As you may have noticed through some of my recent posts, I have been in the process of reading C.S. Lewis’ classic The Screwtape Letters over the past week or so. On Thursday I finished the book, and as is my custom, I shut the book and stopped to ponder what the overarching, take home theme I got from the text was. On this, it immediately popped up as to how much reference Lewis made of the necessity for the demons to exploit the subtle sins and idleness of the patient’s life (Again, if you don’t know, the book is written from the perspective of a supervisor demon corresponding with a subservient demon as to how best lead a human “patient” towards an eternity in Hell). As such, I have been thinking about the validity of such an idea.
The immediate scripture that came to mind was Revelation 3:15-16: I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. In this verse, Christ is talking to a church, and so believers, and is warning them that they need make their works bold and strong, and not just marginal for lack of trying. I believe that this relates to the idea in the fact that as a Christian, the desire for idleness is a strong temptation which Satan can level in order to keep us from doing good works. This serves to make us as an unrefreshing yet uncleansing, stale, lukewarm water, which the drinker would rather spit out than bring into himself. However, I don’t feel this is the whole story.
The thrust of what I feel Lewis is getting at with this theme of “casual” sinfulness is more in order that a fallen man who has no reason to call upon God won’t. John Piper said this in one of his sermons when he gave the illustration that if a man is drowning and you throw a buoy to him, he won’t get mad if the buoy hits him in the face, but, if a man is just standing around and you hit him in the face with a buoy he will curse you. It is the same with Jesus. If a man sees that he needs a savior then the offense of the cross won’t affect him, but to the person who doesn’t see his need of a savior, the cross is just an offense. So, in terms of Lewis’ point, a man will find no need in God if his sins are “small” and he sees no roadsigns on the path to Hell. However, if a man sees that he is surely headed in the wrong direction he will immediately want to find out how he can turn around.
That is the burden on Christians. First, to show others the roadsigns of their destination without the knowledge of Christ as their savior. Second, and sometimes more difficultly, to find the roadsigns when ourselves or the church begin to head down the wrong avenue. This second point, I belive, is why the call for sound doctrine is so important to the community of believers. It is truly amazing how much damage the human mind can do to the smallest exceptions we make to the will of God.
I am certainly not done looking at this topic, as the idea has really hit home with a lot of issues that I feel passionately about, but I wish to leave for now with this one final scripture which details for us the need of God’s opening our eyes to the utter depravity of even the “smallest” of our sins:
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death. – Proverbs 16:25