Invisible World of Bodiless Powers
Shepherd November 2017
The Invisible World of the Bodiless Powers
The Ever-Memorable Archbishop Averky of Jordanville, + 1976 A.D.
THE Old Testament sacred book of Genesis tells us of the origin of all that is, and it begins with the words, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1). The highest and most authoritative expounders of the word of God explain to us that by this word heaven we must understand the invisible world, the immaterial one, the spiritual world, and by the word earth, we must understand the visible world, the physical one, the material one. It is in exactly this train of thought that in the Symbol of our Faith (the Creed) we call God, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
This invisible world, this spiritual world, figuratively called heaven, is the world of the Incorporeal Powers, the world of the angels, which God created before the creation of the visible, physical and material world.
In honour of these Honourable Bodiless Powers of Heaven, headed by the Archistrategus Michael as their supreme commander, our holy Church from ancient times inaugurated a feast of some distinction, which is solemnly celebrated on 8th November according to our Orthodox calendar.
In the beginning all these bodiless powers, or angels, were made good spirits, full of great perfections. But behold, one of the very highest of the angels, Morning Star, whose beauty was like that of the morning Dayspring, instead of offering up praise to God, glorifying Him for His perfections as his Creator, fell in love with himself and permitted himself the prideful thought that he in his perfection need not defer one whit to God, and that he was equal with God. And this prideful thought was the cause of his swift fall from the heights of heaven to the depths of the gloom of Hades. It so distorted and so deformed His beauty, that of a person truly like unto God, that in a moment from being the most exalted and most supremely perfect of God’s creatures he was made the most repulsive, the most loathsome being. The heavenly powers, that is the other incorporeal angels, repelled by the besotting pridefulness of Morning Star, hurled him down into the most profound darkness.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Morning Star, son of the dayspring!, the holy prophet sorrowfully cries out to him, thy pridefulness is cast down to the lowermost place. For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God ... I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down into Hades, into the depths of the pit (Esaias 14:12-15).
“Who is like unto God? Who is equal to God?” triumphantly cried the Archistategus of the heavenly powers, casting down Morning Star. So it is that he is given the glorious name Michael, which means Who is like unto God, and the Morning Star becomes Satan.
Thus, even at the very dawn of the history of the universe, in the spiritual world, before the appearance of the material world, the first rebellion against lawful Divine authority came about, the first revolution, which then had so many numberless calamitous and sorrowful consequences.
Countless multitudes of the angelic hosts, the Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, many-eyed Cherubim and six-winged dread Seraphim surround the throne of God crying with unceasing lips the ever-repeated doxology, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. All these angels of God, having remained faithful to God, are the proclaimers and fulfillers of the will of God, as is demonstrated by their very name, for the word angel means messenger. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Heb. 1:14), says the holy Apostle Paul concerning them. And from sacred history, both in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, we know of a multitude of occasions when the angels ministered in the work of the salvation of man, who was created later than they were. The angels are shown to be instruments of God’s providence regarding His purposes within the communities of mankind. As our holy Church teaches, they are entrusted with safeguarding towns, kingdoms, districts, monasteries, churches and people, the spiritual and the worldly, both alike. And the angels serve as the instruments of God’s providence with regard to separate, individual people as well. Each of the faithful receives his own particular angel, who abides near him and protects him from every evil, and for this cause he is called the Guardian Angel.
But Satan, cast out of heaven, did not remain alone, but he drew after him into the abyss of his fall a great multitude of incorporeal powers, who like him were thus made evil spirits, the evil demons, the powers of darkness, who always oppose God and His all-good and providential purposes.
Blinded in his prideful and ferocious malice (evil is always blind!), Satan, with the help of the evil spirits subject to him, began a violent warfare against God and those honourable bodiless powers of heaven who had remained faithful to God. And when the first people were created by God, he then, having led them astray through pride, began to teach them to break the commandments of God, so that he might draw them away from God and entice them into his service, instead of that of God.
So, even from that time, from the very beginning of the history of the world, everything that comes to pass in the world can be explained by nothing other than this unremitting warfare, this never curtailed opposition of Satan and the spirits of darkness that serve him, to God and to His radiant angelic powers.
Once and for all we must remember and bear in mind that God desires the salvation of man and does everything for his salvation, but Satan, having stupidly condemned himself to perdition, thirsts for the ruin of man, and he does everything so that he [man] might perish.
