“And Jesus said to him, ‘what is your name?’ and he said, ‘legion’; because many demons were entered into him” (Luke 8:30)
I prefer not to preach or speak on the topic of "demons". Mostly because it draws attention to something nasty and without merit.
But also because the topic itself is uncomfortable.
In the past I have focused on the response of the people who witnessed the cleansing of the man with the demons—how they asked the Lord to depart from their region because they were afraid of Him.
Or—on other occasions—I have focused on the man who was healed.
Today I want to deal with the reality of the demonic powers—not in the fantastic and ridiculous way that Hollywood does, not in the pathetic way that those who call themselves “Satanists” do, and not in the way that the people who write books about the “end times” do.
Because the problem with all those people is that they give the demons far too much credit and far too much power.
The first thing we need to recognize about the demonic is that it is common—and by that I mean common as in dull, annoying, irritating…. on the order of flies, viruses, and freeway traffic.
Any of these things have the potential to be dangerous—as sources of accidents and disease… but they are still part of every day life.
So are the demons.
Let’s not give them too much credit—nor fear them unduly.
The real problem with the demonic powers is precisely to be found in their commonness—in the fact that they can find so many opportunities to do their destructive work amongst us.
Now, here’s the crux of the matter….
Who really takes all this seriously?
I mean who really takes the demonic seriously in the original gospel sense—in the Orthodox sense—of the word?
The so called “Satanists” and the folks on the opposite side of the coin who are looking for signs of the end of the world everywhere—give far too much power and credit to the demons.
They honor them (the Satanists) or fear them (the end of the worlders) far too much.
The so called rational world, on the other hand, the world of science, medicine, and psychology—will have absolutely nothing to do with such things. To these people anything spiritual is suspect at best and more often base superstition.
No, the church is left pretty much alone to tackle the issue—to address it in a way that makes sense to people of our times…… and this is by no means easy.
First of all, we need to enlighten the world to the fact that the demons are to be known more by the acts that they inspire than by any particular name—
Thus, they are legion—inspiring lust, anger, gluttony, violence, envy, malice…. and so on ( a LEGION of all the vices). They inspire the petty hatreds that, when spread, can inflame whole nations with murderous rage.
They strike at our weakest points and they are persistent—
And in this they are exactly like a virus or a bacteria—they wait until our immune system begins to break down… until we grow weary and unwary.
To some degree they are even contagious—witness hatred, prejudice, and fear….whole nations have fallen victim to these.
But, they do their most effective work in the soul of each unique person… where they can slowly deface the image and likeness of God and replace it with an ugly and distorted effigy. This is what had happened to the Gaderene ….
If ever there has been a time in history when the demonic has had a favorable time it is now.
The traditional demonic temptations are broadcast over the airwaves for all to see day in and day out.
The traditional values of Christian society have been openly overthrown
And the traditional—meaning the Orthodox voice of Christianity—is barely a whisper amidst a roar of competing voices.
Yet, in spite of all this—the news is not really all that bad!
It may sound strange to read this—but it’s true!
The news is not bad at all!
All that we are facing now is the result of common, run of the mill, demonic forces—the sort of which with one word from our Lord are dismissed into the abyss from which they came.
We have no need to fear them.
And when it comes to fighting them—we have Him to turn to.
No, let’s not give too much credit to the losing team.
Let’s not fear what roams in the dark.
For, as we proclaim at the end of every Liturgy, “we have received the true light….”
And that Light has shone through the deepest darkness.
And the darkness could not overcome it….. (Jn 1:5)
The remedy for every evil that lurks in the darkness of sin and dwells in the secret places of the human heart is Jesus Christ, the Light of the world…
He abides with us to this day in the Orthodox Church