Discussion of Chapters 13-18
Welcome to our third week of the screwtape letters online book study...
This week we're discussing chapters 13-18.
Congratulations! You’ve made it halfway through The Screwtape Letters!
We’ve already covered over a dozen issues in the Christian life.
This week’s issues were significantly convicting.
We started on an encouraging note as we saw the patient repent and spend some time delighting in God’s good gifts.
Then we dove head-first into issues like 1) church-shopping, 2) anxiety and obsession with the future, 3) pride and humility, 4) gluttony, and 5) love and sex.
Every Chapter In A Sentence
Here’s the central point of each chapter in a sentence:
- Chapter 13: Delighting in God’s gifts just for the sake of enjoyment reflects humility but can be twisted into passivity.
- Chapter 14: Humility is outward-focused self-forgetfulness.
- Chapter 15: The Christian should live in light of eternity while staying contentedly aware of the present (but should avoid an obsession with the future).
- Chapter 16: A danger for Christians is a consumeristic view of church; that will lead to church shopping and settling at gospel-weak churches.
- Chapter 17: Gluttony is when our stomach “now dominates [our] whole life” — or when our lustful passions dominate our whole life.
- Chapter 18: The Christian view of marriage, sex, and family is bound by God’s Word but is opposed to the world’s view.
And here are some discussion questions to help you dig deeper into this week's reading:
- What does Lewis mean when he says, “when [humans] are wholly His [God’s], they will be more themselves than ever” (p. 55)?
- How would you define humility? How should we view our talents or gifts?
- What is the balance between being eternity-minded and present-minded?
- Contrast the world’s view of love with God’s view.
Reflections On These Chapters
In 2007, the late Jerry Bridges published a book called, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.
The book answers this haunting question: “Have Christians become so preoccupied with the major sins of our society that we have lost sight of our need to deal with our own more subtle sins?”
I think C.S. Lewis would say, “Most definitely,” and I believe The Screwtape Letters is answering the same question Jerry Bridges asks.
These chapters especially expose some of Christians’ most respectable sins: gluttony, a consumeristic view of church, pride, anxiety, complacency, and lust.
And it’s these sins that Uncle Screwtape urges Wormwood to capitalize on.
Notice that he never advises Wormwood to tempt his patient to murder someone or steal a car or take illegal drugs. No, his craft is subtlety. Destroy him by the “small” sins.
This is both discouraging and eye-opening.
It shows us that, as Tim Keller has said, we are more flawed and sinful than we ever dared believe. We are not basically good people. We are sinners.
But these chapters are also woven with wonderful hope:
“He [God] really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, He really means abandoning the clamor of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and posts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever” (p. 55).
Despite our subtle sinfulness, God still loves us deeply and is helping us constantly.
But we must not deceive ourselves to think that we are better than we actually are, to think that we aren’t sinners.
Instead, let’s recognize our sinfulness and immediately throw ourselves upon the mercy of God, which will meet us at every turn.
For God is ready to forgive and sanctify us — and even more, complete us.
Your Next Steps
- Read chapters 19-24 before April 2.