Top 10 C.S. Lewis Quotes With Commentary

C. S. Lewis had some amazing insight into human nature and into the nature of God.  Here are some of his most famous quotes and what they mean to me.

C.S. Lewis

Most everyone knows who C.S. Lewis was (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963). He was a bestselling novelist, poet, philosopher, literary critic, and Christian apologetic.  He may be most well known as the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven fantasy novels that had hidden elements of Christianity and salvation embedded within them.  His books Mere Christianity and The Business of Heaven are two of the bestselling books of all time and are among my favorite reads next to A.W. Tozer’s, the Knowledge of the Holy.

He’s also known for some astoundingly insightful quotes that are still just as relevant today as they were in the day in which they were written.  I would like to include 10 famous quotes by C.S. Lewis and what they mean to me.  His nickname was Jack and so please allow another Jack to follow with some personal commentary to what these quotes mean to me.  These quotes frequently remind me of Scripture and so I will likely include Bible verses that fit into C.S. Lewis’ quotes. You may find different and better meanings than I have and you may also have more profound quotes than I have included.  I could have included dozens more but since I have limited space, I have selected a choice of only 10.

 #10 “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

I have a friend that I found by accident.  He is a retired pastor.  We have the same number of children and with the same tendencies. Our P.O. Box numbers are the same, we have the same initials, our street names are the same, we are both from the same denomination and we have amazingly similar circumstances at home.  When I knocked on this man’s door one morning while doing door-to-door Outreach, I handed him a Bible tract and he said, “Wait a second please….” and when he returned, he had exactly the same Bible tract that I had and the ones I use are quite rare.  He had the same evangelism training that I had, he had experienced the same tendencies in the church he pastored that I do today, and so the moment I said “What! You too?” a lifetime, cherished friendship was born.  Today, he is my closest brother in Christ that I can share anything with.  I tell him things and he tells me things that we have never told another soul (save for God).  I was not the only one.

#9 “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”

When I read this quote, I thought of 2 Corinthians 5:21 which states “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  This is basically what C.S. Lewis was saying.  God made us good only through the atoning work of Calvary.  We became righteous because of His love that was most vividly displayed on the cross as John wrote, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

#8 “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”

Listen to what C.S. Lewis said in his book The Business of Heaven: ‘If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents-the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts-i.e. of materialism and astronomy-are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.’ [1]

Do you see what he is saying?  He is saying that there is purpose in the universe and especially in us.  To believe that there is no meaning in the universe is to have found some meaning in saying as much. Christians understand that they were created to glorify God and indeed the universe itself glorifies the Creator: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1).

C.S. Lewis Quote

#7 “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  

This reminds me of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35 where a man who was indebted so much that he could not possibly pay back what he owed in a hundred lifetimes.  This steward of the rich man was forgiven after pleading and begging the man not to sell him, his wife and his family for all that he owned.  Immediately after this, the man found someone who owed him a meager amount of money. He grabbed him by the throat and when the man told the man who was forgiven much that he could not immediately pay him back, he had him thrown in prison. When the steward’s master found out, he cast the steward into prison saying to him “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him” (Mat 18:32b-34).  The point is that we will never have to forgive others as much as we have been forgiven and so we should always be willing to forgive. The saying goes, Jesus paid a debt He did not owe and I owed a debt I could not pay.

#6 “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Is there anyone alive who has never suffered in pain?  What we learn in our pain we could never learn in our comfort.  God does speak to us in what some call a still, small voice but when we are in sheer agony, we hear God speaking more clearly than ever than we could hear Him in the calm periods of life.  God sometimes uses this “megaphone to rouse a deaf world” which to me means that He sometimes breaks a person’s will to bring them to their knees and when a person’s pride is gone, God’s resistance to the proud is gone too as He resists or opposes the proud but gives grace only to the humble (James 4:6). I like to say that God cannot fix what is first not broken.

#5 “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

This immediately brought to mind Philippians 2:3-4 where Paul says “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” and “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom 12:10).   When we put the interests of others ahead of our own, we are being more like God for God gave us His own and unique Son to die while we were still His enemies.

#4 “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

Strange as that sounds, even hell will glorify God because it is the supreme justice that eventually be carried out.  No one ultimately gets away with anything because God has said that vengeance is His.  When Paul wrote “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil 2:10) he was saying that even those who refused to bow the knee in this life will bow the knee at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  This includes all who have ever lived and those who have yet to be born.  Those in heaven are those who are now saved and all the angels, those on earth are those who will be alive at His return and those under the earth are those who have died but will be resurrected for judgment.  Either way, nothing will ever reduce His glory because His glory is not dependent upon anything or anyone and so nothing will ever diminish the glory of God.

#3 “The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

This reminds me of three demon apprentices who were being trained by the Devil on how they might be able to better populate hell.  One demon said “We can tell them that there is no God.”  The Devil says, “No, that won’t work…people know better.”  The next one said, “We can tell them there is no hell.”  Again the Devil said “No, that won’t work, they know better.”  The last apprentice demon said, “I know, we can tell them there is no hurry.”  The Devil said, “Hey, that’s it!”  I once heard the late Adrian Rogers recall an event of a young man who walked up to another man in Chicago and asked him where a bar was at.  The bar was called “The Gates of Hell.”  The man giving directions told the man to go by Calvary Church and just keep going and he’d find the bar.  Here are his bone-chilling words: “Keep on going right past Calvary and you’ll find The Gates of Hell.”  Irony of ironies was not lost on this occasion. Go past Calvary and you’ll be headed straight for the gates of hell and for many, there is no hurry.

#2 “Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did.  As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.”

Jesus said this is one of the two great commandments.  That is to love God first and foremost and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  One man wanted to divorce his wife and wanted to really hurt her. His lawyer said this…”Put off the divorce for a month.  Tell your wife every day that she looks beautiful, tell her that dinner was excellent, and tell her that you love her every day. Do these three things for one month and then drop the hammer on her and tell her you’re going to divorce her.”  The man reluctantly said okay and when the lawyer called after a month’s time, he asked the man “How did it go?” The man said, “Well, tomorrow we are going to Hawaii for our second honeymoon.  I never realized that I do love her.  We are more in love today than ever.  I just kept telling her that she looks beautiful, she’s an excellent cook, and that I love her every day and you know what?  I believed it.  I do love her!”

#1 “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

Whether we realize it or not, we are all going to live forever.  The moment we were born was the time that we would never cease to exist.  Everyone born and alive today has an eternal soul.  The soul is going to live forever.  There are only two places that your soul can go…heaven or hell.  There are only saints and “ain’ts” and there is no sitting on the fence.  If you’re on the fence, your destiny is hell for there is no neutral ground in the Kingdom.  Jesus said you are either for Me or against Me (Matt 12:30).  My plea to you is to jump off the fence and believe today, while it is still called today (2 Cor 6:2).

 Article by Pastor Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design

Resources: The Holy Bible (NIV Version)

1. C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Business of Heaven, Fount Paperbacks, U.K., p. 97, 1984.

  • Lynn He

    C.S. Lewis never said #1, above.

  • Lenin John

    Yeah Lewis didn’t say #1. Would be helpful if you can give the references for each quote.

    LJ

  • Rodent Education

    I’d like to know where quote #5 came from. Was it from Mere Christianity?

  • Brandon Roberts

    c.s lewis was a great author and a christian and was once an atheist brilliant man


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