A commentary on the history, contexts, and meanings of the word "genius," in addition to articles on other related subjects and many new era Christian sermons.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

7 Satan III --Demon Possession

7 Satan III --Demon Possession

Today's sermon is about how Satan invades and corrupts us--with special attention paid to a description of the mechanism of demonic possession. Above all, it must be remembered that Satan and his minions are FALLEN ANGELS, and therefore possess super-human powers of intellect and persuasion. However, they are not CORPOREAL, so their only power over us is the power that we, ourselves, give them, to invade our minds, thereby allowing them to gain control of our bodies--this either in highly dramatic ways, or very subtle ways. More on  this below.

To begin with, an introductory paragraph on the subject of demon possession is in order:

As we will see in greater detail in a moment, there are a great many levels or degrees of demon possession; they range from the physically violent, hysterical teeth-gnashing such as may be seen in the movie The Exorcist, to very subtle, almost imperceptible levels of demonic influence. Every level of demonic possession is equally damning, because they all point the sinner away from the Light of Truth. The point here, is that, regardless of degree, Satan and Satan's minions are always at our elbow seeking to confuse us, to confound us, and to lead us astray, whether that confusion expresses itself in elaborate displays of magical fireworks, or the faintest footfalls of condescension on the backstairs of judgment.

Once again let me remind you of the C.S. Lewis quote from The Screwtape Letters that I have read several times before:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight.”

The fact that Satan is equally pleased by:

1.) the materialist, who denies the existence of supernatural entities, and
2.) the magician, the meddler in supernatural affairs,

is significant, because it underlines the idea that demonic influence, the subtle, muttering which is constantly, incessantly being whispered in our spiritual ears, has nothing to do with how things really are; the demons don't care what we think, nor what we think of them, as long as it is wrong; their words contain NO INFORMATION, not even negative information--it is just noise. The demons have nothing to tell us or to teach us--all they want is a little piece of our mind (one way or the other), a tiny perch, a foothold on the edge of our attention, into the fabric of which they can weave an embroidery of lies; lies through which they can project false hallucinations before our eyes.

Hence, the battle between good and evil is the battle between the perception of the real (that which is eternal) and the unreal (that which is temporal). The materialist's stubborn refusal to admit to the existence of  Satan, freely grants, to the father of liars, the power to insinuate his way into the sinner's mind, and draw a curtain of mist between fact and fiction. Thus, unsuspecting, and with blind eye, the sinner allows Satan to plant perverted ideas in his mind; infernal thought forms appear on the proscenium of the sinner's inner vision, unobstructed by objective perspective, and uncompromised by any conscious intimation that all his thoughts may not be his own.  In the case of the magician, the Devil can, with smoke and mirrors, create a light show that imitates reality in every detail except for the fact that, when the show is over, what appeared to have been an edifice of solid three-dimensional truth turns out to be a flimsy 2-dimensional placard taken off a movie set, solid on one side and vacant on the back. In both cases, the devil creates, with a magic brush, canvases of illusion whose only purpose is to enthrall us and to distract our attention away from the light of divine truth.

So, first of all, in our discussion of how demon possession works, we have to describe the means by which demonic influence is established in the sinner. It must be understood, at the outset, that there is a doorway between the world of spirit and the world of materiality, a doorway which may be manipulated with greater or lesser success depending on the spiritual sensitivity of the subject. I have spoken many times of the multi-dimensional nature of Man, of Consciousness; I have explained that there are many levels of consciousness on a graded continuum from the lowest carnal levels up to the highest infinitudes of God Consciousness. Since the demonic consciousness is of angelic origin, it is more native to higher vibratory levels of being. Thus, in order to corrupt our souls, which are as fine and as high vibratory material as theirs, the devils must gain access to our consciousness on the physical level--to our brains--there must be a bending down, a reaching through the door from the higher to the lower, such that the language of spiritual corruption can register in words referential of the material plane.

The demons, although of a lower nature, are still essentially smarter (is cunning a better word?) and more powerful than Man, coming, as they do, from a higher plane. They use the magician's flippant attitude of Let's-Play-Ouija-board! to come plowing through the door with parlor tricks and miraculous fireworks, and they use the materialist's self-blinding denial to creep up on him in the dark. Either way, they prey upon us at our point of weakest defense, but they have to come in through that little slip of a door.

Let's get this straight, too: when I speak of a door, I do not mean some swinging board, some membrane, or material curtain; I speak of the door metaphorically as a consciousness state: it is a region of our psychic construction that is subject to our mental control by virtue of our ability to look inside our selves, with spiritual eyes, and see aspects of our inner self. Thus, this door between the worlds may be said to be of a thickness relative to the sensitivity of the subject; if the door between the mundane plane and the spiritual plane is thinner, this means that the subject is more sensitive, more attentive to subtle vibrations, and energies may pass between the two planes more freely, for good or ill.

Spiritual sensitivity is achieved by concentrated efforts of will which reveal to the subject his/her inner life. Steiner makes reference to the "moral imagination". This may be an unfortunate term for many, because the word "imaginary" carries with it the connotation of "unreal"; to achieve spiritual consciousness this connotation must be dispensed with. Spiritual realities are just as real as, in fact more real than, physical realities--they are just harder to perceive--at least at first. Consequently, if we are less spiritually attuned, the harder it will be to perceive spiritual realities, the more spiritually attuned we are, the more spiritually attentive we are, the more easily will we be able to open that door between worlds. This is good. However, this spiritual sensitivity brings with it the heightened vulnerability to Satanic influence; to be sure, the more spiritually enlightened we are, the more we may be in touch with heavenly influence, but this also means that we make a better target for Satanic influence as well.

All of us here have heard the insidious whisper of Satan trying to cancel out the joy of some positive thing that has happened to us; we know that while the angels sing hosannas over every positive accomplishment in the world, the chorus is accompanied by the ravings of hell, seeking to compromise the chords with dissonance and cacophony. Every time we are on the verge of making a positive breakthrough, spiritually, the devil is at our elbow rasping nagging words of denigration and despair, warning us not to go through with it, planting irrational fears in our fainting hearts. And the bigger the foothold in our mental makeup Satan is allowed to claim, the more influence he will have. We may not even suspect it, but he is always there, darting to and fro before whatever defenses we have, like a slavering wolf closing in on a wounded faun.

Remember that the brain is just a muscle, it is not the origin or even the main seat of consciousness; but it is the receptor of spiritual energy that we interpret as "thought". The more our brains are open to spiritual thought, the more they may be open to Satanic suggestions. Without the armor of God, without the armor of Jesus protecting us, we can easily become so overwhelmed by Satan that he can actually take control of our body. (More on the armor of God next week.)

