This is a central message of my End Times blog, going all the way back to Part 1. Do Not Fear the End Times. What’s going to happen will happen, no matter what. Being afraid of it only increases our suffering right now. It makes our lives harder to live now, here in the present.
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I’m writing another post inspired by The Screwtape Letters (AFFILIATE LINK) by C.S. Lewis. You may remember I wrote about a topic from this book last week, in Part 35.
If you didn’t catch Part 35, here’s part of what I wrote about the book:
Although The Screwtape Letters is a fictional book, it’s filled with legit info on demonology and spiritual warfare. It lays out the details of how Satan, through his demons, tempts us into sin and leads us away from God, which ends with hell. But the interesting thing about this book is that it’s written from a fictional demon’s perspective! Yes, the letters in this book were written by a “senior demon” named ‘Screwtape.’ Screwtape writes letters to a junior demon named ‘Wormwood,’ explaining to him the best ways to tempt Wormwood’s “patient,” an innocent man who Wormwood is assigned to lead into damnation.
It’s an excellent book filled with great writing on the topics of temptation and corruption. But today’s post should be the last post based on this book. By the time this post goes live, I’ll have finished reading it.
Well anyway, today’s post is about living in the present, and why God would want that of us. It’s about a message I’ve been pushing since Part 1, which is: Do Not Fear the End Times!
Remember: The Future Is in Whose Hands?
We can’t see the future. We can’t know the future. We can get ready for the future to some extent, but never fully, because we don’t know what will happen. And that’s about it.
We can plan for the future if we like, but God’s plan overrides ours. God’s plan always happens no matter what we do. That means many things at the same time, but I’ll only list two.
First, we don’t need to worry about the future, because it’s all in God’s hands. Our worrying doesn’t change God’s plan in any way—it only makes our present harder to live through. Second, we can still prepare for our own futures now, and this is a good thing for us to do even if God’s plans are sovereign. For example, we can eat a healthy diet and get good sleep and exercise now so we have better health in the future. We can save our money now so we have savings for when we need them. These kinds of preparations aren’t offensive to God—they’re prudent.
But except for those prudent preparations we can make now, in the present, are there any other reasons God would want us looking to the future?
No, I don’t see many reasons why He would. Again, all the warnings about the Second Coming of Jesus are meant for us to get ourselves ready now, in the present. The present is the only time we have the power to do something in. Looking to the future or the past isn’t exactly helpful to us.
Looking to our past can be a great source of life wisdom for us. We can learn from our mistakes, which is very important. But looking to the past can also make us sad or angry now, in the present. We should learn from the mistakes and successes of the past, and then move on. Let the past be the past.
When we look to the future, though, then things are a little different. There is great potential for us to fall into sin when we live in our future—when we focus on it all the time. That’s why Screwtape the demon, in The Screwtape Letters, says: “It is far better to make them live in the future (p. 76).”
So, the demons want us living in the future then? Meaning, they want us focused on it and putting great thought into it? That’s what C.S. Lewis suggests, and it makes a lot of sense. Let’s hear Screwtape’s explanation:
Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us) is already over.C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Pages 76-77
Now there’s a great insight into fear, greed, lust, and ambition. They all look ahead, to the future. Let’s think about some examples.
Worrying about the coming end of the world causes fear of all the physical pain and horror involved. That fear can then cause the sin of cowardice if the terrified person acts or neglects to take action due to fear. For example, they might deny Jesus and say they aren’t Christian due to fear of future persecution and torture of Christians. That’s the sin of cowardice, but their sin started when they thought about the future enough to the point of feeling fear. Instead of worrying about the future to the point of feeling fear, they should have had more faith in the LORD. What He intends to happen will happen, so don’t worry about it because it’s all in His hands.
Greed (avarice) also comes from thoughts of the future. For example, a person plans a theft, robbery, scam, or white-collar crime because they’re thinking of how they’ll enjoy all the money they steal. They’re thinking about all the pleasures and worldly goods they’ll enjoy. They’re sinning against God when they look to a future of luxury they want instead of being content in the present with how God has blessed them right now.
It doesn’t have to be as drastic as theft or other crimes though. A person who negotiates or does business dishonestly due to greed is also guilty of the same problem. Of course it’s sinful to deal dishonestly with others out of greed. But this greed is rooted in not being content in the present with what God has blessed us with right now.
Ambition is like the greed example. For example, someone hoping to move up the corporate ladder might act dishonestly and ruthlessly to reach their goal. Dishonesty and ruthlessness are sinful, and this kind of behavior is caused by the same dreams of enjoying prosperity, luxury, and power in the future. And these greedy dreams are rooted in the same lack of contentment with the present.
Screwtape singles out the sin of lust, as you can see above. Can you see how lust looks forward, to the future? Most of the time when we commit the sins of lust, someone catches our eye and we imagine being with them sexually. Thinking too much about it can lead to the sin of adultery, but the thinking itself is already a sin. We can’t indulge sinful imaginations, and it’s a sin if we do. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:28—lustful thoughts are the same as the sin of adultery.
(28) But I say to you that every man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart.Matthew 5:28 (CEB)
The imagination is important in witchcraft and demonology. It gives demons a way into our mind, and an angle to attack us from. Sin starts in the imagination, the mind. Before you can do something, you have to think about it. Before you sin, you think about it first. If we imagine committing adultery with someone, and we don’t reject that thought right away, then we’re committing the sin of adultery in our heart. The LORD will see it the same as committing the act.
So when we imagine lustful thoughts and don’t reject them, we’re sinning. We’re opening the door for demons to invade our thoughts and encourage our sins. We welcome demons in by indulging lustful imaginations. They may tempt us into sin, but the thoughts and actions are our own. We have to take responsibility. And it all starts in the mind, with our thoughts.
