C.S. Lewis wrote his classic work, The Screwtape Letters, in an effort to help modern-minded Christians recognize the reality of spiritual warfare and the tactics of the enemy of our soul. These letters first appeared in a weekly religious newspaper in 1941 and then in book form in 1942. They were a wake-up call to believers who had grown numb to the reality of their spiritual enemy.
Each letter is written as if it was penned by a senior demon (Uncle Screwtape) to his demonic protégé (Wormwood). Each one reveals a specific aspect of the spiritual battle between the forces of hell and ordinary people who walk in this world. Why would such a great Christian thinker as Lewis feel the need to write these letters and publish them for the consumption of every-day Christians?
The answer is simple. We are prone to doze off, fall asleep, and forget that we are in the middle of a war! Satan loves it this way! So, people like C. S. Lewis write to wake us up and get our attention. There is a real spiritual world, an actual enemy of our soul, and we need to wake up and get in the fight. If we fail to do this, we do so at our own peril.
In 1977, a generation after Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, a passionate young Christian artist named Keith Green wrote a song with the same goal in mind. He wanted to wake up the groggy Christians in his generation who did not recognize the serious spiritual battle raging all around them. Green wrote his song in the first person, through the voice of Satan. Reflect on these piercing words that come at the end of the chorus:
You know, it’s getting very simple now
’Cause no one believes in me anymore!
Linger on that final line. “No one believes in me anymore.” Let the words sink in. Why did C. S. Lewis write The Screwtape Letters? Why would Keith Green pen and sing such dark words in a song called “Satan’s Boast”? Because the battle is real. Our enemy is still at work. We need to wake up!
Pause right now and say a prayer from the depth of your heart:
God of heaven, give me a bold spirit and courage to face the reality of spiritual warfare. Wake me up! Prepare me for the battle. I am yours. I am ready to stand, to fight, and to celebrate your victory.
Let the truth of Scripture grab you by the shoulders and shake you awake.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (EPHESIANS 6:12)
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 PETER 5:8–9)
In this five-session video Bible study, bestselling author and pastor Jim Cymbala guides groups on how to recognize we are in a spiritual war, understand the enemy’s plots against us, and develop practical strategies for fighting back. He teaches that as believers in Christ, we have been given everything we need to stand strong and take the fight to the enemy. As we do, we will recognize—in the words of the apostle Paul—that God “gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle for more than 50 years. The bestselling author of Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, he lives in New York City with his wife, Carol Cymbala, who directs the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.