This, I believe, is the essential definition of demonic possession: a person whose armor is so weakened that Satan (or another of his minions) can actually invade the sinner's brain to the point that it, (the demon), usurps physical control of the sinner's body. Not many of us are so obviously dominated by demons that we perform any of the horrible behaviors portrayed in the Exorcist movies, and the like; that's why demon possession is not more recognized, and more recognizable by the public at large, and by the scientific community in particular.

But there is a more subtle, insidious, (and damning), type of demonic possession of which most of us are not even aware: this where we have given Satan a foothold in our consciousness, and have allowed him more and more to substitute for our own true thoughts, thought forms generated by him--in other words, a brain, possessed by demonic influence, will consciously mistake for its own thoughts, ideas and conclusions which have actually been therein implanted by Satan.

A dramatic description, of this type of unconscious demon possession, that we all must endure, appears at the beginning of C.S. Lewis's Perelandra. The selection is quite long, and I have cut it up quite a bit, but, even so, you will admire how deliciously accurate is Lewis's account of how the demons invade our minds. The scene is this: a friend is traveling to a meeting with Ransom (the hero of the book)--this is a meeting that the powers of darkness very much wish to prevent; as the friend approaches the appointed spot, his mind is attacked by a legion of demons, and he begins to have wild ungovernable thoughts:

"As I plodded along the empty, unfenced road which runs across the middle of Worchestshire Common I tried to dispel my growing sense of malaise by analysing it. What, after all, was I afraid of? The moment I had put this question I regretted it. I was shocked to find that I had mentally used the word "afraid." Up till then I had tried to pretend that I was feeling only distaste, or embarrassment, or even boredom. But the mere word afraid had let the cat out of the bag. I realized now that my emotion was neither more, nor less, nor other, than Fear. And I realized that I was afraid of two things-afraid that sooner or later I myself might meet an eldil, and afraid that I might get "drawn in." I suppose every one knows this fear of getting "drawn in" - the moment at which a man realizes that what had seemed mere speculations are on the point of landing him in the Communist Party or the Christian Church - the sense that a door has just slammed and left him on the inside. The thing was such sheer bad luck. . . .

"This is a long, dreary road," I thought to myself. "Thank goodness I haven't anything to carry." And then, with a start of realization, I remembered that I ought to be carrying a pack, containing my things for the night. I swore to myself. I must have left the thing in the train. Will you believe me when I say that my immediate impulse was to turn back to the station and "do something about it"? . . .

A nasty idea occurred to me. Why should not Ransom be a dupe? If something from outer space were trying to invade our planet, what better smoke-screen could it put up than this very story of Ransom's? . . . And then once more, just as when I had discovered that I had no pack, the impulse to go no farther returned to me. "Go back, go back," it whispered to me, "send him a wire, tell him you were ill, say you'll come some other time--anything." The strength of the feeling astonished me. I stood still for a few moments telling myself not to be a fool, and when I finally resumed my walk I was wondering whether this might be the beginning of a nervous breakdown. No sooner had this idea occurred to me than it also became a new reason for not visiting Ransom. . .

He was in league with them! How did I know he was even a dupe? He might be something worse … and I came to a standstill.
The reader, not knowing Ransom, will not understand how contrary to all reason this idea was. The rational part of my mind, even at that moment, knew perfectly well that even if the whole universe were crazy and hostile, Ransom was sane and wholesome and honest. And this part of my mind in the end sent me forward-with a reluctance and a difficulty I can hardly put into words. What enabled me to go on was the knowledge (deep down inside me) that I was getting nearer at every stride to the one friend: but I felt that I was getting nearer to the one enemy-the traitor, the sorcerer, the man in league with "them" … walking into the trap with my eyes open, like a fool. . .

I have naturally no wish to enlarge on this phase of my story. The state of mind I was in was one which I look back on with humiliation. I would have passed it over if I did not think that some account of it wasnecessary for a full understanding of what follows- and, perhaps, of some other things as well. At all events I can't really describe how I reached the front door of the cottage. Somehow or other, despite the loathing and dismay that pulled me back in a sort of  invisible wall of resistance that met me in the face, fighting for each step, and almost shrieking as a harmless spray of the hedge touched my face, I managed to get through the gate and up the little path. And there I was, drumming on the door and wringing the handle and shouting to him to let me in as if my life depended on it."

This type of thought perversion will be familiar to anyone who has ever accomplished anything in life. The Devil hates every positive accomplishment of Man whether it be winning a war against a Hitler, or spelling correctly a difficult word. Many times I have seen the Devil lurking in the back row of my concerts seeking to compromise my students' musical accomplishments with negative thought forms. The brouhaha of infernal protest raves through the caverns of Hell every time a young kid does well on Fur Elise. Indeed, it is precisely at moments of supreme accomplishment that we must most be on our guard against Satan because, it is these positive accomplishments that he most seeks to ruin for us.

Another favorite description of how evil thoughts can be implanted in our minds appears in a song text of my own, The Good Samaritan:

"I wondered who that could be
lying beside the road,
wounded and bleeding by the road.
I could not, I could not see his face
as I knelt beside him.

And then I wondered,
"How long has he been here?
Is he really hurt, or is he just pretending
so he can catch me off my guard and rob and kill me?"
It was dark. I was scared. It was lonely.

I picked up his body and carried him to an inn;
and in the morning, with the first rays of the sun,
I saw the face of my best friend."

It will be noticed that in both this song text, and in the long C.S. Lewis excerpt, the evil thoughts are overcome merely by steadfast adherence to right action. We will have somewhat to say on this subject a little farther on. Suffice it to say, at this point, that: the Devil cannot withstand the opposition of righteous will power.

However, it must be admitted that Satan has a will of iron, too, and the patience of a sphinx. He will keep at us, and keep at us, and never give up trying to find a way through our inner defenses. He is ever probing and prodding until his every avenue of entry is blocked, or until he finds a way to imprint his negative message on our souls. How does he and his devils do it? How does he get his message of despair through to the tender innocent?

Remember the sermon from 2011 concerning angels in which Rudolf Steiner gave us a description of the mechanism whereby angels imprint information and ideas in the human consciousness:

The Work of the Angels In Man's Astral Body: A Lecture By Rudolf Steiner, Zurich, 9th October, 1918:

"It is then revealed that these Beings of the Hierarchy of the Angels — particularly through their concerted work, although in a certain sense each single Angel also has his task in connection with every individual human being — these Beings form pictures in man's astral body."
[Sidebar: Notice how similar this is to the description of the infernal hierarchy described in The Screwtape Letters; the devils work together, and each has a single human "patient" whom he is assigned to corrupt, on whose astral body he is assigned the task of implanting false pictures.

