CS Lewis on the Future Orientation of Sin

Lent is fundamentally about God dealing with the evil done by and to man in the Cross of Jesus Christ. It also a good season for considering our human response to this miracle of divine love, mercy and justice.

One of the ways of doing this is to contemplate the human capacity and propensity for wrong-doing, or sin. Fewer works in recent times have shed more light on the psychology of sin and temptation than CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.

In one illuminating letter (number 15), senior devil Screwtape instructs his nephew, Wormwood, on the temporal nature of sin. In short, all sin is future-oriented. The present is what God would have us focus on; if we are to think of the future, it is to the ends of contemplating our future union with, or separation from God (Letter 6 foreshadows this point). The devil and his minions would have us “hagridden by the future”, overcome with fear or hope, neglecting the present cross, present pleasure or present duty.

Images: by author, from ‘The Screwtape Letters’ in The CS Lewis Signature Classics (New York: Harper One, 2017), 227-229.