On Relationships

Spiritual Warfare on the Home-front

I love C.S. Lewis.  I am not sure if it is because he captured my heart and mind in his Chronicles of Narnia, or that when I read his theological essays or books I feel intelligent. (*wink*)  But needless to say, his work has made an impact on my life.

God has been nudging me to reread C.S. Lewis’s book, The Screwtape Letters recently.  (<-- Thats a link to an online PDF version you can read for free) I read them 7-8 years ago, and I felt the need to go back to them and delve a little deeper.  If you are unfamiliar with The Screwtape Letters, it is a series of letters from the a demon named Screwtape, to his apprentice demon (also nephew) Wormwood.  Here is Wikipedia’s summary of the book: 

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis provides a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in living out Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, as seen from devils’ viewpoints. Screwtape holds an administrative post in the bureaucracy (“Lowerarchy”) of Hell, and acts as a mentor to Wormwood, the inexperienced tempter. In the body of the thirty-one letters which make up the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining faith and promoting sin in the Patient, interspersed with observations on human nature and Christian doctrine. Wormwood and Screwtape live in a peculiarly morally reversed world, where individual benefit and greed are seen as the greatest good, and neither demon is capable of comprehending God’s love for man or acknowledging true human virtue when he sees it.

One of the main reason I love The Screwtape Letters is that it gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of the enemy in a tangible way.  So often our knees buckle at the thought of “spiritual warfare”.  We hear that cliche phrase and immediately change the subject or we respond with something like “that stuff creeps me out”…  Well, unfortunately turning a blind eye, hiding in a hole of ignorance or pretending that its imaginary is exactly what the enemy wants us to do.   
In Screwtape’s third letter he talks about a certain situation that has proven to take ahold of me time and time again. Wormwood’s patient has recently become a believer and he has moved in with his mother.  Screwtape gives some instruction on how to drive a wedge between the patient’s mother and himself.  This is what he said in the 3rd and 4th point: 
“3. When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness ofyour patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let himassume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy—if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed.

4. In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying thingswhich would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face. To keep this game up you and Glubose must see to it that each of these two fools has a sort of double standard. Your patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual words, while at the same time judging all his mother’s utterances with thefullest and most oversensitive interpretation of the tone and the context andthe suspected intention. She must be encouraged to do the same to him. Hence from every quarrel they can both go away convinced, or very nearly convinced, that they are quite innocent. You know the kind of thing: “I simply ask her what time dinner will be and she flies into a temper.” 

As I read through this “instruction” from Screwtape to Wormwood, I thought about my own actions with my spouse, with family members, or co-workers… Yikes, this is a trap I can easily fall into.  Those irritating glances, or using “innocent” words but with a condescending tone… Ouch, again!!

After suddenly becoming aware of my own faults I realized that I was not only hurting those around me, but I was falling right into the hands of my enemy… Satan.  He was playing me like a fiddle.

Satan wants us to believe that Spiritual Warfare only exists in taro cards, crystal balls and seances, but the reality is that he (Satan) can be at work in patronizing remarks, judgmental thoughts, jabbing jargon and snobbish glances.  This is exactly how he creeps into or relationships with friends, family and especially our spouse.  All it takes is experiencing one or two of those “blow to the face” comments to drive a thick wedge between you and someone you love.

Just as I can be the one dishing out those arrogant arguments, I can just as easily be the party guilty of “oversensitive interpretation”….  So, count me as guilty on both counts!  (boo) 

What an easy whirlpool to get caught up in… each reaction will spawn the other spinning faster and faster until your relationship is damaged or broken.  (which is Satan’s anticipated result) 

SO HOW DO WE GUARD AGAINST THE ENEMY????

Don’t be ignorant….Be ALERT and of SOBER MIND:  Before reading this letter, I knew that my behavior was not “the best” but I was ignorant (in some ways) that it was actually “falling victim to temptation” or falling into the category of “spiritual warfare”.

1 Peter 5:8-9 says: “Be alert and of sober mind.B)’> like a roaring lionD)’> standing firm in the faith,

Heather Duncan is an Oklahoma native who recently moved with her husband and three kids to the middle of D.C. Raising her kids in the urban core of the nations capital came as an unexpected surprise. Trading a sprawling 4 bedroom house to a tight 2 bedroom Rowe home isn't everyone's idea of the American dream, but for her family, the Lord has used it to open their eyes and hearts to HIS divine plan. Follow her story on her blog or find her on Facebook or Instagram @hdunc.

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10 Comments

  • Reply Michell Pulliam

    Hey Heather! Awesome post! Every believer has to keep in mind that people ARE NOT our enemy…therefore we can’t fight them. There is only one enemy and his name is satan. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” Ephesians 6:12. My husband preached one time that Ephesians 6:12 is the ONLY perimeter we as Believers are permitted to fight in, when we fight outside of this realm, we can’t expect God to help us, because He only gave us instructions to fight His way! Thanks so much for sharing Heather and thanks for dropping by and linking up! Have a blessed weekend!!

    April 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm
    • Reply Heather D.

      YES!! Thank you Michelle for sharing that verse, what a poignant perspective!! So true, amen! I would have loved to hear your husbands inside on such a topic…

      April 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm
  • Reply Ren

    I really love that book.. He did a great job of describing the subtlety of the enemy’s attacks.. Great post!

    April 4, 2013 at 2:43 am
    • Reply Heather D.

      Yes , Ren. C.S. Lewis does do such an amazing job of depicting the subtleties of the enemy. I am so thankful for his insight. I have caught myself falling into so many of the schemes he describes without even a thought. Must stay diligent. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

      April 4, 2013 at 2:56 am
    • Reply Ren

      Have you read ‘The Great Divorce’? Another great one of his..

      April 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm
    • Reply Heather D.

      YES! I have. I read it about 10 years ago, so I am sure my perspective on it would be completely different today. I need to go back and reread it. Its a short read if I remember. (Most of C.S. Lewis’ writings are, which is another reason I am a big fan, ha!)

      April 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm
  • Reply Cynthia S.

    I will be purchasing this book! I can’t wait to read it. Found you through Prowess and Pearls.

    April 4, 2013 at 1:26 am
    • Reply Heather D.

      Cynthia,

      You can read it for free on the link that I posted. They are so thought provoking. I hope you enjoy. 🙂

      April 4, 2013 at 2:55 am
  • Reply victory

    Wow – what a thought provoking post. The enemy is always on his job (trying to kill, steal and destroy). We, as believers, must be forever diligent in resisting the pitfalls of the enemy. Thanks for sharing the works of C.S. Lewis. It sounds as if C.S. Lewis did an excellent job in describing the cunning, shrewdness of the devil. I may have to put this on my list of must-reads. Thanks for sharing!

    April 4, 2013 at 12:07 am
    • Reply Heather D.

      Thank you Victory. Yes. We must be alert, and realize that even the little arguments in our homes can be foothold for the enemy. 🙂

      April 4, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Thoughts welcome, please share.