Finding God in Narnia part 5
Turning Down Turkish Delight
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
January 15, 2006

 

Well, this is our fifth and final week in our series on Finding God in Narnia. In week one, we talked about the character of Aslan, and we saw that in Narnia, Aslan is the image of Jesus. He certainly isn’t safe, but he’s good. We saw how, in the book and in the movie, one of the key statements is, “Aslan is on the move.” And we talked about how with him he brings hope and peace and power and salvation, just like Jesus.

Then in week two, which was Christmas Day, we saw how the White Witch in Narnia had seized control of the land and placed it under a curse, making it the where it is always winter but never Christmas. And so we talked about how things would be different if that first Christmas had never happened. What if it really were always winter and never Christmas? And the biggest thing would be that we would still be lost to our sinfulness. But because Jesus did come that first Christmas, we can have hope and forgiveness and new life and a second chance.

In week three, we looked at the pivotal scene in the story… The Stone Table. The Stone Table was the place in Narnia where Aslan willingly exchanged his life in order to save the life of a traitor. One of the children in the story, Edmund, had betrayed his siblings as well as Aslan. And because of that, according to the Deep Magic, or the law of Narnia, his life was forfeit and he deserved to die. But Aslan gave his life instead so that Edmund could be set free. Which is exactly what Jesus did for each of us. As a race, we have rebelled against Him. None of us is perfect, we have all sinned. And so we are all traitors against God, and because of that we deserve the sentence of death. That’s what justice demands. But because of Jesus’ great love for you and for me, He willingly died in our place, serving the penalty that we deserved, and erasing the stain of sin in our lives.

And then last week, we talked about how all the problems in Narnia began in the first place. When Edmund first entered Narnia, he encountered the White Witch who was riding on her sleigh. The White Witch knew that there was a prophecy in Narnia that four human children would come into the land, and their arrival would signal the end of her reign and the return of Aslan. So she decided she would trap Edmund and hopefully all four children. So she enticed Edmund into betraying the others and betraying Aslan. How did she do it? Well, remember that it is always winter in Narnia, and Edmund was cold. So she invited Edmund onto her sleigh where they could talk and where he could get warm. She offered him a blanket, gave him a hot drink, and then asked Edmund, “What would you like best to eat?” Edmund loved to eat Turkish Delight, so that’s what he asked for and that’s what he got. Except that this particular Turkish Delight was enchanted, and placed Edmund under the control of the White Witch.

And so we compared this Turkish Delight to sin. We saw how sin always appears as what you want… that’s what makes it so tempting. We saw how the pleasures of sin are real, but don’t last very long. In fact, they end up in death. We saw how sin traps you so you’re always wanting more, just like the enchanted Turkish Delight left Edmund wanting more and more.

Edmund was trapped by the White Witch. And she trapped him by using the Turkish Delight. It’s what she used to lure him in. It’s what she used to convince him to betray Aslan and his siblings. The Turkish Delight represents sin, and when Edmund decided to eat it, his very life was forfeit. Just like it was when Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit from the tree that God had placed off-limits. And when they did so, they betrayed God and sin and death entered Creation. You can read all about it in the Bible in Genesis chapters 2-3.

[Compare Edmund’s acceptance of the Turkish Delight with the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2-3]

So what could Edmund have done differently? Could he have overcome the temptation and turned down the Turkish Delight? Was there any hope for him? Is there any hope for you and me today? The good news is, yes, there is. So that’s what we’re going to talk about this morning… how to overcome temptation. Let me start by giving you some facts about Temptation…

 

Five Facts about Temptation:

A. Temptation is not sin.

It may feel like it – you may feel guilty for being tempted, but you don’t need to. Temptation in and of itself is not sin. It’s giving in to the temptation when sin occurs. Edmund wanted the Turkish Delight, but it wasn’t then that he betrayed the others. He betrayed the others when he actually began to eat it.

We’ve already seen this morning how Jesus was tempted. Bev read about it earlier. But he never sinned.

Hebrews 4:15 (NLT)
“…He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.”

Jesus Himself was tempted, yet we know that He never sinned. So there’s no way that the temptation itself is sin. It’s when we give in to the temptation that we sin.

Charles Swindoll is a pastor and the author of a number of books, and in one of them he wrote:

“Sin takes place when we agree to the temptation and follow it.”
~ Charles Swindoll

 

B. Everyone is tempted.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.

It’s inevitable. We all face temptations, regardless of who we are, how long we’ve followed Jesus or how mature we’ve become. We can’t outgrow it or become immune to it. It’s something we all have to deal with. The temptations we face here are as real as the temptations faced by our soldiers in Afghanistan. The temptations business executives face are as real as those faced by farmers in rural areas. The temptations children face are as real as those faced by their grandparents. And the temptations you face are as real as the ones Jesus faced Himself. Everyone is tempted.