Now, having once accepted the idea that we have a positive Angel, or Guardian angel, at our elbow, throughout our lives, it is therefore not so far-fetched to suppose that we also have a been assigned our own personal demon; thus, the comic book or cartoon image of the good little harp-playing angel hovering by our right ear, and the bad little horned devil hovering by our left ear, doing battle with each other for our attention, is not so far from the truth.

Back to Steiner:]

"Under the guidance of the Spirits of Form (Exusiai) the Angels form pictures. Unless we reach the level of Imaginative Cognition we do not know that pictures are all the time being formed in our astral body."
[Sidebar: Imaginative cognition refers to the Steiner concept of the "moral imagination". Here, he says we must "reach the level of Imaginative Cognition." This means that, in order to perceive angelic impressions, we must develop levels of sensitivity in ourselves capable of registering the subtle activity of the moral imagination on the soul. Remember that we perceive, and approach an understanding of, higher vibratory information through the sensitivity of the so-called imagination or intuition; this is a sense for which we have no verbal definitions beyond the mystery of faith surrounding the "cloud of unknowing". Now, the word "imagination" means literally "the act of creating an image". So, through the mechanics of "moral imagination" we are able to create images of moral entities. These images may be ineptly, or at least inadequately, described as "pictures". Would there were a better word.

Indeed, the moral imagination is a mode of spiritual sensitivity that is very, very tricky to describe, because, in order to experience divine truth, we have to enter the cloud of unknowing; we have to turn off our verbal-structure-making apparatus. And this is very hard to do, because, as conscious beings of the mundane plane, it is our tendency to turn all our experiences into verbal summaries or descriptions. But with the moral imagination, or intuition, instead of turning our experiences into "word pictures", we have to turn these these experiences into what you might call "feeling pictures". This is difficult not only because the process, of transforming experiences into feeling-images, is delicate and unfamiliar, but because we then have to TRUST the feeling pictures--this is where faith comes in. We must be prepared to have faith in the evidence of things unseen because, at such highly refined vibratory rates, it is very easy to feel the wrong thing, or, even worse, to feel the right thing but lack the confidence to validate it as real.

Back to Steiner:]
"Under the guidance of the Spirits of Form (Exusiai) the Angels form pictures. Unless we reach the level of Imaginative Cognition we do not know that pictures are all the time being formed in our astral body. They arise and pass away, but without them there would be for mankind no evolution into the future in accordance with the intentions of the Spirits of Form. The Spirits of Form are obliged, to begin with, to unfold in pictures what they desire to achieve with us during Earth-evolution and beyond. And then, later on, the pictures become reality in a humanity transformed.
Through the Angels, the Spirits of Form are already now shaping these pictures in our astral body. The Angels form pictures in man's astral body and these pictures are accessible to thinking that has become clairvoyant. If we are able to scrutinise these pictures, it becomes evident that they are woven in accordance with quite definite impulses and principles. Forces for the future evolution of mankind are contained in them. If we watch the Angels carrying out this work of theirs — strange as it sounds, one has to express it in this way — it is clear that they have a very definite plan for the future configuration of social life on earth; their aim is to engender in the astral bodies of men such pictures as will bring about definite conditions in the social life of the future."

Nice, huh? But don't forget, SATAN IS AN ANGEL, TOO! Therefore, it is very reasonable to suggest that he imprints pictures on our consciousness just like the other angels!

In C.S. Lewis and the Devil by John A. Murray, Lewis makes the statement on the subject of the angelic nature of the demons:

"There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. . . . The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God. . . . Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael."

Thus, Satan may come to control our outer actions through an invasion and manipulation of our inner life. The soul and the will are not part of our physical mental equipment, but the inner monologues generated by words implanted in our brains may supply Satan just enough leverage to actually enslave the will. Oh! how horrible!

Satan is constantly attempting to implant tendencies, in our will, for wrong action. As long as we resist the wrong actions with opposing angelic pictures from Heavenly entities, all is well; but the wrong actions, motivated by wrong thoughts, are the devil's road into the heart. According to C.S. Lewis, it is not our thoughts that damn us but our deeds. C. S. Lewis would also insist that right actions, performed habitually, assist in the formation of "virtues". Virtues are part of the armor of God which we will discuss in detail next week. Right actions create what you might call "virtuous inertia", or karma; surely it is easy to see how this inertia toward the good could not help but defeat the Devil's efforts to divert us from our sure course. Contrariwise, if the Devil is able to slow down our spiritual progress with any sort of intellectual or moral bottleneck, it is easy to see how he could motivate wrong actions which would eventually allow his corrupting influence to penetrate the heart. This is basically the Catholic view, that Luther so opposed, by insisting that salvation was obtainable through grace alone. As we have seen before, there is much ground for disagreement, here.

For now, let us focus on the idea that Satan achieves control over our actions by poisoning our will; furthermore, it is through our everyday actions--our little sins of omission, of intemperance, of cruel gossip, of intolerance, of envy--that we are expressing demonic possession, every bit as much as having our heads spin around and make our beds jump up off the floor!

From The Catholic Encyclopedia:
"With the growing wickedness of the world and the spreading of paganism and false religions and magic rites, the rule of Satan was extended and strengthened till his power was broken by the victory of Christ, who for this reason said, on the eve of His Passion:

John 12:31:
"Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out".

By the victory of the Cross Christ delivered men from the bondage of Satan and at the same time paid the debt due to Divine justice by shedding His blood in atonement for our sins.

In their endeavours to explain this great mystery, some old theologians, misled by the metaphor of a ransom for captives made in war, came to the strange conclusion that the price of Redemption was paid to Satan. But this error was effectively refuted by St. Anselm, who showed that Satan had no rights over his captives and that the great price wherewith we were bought was paid to God alone (cf. ATONEMENT).

The two cities whose struggle is described by St. Augustine are already indicated in the words of the Apostle,

1 John 3:8:
"In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God appeared, that He might destroy the works of the devil".

Whether or not the foreknowledge of the Incarnation was the occasion of his own fall, his subsequent course has certainly shown him the relentless enemy of mankind and the determined opponent of the Divine economy of redemption. And since he lured our first parents to their fall he has ceased not to tempt their children in order to involve them in his own ruin.

There is no reason, indeed, for thinking that all sins and all temptations must needs come directly from the Devil or one of his ministers of evil. For it is certain that if, after the first fall of Adam, or at the time of the coming of Christ, Satan and his angels had been bound so fast that they might tempt no more, the world would still have been filled with evils. For men would have had enough of temptation in the weakness and waywardness of their hearts. But in that case the evil would clearly have been far less than it is now, for the activity of Satan does much more than merely add a further source of temptation to the weakness of the world and the flesh; it means a combination and an intelligent direction of all the elements of evil.

