(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. These posts are comprised of study and preparation on my part before class, with discussion that occurred during the class being added afterwords. This is a work in progress, looking for any honest and sincere help you might offer.)
belittling: the act of making someone seem unimportant
vanity: pride in one’s own achievements
exploiting: to make full use of something
urbane: of a person being well refined, well mannered and courteous
mammon: riches, in the sense that it is regarded as an object of worship
bawdy: dealing with sexual matters in a comical way
blasphemy: speaking irreverently or without proper respect in matters relating to God.
priggish: self-righteous, moralistic, holier-than-thou
I was delighted to hear from Triptweeze that your patient has made some very desirable new acquaintances and that you seem to have used this event in a really promising manner.
Very desirable, indeed! Obviously Screwtape doesn’t have the patient’s best interest at heart in this opening statement to letter 10. In this letter we find some of the pitfalls of having non-Christian friends. How is a Christian suppose to navigate in this fallen world? We are told by our Lord to be salt and light (Matthew 5:14-16), and to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We are also commanded to keep ourselves unstained by the world (James 1:27), and not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). How can we have contact without contamination? After all, we are told that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).
What we have here is a tight-rope act, a walking on the razor’s edge. If we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, then we should long to tell our fellow man about our God and Savior. So how do you befriend those lost whom you work with, go to school with, live next door to? In the course of class discussion, we looked at the following passages:
- Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV). First of all, we need to be concerned primarily with what God thinks, not man.
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16, ESV). In this passage we learn that we must both study the Bible, so that it will dwell richly; and we must share it freely with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
- But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14,15, ESV). We must persevere in the faith, using God’s word to remind us of what we believe, the truth of the Gospel.
- 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). The battle is ever and always in the head and the heart. We must, by constant vigilance, strive to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
- â€œYou are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV). Our purpose while here on earth is to reflect the glory of God in our lives. This means living a careful life for Him, not because it saves us, but because we have been saved and redeemed from every lawless deed (Titus 2:14).
Other passages: 1 Timothy 4, 1 Corinthians 15, the Proverbs.