In letter #3 of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, we find our chief tempter Screwtape contrasting his view of what is expected of someone who has converted to Christianity with the patient assigned to his nephew Wormwood.
The patient is presented as someone who ‘thinks his conversion is something inside him’, resulting in a life of self-examination and a focus that is directed inward. Wormwood is told to encourage this.
Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious.
What are the ‘elementary duties’ that should be obvious to us? It is our living out the Christian faith. The demons have a view of Christianity that is the antithesis of the patient. They expect a conversion to result in external and outward changes. Their goal is to thwart ‘God’s inner working in us’ that is intended to bring ‘more and more of [our] conduct’ in alignment with His standards.
The goal of the demons then is to use whatever they can to distract us away from actually living out our faith. Continue reading