In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes a series of letters from Screwtape to Wormwood, both of whom are demons working together to keep a man from pursuing Christ. Screwtape is the mentor, if you will, and Wormwood, his nephew, is his disciple. In one of Screwtape’s letters, he writes about how their goal is to turn people from pursuing Jesus to pursuing Nothing. Screwtape writes:
Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have no even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.
You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards, if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
Anything that takes us away from worshiping Jesus is an idol. Murder and playing cards can both keep someone out of heaven. Why? Because it is the heart that matters. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23). Playing cards can be sinful if it is a blinder from the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. For that is the devil’s ambition — to blind the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4).
This certainly gives us a much broader view of sin. Anything we think, do, or say that defiles the glory of God is evil.
So the warning for us in Scripture is this: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbeliving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).