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!
Is it bad that I seriously thought today was the 9th?
I shuddered when Friday, January 10th, 2020 appeared as I clicked the time on my iMac, which read 7:55am. You’re familiar with the feeling. Today’s Friday?! I thought yesterday was Wednesday!
Losing time can be scary, like Memento scary. But in general it’s just a bit startling.
It felt like only a day or two, I told myself.
Then the enemy hissed his lies.
failure. your blog’s not serious. it won’t be missed. you don’t matter.
But God told me to do it.
And what God says WILL happen, His word will not come back void, Isaiah 55:11.
The enemy cannot stop what God is doing. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, Romans 8:18.
The enemy, satan, wishes you to live in a state of “maximum uncertainty, so his (your) mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear.”
I might have this sickness. Maybe I don’t. My parent might die. Maybe they won’t. I might get the job. Maybe I won’t.
Screwtape writes, “There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy,” the demon rightly identifying God as his enemy.
Uncertainty creates an atmosphere where we must choose faith or fear.
We can choose to believe God and His promises for our lives and walk with confident expectation of His goodness
OR we can worry.
Most of the time we choose worry. It’s the easy thing to do when we focus on the situation. But God wants us to look at Him and TRUST Him and His Word over what you see.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.Hebrews 11:1
Paul says that “hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly await for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24).
We hope in what we do not see, and call things we do not see as if they exist because we have faith in the glorious promise and the word which God has spoken.
The sixth letter of Screwtape continues with ,”Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy’s will.” I smirked at the hidden irony of being called ‘patients.’ They’re referring to us as the very gift we’ve been given to overcome their torment, patience.
The bible tells us to “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” We glory tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
“It is about this that he is to say ‘Thy will be done’, and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided.” Our response when the enemy comes knocking via anxiety and suspense?
Thy will be done.
We claim God’s will be done in our lives and the world, and the Spirit of the Lord provides strength to endure. You are not talking at God, you’re talking to yourself with God.
God is supremely confident in His ability to execute His word; He wants us to hold the same level of confidence in Him as well. When we behold Him we realize our troubles pale in comparison to the weight of His glory.
Next Screwtape says something really interesting, “fear becomes easier to master when the patient’s mind is diverted from the thing feared to the fear itself.”
Does that not encapsulate anxiety perfectly?
If you watched my testimony, you know I suffered from anxiety most of my life. It gradually festered from a fear about something, a million things, to a general state of mind that was present in every thought.
When fear becomes a state of mind, it’s nearly impossible to see truth or believe it applies to you.
The enemy wants you oblivious to thoughts in his favour, but any thoughts in favour of the Lord he will try to discredit or distract.
Lewis provides an excellent example, in which I’ll paraphrase, ‘Let an insult or a woman’s body fix his attention outward where he doesn’t reflect He is now entering the state of anger or lust, but let a good thought like his increasing devoutness and charity fix his attention inward so he no longer looks beyond himself to the see God or his own neighbours.’
In this way, satan encourages the patient to direct “malice to his immediate neighbors…and benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know.” The enemy tries to twist the Lord’s work and word for evil.
Screwtape then alludes to a diagram, a gameplan if you will, of the demonic assignment on the human heart. See my demonstration below.
The goal is to make our virtues less active, less real in our own lives (like being nice to strangers but not our own families) and qualities of the enemy desires of us to the forefront of our hearts.
In this way one can still think themselves “good” while practicing evil.
Coincidentally the diagram Screwtape describes reflects the diagram of the heart detailed in the book Wired, which through His word the Lord used to free me of anxiety and ignite my relationship with Him.
Wired describes our heart as containing our mind, will, conscience, and emotions. Often we think of these attributes as part of our brain, “but the real centre, what the Enemy calls the Heart,” is what heaven and hell is fighting over.
Satan wishes to remove God’s virtues from our hearts and replace them with evil. But when we live by the spirit, we allow truth and goodness to flow effortlessly into every area of our lives. God’s truth will overflow from your spirit and guard your hearts and minds from anxiety.
Screwtape ends his letter by stating any “virtues painted in the fantasy or approved by the intellect,” even those “loved and admired” will not keep a man from “Our Father’s house.”
God wants our hearts, not our religion.
Your affectionate saint
Want to connect to the life of God within you? You can get your copy of Wired here.
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Help me live from Your overflow. Guard my heart against anxiety.
In Jesus name I pray,
Meditation: I release the peace of Christ to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.