The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis– letter 7

Our Christian faith is fundamentally personal and spiritual. We entrust ourselves to God, who is three-persons in one, and so, essentially relational. We are members of his Kingdom, ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ. In our loving obedience to our Lord, we are opposed by Satan– the personal leader of rebellion against the living God– whose aim is our eternal death.

Such faith does not find itself in a world of impersonal ‘forces’ which can be manipulated to either abstract good or evil. Instead, we human beings have to do with spiritual beings that are ‘persons’ and not mere ‘things’ or ‘influences.’

So how might we protect and enrich our faith in this situation? Screwtape’s advice to Wormwood (helpfully?) illuminates a way forward.

If you’ve not yet purchased your own copy of the book, you can download Chapter 7 here.

Our sanctification– our journey into Christian maturity and character– takes on a fresh urgency and importance when we realise that it is fundamentally relational. Our sanctification takes place in relationship with God. Our transformation is an enriching friendship rather than an exercise in personal improvement for the sake of ‘being nicer’. At the same time, we are rejecting and fleeing from Satan, such that our progress in faith might be measured in terms our ‘relationship status’ with God and with Satan. So, although we might face many ‘issues’, our response to them is ultimately a personal matter in our relationship with God– either bringing him honour, or discrediting his person.

These words from scripture provide us with food for thought:

7    Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:7-10