For someone who has been a believer in Jesus for over 3 decades, I’ve been relatively slow to come to the writings of C.S. Lewis.
I struggled the most reading the latest, a fictional tale of temptation as told through the lens of a senior demon and his nephew. The mentor wrote 31 letters to the younger tempter full of advice for how to secure a single soul for the devil. I found most fascinating the subtlety of the enticements. Screwtape, the senior advisor tells his nephew that “the safest road to hell is a gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
Although the book is fictional, I think the ideas behind the way we are lured away from following Jesus hold up. Scripture tells us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light and his servants as servants of righteousness. For example, a man does not typically find himself happily married one day and cheating on his wife the next. It’s a progression of “smaller” sinful thoughts and behaviors allowed to run unchecked that more likely build up over time to escalate in an affair. The story made me think about what “gentle” temptations the main characters might employ to lead an entire family away from Christ if the letters were written today.
For Dad, the demons might send an inappropriate pop-up into his line of sight. They might convince him that his curiosity was perfectly normal and that once he clicked on it, visiting the site again wouldn’t hurt anyone. That no one would know if he looked at it again and again, and that it was a totally normal part of male sexuality. Soon the participation in on-line pornography would lead to a complete dissatisfaction in his marriage and a gorge-sized distance between himself and his wife.
For son, a fun video game can be parlayed into a full-blown obsession, keeping him up all hours of the night and encouraging him to opt out of church and youth group activities in favor of an on-line only community and the solitary loneliness of his room. Grades could suffer and social skills decline jeopardizing his future. And why would he spend time reading the bible or praying when the colorful, hi-tech graphics on the screen beckon?
For daughter, social media and popularity – all fun and games at first – slowly take first place in her heart as the temptation to check “likes” and “follows” is always in the palm of her hand. Texting and FaceTime – an easy way to stay in touch with friends soon interferes with her relationship with her parents and siblings. A second secret Instagram account allows her to talk to people and do things that her parents don’t know about. Watching videos on YouTube exposes her to language and situations that her parents would never allow if they knew. Comparing herself to the curated lives of others and the FOMO she experiences when she’s allowed a glimpse into what she is excluded from causes her to spiral into a dark depression.
For mom, finding fun activities to do with the kids slowly morphs as they age into an over-scheduled life. Private lessons for everything from music to dance to sports dot the calendar. Select sports teams fill the Sundays and Wednesdays the family once worshipped together and there is barely an evening to sit in the chairs at the family dinner table. Mom is basically chauffeur now and no longer has time for ladies bible study, mission opportunities or even spending time with friends. Her life is all about giving the kids what they want. And it’s rather lonely.
But the tempters failed in The Screwtape Letters. Their “patient” fell in love with a Christian woman who taught him how to love Jesus. And when he died, he entered heaven with all of God’s glory. The better news is that the same victory awaits us. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Arguments, pretensions and thoughts – the little, subtle things that precipitate a person’s walk away from God. We have the power to obliterate them if we are in Christ.
We all sin in subtle and not-so-subtle ways (Romans 3:23). But Romans 5:8 lets us know that God loves us in spite of it and made a way for us to come to him. But the BEST news is that belief in Jesus is the weapon we need to fight the fires of hell. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
*All scripture references from the NIV version of the Bible.
** If you choose to use the links in the first paragraph to order the books (or anything else from Amazon), I will get a few pennies at no additional charge to you to help offset the cost of running this website. Thank you in advance!
I think I am one of the few people who is lukewarm on C.S. Lewis. I read many of his books years ago, and, of course, my kids loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Maybe I will have to give him another try. I love YOUR take on Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.
Mere Christianity has been my favorite. I didn’t love the Screwtape Letters.
Rebecca Jones says
I’ve never read much of that either, I did read Pilgrim’s Progress. Many people may find an old musical called Cabin in the Sky interesting as well as Lena Horne and Ethel Waters spectacular voices. The devil goes after little Joe’s soul. Most people consider this fantasy but there is a real spiritual battle going on.
I haven’t heard of this movie. I’ll have to look it up!
Michele Morin says
I love Screwtape. And Focus on the Family has produced a Radio Drama based on the book. It’s great, but not as good as the book!
Good to know, Michele.
I also love Mere Christianity, and I have read and own Screwtape Letters, too. I guess the latter is harder to read because it is a fictional story. But like you said it does show the subtle ways that sin can get a hold in our lives. So it helps us be aware and reminds us that we need to be in the Word and prayer and fellowship with other believers to support each other.
Blessings to you, Lauren! I’m your neighbor at #TeaAndWord.
Good thoughts on Screwtape, Gayl. Thank you.
I remember reading both of these books but it looks like I should read them again. I agree sin creeps in very innocently at first and then all of sudden without notice it is bigger than we could have ever imagined. It is so important to take every thought captive and realize “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
I also wanted to say thanks for checking out my store and commenting on my blog and I will definitely keep the faith!
Thanks for repaying the visit, Tona!
Amy Jung says
All three books are great…
For some reason, I too was slow to read the Screwtape Letters. I think I was scared to think too much about the craftiness of Satan. Sometimes I tend to think he has more power than he really does. The book was a good read, though. Though it bothered me a bit to think about these things, it was good for me and brought awareness. C.S. Lewis…what a gifted writer!
Have you read others by Lewis? If so what should I tackle next?
Hi, I have to call ness to not reading any of these by Lewis. Perhaps I should now add these to my list for the dark evenings #mixitup
I’d recommend starting with Mere Christianity!
Mary Geisen says
I’ll admit I have read very little of C.S. Lewis. My younger son has read many of his books and he recommend them highly. I think I stay away because I am afraid I won’t really understand them. That’s silly. Thank you for sharing.
I would start with Mere Christianity. But not read it like a regular book. Maybe more like a study. One chapter at a time.
Rachel Lee says
I remember reading Screwtape Letters when I was much younger than I am now, and was slightly confused by it. The second time I read it, I actually enjoyed it. I was much more mature in my faith by that time, and I could see the correlation he was making between the spiritual world and the earthly one.
His writings are challenging for sure! I think my favorite is A Grief Observed.
A grief observed is beautiful!