The Fifth Wednesday of Great Lent: The Devil has not Full Power & The Devil’s Strategy
The Devil has not Full Power
Among the angelic powers the chief of the terrestrial order, the one to whom God had entrusted the task of looking after the earth, was not evil by nature, he had not received any trace of evil from his Creator. He was good.
However, he did not maintain the light and the honour that God had given him. By a deliberate act of his own free will he rebelled against the Creator. He turned his face away from goodness and fell into evil. Evil in fact is merely the absence of good, as darkness is the absence of light.
A host of angels placed under his command followed him in the fall. Despite their angelic nature, they also freely plunged from goodness down to evil and became wicked.
The devils cannot do anything against us without God’s permission. But with God’s permission they are powerful. All wickedness, all the passions are inspired by them. But listen: God allows them to suggest sin to a person, but they cannot force him to do it. We ourselves are responsible for accepting or rejecting their seductive suggestions.
John Damascene The Orthodox Faith, 2, 4 (PG94, 873ff.)
The Devil’s Strategy
The devil demonstrates simultaneously his weakness and his wickedness.
He is unable to harm anyone who does not harm himself. In fact, anyone who denies heaven and chooses the earth is, as it were, rushing towards a precipice, even though running of his own accord.
The devil, however, starts working as soon as he sees someone living up to faith’s commitments, someone who has a reputation for virtue, who does good works.
He tries to worm vanity into him, to make it possible for him to be puffed up with pride, become presumptuous, lose trust in prayer and not attribute to God the good that he does but to take all the credit himself.
Ambrose On the Gospel of St Luke 4, 25
~ Thomas Spidlik, Drinking from the Hidden Fountain, A Patristic Breviary: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World