The whole history of the world consists in this: the warfare between the radiant and the dark powers for the soul of man, that crown of God’s creation. And when we accept this rigorist point of view, everything that has happened in the history of mankind becomes completely clear for us and understandable, without fomenting any uncertainty or perplexity. One can only marvel at the spiritual blindness of those who do not comprehend this, or rather do not wish to comprehend it, and who give everything their own individual explanation and interpretation, nothing like a proper explanation, something which, as it deviates from the truth, always grows foggy.
Satan has always maintained his battle against God so as to enslave man under his authority, but in the times which we are living through, as never before, this dreadful action of the satanic powers is sensed more and more in the world, and before our eyes it is spreading wider and wider.
But this must not lead us to be enervated or let our spirits fall, because we know from the Scriptures, that it was necessary that all this should be, and we should thus be led to spiritual awakening and to being vigilant about ourselves. We do not continually speak and write about this so as to instill fear and faintheartedness in our souls, or that we should lose heart, but rather that our eyes be opened to the seriousness of the situation, that we be warned, that we be prompted to greater efforts in the battle for our souls against satanic delusion, against their being impudently clawed into the power of Satan.
He who remains silent about this, and does not like to speak up, consciously or unconsciously makes one cause with Satan and with his henchmen.
By what paths does Satan find entry into the soul of man and enslave him to himself, making man an instrument of his?
First and foremost, through that vice, by which Satan transformed himself from being the most exalted and perfect creation of God into the enemy of God, through pride and selfishness.
After the fall into sin of our first parents, this vice has always been rooted in man, but in our times it lets itself be known particularly powerfully, particularly often, and it displays itself mockingly and vividly.
“I ... I ... I ...” that’s all you hear now from many people, and especially from those who consider themselves spiritual or political leaders, and strive for pre-eminence and authority over others without tolerating any rivals or competitors. And nothing so depresses them as the loss of popularity and of the glory of men. This they live through with extreme chagrin, and they are ready to destroy, to wipe o the face of the earth, the persons they regard as guilty in this respect. This “I ... I ...” so overshadows their spiritual eyes, that they begin to be incapable of perceiving all the truth, as it really is, assessing everything only from the point of view of their own particular egotistical and egocentric interests. Such people are easily made sowers of evil and abettors of Satan, oftentimes not noticing themselves whom they are serving.
Slyness or insincerity is found closely bonded with prideful selfishness, which compels a person to think or say one thing, and to do another. This vice is also extraordinarily prevalent in our times, which might, for the most part, be called evil (crafty) times. In this regard one must remember that it is Satan who bears the name “the evil (crafty) one.” It is precisely Satan that the words of the Lord’s Prayer, deliver us from the evil one, have in mind. Craftiness (evil) and insincerity tie a man to Satan.
Finally, it is not possible that we should fail to turn our attention to the excessiveness of the intensification in our evil days of the particularly acute passion for judging, gossip and calumny, a passion which nowadays spares no one, even persons of the highest standing and those deserving of every respect. The hierarch (Saint) Theophan, the recluse of Vysha, speaks eloquently of the source of this pernicious passion, which dislocates good human relationships and poisons life; he says: “the spirit of criticism about everything clings, and presents everything under a gloomy guise of lawlessness and perniciousness ... And at the same time the person who judges is himself ready for activities that are not good (but only if no one can observe them!), and unavoidably he establishes a way forward which is not good, a certain attitude to things. Thereafter he, as it were, judges and criticizes, so that the feeling of righteousness within him, which has been abused and stifled, might be compensated for by attacks upon others, even though these attacks might be unjust.”
Caustic and wounding slander, which oftentimes manage to morally destroy a man are these anything other than genuine satanic acts? In our days, who does not now and then offer sacrifice to such slander, sometimes in revenge when disappointed of some reckless aspiration or because of the actual exposure of some transgression? Satan is red up with this sort of calumny, and for that reason is called the devil, which by interpretation in our language means the Calumniator.
Observe: all these destructive characteristics and attributes tie the unhappy man who has yielded to them to Satan; they separate him from God and make him a stooge and pitiful instrument of God’s enemy, Satan, the devil.
Also it was not so long ago that we learned by hearsay that there exists a secretive cult of Satan, a sect of devil-worshippers, who hold “Black Masses.” And so, in our times, the “hidden” has become “open.” [Bear in mind this was written in the 1960s, more innocent times than our own transl.] Satanists now hardly bother to hide themselves, and at least some of them dress themselves up, openly and impudently being presented on radio and television and enticing everyone to their rituals. Depictions of Satan are now shamelessly displayed in public places in towns and villages, in restaurants; in “progressive” schools, students’ clothes bearing the name Satan are frequently allowed, as also in a whole range of contemporary products. And in a word everywhere our eyes are offended. Satan is thus being more powerfully propagandized and popularized.
