(Editor’s note: These posts on the Screwtape Letters are the result of the high-school Sunday school class that my wife and I teach at Trinity Baptist church, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If any of this material would be useful to anyone for a similar purpose, please feel free to use it, modifying it in any way you feel necessary. If you have any suggestions, comments, or observations, I invite you to please post them here. This is a work in progress, looking for any honest and sincere help you might offer.)
hybrid: a thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture.
phenomenon: a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen.
propaganda: information of a biased or misleading nature used to advance a point of view.
appalling: awful or terrible.
loathsome: causing hatred or disgust.
ignoble: not honorable in character or purpose.
incentives: a thing that motivates or encourages one to do something.
“Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?” In this first of a twin-letter set, Screwtape defines and explains the law of Undulation to his young nephew, Wormwood. In letter nine, he will proceed to show Wormwood how to take advantage of this most curious phenomenon, “which“, he says here in letter eight, “will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.”
Screwtape defines the law of Undulation in the following sentence: “As long as he lives on earth, periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty.” Isn’t this true of every one of us. This emotional roller coaster has many causes, most of which can be attributed to sin. Each of us crave all kinds of things most of the time, as James points out in James 4:1, 2. If we have to, we bite and devour to get what we want. When we cannot obtain what we crave, then we become dejected. Even if we do get what we sinfully crave, it fails to satisfy for any length of time, and that too brings us down. This is not a picture only of the lost, but of God’s people too. It is only by God’s graciously wooing us that we return to Him for full and lasting satisfaction and contentment.
The bulk of our class time was spent discussing ways Christians can minimize this “law of Undulation”, as Lewis puts it. Here are some of the Scripture passages around which the discussion revolved:
- Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, â€œI will never leave you nor forsake you.â€ (Hebrews 13:5, ESV)
- Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)
- Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:1-4, ESV)