As Christians, there are times when it can be insightful for us to look at matters from the perspective of a person who is not a Believer. It can give us understanding as to why they act the way that they do. For example, a person who does not have the Holy Spirit inside of them to help them discern right and wrong should not surprise us when they act in ways that are opposite that of Scripture. Jesus isn’t their Savior and they have no personal relationship with Him, so why should they want to act in according with His will?
This idea of playing ‘devils advocate’ is an idea that C.S. Lewis did almost literally in his 1942 classic “The Screwtape Letters.” In this fine and succinct work, Lewis writes from the perspective of a senior demon in Hell named Screwtape, giving his nephew Wormwood, who has recently graduated from Demon College, advice on how to tempt his first human specimen.
The writing is witty and often times quite funny, but one of the moments that stood out to me most though is where Screwtape is discussing the concept of “pleasure” with Wormwood. He states that Wormwood must:
“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures, which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. “
Bearing in mind that when Screwtape mentions “The Enemy” his talking about God, you may be saying to yourself “What? Seriously? All pleasure in itself was created by God?” Initially this was my thought as well, but as I thought about it more and more, especially in the light of Scripture, I believe Mr. Lewis is in fact one hundred percent correct.
If you recall with me in Genesis 1 after God had created everything in the world the Bible tells us that “God looked over all he had made and he saw that it was excellent in every way” (Genesis 1: 31a). Think about that for a second. That means that things such as the artistic wonder of a sunrise or sunset, sex, and the tools that would later allow people to create music, movies and write books, were all part of God’s creation and all were “good” in the eyes of God.
However, at this point in time Sin had not entered the picture, so therefore all of the things mentioned above would only be used in ways that would honor God. As we all know Genesis 3 was coming, and man would sin, thus destroying the perfect world God had created. Author and Pastor Mark Driscoll has described that day as the “Great Thud” in mankind’s history and nothing could be more accurate.
From each day on then, Satan has had power to tempt us in this world and we all yield to those temptations at times, though those of us redeemed through Christ’s blood can be forgiven for these acts. Thus, as Lewis has cleverly written, while Satan himself has never produced any pleasure, he still uses pleasure in the form outside of what God intended it, to lead us into sin. For example, God created sex and thinks it is awesome and pleasing to Him, but he created that form of pleasure to exist only within the commitment of marriage, and nowhere else. Satan then tempts mankind by telling them that God didn’t really say it was only supposed to occur within marriage, but that it was a pleasure people can share without any commitment. See, the pleasure that comes from sex was created by God, within the rules that he designed it, but Satan simply lies to us by telling us we can partake of that pleasure without any rules attached.
It is important to remember the next time Satan throws us a temptation that would provide us pleasure if we take the bait, that God is not trying to steal our fun! He created the fun in the first place, it may just be that not all the fun we can have in the world can be had without certain boundaries He has put in place! If we resist those temptations by submitting to God (James 4:7) we will be blessed in God’s eyes. Then we should rejoice in Him and delight in the salvation he has provided for us (Psalm 35:9) because without we’d all be pawns in Satan’s grip on a path that leads to destruction! (Proverbs 3:25)