Arrows soar past you head, the sounds of harrowing explosions impair your hearing, and a dimming smoke burns your eyes as you frantically search for light. Forcefully putting every ounce of your momentum into each step, your legs carry you across the wooded field. Trepidation builds within your heart, as you witness militants drop to the floor from inherent exhaustion and countless wounds; their faces tacitly deferring to despair. Accentuated within your very being is the bleak quandary; will you survive this battle?
In the year 1942, Clive Staples Lewis published his renowned novel, The Screwtape Letters. Written in epistolary style, The Screwtape Letters is a masterpiece of parody, as the story forms a sequence of letters from a master demon, Screwtape, to his apprentice, Wormwood, in order to instruct him on methods of procuring the damnation of a man, known solely as "the Patient". Although fictitious, The Screwtape Letters masterfully exploit a shift in perspective to reveal the existent spiritual tactics used by The Devil to manipulate our minds, in order to take over our souls.
Throughout The Screwtape Letters, Lewis proficiently depicts one such method; keeping thoughts out of our minds. We often underestimate the devil, by thinking his work is to exclusively put evil thoughts into our mind; when, in truth, he works hardest on keeping holy thoughts from entering: “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” (Lewis #16) In the scriptures, we read:
By using a demonic viewpoint, and divulging the slyness of the devil in such a bitter tone of hate towards human ignorance, Lewis effectively illustrates the importance of filling our minds with thoughts of holiness, and not allowing the Evil One this strongpoint in our lives. Furthermore, he tacitly stresses the importance of 2 Chronicles 10:5, which says, “Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” He well demonstrates, through the words of Screwtape, the fact that when we submit our thoughts to God, the devil is defeated.
Subsequently, Lewis skillfully divulges the deadly scheme used by both Wormwood and Screwtape; causing us to fix our gaze on ourselves rather than Jesus. In some people, it can be construed as vanity. When perceiving the way we look, act, and carry ourselves, all we will grasp is the imperfections that prevent us from being a child of God. In other instances, our hearts are either filled with the remorse of what we have done in the past, or trepidation as to what shall happen in the future; leaving us with the bleakness of character flaws and uncertainty. Both types of fear are fatal tactics used by the enemy to weaken and demolish the relationship between us and God. For, as Screwtape puts it: “There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against [God].” Lewis powerfully demonstrates, through the voice of Screwtape, how hard the devil tries to exploit our thoughts in this way; ensuing conviction in his readers to refocus on Jesus.
Although the opening story of being on a battlefield – where arrows are souring, explosions are heard all around, and fallen men are seen everywhere – seems fictitious or at most, inapplicable to todays topic; in truth, it illustrates the never-ending conflict and warfare that goes on within spiritual realms; it puts into reality what seems to be beyond real. While we may not realize it, fiery darts are being thrust by the Evil One daily, hoping to mar our souls for eternity. Trials will be as explosions, echoing in our ears the voice of despair and self-pity. And we will inevitably watch as the people of this generation give way the Enemy, and let go of their faith in God.
Throughout the Screwtape letters, Lewis effectively paints the vivid picture of the battle that goes on for our mind and soul. While many previous authors had achieved describing the love of God in a completely understandable way, Lewis realized the equally important task of sharing with his readers the opposite side; that of evil. While writing from a demons perspective, Lewis intensely portrays the contrast between the unassuming love of God and the passionate hatred of Satin and His workers. This is perfectly summed up, when Screwtape writes, “We must never forget what is the most repellent and inexplicable trait in our [God]: He really loves the [His Children]” (Lewis #72)