Screwtape Letters #14

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March 3, 2016 by Joseph Krohn

Satan and Pride vs. Humility

KEY VERSE: Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

  • A young woman asked for an appointment with her pastor to talk with him about a besetting sin about which she was worried. When she saw him, she said, “Pastor, I have become aware of a sin in my life which I cannot control. Every time I am at church I begin to look around at the other women, and I realize that I am the prettiest one in the whole congregation. None of the others can compare with my beauty. What can I do about this sin?”   The pastor replied, “That’s not a sin, why that’s just a mistake!”

“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“The vice I am talking about is pide or self-conceit; and the virtue opposite to it, in Pride before a fallChristian morals, is called humility… it was through pride that the devil became the devil; pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

  • What is pride? [Dictionary: 1. A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect. 2. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in an achievement, possession, or association: parental pride. 3. Arrogant or disdainful conduct or treatment. 4. An excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit.]
  • Are some forms of pride ok? [i.e. parental pride]
  • What is humility? [a modest/correct or low view of one’s own importance]
  • Can someone be proud about how humble they are?

SCREWTAPE: p. 69 – “The most alarming thing… he is making none of those confident resolutions which marked his original conversation. No more lavish promises of perpetual virtue… I see only one thing to do at the moment. Your patient has become humble; have you drawn attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By jove! I’m humble,’ and almost immediately pride – pride at his own humility will appear.”



Haughtiness – thinking very highly of one’s self – leads to contempt for others.

    1. Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
    2. Proverbs 21:4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
    3. Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
    4. SCREWTAPE: “Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point.” (p. 70)
    5. Is it possible to be proud about ones humility?
    6. SCREWTAPE: “By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly or clever men trying to believe they are fools” (p. 71)
  1. Scorning – lit. “to make mouths at” – to talk arrogantly; to boast; to make fun of
    1. Proverbs 21:24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.
    2. Why would a proud person scorn others? – makes them feel better about themselves (even their own failures) – i.e. Someone who is disgusted at someone else’s “perceived sin” but whose life is marked by sin themselves.
  2. Boasting – pride’s greatest fear is that someone else will not notice the greatness it sees in itself.
    1. Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
    2. Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim (boast) everyone his own goodness: but a faithful [trustworthy) man who can find?
    3. Proverbs 17:19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction. è Proverbs 17:19 Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who speaks boastfully invites disaster.



  1. Pride is Sin against God (Prov. 3:5-7) – it suggests that we are “wise in our own eyes” and that we don’t need God.
  2. Pride opposes Wisdom – Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
  3. Pride is an abomination to God – it claims honour that only God can give.
    1. Proverbs 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
    2. Abomination – disgusting; to vomit
    3. Proverbs 6:16-19 – God hates a “proud look”
  4. Why does God and pride not mix? – 1 Timothy 3:6 “lifted up with pride, fall into condemnation of the devil.”
  5. What is the difference between pride and confidence/joy?
  6. SCREWTAPE: “The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world and know it to be the best and rejoice in the fact, without being any more or less or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another” (p. 71)



  1. Shame – pride seeks glory, but only brings shame.
    1. Proverbs 11:2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is behumble06webwisdom.
    2. Proverbs 25:27 It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
  2. Contention -relationships can experience conflict because of pride
    1. Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
    2. Proverbs 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
  3. Destruction – God destroys those that challenges Him through pride
    1. Proverbs 15:25 The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
    2. Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
  • SCREWTAPE: “Your efforts to instil either vainglory or false modesty into the patient will therefore be met from the Enemy’s side with obvious reminder that a man is not usually called upon to have an opinion of his own talents at all, since he can very well go on improving them to the best of his ability without deciding on his own precise niche in the temple of Fame.” (p.72)

Does God bless humbleness? Proverbs 25:6 Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: 7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.

  • The story is told of two ducks and a frog who lived happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, who could easily fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck. So it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond. The plan worked well–so well, in fact, that as they were flying along a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, “Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?” The frog said, “I did…”



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