Sometimes we get to thinking that only bad or weak people are tempted. But that’s not the case. In your notes…

We are not tempted because we are evil but because we are human.

So when you start feeling guilty because you’re tempted, remember that even Jesus was tempted. Being tempted is not wrong, giving in is.

 

C. With God, you can overcome every temptation.

Oscar Wilde once said:

“I can resist everything – except temptation.”
~ Oscar Wilde

And Mae West was famous for saying:

“I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.”
~ Mae West, 1892-1980, American Actress

Well, those are funny quotes. But the truth is, God promised temptation will never be so strong that we cannot resist it. Let me show you…

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

Now, I’m no Greek scholar. But from what I understand, the terms used in this passage in the original language were nautical terms. They painted a picture of a ship being caught in a storm at sea. There’s no secret escape hatch to get the ship out of the storm, but the ship will weather the storm and come out safely on the other side. God can provide the strength of character and sustain us and help us endure any temptation and enable us to land safely and victoriously on the other side.

 

D. Temptation grows stronger the longer you consider it.

You don’t have to give in to it, but the likelihood is that the longer you allow the temptation to remain the more it will wear you down and the more likely you will become to give in to it.

I read a story about a man watching birds flying around Niagara Falls. He stood and watched these birds over a period of time as they swooped down through the mist and near the Falls themselves. Gradually, little bits of ice began to build up on the wings of the birds and eventually the weight of the ice became too great and the birds would drop from the sky. They had hung around the Falls for too long, and it did them in.

Or if you’re a science fiction fan, like I am, you can picture temptation like the gravity of a Black hole. You’re going to begin feeling it while you’re still a long ways off, and you’ve still got time to adjust your course. But as you get closer and closer to the black hole, the stronger the gravitational forces become until you can’t break free.

God won’t allow any temptation to confront you that can’t be overcome, but don’t press your luck. The longer you entertain the temptation, the more likely it is that you will give in to it.

“It is not falling into the water but lying in it that drowns.”
~ Anonymous

 

E. Giving in to temptation will make you happy… for a time.

Otherwise you wouldn’t feel tempted. It’s the only reason temptation has any power.

“The power of all temptation is the prospect that it will make me happier.”
~ John Piper

And a verse we looked at last week told us about Moses, and it said…

Hebrews 11:25 (NLT)
He [Moses] chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Giving in to temptations will give you some kind of immediate pleasure, but in the long run the price will be more than you want to pay. It will leave you broken and defeated, with all kinds of feelings of regret and remorse.

There’s pleasure in giving in. There’s no denying that. But that pleasure is fleeting. And it’s not worth the price you’ll have to pay. The guilt, the feelings of failure, the addictions, the pain, the broken relationships, and all the other consequences. Plus, the final price…

Ezekiel 18:4 (NLT)
“The person who sins will be the one who dies.”

More than I’d want to pay for a brief moment of pleasure.

 

Okay, so even though temptation is not in and of itself sin, it’s something that each of us faces and we need to overcome it. How? Here are five tips for overcoming temptation…

 

Five Tips for Overcoming Temptation:

1. Avoid compromising positions.

The best example of this is one I’ve used before. In Genesis 39 it tells about Joseph. Joseph had been sold into slavery and was working for a powerful Egyptian named Potiphar. Joseph worked hard and did his job well, and was eventually put in charge of the whole household. But something happened. Potiphar’s wife became attracted to Joseph. And she tried to seduce him. She hit on him day after day, until one day she actually grabbed him urging him to go to bed with her. You know what he did? He ran from the room. He didn’t stick around to show that he was above temptation. He didn’t try to prove he could resist it by hanging around it. He ran from the room.

[See the account of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39]

Edmund did the exact opposite. He cozied up to the White Witch, accepted her gifts, and compromised himself.

You know what things tempt you. You also know what situations you get yourself in that make you more vulnerable. You know how tired you get and how that lowers your defences, just like it did with Edmund. You know the places you go, the things you do, the people you’re with. You know when temptation’s near. And you’d be wise to avoid those compromising positions. Run from the room.

 

2. Be prepared BEFORE the temptation comes.

Be ready for it ahead of time. Resolve now to be faithful to God, regardless of what the temptation is. Build up strength of character. Overcome smaller temptations that you face every day so you’re equipped to handle the larger temptations of life. Commit yourself every day to obeying God’s Word and putting it into practice, and then you will be ready when the storms of temptation come. Jesus said…

Luke 6:47-49 (NLT)
“I will show you what it's like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then obeys me. It is like a person who builds a house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who listens and doesn't obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins.”

