Sunday, February 28, 2010


"Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off... The only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy... Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one..." ~ Screwtape in C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters

To understand this quote from Lewis' famous work it is essential to remember that this book was written from a demon's perspective. In the book Screwtape (a senior demon) is writing letters to his nephew, Wormwood, who is a "junior tempter". Since it is from a demon's perspective "the Enemy" is God. Here Screwtape is advising Wormwood not to do more than he has to when tempting "the Patient" (an unnamed British man). The chief purpose of a tempter, Screwtape reminds Wormwood, is to separate the man from God. The young demon need not go to all the effort of tempting the Patient to murder if simply distracting him with idle pleasures will get the job done.

Nothing is very strong. It is one of the simplest way that our enemy tempts us to evade responsibility. If it successfully separates us from God then the enemy has succeeded and he has literally used nothing to do it. I never thought "nothing" could be a sin until I read this. This, of course, does not mean that "nothing" is always a sin, but it does make me think about the "nothing" parts of my life. It makes me wonder if there were times where I could have made our enemy work a little harder at his job.

By His Grace,

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