It's always interesting doing a book study I think. First, because it challenges you to really read. If only so you're not the only one in the room that hasn't done the reading and can't participate as a result. It's an excuse for me to do something I've always wanted to do but been too lazy or to busy or to apathetic to put in the time. Teaching makes you have to study to get the material deep in your head. It makes you not just read the book but it requires reading about ten different study guides as well. Well that's me.
This week we read the part of the preface of the book I have inserted below and then dove into Chapters 1 and 2. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien were good friends at Oxford. They were professors there and shared their unfinished novels with their colleagues in a book club called the Inklings. Lewis dedicated Screwtape Letters to Tolkien who, a few years earlier, was instrumental in Lewis' conversion from atheism to Christianity.
"The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn."-Luther
"The devill . . the prowde spirite . . cannot endure to be mocked."-Thomas More
I HAVE no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. The sort of script which is used in this book can be very easily obtained by anyone who has once learned the knack; but disposed or excitable people who might make a bad use of it shall not learn it from me.
Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar.
And so our study began...
First we discussed how culturally we see devils differently. Miri and Jonas spoke from the German perspective, Wyn from the Phillipino and me from the American. We then briefly touched on materialism and atheism as both terms are used frequently throughout both C.S. Lewis' life and his writings. I asked if they were aware that according to a research study by the Barna Research Group in 2008, an incredible 45% of those who profess to be “born again” actually deny Satan's existence. That was down from 50% just 4 years earlier. We weren't sure how you can claim to be born again and not recognize and openly acknowledge the existence of Satan.
Christ in you ministries shares this list of biblical references for Satan and how he is mentioned:
SATAN THE DEVIL
I. Representative Biblical references
Satan: Greek word Satanas - transliteration of Heb. (36 ref.) - adversary, opponent, to resist, oppose, counteract
Devil: Greek word diabolos - dia=through; ballo=to throw (38 ref.) - slanderer,
misrepresenter, deceiver, divider, accuser, divider
Evil One: Greek word ho poneros - the evil one
Tempter: Greek word peirazo - to pierce in order to prove or examine
Adversary: Greek word antidikos - against right or justice
God of this age
Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons
Belial - possibly "lord of flies, dung, or forest;" worthlessness
Prince of the power of the air
Enemy: echthros, from echthos = hatred, hostile
Dragon, serpent; cf. Gen. 3; II Cor. 11:3
Accuser - kategoreo
Apollyon: from Greek apollumi = to destroy; destroyer
So let's say you are in the 50% that believe in the existence of Satan or that you are not yet a Christian and just want to find out more. Well as Lewis warns - you don't want to have an unhealthy fascination with the devil but there is nothing wrong with reading up on what the Bible says about him, what great authors have written (Geothe, Dante, Lewis) and arming yourself appropriately. This is what we are attempting to do through this study.
Here we see Screwtape writing to his nephew Wormwood (ein unterteufel or junior tempter) and urging him to not use reason and argument for why his patient is not a materialist. If he goes too far in this direction he might very well reason himself straight out of this thinking and into a direction where the enemy (God) wants him.
You see God is not afraid of argument, questions, scrutiny. His word and his character and the actions and life of His son have stood the test of time. He WANTS us to question. He welcomes it. It is from Him that we have the very ability to reason at all so why wouldn't He? This first chapter is all about Screwtape attempting to convince Wormwood that it's far better to distract, confuse or fuddle the patient than to allow him to think, be taught or to know truth.
Somewhere between chapters 1 and 2 the patient decides to become a Christian. This at first greatly displeases Screwtape but not for long as he notes that many a soul "have been reclaimed after a brief sojourn in the Enemy's camp." He is pleased to note that those that have been reclaimed are now "with us." Screwtape says they have allies in this battle of turning the soul back toward hell of which the church is their greatest. You'll note here that Lewis believes and preaches that man can in fact lose their salvation. This is not popular thinking across evangelical circles and yet if this weren't the case the Screwtape Letters would be a very short book indeed. In fact it would be one chapter long as in the beginning of chapter two the patient is noted to now be Christian and the remaining 29 chapters are all attempts to win the soul back.
