While preparing a lesson for our Exploring Christian Living group which is now meeting every Tuesday evening, I was reminded again of the reality of Satan and the subtlety he employs in tempting us. Oh how we need to be vigilant! C. S. Lewis, in his book The Screwtape Letters addresses this topic through a series of imagined letters. These letters are supposedly from an older demon, named Screwtape, written to a younger demon, named Wormwood, who is in a sort of on-the-job-training. Screwtape was training Wormwood in relation to a “patient,” as they call him, or a particular man who was being tempted by the younger demon. Screwtape writes in a letter,
“My Dear Wormwood,
Obviously you are making excellent progress. My only fear is lest in attempting to hurry the patient you awaken him to a sense of his real position. For you and I, who see that position as it really is, must never forget how totally different it ought to appear to him. We know that we have introduced a change of direction in his course which is already carrying him out of his orbit around the Enemy [God]; but he must be made to imagine that all the choices which have effected this change of course are trivial and revocable. He must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading away from the sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space.”
Lewis points out a number of truths. One of the interesting truths is that sometimes an attack of temptation is so obvious and other times it comes unsuspected and unannounced with satin slippers. In other words: Temptation is always changing clothes; always adapting methods.
Now, in truth, most of us do well with the frontal attacks. When they come, we are ready – we get our sword of the Spirit and pray, “Let them come.” However, we have grave difficulty when the temptation slips in on unannounced feet. We are caught unaware. Heed the words of the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:8-9) and stay put… remember the devil has not signed the Geneva Convention!