I’m almost finished listening through C. S. Lewis’ classic, The Screwtape Letters, on audiobook, and as I have been listening through it, I keep asking this question: what strategies is Satan using most effectively to deceive and destroy college students? The Bible clearly teaches that demonic forces are active and cunning in this world and that we should not be naïve “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). So for my next several blogs, I want to draw from some of C. S. Lewis’ original ideas, add a few of my own from ministry experience and then apply them to today’s college students using Lewis’ format of one demon writing to another.
For the sake of not infringing on any copyright laws, I will change the name of the supervising demon to “Lure” and the demon on assignment to “Catch.” I choose these names purposefully because these names show the essential strategy of demons (to entice and deceive using something good and attractive) as well as their goal (to capture and enslave). Here goes …
Do as I say and this could be the turning point. The beginning of the college school year marks a watershed opportunity for you as you strive for the destruction of your target. Benjamin … I hate even writing his name because of the meaning behind it. Why the Creator would want to draw this vermin up into his divine life and call him the “son of my right hand” is beyond me. His delight in him is ever repulsive to me. Our designs for him are much more delicious.
He has now entered into a phase of life full of new opportunities and freedom and yet he is not as ready for these as he thinks. They always overestimate their maturity and this is to our advantage. What you need to do now is give him the sense that if he were to say no to too many of these opportunities, he would be missing out on his college experience. By filling his schedule up with activity upon activity, commitment overlapping commitment (not to mention the pile of school work that he isn’t even accounting for yet), you will effectively crowd out the essential with the tertiary.
Speaking of schoolwork, this is the time where you want to begin planting the idea that “if I’m going to be somebody, I’ve got to give my schoolwork top priority.” This is one of our most masterful tactics: by hijacking some good things of the Creator’s, namely learning and work, and putting a life-consuming spin on them, we make our target feel as if he would get behind the crowd, handicap his resume’, and endanger his future if he were to put anything else above that.
But of course, no one can study all the time, and so you must work within his Creator-given needs in this case. This is where activities and involvement is your tool. If you can keep him so enamored with what is right in front of him, he will not only feel that fleeting sense of significance which we love to addict them with, but he will feel no openness in his life to that which he needs most: the Creator’s presence through His book and people. This is what you must keep him away from no matter what. Even a taste of it can remind him of what he was made for.
But be careful not to move too fast. Because he grew up going to church, subtlety is key. You will need to keep him somehow nominally involved for a little while in order to not awake him to his danger. I have found much success in keeping them inoculated through a semi-consistent dragging into a church service on Sunday mornings (after a late night, of course) where they can quiet their conscience with a formal religious observance in this way. As long as you can keep impressing the sense that real life is somewhere else and religion is peripheral, you will take him in due time. I expect a good report soon.