"Many will say to me in that day: Lord! Lord! Have we prophesied in your name? And did not they cast out demons in your name? and did not many miracles work in your name? And then I will tell them: I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity "(Matthew 7: 22-23).
Most often in these words, the Orthodox try to see an indication of all antichrists as opponents of Christ. It is difficult to imagine that a man believed in Christ, was an ascetic (and how else would he cast out demons?), Worked miracles and prophesied - in short, he was a true old man, and suddenly the Lord tells him that he does not know him!
How could it be ?! Maybe it's not about the elders, but about some creeping reptiles? Clearly, the accursed goats are speech, not about the sheep, and even less about the shepherds. But how many people know such bad people who fulfilled the prophecies? Is it about nostradamus with vangas and their ilk with psychics and sorcerers? I do not remember that they did it in the name of Christ. Yes, and through me in confession never to the Cup did not pass any such person. I even specifically interviewed my fellow priests. They are also unknown.
And certainly it's not about Harry Houdini, Uri Geller and David Copperfield. About whom then? It is hard for a believer to accept the fact that the most worthy of us - by human standards - can be rejected by the Lord at the Judgment. After all, it's these standards that I hear from those who are worshipers of the elders of the people: they pray a lot, the demons obey him, they are perspicacious, an obvious miracle worker. Not like you, o mercenaries, who received the holy dignity. Well, unless the Liturgy can serve and the Sacraments to perform. But much better these Sacraments are, of course, committed by the elders, of course.
The voice of Christ must know the flock and follow Him
Personally, accusations of mercenary do not offend me, because I consider myself a mercenary. I Christ hired to feed His sheep, although I myself am a sheep from His flock. I did not lay down my soul for them, but Jesus Christ Himself. His voice must recognize the sheep and follow Him, and not after me, for I am only a blind man, who, poorly, tries to follow God's Law. "Trust not in princes, in sons of men, where there is no salvation" (Psalm 145: 3), "the Psalmist rightly says. Even John the Baptist turned into a voice crying in the desert, pointing to Him who came to redeem the human race from slavery to the devil. "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, "said the apostle Peter for all of us, even when he did not understand a single word from the conversation of Christ about the Bread of Heaven (see: In. 6: 26-69). And is it true, is there at least one person who can not just be sand at the base of the house? Who, if not Christ, is the stone, the reliable foundation of the house of our life?
Therefore, in my modest pastoral activity, I always try to establish in the hearts of Orthodox Christians the habit of not trusting even an angel from heaven if he says something contrary to what the apostles told us. Insisting that everyone should have a habit of reading the whole Scripture and was familiar with the creations of the fathers and teachers of the Church.
"Suddenly, I or someone else from the pulpit will start to carry rubbish, and it's foldable and beautiful," I once said to my parishioners. - After all, the people of God and the pious priest Arius, and Patriarch Nestorius, were deceived. And people, impressed by asceticism and the height of the holy rank, believed them and others, not bothering to check their words with the apostles.
Saul was originally elected by God to the kingdom, being a modest, God-fearing and faithful person. Becoming a king, he remained simple in communication. A wonderful quality, is not it? Was Saul prophesied? Was and such. The high priest Caiaphas prophesied, the sons of Skev cast out demons, and Judas performed many signs. Through unworthy priests, one of us can receive sanctification. God opened the mouth of an ass. Even stones can, according to the word of the Lord, testify to God's works. Once a simple mud made of road dust and spittle of Christ healed a blind man. But any miracles, the source of which is only the Lord, can not save the wonderworker himself, because from any talent God expects fruits. Many know the priests, who are forbidden in the priesthood and even deprived of their dignity for misdemeanors, unworthy Christian ranks. From many people I heard that these priests brought them to Christ, comforted, confirmed in the spiritual life. And this only shows that the Lord pours out His grace through whom He pleases, but does not justify all the works of such priests. "Whoso keepeth all the law, and sinneth in one thing, he becomes guilty in all things" (James 2: 10).
But maybe I'm hyperbolizing the problem, or I'm just making it out of my head, but in fact there is no danger when an Orthodox Christian relies on his spiritual father in everything, impressed by his miracles, prophecies and the feat of prayer? I will not quote the words of the holy fathers, because they lived a long time, but today the situation could change. Well, you never know ... I will quote the words of Patriarch Alexy II:
The task of pastors is to lead people to God, and not to group parishioners around themselves
"Some clergymen who received the right to spiritual leadership of the flock from God in the sacrament of the Priesthood believe that such a right means undivided power over the souls of people ... There have become cases of creation by these or that pastors of such church communities in which life is built on the authority of the shepherd ... such pastors They forgot that their task is to lead people to God, and not to group parishioners around themselves. In such parishes an atmosphere of their own exclusivity is created, incompatible with the spirit of conciliarity, on which the Orthodox Church is based. "
I would call this phenomenon abuse of office or abuse of office. It sounds in a secular fashion, of course, but it reflects the very essence of the problem well. As for the miracles themselves ... Remember what the Lord said when the apostles enthusiastically told Him that even the demons obeyed them: "Do not rejoice that the spirits obey you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10 : 20).
On the grace of wonderworking and foresightSt. John Chrysostomsays that all this is only the gift of the one who submitted it, and those people whom Christ did not know even at the time of the manifestation of that grace are punished for being ungrateful and insensitive to the One who so honored them. After all, the grace of God worked for the good of others, even through those people who clearly were not worthy of it. What can we say about those who appeared to people fasting and praying! Blessed Jerome notes that this is not about those who once did the wrong, but about those who until now have a propensity for sin, even if they no longer have the ability to sin. It's scary, is not it? Is it possible that after these words one of the Orthodox will dare entrust the work of his own salvation to anybody from people whose cases are so strictly considered at the Court?
As for the antichrists, which were sufficient even during the Savior's earthly life, then, in the understanding of the Orthodox Church, any person who substitutes Christ with his personality, shields Him from other people is such. "Who is like this beast?" - Every time an Orthodox, exclaiming, does not want to miss every word of the shepherd through the sieve of the Holy Scripture. Therefore, I always consider it my duty to remind you that building your house in the sand is reckless, because it will collapse sooner or later. Your spiritual father blesses to violate God's Law even if "out of love"? Does he approve of the atmosphere around him of the indisputability of his spiritual authority or simply does not fight it? He considers himself entitled to intervene in your life, giving orders, forgetting that the Lord Himself is only knocking at your door, but does not knock them out? Like psychics and grandmothers, "sees the spoiling and the evil eye"? Flee from him with all of your feet to the very Giver of all good. Believe God and remember that even the apostle Judas fell, who once performed miracles.
"You are a priest and you have to believe everyone," one guard of order once reproached me.
No, I do not. I believe only God who gave me life and was crucified for me.
Cm.:John Chrysostom, prelate. Conversations on the Gospel of Matthew. Conversation 24 //https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Ioann_Zlatoust/tolk_51/24.
Cm.:Hieronymus of Stridon,blissful. Interpretation of the Gospel according to Matthew. Ch. 7 //https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Ieronim_Stridonskij/tolkovanie-na-evangelie-po-matfeju/7.