We Orthodox Christians know that, in this life, there is more to the world than we can see. The world is not simply made up of things that can be measured by science. In fact, a great part of God’s creation is not seen by men. We see many things with our eyes, but there are countless things that we cannot see with our eyes.
This belief is part of the dogma of the Holy Orthodox Church. In the Nicaean Creed, which we recite in every individual and communal prayer, we proclaim the following: “I believe in One God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and all things seen and unseen.” In this statement, we express our faith in God Who made the things we cannot see in addition to the things we can see. Among the things we cannot see with our human eyes is Heaven, love, our souls, and the ranks of the angels and heavenly powers.
With respect to these angels, God created them for His service and ministry. He gave to them a measure of free will just as He gave humans. Before the creation of the material world, a portion of these angels rebelled against God under the leadership of Lucifer, who was one of the exalted cherubim. Lucifer exercised his free will, exalted himself above God, fell into the sin of pride, and ultimately turned his back on God. He became Satan and all those angels who followed him became demons. They were overcome by the Holy Archangel Michael and cast out of Heaven. They now torment mankind as a way of rebelling and lashing out against God. They know they cannot hurt God directly, so they try to hurt us, because we were created in the Image and Likeness of God. At the beginning of creation, he saw God’s exalted creation, Adam and Eve — human beings — whom God created in His own Image and Likeness. Because of his envy and spite, he lashed out at God by seducing the first woman and man to disobey God and fall into sin. From that time until now, he continue to oppose the people of God, knowing that the way to hurt God is by hurting us. The devil and his demons can’t bear to see people so loved, people who delight the Lord by their faith and Christian lives.
The evil one and his demons, my brothers and sisters, are real. Satan is not a personification of evil that humans invented. He is a real person; he is part of the invisible creation; and he has a host of fallen angels with him.
Adapted from Fr. Moses’ Homily on the Third Sunday of Mesori