Screwtape then goes on to describe how the church can be such a great ally though the hypocracy the patient will note (either imagined or real) within his fellow church goers. He takes Wormwood through a series of ideas for distracting or otherwise preventing the patient from getting anything of the true fellowship or reason behind why God wants Him in the church in the first place. His theory is to just keep him focused on what annoys, does not meet with his expectations or otherwise displeases him and "keep him in that state of mind for as long as you can."
As I asked my Facebook friends for their opinions of devils I was not surprised to see that very few responded. In America as well as many places around the globe, Satan is not a topic many people want to discuss. It makes them uneasy, fearful, sort of like they might be jinxing themselves or something to speak of him. This is what one friend noted:
"I am aware of Satan's presence in my own life, and growing more aware. Fortunately, I am also growing in confidence in the power of prayer and the fact that God has my back. It's funny how hesitant I was to respond to your question. It reminded me of the characters in Harry Potter who wouldn't say the name Voldemort. Pretending we aren't being bit by a snake does not make the snake go away. The research from the Barna Group is very interesting and very sobering. I really struggled with the finding from Unchristian, but I am glad I read it."
Another friend who had a past with the occult but wanted to stay anonymous wrote: (personal references have been removed)
"Was clairvoyant since early childhood. Had the ability to see into the future, and the spiritual realm. This was before coming to Christ. After accepting Christ and going through deliverance myself, God has used me in the deliverance ministry for almost 30 years. I've met many of Satan's minions over the years... mostly in the deliverance ministry. God has even given me personal names of a couple of them.
Satan works in our minds, thoughts and emotions. We can hear 3 "voices" in our heads (thoughts). You hear your own thoughts, you can hear God speak to you, and you can and will hear Satan speak to you. He (Satan) sounds like your own voice..... or thoughts. He knows everything about you, and how you react to circumstances, what your achilles heel is. His voice is very subtle in the beginning. Perhaps a quick thought. Then it grows a bit. If you don't pay attention and take the thought captive and submit it to Christ in the beginning, you will begin to entertain the thought, and it becomes more appealing or sucks you in. If it's lustful... it starts to appeal, and if you play with those thoughts long enough, Satan will arrange for an encounter... which gives birth to the sin. If it's fear, or rejection, or a thought that is negative, or unforgiveness, if you don't capture it, you become depressed, Satan begins to tell you, that you are unloved, or rejected and worthless. There are a host of other negative thoughts or lustful thoughts. Just using those two as examples. If you entertain ANY of them, or refuse to forgive, you put yourself in an invisible prison. You have opened the door not only for the original thought or action, but have "invited" other demonic influences into your thought pattern. 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
This can all happen even in a Christian. Is a Christian possessed.... ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! However, if you have "willfully" been living in some sort of sinful nature, some folks will APPEAR as though they are totally under the possession of Satan. At that point, many may develop physical ailments. It could be major depression, or anxiety... both of which people may seek medication for. It could be spirits of affliction that cause people to be ill. I am not saying that all illness is caused by a demon. It's not. We live in a fallen world, and if the flu is traveling through your area, and you are exposed, that does not mean Satan gave it to you.
Satan exists, he's alive and he prowls like a lion seeking to devour. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. We are told to stay alert, put on the amour of God, and take all thoughts that are sinful, or negative captive and submit them to Christ. You do that and rebuke the devil and he will flee. It's unfortunate that the church in general does not do teaching on this. I think many Christians live a defeated life as a result. I have heard pastors say they won't teach on this because it is paying too much attention to the devil. Trust me... Satan is overjoyed to see and hear that!"
If you also have a past in the occult and would like to share your story annonymously here then just send me a message.
Looking forward to chapters 3 and 4 for next week.