He didn’t land on the cover of Time until he posed as the devil.
He later conceded it was the hardest book he’d written.
C. S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters to imagine what it would be like to see this world – and Christians – from the standpoint of Satan and his demons. It became a bestseller and made Lewis a literary legend.
Part of this success comes from our longstanding insatiable curiosity with anything satanic. It is an irresistible preoccupation, sometimes even in the church. Today, an increasing number of sophisticated Americans don’t believe in a personal devil any more than they accept a personal Christ.
Assuming he exists and has an interest – the Bible says he does – what might the devil’s design look like?
One columnist wrote, “If I were the Prince of Darkness I would engulf the whole earth in darkness”.
“We know we are children of God,” the apostle John wrote in his first letter, “and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one” (I John 5:19, NLT).
He’s the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2, KJV). He and his diabolical subjects are “the rulers of this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).
Our fallen world has been the devil’s dark domain ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. The columnist noted this and wrote:
“I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve, ‘Do as you please’”.
As they walked fearfully through the forest, the Scarecrow told Dorothy and the Tin Man, “Of course I don’t know, but I think it’ll get darker before it gets lighter.”
It has – and it will.
The entire trajectory of every declining civilization is marked, guided and finally corrupted by moral nihilism. “Do as you please”. The West is no exception. America has been “slouching toward Gomorrah’, as the late judge Robert Bork once put it, for some time.
This doesn’t mean you and I shouldn’t pray for another Great Awakening – anything is possible with God – it’s just that a turnaround doesn’t appear in the cards anytime soon.
“To the young,” the columnist wrote, “I would whisper ‘The Bible is a myth’. I would convince them that ‘man created God’ instead of the other way around. I would confide that ‘what is bad is good and what is good is square’”.
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20, KJV).
Nothing is more contemporary than “relevance” or more scoffed at than moral certainty. “Tolerance,” observed G.K. Chesterton, “is the virtue of the man without convictions”.
Young Americans have been captured by popular culture – one of Satan’s most potent weapons in moving the masses. Even young evangelicals and their cool mega pastors, far from defending “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), have begun to question it.
“‘For the Bible tells me so’” declared one popular preacher last year, “that’s where our problem began”.
“If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; let those run wild … With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to vote against God and in favor of pornography”.
Continued the columnist:
“Then in his own churches I’d substitute psychology for religion and deify science. If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle”.
Nothing has been more pitiful and tragic than the gradual secularization of the church in America; the church’s anxious aping of the world in hope of gaining the world’s approval. It is a fool’s errand that has weakened beyond recognition the last best hope of rescuing the nation and pulling it back from the moral abyss.
We’ll know spiritual revival is possible when it begins in the churches of this land.
Lewis didn’t write The Screwtape Letters simply to entertain his readers, though it did. He wrote so Christians would be more aware of the subtle strategies of Satan and better prepared to resist them.
“This world with devils filled” may threaten to undo us. We are not on a playground but a battlefield and called to battle we are. The Bible teaches us nothing if not that we are locked in a titanic mortal struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil – every day and in every way.
We need not let Satan “outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes” (II Corinthians 2:11, NLT).
“We are not ignorant of his devices” (KJV).
You and I may draw strength and confidence, even when the hot breath of the roaring lion is upon us.
Though Satan seems triumphant, his doom is sure. Jesus Christ came to “destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8) and that final victory is already won – and shared by every saint who has placed his or her faith in Christ.
Though Satan is strong, Christ in us is stronger (I John 4:4).
Though Satan is menacing, we can resist him – and are commanded to do so (James 4:7; I Peter 5:9). Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Fear not! Victory is yours!
The columnist who had Satan’s plan in place?
He wrote If I Were the Devil in 1964.
And now you know the rest of the story.