February 21, 2009

Has your "Will" been turned around, reconditioned, and made a new thing?

“Three Kinds of Men”--which kind are you?

The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.

In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them – the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society – and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a student’s life, into time “on the job” and “off the job”, “in school” and “out of school”.

But the third class is of those who can say, like St Paul, that for them “to live is Christ”. These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old "egoistic will" has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have.


The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort – it is to want Him.

C. S. Lewis

1 comment:

Mel said...

This... Is so incredibly, amazingly beautiful. Which one of his books or works did this come from, if you want to share? I belong, by God's grace, as much as I have been blessed to see at this moment, to the third category. But I believe that there are countless people in my life who belong to the second. And I believe that they are the people to whom Christ will say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you." I long to see them come to their true senses, but I have no power in myself to cause that to happen. Oh, God, please help me!