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Author Topic: Demons / St Anthony's Demons  (Read 838 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 19, 2010, 11:17:11 PM »

Question regarding the nature of demons/Satan whatever you want to call it. I've been reading up on St. Anthony the Great and I know Satan tempted him with phantoms of women, scorpions, snakes and things like laziness and boredom.

I have a question on our own personal demons, do they grow in size and are we aware of them more once we come closer and closer in communion with God? I figured that what St. Anthony was facing was something of such a magnitude that only someone who was in that sort of spiritual state of holiness could experience it, whereas someone who isn't in that state of holiness can only expierence certain demons at that level?

I know my own personal demons like laziness and procrastination which Satan is trying to use to stop me from getting closer to God (you can throw in vivid sexual thoughts as well) it's a tough battle on my own as it is, I couldn't imagine what St. Anthony could have went through.
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2010, 11:58:38 PM »

I think you are confusing the secular term 'personal demons' (i.e. passions as manifested through temptations) with actual demons.

There are real demons.  They are fallen angels, thus they are 'finished' products and do not grow per se.

As we spiritually develop, higher ones are usually assigned to us, since the weaker ones do not have the ability to harm us.  This can be seen in St. Anthony's case, where lesser temptations did not work, and so the demons resorted to more violent methods which humans do not normally encounter because we fall much quicker to temptations.

Demons rarily disclose their activities, preferring to be anonymous if they can.  Thus, it is important to discern one's thoughts and realize when one's flesh is talking and when we are receiving demonic messages.  Of course, all of these thoughts should be confessed, since this discernment is only seen in the highest of ascetics.



Question regarding the nature of demons/Satan whatever you want to call it. I've been reading up on St. Anthony the Great and I know Satan tempted him with phantoms of women, scorpions, snakes and things like laziness and boredom.

I have a question on our own personal demons, do they grow in size and are we aware of them more once we come closer and closer in communion with God? I figured that what St. Anthony was facing was something of such a magnitude that only someone who was in that sort of spiritual state of holiness could experience it, whereas someone who isn't in that state of holiness can only expierence certain demons at that level?

I know my own personal demons like laziness and procrastination which Satan is trying to use to stop me from getting closer to God (you can throw in vivid sexual thoughts as well) it's a tough battle on my own as it is, I couldn't imagine what St. Anthony could have went through.
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2010, 12:02:34 AM »

Father, Bless.

Ok I understand the difference, I just wanted to be clear on what demons St. Anthony faced versus someone who isn't to that point in ascetics.

Regarding fallen angels, if these angels are in the very presence of God why would they fall from such perfection witnessing what is perfect? How exactly does pride manifest itself in front of a presence of that which is perfect?

It kind of brings up the next question of "free will" in Heaven; is that even possible? Would it cease to exist because knowing what suffering, sin etc is like we wouldn't want anything else but to be in commune with God.

Sorry to derail my topic a little bit, just wanted to clarify.
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2010, 12:09:03 AM »

Bless, Father.

 Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.  I have another question that may tie into Achronos' OP: is it really possible for a practicing Christian to become possessed by a demon or demons?  I don't presently have time to search patristics or Scripture, but I recall several Scriptural passages stating something to the effect that a Christian can be influenced/persuaded by demons, but cannot be possessed. What do you think?  What is your experience? 

Actually, all y'all are free to lend your thoughts.  If you have Patristic or Scriptural quotes, please include them.  Thanks!  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2010, 12:56:09 AM »

Bless, Father.

 Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.  I have another question that may tie into Achronos' OP: is it really possible for a practicing Christian to become possessed by a demon or demons?  I don't presently have time to search patristics or Scripture, but I recall several Scriptural passages stating something to the effect that a Christian can be influenced/persuaded by demons, but cannot be possessed. What do you think?  What is your experience? 

