[this is part two of a series on The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. See What the Demons Taught Me: part 1 by Spencer Harmon]
1.) Selflessness is self-forgetfulness
Screwtape constantly reminds his young nephew to keep his patient away from self-forgetfulness and encourages him to, “…teach a man to surrender benefits not that others may be happy in having them but that he may be unselfish in forgoing them” (141). If my main goal in giving my money to the poor is so that I can be known as a “generous person” I have a sinful motivation. Instead, I ought to find my joy in the joy of others. My preferences, interests, and “image” should be like morning fog being burnt away by the heat of the needs of my neighbor.
2.) Worldliness is worldliness no matter how many times you call it “experience”
Screwtape informs Wormwood that, “Real worldliness is a work of time – assisted, of course, by pride, for we teach them to describe the creeping death as good sense or Maturity or Experience” (156). My American Christianity needs a good dose of this reality. For it is easy to cloak my love for the things of the world by saying certain sinful things are bearable for “mature believers” while I lose my childlike desire to please my heavenly Father. If the movie is sinful I should not watch it; if the music is sensuous I should not listen to it; if the party is a house full of temptation I should not attend it. These are not legalisms that keep me from understanding my world better; these are prescriptions that help me see my Savior clearer.
3.) Faith and repentance is better than your most spiritual promises
Screwtape scolds Wormwood for his patient’s response to a recent “fall from grace” because he is not making, “…lavish promises of perpetual virtue,” but instead, “only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly temptation!” (69). Faithfulness does not always look flashy, and neither does daily dying. So often a fiery sermon, a fresh new book, or a stirring conversation incites a desire to promise God feats that he is not asking of me. Rather, God calls his sons and daughters to repentance and faith, and seeking his kingdom first. This is the radical Christianity we have been wanting: grace fueled obedience.