a conception of self

I read the C.S. Lewis space trilogy the first time almost thirty years ago. I read them again 3 or 4 years ago. Powerful stuff.

I especially find the story in Perelandra to be a wonderful glimpse into the Garden of Eden through the mind and imagination of C.S. Lewis.

In the book, Satan constantly whispers in the Lady’s ear. His project is to build up her sense of self, her ego, to such a degree that she feels entitled to go on land (the book’s forbidden fruit) in spite of Maledil’s (God’s) instruction not to go there.

Only a creature that feels like it is somebody is willing to transgress God’s instruction because it wants its own version of happiness and joy rather than God’s.

The enemy’s scheme is bearing fruit in this quote from page 118 in the paperback version linked above:

But the Lady did not appear to be listening to him. She stood like one almost dazed with the richness of a day-dream. She did not look in the least like a woman who is thinking about a new dress. The expression of her face was noble. It was a great deal too noble. Greatness, tragedy, high sentiment–these were obviously what occupied her thoughts. Ransom perceived that the affair of the robes and the mirror had been only superficially concerned with what is commonly called female vanity. The image of her beautiful body had been offered to her only as a means to awake the far more perilous image of her great soul. The external and, as it were, dramatic conception of the self was the enemy’s true aim. He was making her mind a theatre in which that phantom self should hold the stage. He had already written the play.

emphasis added.

This is the way our enemy works. He does whatever it takes to make us think that we are the ones that the play is about. A dramatic conception of self is always his true aim.

People who are great are the ones entitled to live in Disneyland all the time.

earlier I quoted C.S. Lewis in Perelandra to illustrate the point that our enemy has as his project the inflation of our ego to the point that we find it difficult to deny anything to ourselves and our own vision of how the world should be.

Satan has as his project affirming to us that we are the most important thing in the world and that everything else revolves around us and what we want and like.

I would submit that there are two basic things that we have to get right before anything else in the Bible or Christian life makes sense. We have to have a proper view of God and we have to have a proper view of ourselves in God.

God is everything. He made everything. He is sovereign over everything. He is God. Isaiah 46 is just one place where He laid it out for His people to see.

9remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10(K) declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying,(L) ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11(M) calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
(N) I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

the first four of the ten commandments are also reminders that God is God and will be worshipped as God.

2(C) “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3(D) “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

4(E) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5(F) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am(G) a jealous God,(H) visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing steadfast love to thousands[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7(I) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8(J) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9(K) Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the(L) seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the(M) sojourner who is within your gates. 11For(N) in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The whole point of all creation is to reflect the Glory of God. God chose Israel as His people in order to show the nations who He is. God chose us for the same reason.

God did not save us in order to meet our needs although that is a byproduct according to Matthew 6. God did not save us because He needed anything that we had to offer according to Romans 5:6-8.

God saved us for the praise of His glorious grace. Check this out.

3(A) Blessed be(B) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing(C) in the heavenly places, 4(D) even as he(E) chose us in him(F) before the foundation of the world, that we should be(G) holy and blameless before him. In love 5(H) he predestined us[a] for(I) adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,(J) according to the purpose of his will, 6(K) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in(L) the Beloved. 7(M) In him we have(N) redemption(O) through his blood,(P) the forgiveness of our trespasses,(Q) according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9(R) making known[b] to us the mystery of his will,(S) according to his purpose, which he(T) set forth in Christ 10as a plan for(U)the fullness of time,(V) to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In him we have obtained(W) an inheritance,(X) having been predestined(Y) according to the purpose of him who works all things according to(Z) the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be(AA) to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard(AB) the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him,(AC) were sealed with the(AD)promised Holy Spirit, 14who is(AE) the guarantee[c] of our(AF) inheritance until(AG) we acquire(AH) possession of it,[d](AI) to the praise of his glory.

emphasis added.

you have to get these two things written/engraved/etched into your very heart and soul.

1. God is God
2. Everything in all creation including us exists only and always to reflect God’s glory

that’s it.

So, as believers we are mirrors reflecting God’s glory to the world. Notice something though in II Corinthians 3:18:

18And we all, with unveiled face,(A) beholding(B) the glory of the Lord,[a](C) are being transformed into the same image(D) from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

emphasis added.

Did you see that? in addition to the magnificent, amazing, unbelievable, wonderful, glorious privilege of being glory reflectors, God is also lovingly transforming us into the very image that we are reflecting for His increased glory.

The point is that God is the only light source in the universe. We are mirrors, not suns.

mirrors try to make themselves better reflectors of God. Little make believe suns try to impose their reflection onto the world.

Do you see why these two things matter?

The basic foundational lie of Satan is that we are little light sources ourselves. As little gods, we are thus entitled to all the perks of godness including a world ordered around us and our whims.

notice on page 179 what the Lady learned in Perelandra after she did not succumb to temptation to go on fixed land:

The reason for not yet living on Fixed Land is now so plain. How could I wish to live there except that because it was Fixed? And why should I desire the Fixed except to make sure–to be able on one day to command where I should be the next and what should happen to me? It was to reject the wave–to draw my hands out of Maledil’s [Jesus’s], to say to Him, ‘Not thus, but thus’–to put in our own power what times should roll towards us….as if you gathered fruits together to-day for to-morrow’s eating instead of taking what came. That would have been cold love and feeble trust. And out of it how could we ever have climbed back into love and trust again?”

a cold and feeble love and trust indeed is one that says thank you to God for saving us, now get out of our way while we make our world like we want it. But yet that seems to be what we do, and much pain follows our rash willfulness.

Why do we do it? How can we stop?


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