You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
These profoundly sobering words were uttered by a devil. A provocative thought. To be more precise they were uttered in C.S. Lewis’ (1898-1963) masterful work The Screwtape Letters (1942) which is written as a collection of letters from a senior demon named Screwtape to a young trainee demon named Wormwood. Throughout the letters, Screwtape gives his wise analysis and advice on how the young upstart tempter can best destroy his “patient” (a Christian) and ultimately separate him from the “Enemy” (God).
If you have not read this book, you need to. It is soul food. It is one of the most thought-provoking and spiritually convicting books you will ever read if you allow it.
As I read back through it three initial insights wash over me:
INSIGHT #1: EVERYTHING IS SPIRITUAL
As you read through Lewis’ work – and I mean read and re-read and chew on it – you become acutely aware of just how spiritual everything is in life. Paraphrasing the words of Hamlet,
“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies and psychologies.”
Everything is spiritual in the sense that all we do in some form or fashion shapes our souls and the souls of those around us unwittingly so or not. Lewis is penetrating this profound point throughout the book.
How we live our lives through the mundane tasks of life shapes our souls. How we treat our husbands and wives shapes our souls and theirs. The tones we set with our children shape our souls as well as theirs. Our work ethic and interactions with coworkers shape our souls as well as theirs. How we perceive the strangers we pass in the grocery store shapes our souls. What we laugh at, what we cry about, and how we joke all shape our souls. The things that we spend our money on shape our souls. How we spend our leisure and resources shapes our souls.
What we dream about, fantasize about, and hope for all shapes our souls. All these things are little inclines or slopes that incrementally glide our souls toward everlasting splendor or wretchedness. Lewis in The Weight of Glory (1941) said it this way,
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” 
This all means that fundamentally there is nothing in this life that is merely trivial.
INSIGHT #2: THERE ARE DARK FORCES AT WORK IN THIS WORLD
The second thing that shines forth from Lewis’s work is a sobering vigilant awareness of spiritual powers. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but dark cosmic spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:13). Lewis says at the very beginning of The Screwtape Letters,
"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them."
Similarly, the theologian and philosopher Peter Kreeft (1937-present) puts it like this:
“Satan is equally pleased by our overestimating him and our underestimating him – as the commander of an enemy army in wartime would be equally pleased if your side greatly overestimated his strength and shook with superstitious fear when there was ‘nothing to fear but fear itself,’ or if you greatly underestimated his strength, or even stopped believing in his very existence.”
It is easy in our post-modern hyper-scientistic world today to balk at the idea of a spiritual realm of darkness versus light, much less that we humans are affected by it.
It is a laughably quaint idea from a bygone age when we believed in things like fairies, objective morality, and civic virtue. But this is to our detriment. We are precisely where the Adversary and his devilish hordes want us to be – blind and proud of it. Our culture (and many a church sadly) has crafted the perfect fatted sheep for the grinders of the War-Machine of Hell.
INSIGHT #3: THE NEED TO PERCEIVE OUR CHAINS
Dovetailing off the last paragraph is the understanding that the only way to have spiritual victory is to be aware of the Enemy’s tactics. We must understand the subtlety of Satan. The Adversary’s goal is to ensure we do not perceive our own chains. Therefore, he rarely works through the grandiose. His playground resides in the realm of the gradual, the mundane, and the unremarkable.
That is where his greatest work is achieved.
It is the little foxes that spoil the vine (Solomon 2:15). It is the methodical allure of desires that entice the soul (James 1:14-15). It is the waterless springs of darkness that promise allurements but brings enslavement (2 Peter 2:17-19). For the past several weeks I have become acutely aware of such truth by re-reading Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.
Because of all this over the next several posts, I would like to focus upon some of the most provocative thoughts in Lewis’ book on how the Adversary slowly tries to destroy our souls. Each post will cover one or two inclines/slopes the Adversary puts along the paths of our lives to slowly kill the Light of Christ. As with every post, these will not be exhaustive but hopefully will provoke and impassion you in your walk of Faith.
I hope you will come with me along the journey.
 C.S. Lewis, Signature Classics, The Screwtape Letters (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2003), pg. 220
 C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2001), pg. 46
 C.S. Lewis, Signature Classics, The Screwtape Letters (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2003), pg. 183
 Peter Kreeft, Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know about Them? (New York, NY: Ignatius, 1995), pg. 112
Michael H. Erskine is a high school Social Studies Teacher, has an M.A. in History & School Administration, serves as a Bible teacher in the local church, and is happily married to his beautiful wife Amanda.