The whole Church and each one of her children are beset by dangers, the fire of persecution, the enervation of ease, the dangers of wealth and of poverty, heresies and errors of opposite characters, rationalism and superstition, fanaticism and indifference. It would be bad enough if all these forces were acting apart and without any definite purpose, but the perils of the situation are incalculably increased when all may be organized and directed by vigilant and hostile intelligences."

Finally, we have arrived at the nitty-gritty of this sermon: stories of demon possession. Thus far we have explored, in a general way, Satan's invasion of the mind, and how it can influence us. But when we speak of demon possession we often think of dramatic stories which involve magical utterances of spiritual beings through physical bodies. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

We begin with some famous stories from the Bible.

1 Samuel 16:14-23:
"14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.
15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.
16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”
17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”
18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”
19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.”
20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.
21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers.
22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”
23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him."

[Sidebar: It is no accident that one of the first appearances of demon possession in the Bible is also accompanied by an account of one of its cures: music. I have often extolled the healing power of music; indeed, it is not unreasonable to give music the credit for being one of the primary powers of defense against demonic possession--the power to transmit, from heavenly sources, healing Angel pictures of divine truth into the soul of the subject. The Angel pictures which we heard Steiner speak of a few moments ago are admirably reproduced in the forms of music, which are reflections, in sound and time, of the heavenly truths.

It is important to remember, in this regard, that the hypnotic power of music may be used as effectively for evil as for good; we recall the section from The Silver Chair in which the Green witch uses the thrumming of a lyre to dull her victims into submission. We have also suggested that TIME is a primary element in the creation of sin--the sequential ordering of events (the iconic fixation of which drags those events out of the realm of eternity and into the prison of material reality) is one of the ways our vision is distracted from the eternal down to the illusions of carnality. As the hypnotic thralldom of sequential repetition puts our minds to sleep, we are the more deluded by infernal implications and innuendos. However, music can be more than mindless repetitions of carnal impulses: it can be reflections of divine forms, expressed in patterns of evolving, accelerating heavenly shapes. These shapes reside in the collective unconscious and are bursting with implicative symbolism and explicative emanations of positive energy.

Thus, the rhythm of music can represent the physicality of time, and therefore the physicality of sin, OR it can use the physicality of rhythm to open the heart to receive divine intimations of immortality. Music, when its rhythms are used to evoke divine forms, can become a powerful weapon in the Christian's arsenal of defenses against Satanic influence. The purity and perfection of divine forms, when placed side by side with the twisted demonic forms, make a very positive and very obvious comparison. A person would have to be very blind, indeed, to confuse the two.

Back to Biblical accounts of demon possession:]

Mark 5:1-20:

"1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.
2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him.
3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain.
4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him.
5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.
7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!”
8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.
12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”
13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.
15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well.
17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
20 So the man went away and began to tell in Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed."

[Sidebar: It is interesting to speculate on the idea that the demon possessed will sometimes exhibit displays of superhuman strength. It would be easy to conclude that these displays of strength are Satanic or Angelic in nature, because they are miraculous, but I find is not to be true; remember that Satan may be many things, but he is not physical--that honor has been reserved for Man. I find that the miraculous feats of strength and of intellect, which are performed by demonically possessed subjects, are simply manifestations of inherent human potential.

Such strength resides in every human being, as a potential anyway. We all know stories of mothers lifting Volkswagens off their three-year-old children, and suchlike--so it is not so far-fetched to suggest that Satanic influence, angelic influence, can maximize and materialize latent human potentials. Thus, the miracles of Jesus do not affirm His divinity--that proof comes from elsewhere; many saints have performed miracles by tapping into resources which lie dormant in all human beings. Nevertheless, it is very spooky to think that that Satan can bring out some of the best in us, for the worst possible reasons. Oh, if we could only reach into ourselves and maximize our own potential for good without the satanic hypnotic effect how wonderful that would be!]

Luke 4:33-36:

"And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”"

[Sidebar: This distinction between the authority of Satan over his subjects and the authority of Jesus over his subjects is worthy of comment. To review the words of St. Thomas Aquinas:

"Satan is only head by outward government and not also, as Christ is, by inward, life-giving influence."

This point is not merely of dogmatic significance, but hints at a strategic tool by which the subterfuges of the Devil are made transparent to the faithful, to whit: no matter how convincing the arguments of the Devil seem to be, they NEVER touch the inner life of Man. The litmus test of spiritual validity is whether the words only touch the mind or whether they penetrate to the heart.]

Remember what I have said previously: that whenever a virtuous act is performed, Satan is at our elbow trying to compromise and denigrate our success. Avoiding his wheedling voice is almost unavoidable for even the greatest saints, witness Jesus in the desert and Luther in his study. However, the test is whether we listen when he whispers, or turn away.

Many more examples could be given of dramatic stories of demon possession, and, indeed, next week, we will look at two more long tales of demon possession and victory over demons in the lives of two of the great church Saints, St. Augustine and Martin Luther. For now, let us simply review some principles, and mention some other, less dramatic, examples of demon possession, that we may, by diligently paying attention, learn to recognize and avoid.

Satan is always prowling the perimeters of our consciousness, seeking the subtly hidden flaw, so he may use it to corrupt it the more. The role of perfectionism in this process cannot be overestimated, since a perfectionist attitude always seeks the hidden flaw, so that it may be corrected. Perfectionism, then, may clearly be considered an apt avenue of demonic invasion, because the flaw-seeking mind is easily seduced into admitting to flaws that are not really there. If Satan accused us of sins that were real, he would be doing us a service, by pointing out areas in our lives that should be mended and healed; but when Satan mentions our real sins, it is only to generate in us feelings of guilt which are not legitimate, and therefore not real.

Indeed, guilt is the one of the most insidious points of entry for Satan. Calling attention to invented sins is one of the well-worn corrupting strategies of Satan: he loves to accuse us of things of which we are not even guilty, so that, by generating feelings of guilt, we turn into ourselves away from the selfless adoration of the Divine Presence. Guilt is thought of by many as the humblest, most self-effacing of emotions, but I think it is really one more example of narcissistic self-interest run amuck.

Another source of temptation is the quest for mental stability (by that I mean the feeling that you have figured it out--the feeling that you have reached an and condition, mentally, which answers all your questions, and solves all your problems). I think one of the most dangerous mental attitudes a person can adopt is the feeling that "they have it figured out". Remember that Socrates' only claim to wisdom, was that he had no wisdom. We have also learned from Jesus that we must enter the kingdom of God as an innocent child.