So, we must clearly understand in what a dreadful time we live. This is not to be wondered at. It always had to be! But all the same we cannot but be horrified. Yet there are others, blinded ones, because through all this they remain indifferent, as if they habitually notice none of this or consider it as completely normal. Thus they are gradually, imperceptibly pulled into the orbit of those who spread satanic influence throughout the world, into a satanic environment and atmosphere.
And what more can one say about those “Christian” ministers who, under the influence of the satanists themselves, attend satanic organizations or even associate with them? See, we have lived even unto this!
There is also one further horrible temptation of our times, which it is impossible not to bring to mind.
It is indispensable that we obey lawful authority, whether that of the Church or of the state. The first to rebel against the lawful authority of God, the rst revolutionary, was Satan himself, who introduced a dreadful disintegration and disharmony within the perfect creation of God, and engendered evil. It is then understandable that the holy Apostle Paul informs the Christian: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God (Rom. 13:1-2).
But how can this be if the power is in the hands of satanists? That is why one should not understand the words of the holy Apostle Paul quoted above literally, unreservedly, as so many nowadays try to interpret them. For a right interpretation of these words one needs to turn to the authority of the holy Fathers of the Church. And see, for example, how Saint John Chrysostom interprets these words: “Is every ruler then elected by God? This I did not say, the Apostle answers. Nor am I speaking of individual rulers but about the power itself. For that there should be rulers, and some rule and others be ruled ... this, I say, is the work of God’s wisdom. Here in general the Apostle makes a judgment about the existence of power, because, anarchy everywhere is an evil and becomes the cause of disorder.
Saint Isidore of Pelusium explains these words of the holy Apostle, adding depth to this thought: “Why in truth do we say that actually we consider the power, that is the primacy and royal authority, is ordained of God, but if there is some evil-doing lawless person, delighting in that power, we do not support him as one ordained by God, but we say that we should not permit him to vomit forth this evil, as did Pharaoh, and in such a case subject him to extreme punishment, and chasten as one who deserves severity, as the king of Babylon chastened the Hebrews."
The holy Apostles themselves gave us a graphic example of how to react if the power is not in the hands of the servants of God. When, in the Jewish world, the highest spiritual authority, the Sanhedrin, with the high priests at its head, forbade them to speak and to teach in the name of Jesus, they forthrightly convicted them of guilt, explaining: Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye (Acts 4:19), and again, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:9).
We know that the Antichrist, at the end of time, will exhibit illusory lawful power over all mankind, as a universal ruler, the spiritual and political head of a world state and of a new false church within it, and he will demand for himself full obedience and subjugation from everyone, as if his rule were founded lawfully, dealing with all who are disobedient as with rebels.
For everyone it is of the uttermost importance to learn and be instructed, having the narrative clear within oneself, that although the principle of power is from God, that is far from accepting that every power and every ruler is from God, for Satan himself sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light, and his servitors take on the appearance of servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14-15). For this reason one must always bear in mind the warning of the holy Apostle: See then that we walk circumspectly, and, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:15, 11).
Behind the deceptively attractive appearances of our times, more than in times past there is very often hidden a “disorder” invisible to a superficial viewing. It is the world of the powers of darkness, inspired by Satan, who are already prepared to engage with God, with His faithful and radiant angelic powers, and with all truly-believing Christians, in a last and decisive battle, because Satan feels that he hath but a short time (Rev. 12:12).
Let us not therefore delude ourselves and light-mindedly be deceived, lest we be found in the number of those unhappy ones, who worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark on the forehead, or in the hand (Rev. 14:9), and who thereafter will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb (v. 10), and along with the beast and the false prophet be cast into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Rev. 19:20).
With God’s help and with the assistance of our Guardian Angel, let us in every way strive to preserve in purity our spiritual chastity, guarding ourselves from all converse, even the most minimal contact, with the dark bodiless powers and with all their ministers, so that joyfully and with pure hearts we might meet our Lord and Saviour, Who shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead, in the company of the radiant, honourable bodiless powers of heaven, when He comes, as He Himself promised, in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him (Matt. 25:31).
Behold, I come quickly, He tells us through His wondrous seer of mysteries, and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according to his work (Rev. 22:12).
Blessed, in truth blessed is the one, who can sincerely cry out from his whole heart, “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Amen.