We’ve been talking about The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis and in the last post I told you that we would talk about our habits, our pet peeves, and how our enemy, Satan actually wants us to be religious.
I feel like I need to remind you that this book was originally written during the second World War. But somehow Lewis wrote it in such a way that if you were to read it today thinking it was written yesterday, you’d have no idea that it’s nearly 80 years old.
Habits, that’s what chapter two brings up. The habits of each person and how they can be used to drive a wedge between you and other believers, and between you and Jesus. One of those habits that prove most useful to Satan and his demons, is the habit most of us have of finding what annoys us about a person and then using that annoyance as the reason we don’t befriend them.
If you can admit it, you are among the few. I came to this realization only after I joined the church I now call home. Before that, I was unaware of how the world trains you to pinpoint the people different from yourself. In today’s world those differences are supposed to be celebrated, at least that’s what the media and the government tell you to do. But if you really, truly take an honest look at the tolerance preaching movement of the day, they don’t want people that hold opinions or beliefs that differ from their own. They want people who conform to their agenda, who happen to look different but not act different. And if Satan has his way, you, as a Christian will also take that menality – preach diversity but enforce conformity. And, do it in the name of Jesus.
I mentioned how I was unaware of this before joining the church of which I now belong. After joining and submitting myself to God, I was taught that not all of God’s people look and act the same. I thought that I knew that but looking back I see that diversity was not preached at other churches I attended, nor was the idea that worship can look different from one person to another, not to mention from one culture to another.
Those are habits, habits that the world teaches us, and in some cases, the church teaches. This is where Satan thrives – lets you believe that you are a good God-fearing Christian without letting you see that you actually think only Christians who look like you, act like you, talk like you, and believe like you are the only ones getting to heaven.
This is also where Satan actually likes the idea of you being religious. He will keep you so focused on the wrongs of other people that you’ll completely forget about yours. He’ll encourage you to come up with rules and then make other people follow them before you can admit them into heaven as if you’re the gatekeeper. Satan loves legalism and the notion that we need to earn God’s love.
My favorite quote from chapter two is this; “…he still believes he has run up a very favorable credit balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted.” (Keep in mind that it’s a demon saying this, when he says Enemy, he’s actually talking about God. God is his enemy) In other words, Satan wants us to think that we need to earn God’s love because the longer we think our salvation is in our hands is the longer we see a distorted picture of who God actually is.
There’s a question Satan wants to keep out of your mind and that question comes up at the end of chapter two; ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?’
What a person does, how they act, dress, talk, or what they look like has absolutely no bearing on how much God loves them. The same goes for you, that’s why it doesn’t matter what the person in the pew behind you or in front of you does on Saturday – God’s grace is bigger, and better than any ill conceived notion that they should do better or be better so they can be like you and go to heaven.
Satan loves it when we point our fingers at each other rather than taking a look in the mirror. Don’t let him win by letting those thoughts of so’n’so take you over. Yes, they’re sinners, but so are you. The good news is, God loves you too much to let a pesky little thing like sin get in the way of you being with Him.
Focus on that today, you’re a sinner, Jesus died for it. You can’t earn it, you get it anyway. You don’t deserve it, it’s yours anyway. We don’t worship God because we are good, we do it because He is good, and no matter what else is going on, nobody can take His love from us. Not other people, not Satan and his demons… NOBODY.
Dear God, thank you for being you, thank you for being good. We wouldn’t even know what good is if it weren’t what happened at the cross and we thank you so much for that.
Help us to see other people from your perspective and through your eyes, not from where we sit in church on Sunday. God, we pray not that you are on our side, but that we are on yours. Amen.
Last Christmas I asked for and then received a book by C.S Lewis called The Screwtape Letters. I knew then that this was a book quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before, a book containing the fictional letters between a demon and what he calls his nephew and their conversation about how to win souls from their enemy i.e God.
Admittedly I was a bit hesitant due to to my ignorance in regards to spiritual warfare. I thought it wrong to talk about such things, to read such a book where demons are the main characters. Nevertheless I asked for it, I had to, it was written by C.S Lewis after all and he wrote Mere Christianity! A book I fell in love with after just a few pages.