Actually, all y'all are free to lend your thoughts.  If you have Patristic or Scriptural quotes, please include them.  Thanks!  Smiley


Excellent question Gabriel. I too await to hear what some of our Priests have to say on the matter. My own opinion is that it is not possible for a practicing Christian to become demonically possessed. I do not think it is possible for the Holy Spirit to dwell alongside demons within an individual. St. Paul asks,

“What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be my people.’ Therefore, Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”” [II Corinthians 6:14-18]

I think you are correct in your speculation that practicing Christians can be oppressed, influenced, tormented, and persecuted by demonic forces, but not actually possessed. Job was severely tortured by satan himself, but satan could never enter his heart, mind, or soul. Apparently the devil was able to exert some type of external physical harm upon Job, but nevertheless he could not deter the righteous man from loving and praising God. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” [Job 13:15]

But the key word here is “practicing” Christian. By grace it is possible for our free will to elevate us to theosis, but we can also use our free will to apostasize and become pawns of the devil. St. Anthony is a glorious example of a man who by use of his divinely guided free will attained theosis and averted every demonic arrow hurled his way. I often think that St. Anthony must have frequently meditated upon the life of Job during his time on earth.  Yet others have chosen to forsake Christ and deny Orthodox Truth little by little until their hearts are eventually hardened and they are no longer receptive to the Holy Spirit. They therefore open their souls to satan, and possession becomes a very real possibility.

Now, these are only my own humble opinions. I certainly am not a Priest, and I do look forward to learning what our Priests on this forum have to teach us regarding this important issue.


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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2010, 04:13:49 AM »

^^ Very thoughtful insight, brother Gebre.  It seems to me that you've hit the proverbial nail on the head. 
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2010, 11:46:00 AM »

Please allow me to begin by saying that there are no actual dogmatic statements from Church councils regarding this topic.  I’m going off of the general approach of the Fathers of the Church, though even there not all patristic sources line up (see any discussion of Toll Houses as an example).  There are also far better and more experienced priests and monks who know far more than I, but I will try my best to answer all your questions.

Regarding fallen angels, if these angels are in the very presence of God why would they fall from such perfection witnessing what is perfect?

That is the insanity of the demonic.  They are at one time very crafty and very deluded.  I don’t think anyone can safely say what it is psychologically like to be an angel, so your guess is as good as any.  All we know is that some of them, approximately a third, fell with Satan.

How exactly does pride manifest itself in front of a presence of that which is perfect?

We may ask ourselves the same question when we read the Gospels and then fail to live according to their commands.  We are not perfect, and neither are the angels.  Their ‘perfection’ comes through obedience, while ours comes through union with our Lord Jesus Christ.

It kind of brings up the next question of "free will" in Heaven; is that even possible?

When you think about it, the concept of ‘free will’ is at one time preposterous, yet critical.  To have a free will means that one is an independent entity.  If we had no free will, we would be God’s machines or extensions of Him rather than our own beings. 

It is preposterous to think that one would choose against the God who is all-knowing.  However, we have that ability in order to be persons separate from God’s consciousness.

Would it (free will) cease to exist because knowing what suffering, sin etc is like we wouldn't want anything else but to be in commune with God.

On a reasonable level, yes, this is true.  Functionally speaking, this is what we are here to do: to choose communion with God over selfish desires.  This life is about coming to know the full implications of the free will, so that we will, in the end, choose freely to accept God’s will and thus retain our personhood while enjoying His love without compulsion.

Is it really possible for a practicing Christian to become possessed by a demon or demons?

‘Practicing’ is a tricky word, since lots of people ‘practice Christianity’ the wrong way.  See my remarks about living out the Gospel.

For the sake of clarity, allow me to review the basics:

- demonic possession is rare, even amongst the ‘willing.’
- demonic possession requires an agreement with the possessed or, in the case of some children, the agreement of the parents/guardians (see the story of the slave girl in Acts for an example of this arrangement).
- demonic possession would make the regular participation in the Sacraments nearly impossible without some serious ‘secret sins’ (i.e. the person receives Sacraments, then engages in significant sins thus receiving in an unworthy manner) or a case of ‘perfect possession.’
- demonic possession is known because the possessed fights against it once the agreement is struck and the demon begins to work through the possessed.  ‘Perfect possession’ occurs when the possessed does not struggle and willingly yields himself to the demons.  This type of possession cannot be exorcized, since they are unwilling to have the demon(s) leave.

OK, I hope this answers everyone’s questions (for now). 
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2010, 02:35:51 PM »

Thank you so much, Father.  Very helpful for me.
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