In his classic satire, The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis imagined this mythical letter from the demon Screwtape to his apprentice, Wormwood, who was attempting to prevent believers from practicing biblical Christianity:
My Dear Wormwood,
The real trouble about the set (beginning) your patient is living in is that it is merely Christianity. They all (Christians) have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of “Christianity and.” ……. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some fashion with a Christian coloring …..
Your affectionate uncle,
C. S. Lewis exposed in his allegory one of Satan’s clever devices against the Church ….. that Christ alone is not adequate for His people. The devil has effectively cast a shadow upon the sufficiency of Jesus Christ by convincing many believers that what they really need is “Christ and”. His subtle scheme of Christ plus something is pervasive in the church and has opened the door to a flood of secular philosophies, including Christ plus visualization, Christ plus psychology, Christ plus mysticism, Christ plus emotional healing, Christ plus self-esteem, Christ plus knowledge, Christ plus superstition, Christ plus spiritual warfare, etc. Believing the lie that Christ alone is not adequate, countless men and women have substituted irreligious philosophies to remedy their spiritual ills.
Unfortunately, the problem has increased as not a few believers have replaced the Son of God with ideologies that are more secular than Christian. How tragic! Personally, I’m tired of Christianity without Christ! I’m tired of principles without the Person. I’m disillusioned with ten-step formulas that are promoted as a sure cure for spiritual disorders. As a teenage girl once lamented, “At times I feel as if I am more committed to godliness than I am to God.”
The Scripture sounds a certain sound when it declares that Christ has been made unto us sanctification (I Corinthians 1:30), that He saves His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), and that his divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). Perhaps those who feel they need specialized counseling periodically, need only to look to Jesus Christ to put their chronic spiritual woes to death.
John Newton expressed in one of his hymns the frustration of attempting to bring his fleshly appetites under the control of God by using superficial substitutes for Christ. But he shares in that same hymn that he ultimately found his fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
By various maxims, forms and rules-
That pass for wisdom in our schools-
I sought my passions to restrain,
But all my efforts proved in vain.
But since my Savior I have known
Are all my rules reduced to one-
To keep my Lord by faith in view-
This faith supplies, and motive too.
A. W. Tozer affirmed, “That man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his own soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done in him.”