Lessons from the Screwtape Letters: 1-5

  1. Develop a comprehensive worldview – I think it is true that, many times, we operate with opposing philosophies and beliefs; (example: We think that sex outside of marriage is wrong but we listen to music that celebrates fornication). As Screwtape told Wormwood, “Your man has been  accustomed, ever since he was  a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing together inside his head” (1). We need to learn to think not just biblically, but exclusively biblically. We cannot entertain and live according to opposing philosophies.
  2. Learn to see with eyes of faith. We humans find it so easy to live based on the “here and now,” the temporary, immediate desires and satisfactions that we find. These distractions make it so that “[we] find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before [our] eyes” (4). We need to focus on the eternal, that which we cannot see with our physical eyes but is visible with eyes of faith, so that we begin “. . . to think about the realities [we] can’t touch and see” (4). Life is not about the ordinary and familiar things of physicality alone, but is truly about the spiritual realm of the extraordinary and the unfamiliar.
  3. Develop habits conducive to spiritual growth. God has given us the ability to develop habit that will encourage and sustain obedience to God. I would highly suggest reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg in order to better understand how to form habits.
  4.  The Christian life demands sacrifice, work, and self-denial. Sanctification is not easy because it is a transformation of the nature of sin bound up in the flesh to the nature of Christ empowered by the Spirit. One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is “. . . the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing” (7). Because the Christian life demands change, and change requires effort, don’t be fooled into living solely by your emotions.
  5. Inner change works itself out in action. Screwtape admonished Wormwood to “Keep his mind on the inner life. He think his conversion is something inside of him and his attention is therefore chiefly turned at present to the states of his own mind—or rather to that very expurgated version of them which is all you should allow him to see” (11).  Sometimes, we begin to “feel” spiritual because we become introspective or because we think about some spiritual things, but we fail to put into practice spiritual living; it stops at spiritual thinking.
  6. Involve community in your spiritual journey. When we don’t have any outside perspective “. . . [we] can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are prefect clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with [us] or worked in the same office” (12). We need other people’s perspective because we all are self-deceivers and we all have blind spots.
  7. Give constant attention to prayer, for “Whenever there is prayer, there is danger of His own immediate action” (17). Although I don’t really understand prayer right now, I know that it is powerful. I think I am often estimating “the value of each prayer by [my] success in producing the desired feeling . . .” (17); but I know that prayer is not all about feelings. So, Lewis, in this section, is definitely challenging to me to seek to understand prayer better.

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