“My Dear Wormwood,” the voice slides across my brain, spiteful, yet surprisingly charming.
“Through this girl, and her disgusting family, the Patient is now getting to know more Christians every day and very intelligent Christians too. For a long time it will be quite impossible to remove spirituality from his life. Very well then, we must corrupt it. No doubt you often practice transforming into an angel of light as a parade ground exercise, now is the time to do it in the face of the Enemy. The World and the Flesh have failed us, a third power remains, and success of this third kind is the most glorious of all. A spoiled saint, a Pharisee, an inquisitor or a magician makes better sport in Hell than a mere tyrant or debauchee.”
It is almost scary how well C.S. Lewis understood spiritual warfare, and the weaknesses of the human heart. Though his novel, The Screwtape Letters, is widely known in Christian circles, it surprised me to find that very few people have actually read it. Personally, I feel any Christian worth his salt (or her salt) should read this book at least once, if not more. Not only does its reader get to experience C.S. Lewis at his best, they get a front row seat to the battle against good and evil. Be warned though, the battle doesn’t stop after you’ve closed the book.
For those unfamiliar with the story, The Screwtape Letters is comprised of letters sent from the demon Screwtape to his nephew, a junior tempter by the name of Wormwood. Their combined machinations have one focus and one focus only, to keep a simple human away from God. Deciding what the focus of this article would be was challenging, since each chapter was worthy of discussion in its own right. In the end, I decided to focus on a section where Wormwood’s “patient” has just become a Christian, since it is here that battle reaches its peak. As the passage above notes, their early attempts at using the world and human sense have failed, so Screwtape suggests a third alternative, Spiritual pride.
To be honest, when I first read Screwtape’s plan I was a little underwhelmed. Spiritual pride? Really? In the face of a fallen world, and all the desires it could throw our way, spiritual pride did not seem particularly intimidating. That, I soon learned, was exactly why Screwtape had chosen it.
One of the greatest dangers for every Christian, and I believe todays modern Christians are especially at risk, is becoming so proud that we end up using God as a means to an end. It’s really quite easy; all it requires is something we believe God values, then allowing that thing to usurp Christ’s place at the head of our life. When this happens, an individual’s faith becomes absorbed by this value until, at its heart; the message of the Almighty God becomes Christianity and marriage, or Christianity and social justice, or Christianity and politics, etc. Do you see the hidden snare? We start to believe in Christ not because his love, death, and resurrection, but because it acts as a bridge to something else.
We all have our own passions and interests, and I honestly believe God wants us to pursue them. But the moment we allow something else to occupy the place of Christ, we lose Christianity altogether.
Take a lesson from Skrewtape,
“God will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of heaven as a shortcut to the nearest chemist's shop.” –The Screwtape Letters.
*This Article First Published 3/25/2013