Screwtape Is All About Changing Your Focus

Friday with Screwtape 7 (series)

That Screwtape is a really devilish fellow. I almost admire his savvy, if it weren’t turned against me on daily basis.

Today, Screwtape is talking about using distraction and false thinking to blind a “patient” to the fact that he is entering a state of sin.

“An important spiritual law is here involved. I have explained that you can weaken his prayers by diverting his attention from the Enemy Himself to his own state of mind about the Enemy. On the other hand fear becomes easier to master when the patient’s mind is diverted from the thing feared to the fear itself, considered as a present and undesirable state of his own mind; and when he regards the fear as his appointed cross he will inevitably think of it as a state of mind. One can therefore formulate the general rule; in all activities of mind which favour our cause, encourage the patient to be unself-conscious and to concentrate on the object, but in all activities favourable to the Enemy bend his mind back on itself. Let an insult or a woman’s body so fix his attention outward that he does not reflect ‘I am now entering into the state called Anger–or the state called Lust.’ Contrariwise let the reflection ‘My feelings are now growing more devout, or more charitable’ so fix his attention inward that he no longer looks beyond himself to see our Enemy or his own neighbors.”

The spiritual law at work is one of those nasty little tricks. To keep the Christian from focusing on and following Jesus, our enemy wants to either focus our attention outward to the point that sin is not recognized, or so inward that God is not recognized. We get so focused on our problems, or the objects or our desire, that we don’t see the sin creeping up within us. Conversely, we can become so focused on our self-righteousness that we lose sight of God’s love, mercy, grace, and peace. In either extreme, Satan succeeds in keeping us from Jesus.

What is the solution? As trite as it may sound, we come again to Jesus. He is the source of our salvation, the beginning and end of all things. To know him is to know the meaning of everything. Whatever sin we have is forgiven. Whatever distraction we have is the result of taking him from the center of our lives. Any righteousness we can muster is worthless unless it is a result of Christ likeness and grace, and given to us by God. It’s all about Jesus. It always has been.