These statements indicate that one of the primary ways in which we fight against Satan is by not allowing ourselves to come to any fixed or static ideas about what is real, but, rather, always adopt a fluid and evolving attitude toward reality. Satan will always try to give you the "right answer", because he knows that the right answer will end the discussion, and keep you from evolving. Satan wants to keep you from questioning, to keep you from moving forward, and changing, and growing.

Remember, as Dante approaches the face of God, he finds the face of God changing with every change in himself. It is not the ACHIEVEMENT of perfection, it is the APPROACH to perfection that Satan most wishes to stop. He knows that a moving target is much harder to hit. So, by getting us to stop in our tracks, and settle down to one theology, to one dogma, he will have stopped our spiritual evolution, and make it possible for him to grab us, and corrupt us, and begin the backward process of degradation, rather than evolution forward. This, I believe, is the reason so many devout Christians are burning in hell--because they simply placed too much emphasis on their own fixed attitudes, and denied themselves the fluid and dynamic experience of spirit, as it constantly draws us ever, ever closer to God.

Let us pray: Jesus we know that the demons are all around us seeking to corrupt us, seeking to misguide us, seeking to destroy our confidence in the positiveness of life. Please continue to remind us that life is good, that creation is good, and that we can, through the formation of virtues, make ourselves better and better and better and more worthy, to ultimately sit in your presence at the right hand of the Father. Amen.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

6 Satan II

6 Satan II

The topic of today's sermon is Satan as he is depicted in mythology and literature; also we will touch on Satan not only as an individual, but as the leader of  a band of fallen angels. The reason we do this is to emphasize the fact that Satan has been around a LONG time.

John 1:1
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
And ALMOST from the beginning Satan and his minions have been at war with God, and with us. Reports of demons and evil-doers go back to the roots of oral history, and tell the same tale over and over again. We have previously affirmed that we must resist taking, too-literally, any verbal statements concerning the supernatural, spiritual nature; it therefore poses no problem, nor any danger of blasphemy, to review the many world versions of Satanic lore for the purpose of extracting the essential truth from the many details of invented narrative.

Our first historical quotation comes from the Illuminati bibliotecapleyades.net:

"In The Two Babylons, by Hislop, p. 227, we read the following:

"Along with the sun, as the great fire-god, and, in due time, identified with him, was the serpent worshipped. In the mythology of the primitive world, says Owen, 'the serpent is universally the symbol of the sun. In Egypt, one of the commonest symbols of the sun, or sun god, is a disc with a serpent around it. The original reason of that identification seems just to have been that, as the sun was the great enlightener of the physical world, so the serpent was held to have been the great enlightener of the spiritual, by giving mankind the 'Knowledge of Good and Evil.' ' "

[Sidebar: Once again, as we have noted in other sermons, there is a difference of opinion about the significance of original sin: some insist that the original sin was an exile into bondage, the bondage of mentation, of verbal structures, of self-limited and self-limiting verbal meaning; however, an opposite interpretation has been offered on numerous occasions as well, i.e., the idea that the knowledge of good and evil was an entry into freedom. Thus, from the outset, from the very beginning, we have a picture of Satan as both a captor of the human spirit into bondage, and at the same time a liberator of the human mind into spiritual freedom.]

"The ancient Mayans of the Yucatan in Mexico worshipped the serpent god under the name of Can. Can means "serpent" in the Mayan language, as Can or A-Can was the ancient Sumerian and ancient Scottish word for serpent. Here we find the origin of our word canny, shrewd or serpent-like.

The Babylonians worshipped Can the serpent and Vul, the god of fire.

The Romans simply combined the two words into 'Vulcan," the Roman god of fire from when also comes our word "volcano". This seems to be how the Mayans and Mexicans named their gods. They too combined two words to describe their serpent god. "Kulkul" means "beautiful bird," and "Can," serpent. Hence, "Kulkulcan," which means "Bird Serpent" in the Mayan language. This is the exact same meaning for Quetzalcoatl, the Mexican pagan messiah in central Mexico. 
Interestingly enough, the cosmic symbol for Quetzalcoatl was a feathered serpent! Here is another interesting observation. The origin of the word "Vatican" also derived from two words. The Latin word "vatic" or "vatis" means "prophet or soothsayer".

The combined word, "Vatican," appears to mean "divination by the serpent"! The symbol for Astrology is often shown in pagan arts as a serpent in a circular position with his tail in his mouth. This represented eternal life."

[Sidebar: You will remember, from last week, the suggestion, found in some of our texts, the it was God the Father Himself who was responsible for some of the first so-called Satanic temptations, those of Abraham and Isaac, and of Job. It was further suggested that a dynamic and co-operative relationship exists between God and Satan. It was furthermore related, in William Blake's "Theory of Contraries", that black and white--good and evil--might be subsumed under a single, inclusive, cosmic umbrella. Clearly, the question of the paradoxical Divine Nature pursues us throughout all these investigations; but let's not forget the bottom line: Satan is here to lie, to tempt, to corrupt, and to damn.]

From the ORACLEThinkQuest website, we read:

"In the ancient Greek mythology, the Devil is called Pan, a god who was a goat-man with horns, cloven hooves, and a pointed tail. The word "demon" is a Greek word used for Pan and his followers. A demon is a spirit who could take over a person's mind and body making them act ferociously, foam at the mouth, fall madly in love, and blurt out hidden truths and prophecies. When someone acted like this, people would call an exorcist to cast the demon out and away from the person's body by reciting prayers."

[Sidebar: It's a piss-off that the devil is so often associated with music--the devil Pan, the devil plays the violin, Nero fiddled while Rome burned, etc. But it is not surprising that the hypnotic effects of music should be equated on some level with the hypnotic effects of mystical illusion; remember the witch in The Silver Chair who nearly enthralled the children and the the Marsh-wiggle with harp music.]

Here are a few Wikipedia accounts of some Satan (or Devil) figures who appear in the mythologies of certain other religions:

In Islam, the Devil is known as ʾIblīs. According to the Quran, God created Iblis out of "smokeless fire or from the pure flame of fire" (along with all of the other jinn) and created man out of clay. The primary characteristic of the Devil, besides hubris, is that he has no power other than the power to cast evil suggestions into the heart of men, women, and jinn, although the Quran does mention appointing jinn to assist those who are far from God in a general context. "We made the Shayatin (devils) ʾAwliyāʾ (protectors and helpers) for those who believe not." (سورة الأعراف al-ʾAʿraf, Chapter #7, Verse #27)

In contrast to Christianity and Islam, Hinduism does not recognize any central evil force or entity such as the Devil opposing God and man. Hinduism does recognize that different beings (e.g., asuras) and entities can perform evil acts, under the temporary dominance of the guna of tamas, and cause worldly sufferings. The Rajasic and Tamasic Gunas of Maya are considered especially close to the Abrahamic concept, the hellish parts of the Ultimate Delusion called "Prakriti". An embodiment of this is the concept of Advaita (non-dualism) where there is no good or evil but simply different levels of realization.