This is why the demon Screwtape says lust is a forward-looking sin. The imagination of the pleasure we could enjoy is where the sin starts. And once again, it’s rooted in wanting more than we have. It’s rooted in not being content now with what God has already blessed us with.
OK, so we can commit sin by living in the future and spending our time thinking about it. But that’s not all. The extra tragedy on top is that we’re sinning, worrying, or getting our hopes up for things that may not ever happen.
Sin and Fear for Nothing
The future is uncertain, and to us, unknowable. Only God knows the future. So when we live in the future—when we spend our time focused on what could happen—we’re spending precious time thinking about things that may never happen.
Imagine being scared by a possible future scenario, only for it to never occur in the end. Maybe some of you even have a real life example of that. But if you spent time fearing something that never happened in the end, then the time you spent afraid was wasted. Your fear and worrying only made your life harder at that time, but it was all for nothing.
The demons want us to do this. They want us to think of horrible scenarios that could happen, since they know we don’t know what will happen. Only God knows that. All worry, fear, and even excitement over the future is wasted time that only adds to our suffering in the present, or in the future.
This is because our fears might not come to pass, so fear only adds to our suffering right now. And our hopes and dreams might not come to pass either, which causes us to be disappointed and heartbroken in the future. By living in the future, we’re setting ourselves up for worse suffering. Instead of getting all our hopes up for some dream that may not even happen, we must be content with what God has blessed us with now, in the present. Taking prudent, practical steps toward achieving a dream is acceptable, but getting our hopes up too much and spending too much time thinking about some dream is living in the future.
So living in the future adds to our pain right now in the present, or later in the future.
It’s no wonder that Screwtape the demon had this to say in The Screwtape Letters:
But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future—haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth—ready to break the Enemy’s [God’s] commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other […] We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now […]C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Pages 77-78
Remember that from Screwtape’s point of view, the “Enemy” is God.
The whole race of mankind, chasing the rainbow’s end. That’s a good metaphor, because obviously that’s something we can’t reach. The demons want us spending our days chasing after things that we can’t reach or may never happen. Either that, or they want us to be afraid of what could happen, knowing that mankind has no idea what will happen.
So the future isn’t even real, in a sense. It’s the rainbow’s end. We have no idea what the future holds. We can take guesses, we can interpret Scripture. But the truth is that anything we think about the future is only guessing. It’s only imagination. We just don’t know what the future holds. Only God knows. So it doesn’t do us any good to worry about it. What’s going to happen will happen, and God is in control.
This is a central message of my End Times blog, going all the way back to Part 1. Do Not Fear the End Times. What’s going to happen will happen, no matter what. Being afraid of it only increases our suffering right now. It makes our lives harder to live now, here in the present. God’s plan cannot be stopped, changed, delayed, and so on. It’s all in God’s hands, so let’s have faith and focus on ourselves. Let’s turn to Jesus and REPENT of our sins while we still have time. Do Not Fear the End times.
And on top of that, living in the future can cause us to break God’s laws today. We might do something sinful to avoid the future we fear, like Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow did (Part 2, Part 22). We might sin against others in the present to avoid a future that may never come (like the future of Daybell and Vallow’s false prophecy). And living in the future also causes us to be discontent with our present situation and blessings, and this discontentment is the root of the future-facing sins described above.
So how much time do we spend thinking about things that will never even happen? Stop chasing the rainbow’s end. Stop living in the future, anything we think about the future is only our imagination. We’re spending precious energy thinking about things that may never be real. And it takes our heart and mind off of our duties to God right now, in the present.
If we have hope for some dream, let’s give that to God. Pray to Him that, if it’s in line with His will, that we can have it. Then let go and let God handle it. He will grant it if it’s part of His plan. If He doesn’t grant us our dream, it most often means He has something better for us that we don’t know about yet. Until we find out, we must live in the present and fulfill our duties to God now. We must seek Jesus and follow his teachings now.
Be Righteous Now
God wants us to be grateful right now. God wants us to be happy now, with the blessings we have now. God wants us to be good to each other now. None of these things hinge on any future conditions. God wants us to live in the present, right now. Because the present is the only time we have the power to change or affect in any way. And the present is what we must be grateful for, each moment of it. Living in the future or past causes us unnecessary suffering. That doesn’t honor God.
And God wants us to be ready for His return now. No one knows the day or the hour of Jesus’s Second Coming (Matthew 24:36), but we know He’s coming back because He promised. And He told us in Luke 12 (Luke 12:35-48, check out Part 6 which is about that) it would be at a time no one expects, so we must always be ready. We must not let ourselves get caught off guard, we need to stay ready.
That means being ready now, in the present. That means following Jesus’s teachings now. That means turning to Him and REPENTING of all our sins now. That means loving our neighbors and our enemies as ourselves now. That means turning the other cheek and blessing those who hate us now. None of this hinges on any future conditions. We need to follow Christ now, while there’s still time.
Live in the present, in the now. Living in the future or the past causes unnecessary suffering. That can make us sad, angry, afraid, or hopeful and excited, all for no reason. Focus on what God has given us right now, and be content with it. Let the past stay in the past, and the future will come in good time. Let’s relax, REPENT, and do our best right now, the only time in which we have any power.
And above all, never look to the future and be afraid. We don’t know the future, only God does. What’s going to happen will happen, and it’s all in His hands. Don’t forget that quote from Screwtape. If we’re afraid of what could happen tomorrow, we might break God’s laws today. And today is the time that matters. So, as always …
Do Not Fear the End Times!
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Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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