Even after reading the first few chapters of Screwtape Letters the thought that it must be wrong to read such a book kept creeping back into my head. Then, I believe The Holy Spirit nudged me in a way I was quite unfamiliar with – He showed me that my hesitation is talked about in the very first chapter! My enemy, Satan and his demons do not want me to reason my way to the truth. They don’t want me to see them for what they truly are, they don’t want me thinking. That’s exactly what happens in the first chapter when the target of the demon (the book calls him a patient) begins to argue with his friend the ‘materialist’. Arguments, Screwtape tells us are bad, and for him they are, but in this instance the argument is more of a debate between a guy who believes in what he can see and touch and another guy who’s questioning the possibility that this life is not all there is and that it’s possible that God does indeed exist. Arguments are bad for our enemy because reason (despite what our culture tells you) is actually on the side of our Lord.
Needless to say, after just the first few paragraphs of Screwtape I was hooked. Yes, it takes a little bit of adjusting and what I mean is usually you read a book and it’s a story from the perspective of the main character. In Screwtape it’s a series of letters from the perspective of a demon. The adjustment comes when you read that he refers to God as the Enemy (capital E), where when we Christians use that word, we’re talking about Satan. Also when you see the word ‘good’ it’s used in the context of what the demon sees as good, not what we would see as good. So all of this can be a little confusing but once you move past that it’s hard to see anything but C.S Lewis behind the typewriter, and a brilliant writer he is.
Having said all that, my chapter one review is this – it’s spot on! If he (the enemy, small e) can get us thinking about things other than absolute truth, then his foot is in the door. If he can distract us with real life like he does his patient in chapter one, then our foothold begins to fade. If he can get us to believe assertions made by non believers instead of letting us argue our way through them, then he’s already won.
You’ll see all of those things happen in chapter one and I must say, to read this from my perspective, at this time in my life, with the circumstances I’m in right now, it truly is no coincidence that eleven months after receiving this book, I’m beginning to read it now.
The spiritual battle for my house has been waging on and never before have I been so aware of it. It’s like God opened my eyes to it not unlike He did for Elijah’s servant in 2 Kings 6.
I have read the first three chapters and then I read them again, Lewis is truly a wordsmith. My plan is to go through this book, twice or even three times if I have to because I want to understand what it must be like to be my enemy and try to get me to forget about God’s plan for my life. I want to frustrate whatever evil is lurking in my life, I want to follow Jesus so closely that the evils have no choice but to stay far away.
My summary of chapter one if I’m not using the five star rating system I’d like to, is that it’s brilliantly written! It will make you think about the spiritual war like you never have before. This book is going to open your eyes to the schemes of the enemy and yes, of course the Bible already does that and the Bible isn’t fiction like Screwtape but C.S Lewis has a gift from God that allowed him to put in such a way as to be helpful to us who chose to follow Jesus.
“..so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” 2 cor 2:11
My favorite quote from chapter one is this “…they find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is right before their eyes.” Distractions, or as the book calls it ‘real life’ is the enemy’s best tool. Keep us thinking about what we can see right in front of us so we aren’t thinking about spiritual things, keep us busy so we don’t have time to sit and read God’s word or pray or go to church or have fellowship with other Christians or go to a Bible study.
Sadly, it’s worked. We are so busy these days that we’ve turned being busy into an idol – we ask people “keepin’ busy?” sometimes it’s said “stayin’ outta trouble?” which is ironic because apparently we stay out of trouble by keeping busy but by keeping busy we make no time for God.
Satan doesn’t care if we don’t worship him directly, as long as we don’t worship Jesus, he’s in. That’s why real life, or the things of this world are Satan’s greatest and most influential tools, he can use it to distract us long enough so we don’t have time to think about God.
Take for example when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness – Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world, Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Matthew 4:8-9 NIV Satan does this to us all the time. He promises fame, fortune, power. He promises us all the things we want if we just worship him. If we worship the One thing he can’t give us, he has no hold on us, he has no power and he can’t tempt us into anything.
Anyway, I could go on forever about how real life and the things right before our eyes can be used against us, but I really do want you to keep reading so I try not to ramble. Next time we’ll talk a little bit about how our habits and pet peeves can get in the way between us and Jesus, we’ll go over how Satan actually wants us to be religious.
Thanks for reading.