St. Paisios the Hagiorite: "Confession Takes away the Devil's Power over a Person"

The devil does not possess any power or authority over a person who believes in God and goes to church, goes to Holy Confession and Holy Communion. The devil can only bark like a toothless dog at such a person. However, he has great power over a person who does not believe in God, a person who gave up his rights and gave them to the devil. Such a man can be eaten alive by the devil - in this case he(the devil) has teeth, and he uses them to torture the poor man. In essence, the devil has power over a soul in accordance with the rights that it gives him.

When a person who has led a pious and spiritual life passes away, the ascent of his soul into Heaven is comparable to a racing train. Barking dogs can only run after the train, choking up on their own breath, they try to run ahead, but the train simply continues to pick up speed. On the other hand if a person  whose spiritual condition is poor and leaves something to be desired passes away, then his soul ends up in a slow moving train. The train can not go faster because of faulty wheels . This allows the dogs to jump into the open doors of the train cars and bite people.

In the event that the devil has acquired even greater rights over a person, has possessed him, it is important to find the reason for this, so that the devil is deprived of these rights. Otherwise, even the prayers of others will not push the devil away and he will not leave as he continuously delivers new wounds to the person. Priests can try to exorcise that person over and over, but in the end the poor soul becomes even worse, because the devil tortures him with a greater force than before.

A person must repent, confess and finally deprive the devil of those rights that he himself passed over to the evil one. Only after this the devil will leave. Otherwise, the person will suffer greatly. Some can attempt to exorcise the person for days, months, even years, but the devil will continue to torture the long suffering soul and will not leave.

The devil enters into a man who has an impure and stained heart. The devil will not approach someone who is pure in the eyes of God. If the human heart is cleansed of dirt, then the enemy runs away, and Christ returns. The devil is like a pig, who will grunt and leave if it doesnt find the dirt it is looking for. Henceforth just like a pig the devil will not touch a soul that is pure. What did he forget in the hearts of the pure and humble, anyways?

Finally, if we begin to see that our house - the heart - has become a home to the enemy, a hut on chicken legs so to say, then we must immediately destroy it, so that the enemy could leave. After all, if sin lives in man for a long time, the devil naturally acquires greater rights over this person.

Geronda, and what if a person used to live a wayward life and thereby gave the evil one rights to his soul, but now wants to change, begin to live anew, how does he fight the devil?

When you return to God you receive power and strength from Him. He give a person enlightenment and comfort which is required at the beginning of the righteous journey. But as soon as a person begins a spiritual struggle, the enemy will not rest and begin a severe assault against him. That's when you need to show some restraint. Otherwise, how will passions be eradicated? How will the “old man” be healed? How will pride go away? And so a person realizes that he, himself, can not do anything. He humbly asks for the mercy of God, and humility comes to him. The same thing happens when a person wants to quit a bad habit. For example, quit smoking, drugs, drunkenness. At first, he feels joy and abandons this habit. Then he sees how others smoke, use drugs or drink, and begins to suffer. If a person overcomes this internal struggle, then it is no longer difficult for him to give up this passion, and turn his back on it. It is important to have a spiritual struggle, a battle, in order to succeed.

From the book “ The Calendar of Mount Athos, 2010” Book 1
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds