The persuasive action of the demon
“The demon does not compel; he proposes, suggests, persuades, seduces…”
The demon does not have the power to force men to do something; therefore, he tries to persuade and seduce them.
“The demon does not compel; he proposes, suggests, persuades, seduces” – writes Father J. de Tonquédec S. J., a French exorcist and demonologist.
And he adds: “In Eden, he proposed to Eve reasons for her to transgress the divine command (Gn 3, 4-5, 13); in the desert, he tried to entice Our Lord with the attractions of a universal domination” (Mt 4, 26-27)".
Saint Thomas also refers to the devil’s work of persuasion. He explains that man can only be moved interiorly by himself, or by God. But externally, man can be solicited by a foreign object. However, that foreign object cannot compel man to do something against his will.
Father Candido Lumbreras O. P. thus comments this passage from the Angelic Doctor: “What influence can the demon have on the sins of men? … The demon works on influencing the senses; he can talk to reason, both interiorly, or externally, alter the humors and produce dangerous images, excite the passions that can move the will and thus take possession of the understanding.”
Commenting over another passage from Saint Thomas, Father Jesus Valbuena O. P. explains:
“That the Angels can illuminate and actually do illuminate the human understanding is a truth rooted in many passages of Sacred Scripture… Also the wicked Angels can produce, with their natural gifts, false illuminations on men’s understanding. Thus Saint Paul warns us to stay alert for ‘even Satan masquerades as an Angel of light’” (2 Cor 11, 14).
“Saint Thomas affirms that the Angels can influence men’s senses – both from without and from within – and can act, both from the outside and from the inside, that is, both intrinsically and extrinsically; but, as related to the human understanding and will, they can only move and influence indirectly and exteriorly, that is, proposing their objects – truth and goodness - to these spiritual forces, in a manner adapted to them and influencing indirectly through the senses, the passions, the sensitive corporeal alterations, etc.; however, they can never succeed in bending effectively and completely man’s will, if he is in his normal conditions”.
In the cases of the temptations to Eve in the Garden, and to Our Lord in the desert (described above), the demon “presented his reasons” assuming a corporeal form, producing sounds and articulating words verbally; in most of the cases, however, the demon, to persuade man to sin, concentrate his actions upon sensibility, memory and imagination.