A 31 day commentary by Madelyn Christian Peterson
Although fiction, beloved Christian apologetic novel The Screwtape Letters certainly does not lack spiritual truths. Its 31 chapters are a perfect format for a month long commentary series. Join me as we break down CS Lewis’s beloved novel and get insight on the spirit war in a creative and fun new way. Want more? Find a copy & read along as we dissect the letters of Screwtape!
Well here we are almost five days into this series and I’m less on top of things than I’d like to admit, in my writing and in life. I’m sure most of you can relate, unless your like David Beckham or something. I feel like I never have it all together at one time. The closest I’ve ever felt was the middle of last year: together with my husband I was 7 weeks into an 8 week fitness program, eating healthy, practicing personal and business development, making new friends through a community group, and enjoying new hobbies. Needless to say I fell off that wagon for reasons we won’t get into for time’s sake but the rest of the year was a time of deeply relying on the Lord. He brought me to new levels of trust and reliance on Him. And though I am nowhere near on top of anything and I’ll probably never be on top of everything; He has become my peace in the midst of it all. I can be okay with imperfection because in it His strength is made known.
Chapter 4 dives deeper into the spiritual warfare behind prayer. We are fighting the misconceptions of our childhood, reversing the damage done to our understanding of the gospel that the enemy encouraged in our youth.
Prayers like Now I lay me down to sleep…. that, at least for me, enforced the idea that we aren’t fully forgiven. I remember praying that prayer a few times in a row before bed each night, petrified that I might wake up in hell. The fear and condemnation I felt followed me into adulthood. Worst of all, I thought the shaming was coming from God, which made all of my prayer come from a place of fear and not love. I felt totally unworthy of His love and can’t express how afraid and ashamed I felt during prayer.
Somehow, I had completely missed the true gospel.
I was making it all about me and my sin. I couldn’t forgive myself, and I thought I somehow needed to fix myself, to clean myself up and pull my act together before going to God or being worthy.
I was confused and trapped in a dim, hopeless world; a bitter, pessimistic ‘victimy’ mindset and I saw no hope of escape.
I was exactly where Screwtape wanted me.
The enemy had done his job well. He had successfully kept me in the matrix, and distracted me with ‘real life’ as we talked about on day 1. In all his little subtle ways, he blinded me to who God really was and that there was more to life, that I was more, and I didn’t have to live defeated.
But, as Screwtape notes, God “will not in the meantime be idle.” As we discussed yesterday, God is working inside you to bring you into truth.
God revealed to me “the love of Christ which passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18), He showed me I was truly forgiven past, present, and future of my sin because of what Jesus did on the cross. He died for us while we were still sinners. What kind of love!
The reality is it’s all about Jesus. Though our sins were like scarlet, He made them white as snow. When He died, He took all of our sin and put it to death. His innocent blood provided a permanent sacrifice, permanently covering our sin before God. Like we spoke about on Day 2, God hid me in Christ (Colossians 3:3). He put me in Christ, Christ on the cross, then raised Christ, put Him in me, and sat me in heavenly places with Him.
Ultimate redemption plan, ultimate freedom, ultimate love!
The devil’s goal is to keep you from knowing God and knowing who you are because of God. He wants to keep you from learning your true identity in Christ, because your true identity means mass destruction to him and his kingdom.
He blinded me from the truth of the gospel which says that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus, that all of the old has passed away and all has become new.
I spent years praying for something I already had. I spent years ‘trying to feel forgiven’ instead of knowing I was forgiven. The enemy successfully disrupted my prayer life and straight up messed up my life life by having me believe a lie about God.
Misdirection is a major tactic the devils use, “The simplest (form) is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves,” as Screwtape writes Wormwood. Like Peter walking out to Jesus on the waves, fear distracts, that is, to pull our attention away, lose focus, from God.
Peter chose to see the problem, not the solution; the creation not the creator. He exchanged his hope in the Lord for fear, he moved his focus from what the Lord had told him to his own lack when he felt and saw the magnitude of the waves before him.
The enemy will try to have you stay in your feelings, like the Drake song. He’d rather you have your feelings guide you than the truth of God’s word. Fear is believing in your lack over His goodness. It’s believing the problem is bigger than God. It’s just not trusting and believing God.
I’m gonna skip some of the deep theological stuff Lewis touches on today because I’ve already completed my purpose for this post. The devil has targeted your mind since youth, but there is freedom in Christ. Trust in God and His word, what He says about you over your emotions. Don’t believe the lie that you are to live under shame.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”Romans 8:1 NKJV
There is power in your identity in Christ to set you free from every place the enemy has attempted to hold you captive. You aren’t trying to feel forgiven, you are forgiven. You aren’t trying to feel brave, you are brave according to 2 Timothy 1:7.
The last thing I’ll quickly touch on- What image do you have while praying to God? Are you praying to a Man far away in the sky or are you praying to, “the crucifix on the wall?” Whatever it is, the devil wants you praying to it, “the thing that he has made, not the Person who made him.”
Often times we picture God as a bearded man in a cloud, but God put His Spirit inside us. He is closer than we can possibly imagine. He is in us, on us, and all around us. This revelation changed my life! It freed to interact with His presence in a whole new way. Now when I pray I don’t picture God far away but know He is right here with me.
Please give me revelation of what it means to have Your Spirit in me so I can access all of the abundant life you’ve freely given me. Help me understand I am free from condemnation, fully forgiven and washed clean permanently because Jesus took my place.
In Jesus name,
Do you struggle with forgiveness? Do you find yourself praying to God for peace and bravery instead of activating it by acknowledging He’s already given it to you? How will you pray and talk to God differently now? Let me know down in the comments and as always any other thoughts, prayer requests, etc. Be blessed in Jesus name!