On the other hand in Hinduism, which provides plenty of room for counterpoint, there is also the notion of dvaita (dualism) where there is interplay between good and evil tendencies. A prominent asura is Rahu whose characteristics are similar to those of the Devil. However, Hindus, and Vaishnavites in particular, believe that an avatar of Vishnu incarnates to defeat evil when evil reaches its greatest strength. The concept of Guna and Karma also explain evil to a degree, rather than the influence of a devil.

In the Gathas, the oldest texts of the Zoroastrian Avesta, believed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, the poet does not mention a manifest adversary. Ahura Mazda's Creation is "truth", asha. The "lie" (druj) is manifest only as decay or chaos, not an entity.

Later, in Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), Ahura Mazda and the principle of evil, Angra Mainyu, are the "twin" offspring of Zurvan, 'Time'.

No trace of Zurvanism exists after the 10th century.
Today, the Parsis of India largely accept the 19th century interpretation that Angra Mainyu is the 'Destructive Emanation' of Ahura Mazda. Instead of struggling against Mazda himself, Angra Mainyu battles Spenta Mainyu, Mazda's 'Creative Emanation.'

[Sidebar: Notice how much the Hindu "Tamasic Gunas of Maya", and the Zoroastrian "Destructive Emanation of Angra Mainyu" echo  our account of Kal Nuranjan, the Satan figure of Eckankar from last week's sermon, Satan I; note, in particular, the relationship of Kal, or the illusions of the material plane, to "TIME":
Kal Niranjan is characterized as the:

"Full name of the Negative Power, often shortened to Kal. Niranjan means "beyond illusion,"and is applied to Kal ("Time") because he is the creator of illusion. (Time beyond illusion.)" . . .

Kal means "Time,"and since the devotion described implies the suspension of all his activity, for incalculable periods of "time," it would appear that the practices done by Kal please Sat Purush because of their implications when done by him, rather than because standing on one foot has any particular objective merit. . . as we have seen, the fall of Time was probably inevitable once he was separated from the One."

Hence, the illusion of time--that which takes the non-local wholeness of the eternal present, and breaks it up into locally specific sequential bits--is one of the primary ingredients of "sin", and is, thereby, one of the primary aspects of the temptations of Satan. Satan always offers us the rewards of TIME; he can offer us, realistically, ANYTHING that won't last forever, but NOTHING that WILL last forever. Thus, a basic ingredient of sin is the enslaving thralldom of time's ever-withering fruits.

Nevertheless, stepping out of the infinite freedoms of eternity, and into the constraints of time, seems to be a necessary pre-requisite for soul development in the material plane; but with that self-limitation comes the risk of becoming involved in a narcissistic love of the self-limited self. As we have seen, it was narcissism that made it possible for Satan's love for God to become perverted into an uncompromising hatred of God.

[Sidebar: Let's review that point:

The two sides of love are:

the object of the love, and
the lover himself;

when these two become confused, there is sin.

. . .  it was the love-hate dimension of Satan's relationship to God that laid him low; whether we take the tack that Satan loved God too much to bow before Adam, or the tack that Satan identified with God so much that he wanted to BE God, the bottom line is that Satan confused himself with God in an unwholesome way. This seems to me to be a very important aspect of Satan's character, in that this carnal energy comes from a place of high affection for God. Satan's over-the-top self-involvement with God erupted in energetic action that crossed some kind of line. It was the too-egocentric affection, the too-narcissistic affection for God, that was Satan's downfall. If he could simply have put God first, then God's decrees would have never been in conflict with his love. But his love became narcissistic; he became obsessed with himself, and in himself he lost sight of his love. Thus, a love, that is too wrapped up in itself, becomes a perversion of that love, and the price must be paid. This is a lesson we must all bear in mind: it is very easy to lose sight of the one we love, by loving too much, or finding in our love of the other a too-vivid reflection of ourselves.

Back to our discussion on the Time aspect of sin:]

Stepping out of the infinite freedoms of eternity, and into the constraints of time, seems to be a necessary pre-requisite for soul development in the material plane; but with that self-limitation comes the risk of becoming involved in a narcissistic love of the self-limited self. To be sure, when the Messiah stepped out of Eternity into a finite body, He not only made Himself into a finite focus of the Infinite, so that He could redeem Man from the penalties of Adam's original sin, He also opened Himself up to the assaults of Satan's corrupting influence. The example, of Jesus' resistance of Satan's temptations in the desert, (of which there was not necessarily a pre-determined outcome), should not be trivialized. I'm sure that the persuasions of Lucifer in the desert, were on an order of magnitude of much greater power than they were in the Garden of Eden. Thankfully, Jesus was stronger than Eve.

We continue our Devil survey with this section from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

"Diabolus enim et alii dæmones a Deo quidem naturâ creati sunt boni, sed ipsi per se facti sunt mali." ("the Devil and the other demons were created by God good in their nature but they by themselves have made themselves evil.")

Here it is clearly taught that the Devil and the other demons are spiritual or angelic creatures created by God in a state of innocence, and that they became evil by their own act. It is added that man sinned by the suggestion of the Devil, and that in the next world the wicked shall suffer perpetual punishment with the Devil. . ."

Now, last week we discussed, in great detail, the question of the fall of the Angels in the first or second instant of creation. Clearly from the statement read above from the Catholic Encyclopedia stating that the devils were originally:

". . .angelic creatures created by God in a state of innocence, and that they became evil by their own act."
we must conclude that the Angels fell of their own choice. Thus, the question of sin and of free will is a problem to be investigated. The question is whether sin was

1.) a positive element in the divine plan from the beginning, or whether

2.) it was self-created, as merely one of an infinite number of potentials included in the Angelic nature.

Clearly, individual entities were thrown out of the wholeness of God, by God Himself; if the nature of these created entities included the component of free will, the function of free will must have always been, from the beginning, to raise the question of whether the individual would move back toward God, or away from God. Having been separated from God, could the created individual cleave back to the bosom of God or would he take off on his own direction--a direction dictated by free will? Surely some movement away from the center (the Big Bang) must have been part of the plan! The only question is how far away from the center, or how long a journey away from the center would the created being be allowed to go before he must return to the source of his being. Movement away from the source was sin, movement toward the source was salvation. Hence, the ultimate temptation, the true Original Sin was not the creation of free will, but the exercise of free will: the only free will is action CONTRARY to the will of the Father.

