The Screwtape Letters

Monte Hunt – Worship Leader

It is said the first step to defeating an enemy is knowing the enemy. Where are they coming from? What do they want? What resources do they have? What is their end game? These are all pertinent questions for which to have answers. So today I’d like to address the enemy: the devil, the evil one, the fallen, Beelzebub, Satan, the father of lies, and so on. He goes by these names and many more, but for today we will simply refer to him as the enemy.

So what does the enemy want? What is his end game? It’s quite simple. He wants to see us suffer the fate that has already been sealed for him: to be eternally separated from God. That’s it – everything else is just details. And understanding his plan is crucial in working toward seeing it fail.

In his illuminating book “The Screwtape Letters” C.S. Lewis outlines for us what the enemy’s strategies are to see his plan come to fruition. Through the fictitious letters of a high-ranking demon Screwtape to his low-ranking nephew Wormwood, Lewis has given us the opportunity to travel behind enemy lines.

Since Screwtape so eloquently revealed the enemy’s plans in his letters to Wormwood I’ll simply sum up his strategies and allow you to read it in his own words. However, if you really want to get to know the enemy I recommend you read all of Screwtape’s letters for yourself. Here are just a few of the enemy’s tactics for us to remember and be mindful of.

First, in most cases the enemy doesn’t want you to know he’s there.

“I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves…If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that he therefore cannot believe in you.”

Second, like us, the enemy cannot create. He can only distort and corrupt what God has created.

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s [God’s] ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one…Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.”

Third, the enemy uses religion itself against us.

“All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by ‘religion’ ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins…No where do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.”

Fourth, the enemy uses the false notion of self-independence to pull us away from God.

“The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity are excellent campaigning weather…Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth, which is just what we want.”

Finally, the enemy doesn’t care how you fall, so long as it happens.

“You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy [God]. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out in to the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one.”

And in Lewis’ words as himself (a former atheist) he writes:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

Friends, if we can counteract the enemy’s tactics to pull us away from God, then the opposite will occur: we will draw closer to God. I know that’s what I want, and I truly hope that you do as well. And the truth is the enemy has already been defeated!

Having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; [Jesus] took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of [the enemy], triumphing over [him] by the cross. Colossians 2:14-15.




Know the Enemy

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