingdom of the nether regions, there will come a new phase of being, and the righteous, having overcome the temptation of the spiritual seducer, will be made bright like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.

Published with the kind permission of Bishop Alexander Mileant

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