I wish to emphasize the idea that the EXERCISE of free will is the original sin. We can understand this idea if we look at it like this:

Genesis 1:31
"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."

How could God see that it was good, if it were not somehow OUTSIDE HIMSELF, and therefore objectively observable? Indeed, the whole idea of CREATION is to bring forth out of the self something made of the self that is NOT the self. The observation of the created thing requires a separation of the self from the created thing. Clearly, the creation of the material cosmos out of the mind of God was a creative act which involved such self-reflection.

As we have discussed elsewhere, the love, of another, must necessarily incorporate into its fabric a narcissistic element. The level of narcissism becomes, therefore, the level to which the will of the Father and the will of the created being are separate; we are created out of the mind of the Father, and yet we are ourselves, separated, in some subtly mysterious way, from the Father. C.S. Lewis says, many times, that our small, puny selves only truly exist within the larger Self of the Father; that it is only when we discover that our will and the Will of the Father are one, that we are truly free. Again, idea of CREATION is to bring forth out of the self something made of the self that is NOT the self. Lewis's concept of Man's will being subsumed under the umbrella of the Father's will, exemplifies just such a miraculous expression of being and not-being.

Thus, if we accept the premise, that the narcissistic reflection of the created being, back on its source, is a natural component of the creative process, we must admit that any created thing will have embedded, in its very essence, the potential for sin. Therefore, if we understand that our only true will is the Father's will we must conclude that the only exercise of free will is the realization of our inherent potential for movement AWAY from the Father. Furthermore, an inner realization of the potential, for movement AWAY from the Father, becomes, like the knowledge of good and evil, an ACTUAL movement AWAY from the Father.  Ultimately we must come to understand that the resistance of sin is the game that God has built into this created works --the game of losing Himself, and finding Himself, and losing Himself, and finding Himself again.

Continuing with The Catholic Encyclopedia:
"As may be gathered from the language of the Lateran definition, the Devil and the other demons are but a part of the angelic creation, and their natural powers do not differ from those of the angels who remained faithful. Like the other angels, they are pure spiritual beings without any body, and in their original state they are endowed with supernatural grace and placed in a condition of probation. It was only by their fall that they became devils. This was before the sin of our first parents, since this sin itself is ascribed to the instigation of the Devil:
"By the envy of the Devil, death came into the world" (Wisdom 2:24).""
Thus, we return to the Catholic Encyclopedia for an account of Satan's fall, and the creation of his diabolical organization:

"And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels: and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." (Apocalypse 12:7-9)"

"The language of the prophets would seem to show that Lucifer held a very high rank in the heavenly hierarchy. And, accordingly, we find many theologians maintaining that before his fall he was the foremost of all the angels. Suarez is disposed to admit that he was the highest negatively, i.e. that no one was higher, though many may have been his equals.  
But here again we are in the region of pious opinions, for some divines maintain that, far from being first of all, he did not belong to one of the highest choirs--Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones--but to one of the lower orders of angels. In any case it appears that he holds a certain sovereignty over those who followed him in his rebellion. For we read of "the Devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41), "the dragon and his angels" (Apocalypse 12:7), "Beelzebub, the prince of devils"--which, whatever be the interpretation of the name, clearly refers to Satan, as appears from the context: "And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because you say that through Beelzebub I cast out devils" (Luke 11:15, 18), and "the prince of the Powers of this air" (Ephesians 2:2).  
At first sight it may seem strange that there should be any order or subordination amongst those rebellious spirits, and that those who rose against their Maker should obey one of their own fellows who had led them to destruction. And the analogy of similar movements among men might suggest that the rebellion would be likely to issue in anarchy and division. But it must be remembered that the fall of the angels did not impair their natural powers, that Lucifer still retained the gifts that enabled him to influence his brethren before their fall, and that their superior intelligence would show them that they could achieve more success and do more harm to others by unity and organization than by independence and division."
[Sidebar: We must never forget that Satan is the leader of a gang. He is the head of all the wicked, and he has managed to engineer a connection between his minions of subsidiary demons, whose purpose is to enact his main purpose of tempting, accusing, and confusing mankind; the purpose of the fallen angels is to make it more difficult for Man to proceed upward toward the divine perfection.
I remind you of a premise suggested in last week's sermon--of the possibility that:
"It may be that Satan is a faithful servant of God--whose temptations are not only condoned by God, but ORDERED by God: the function of these temptations is to temper the souls of those entities trapped in the lower planes, and prepare them to graduate to higher planes of existence. Those who succeed in passing the temptation tests of Satan are free to move on up the ladder of spiritual evolution--those who fail, are sent back down to try again."
Again and again, however, I want to reiterate the point that no larger cosmic virtue of the Devil ought to taken into account, in Man's dealings with Satan; the big picture is God's business and should in no way affect our dealings, of a lower nature, with the demons. Satan MAY be working for God, but never forget that he is working for God AGAINST US; total rejection ought to be our only response to Satan's speeches.]

The following is taken from Koinonia Fellowship website:
"Satan wasn’t the only person to rebel against God. In Revelation we read that a third of all the angels in Heaven followed after Satan and rebelled against God. 
 Revelation 12:3-4
“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born”. 

[Sidebar: This scripture is crammed with implications: it refers to "a third of the stars", which is how many angels Satan is said to have recruited for his rebellion; it paints a grisly picture of a monstrous dragon lying in wait to pounce on the innocent child of God; for "her child" substitute innocence of Man, and you have a picture of the serpent in the garden waiting for just the precise moment to corrupt the innocent Eve.]

Back to Koinonia:
Revelation 12:7-12
“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short’”."

In the material taken from the Catholic dictionary, we find some disagreement about Lucifer's original place in the angelic hierarchy. He is most often considered to have been the highest Angel, next to God; but some authorities consider him to have been a member of one of the lower choirs of Angels, but still with authority over other angels. In any case, it was his ability to enlist an army of angels, that enabled him to stage the Heavenly rebellion in the first place. All of these angels became demons when they failed to overcome God's dominion or sovereignty. In retrospect, it all seems to have been a bad idea, worthy of repentance; however there is a very interesting section in Milton's Paradise Lost where the devil addresses his minions, and persists in prideful defiance, even in defeat.

