A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“Dozens of people go to Him [God] to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of (like masturbation or physical cowardice) or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment (p. 202).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
It is easy to read this quote as if it were threatening – “the full treatment” comes across as some painful wrestling move or cruel torture technique. But with that mindset we are like a lost pound puppy who’s intimidated by the offer of “a royal bath.”
God offers us freedom from sin, yet we fear it will limit our choices. The choices God would lead us away from are the very ones that create shame and spoil daily life. But we fear the change we want.
Like Augustine we pray, “God, make me pure… but not yet.” Like the man in Lewis’ book The Great Divorce we say we want God to kill our lust, but when he offers to do so, we fear life without it. Consider the following retelling of that fictional account:
“In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis tells an allegorical story about a ghost of a man afflicted by lust. Lust is incarnated in the form of a red lizard that sits on his shoulder and whispers seductively in his ear. When the man despairs about the lizard, an angel offers to kill it for him. But the fellow is torn between loving his lust and wanting it to die. He fears the death of the lust will kill him. He makes excuse after excuse to the angel, trying to keep the lizard he says he doesn’t want. (Are you starting to see yourself?) Finally the man agrees to let the angel seize and kill the lizard. The angel grasps the reptile, breaks it neck, and throws it to the ground. Once the spell of lust is broken, the ghostly man is gloriously remade into a real and solid being. And the lizard, rather than dying, is transformed into a breathtaking stallion. Weeping tears of joy and gratitude, the man mounts the horse and they soar into the heavens. In this story, C.S. Lewis shows the connection between killing lust and finding life. It feels as if destroying our lust will destroy us. But it doesn’t. And when we destroy our lustful desire, we come not to the end of desire, but to the beginning of pure desire (p. 27-28).” Joshua Harris in Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is)
Can you now see “the full treatment” as grace instead of a threat? If so, there will be one clear fruit – honesty. We will never be more pure than we are honest. Begin by being honest with God. You can pray without shame. God already knows. It is your silence that keeps you from God more than your sin – repentance is free for the taking, purchased by the blood of Christ.
Then be honest with a trusted Christian friend, pastor, or counselor. Speak to someone who will listen, thank you for the courage in your honesty, and look you comfortably in the eye as they walk with you as you grow into Christ’s righteousness.
If you’re not sure what to talk about, use the seminar False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery (www.bradhambrick.com/falselove) to guide these conversations. These overview “the full treatment” of the gospel for lust. There is hope sufficient for your struggle if you will trust the God of hope (Rom. 15:13).
To see the first 100 posts in this series click here.