"Fall'n Cherube, to be weak is miserable
Doing or Suffering: but of this be sure,
To do ought good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his Providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;
Which oft times may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from thir destind aim.
But see the angry Victor hath recall'd
His Ministers of vengeance and pursuit
Back to the Gates of Heav'n: The Sulphurous Hail
Shot after us in storm, oreblown hath laid
The fiery Surge, that from the Precipice
Of Heav'n receiv'd us falling, and the Thunder,
Wing'd with red Lightning and impetuous rage,
Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now
To bellow through the vast and boundless Deep.
Let us not slip th' occasion, whether scorn,
Or satiate fury yield it from our Foe.
Seest thou yon dreary Plain, forlorn and wilde,
The seat of desolation, voyd of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves,
There rest, if any rest can harbour there,
And reassembling our afflicted Powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our Enemy, our own loss how repair,
How overcome this dire Calamity,
What reinforcement we may gain from Hope,
If not what resolution from despair."

[Sidebar: Unlike that portrait of Satan as a great lover of God, (so painted in the Persian myth), the Miltonian description of Satan as a hater of humanity and a hater of God, is the traditional picture of him commonly upheld by most Christians. To be sure, Milton's conception of Satan does not rule out the older Persian interpretation of Satan as a lover of God, because it is very easy, as we all know, for love to turn to hate when the object of our love appears to turn against us; our hatred can become as intense as our love was; indeed, the more intense the original love is, the more intense and furious the hatred may become. But Lover of God, or Hater of God, it is all one: the important essential fact to adhere to is that Satan is a narcissist, and he insists on projecting his own face on the face of the universe.

 "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!" has been the warring cry of many a maniac. This is madness, of course, but we must remember that it is also a prime ingredient in the all-or-nothing obsessions of perfectionists. Thus, the striving for perfection may bring with it heavenly harp music, or infernal noise.]

The following are excerpts are taken from an article comparing the sayings of William Blake with parallel Gospel readings:
Satan, Sin, and Death: Satan Comes to the Gates of Hell:

"Listen to Blake and the Bible commenting on Jesus, Sin, Error, Forgiveness, Satan and Judgment. These quotes from the two sources allow us to compare New Testament concepts and how similar ideas appear in Blake:

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous":

Vision of the Last Judgment,
"Forgiveness of Sin is only at the Judgment Seat of Jesus the Saviour where the Accuser is cast out. not because he Sins but because he torments the Just & makes them do what he condemns as Sin & what he knows is opposite to their own Identity"

"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."

Vision of the Last Judgment,(E 564)
"Christ comes as he came at first to deliver those who were bound under the Knave not to deliver the Knave. He Comes to Deliver Man the [Forgiven] not Satan the Accuser-- we do not find anywhere that Satan is Accused of Sin, he is only accused of Unbelief & thereby drawing Man into Sin that he may accuse him.
Such is the Last Judgment a Deliverance from Satan's Accusation. Satan thinks that Sin is displeasing to God; he ought to know that Nothing is displeasing to God but Unbelief & Eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil"

"Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God. Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine."

Back to the Catholic Encyclopedia:]

"Besides exercising this authority over those who were called "his angels", Satan has extended his empire over the minds of evil men. Thus, in the passage just cited from St. Paul, we read in
Ephesians 2:1-2:
"And you, when you were dead in your offenses and sins, wherein in times past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of this air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief."

In the same way Christ in the Gospel calls him "the prince of this world". For when His enemies are coming to take Him, He looks beyond the instruments of evil to the master who moves them, and says:
"I will not now speak many things to you, for the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not anything." John 14:30
There is no need to discuss the view of some theologians who surmise that Lucifer was one of the angels who ruled and administered the heavenly bodies, and that this planet was committed to his care. For in any case the sovereignty with which these texts are primarily concerned is but the rude right of conquest and the power of evil influence. His sway began by his victory over our first parents, who, yielding to his suggestions, were brought under his bondage. All sinners who do his will become in so far his servants. For, as St. Gregory says, he is the head of all the wicked--"Surely the Devil is the head of all the wicked; and of this head all the wicked are members". This headship over the wicked, as St. Thomas is careful to explain, differs widely from Christ's headship over the Church, inasmuch as Satan is only head by outward government and not also, as Christ is, by inward, life-giving influence (Summa III:8:7)."

[Sidebar: This distinction between the authority of Satan over his subjects and the authority of Jesus over his subjects is worthy of comment. In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas:
"Satan is only head by outward government and not also, as Christ is, by inward, life-giving influence."
This point is not merely of dogmatic significance, but hints at a strategic tool by which the subterfuges of the Devil are made transparent to the faithful, to whit: no matter how convincing the arguments of the Devil seem to be, they NEVER touch the inner life of Man. Next week we will return with full force to the subject of deterring Satan's influence, but, for now, let us just say that the litmus test of spiritual validity is whether the words only touch the mind or whether they penetrate to the heart.

Back to The Catholic Encyclopedia:]
"What has been said so far may suffice to show the part played by the Devil in human history, whether in regard to the individual soul or the whole race of Adam. It is indicated, indeed, in his name of Satan, the adversary, the opposer, the accuser, as well as by his headship of the wicked ranged under his banner in continual warfare with the kingdom of Christ."
Next week we will be looking at many examples of demon possession--the many ways man may be corrupted and invaded by demonic personalities; for now let us leave the subject of Satan's minions, and suffice it to say that he is not working alone.

In conclusion, the above presentation shows that the Devil has been perceived, spoken about, and written about in many ways. Some slants on him are outside the box, many are merely the same box with different trim. Regardless of the color frame we put around our personal portrait of Satan, we must be ever mindful of this central fact: Satan's primary end is to separate man from himself, and, by inference, from God.

It will not be surprising that I agree with Blake on this important point: we must be ever mindful that one of Satan's tools is the church itself, with its involved catechisms and lists of sins. Most organized religions have devised moral codes which condemn anybody of which they do not approve; this approval may be on spiritual grounds, but is just as often in obedience to social codes not spiritual ones. It seems that, through the ages, religious leaders have taken delight in accusing their enemies of unpardonable sins. (Note that Satan is referred to as "the accuser".) Even a saint like Martin Luther, a backwoods minister, was condemned to Hell by a pope merely because the Papal power and authority were politically threatened. By using the church's authority, and convincing Man that his life in the flesh is essentially sinful, the Devil seeks to enslave the mind in bonds of literal self-limiting definition. It is not always temptations toward excess or low carnality, but any obsession that blinds Man to his wholeness in God.

Back to Koinia:
 "Obviously there is a whole lot more that could be said concerning our Adversary (like his different names, characteristics, etc.), than what’s been covered in this brief lesson. The thing that we need to keep in mind is that the Devil is a real, literal, powerful foe that was defeated at the cross of Calvary. One day he will be cast in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:1-15).  In Romans 16:20 Paul gives the following exhortation to the Roman believers: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

Let us pray: Jesus, deliver us from the snares of Satan. Reveal to us his insidious presence at our elbow, in all its various colorful disguises, and give us power to say to him, "Get behind me. There is only room for one face before my eyes." Amen.