You want to be prepared. You want to be ready for any attack of temptation. But how do you do that? Listen to these. This is probably the most important part of the message this morning…

 

Preparing Yourself for Temptation:

• Build a Vibrant Prayer Life

Discipleship Journal did a survey about temptation a while back and discovered that 81% of people said that temptation was more potent when they neglected their time with God. And 84% said that prayer helped them resist temptation.

Jesus Himself said:

Luke 22:40 (NLT)
“Pray that you will not be overcome by temptation.”


• Know Your Bible

66% of the people in the same survey said that Bible Study helped them resist temptation. In the passage Bev read earlier (Matthew 4), Jesus used Scripture to fight temptation. Read this with me:

Psalm 119:11 (NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Not even a good devotional book can take the place of the Bible in your life. Know your Bible.

This is why I’m so excited about this Year of the Bible. If each one of us reads through the Bible this year, what a tremendous difference that will make in our lives and in our church!


• Find an Accountability Partner

52% said this helped. Find someone you can trust who can check with you once in a while to see how you’re doing. Confide in them about areas where you’re vulnerable to temptation and ask them to hold you accountable.


• Recognize Your Weakness

In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbarians to the north. The result? The Great Wall of China. It’s 30 feet high, 18 feet thick, and more than 2400 km (1500 miles) long! The goal was to build an absolutely impenetrable defence—too high to climb over, too thick to break down, and too long to go around. But during the first 100 years of the wall’s existence, China was successfully invaded three times. But it wasn’t the wall’s fault. The barbarians never climbed it, broke through it, or went around it. They didn’t have to. All they did was bribe a gatekeeper and march through an open door.

You don’t want to become overconfident. Because the truth is that you’ll never be invulnerable… you’ll never be above temptation. None of us will be… at least not in this life. You may grow spiritually and build up your immunity, but you will never be totally safe from the allure of temptation.

1 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT)
If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin.

Recognize your weakness. But at the same time…


• Recognize God’s Strength

We try to do it on our own, we’re not going to make it. But when we’re relying on God nothing is impossible.

Jude 1:24 (NLT)
And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy.

 

3. Refuse to Give In.

C. S. Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, said…

“A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.”
~ C. S. Lewis

So resist it and find out. Remember, there will be no temptation that you can’t overcome with God on your side.

This is Mark Anthony. [PowerPoint] As you can see, he was a man with “chiseled features.” He was known as the “silver-throated orator of Rome.” He was a brilliant political leader as well as a military leader. He was known for his courage and strength. Plus, he had a great deal of charisma. In fact, he had all the qualities that made him a world leader.

But he had a weakness. He had a habit of giving in to temptation. Particularly when it came to a certain lady named Cleopatra. This vulnerability to temptation made him vulnerable as a leader, and he was severely hindered on different occasions as a result. In fact, it eventually led to his downfall and death. There was supposedly one occasion when his own personal tutor turned to him and said to him…

“Oh, Marcus, oh, colossal child! Able to conquer the world, but unable to resist temptation.”
~ Mark Antony’s personal tutor

But the Bible says…

James 4:7 (NLT)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.

Good things happen when you resist temptation. During our 40 Days of Purpose Campaign last Fall, Rick Warren took it a step further. He told us not to just resist temptation… he suggested we turn our focus elsewhere. Because when you’re resisting temptation, you’re focused on sin. So turn your focus elsewhere, reduce the temptation, and eliminate the opportunity. Refuse to give in.

 

4. Recognize temptation for what it is.

There was a middle school in Oregon that faced a unique problem. Kind of a funny problem, actually. You see, the custodian was constantly cleaning lipstick off the mirror in the girls’ bathroom. It was a middle school, and many of the girls were just starting to use lipstick. So they’d go into the bathroom, put it on, and then they’d press their lips to the mirrors leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Finally, the principal decided to do something about it. So she called a number of girls to the bathroom and met them there with the custodian. She explained to the girls that all those lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian, who had to clean the mirrors every day. And to demonstrate, she asked the custodian to clean one of the mirrors. So he took out a long-handled brush, dipped it in the toilet, and then used it to scrub the mirror. They never had a problem with lip prints on the mirror after that.

Let me tell you something for when you’re tempted. If you could only see the real filth you’d be kissing, you wouldn’t be attracted to it. It will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.

James 1:14-15 (NLT)
Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.

Temptation lures you toward a disgusting evil, and always results in death. Recognize that.

 

5. If you fall, get back up.

I’ve been giving you some tips to help you overcome the challenge of temptation. Hopefully they will help. But you know something? There may still be times when you fail. You don’t have to, but it could happen and probably will. Because we all struggle and we all fail at times. But God’s forgiveness is real. It’s not my goal to make you feel defeated. I want you to be encouraged that you can overcome temptation. But at the same time, I want you to know that there’s hope and forgiveness for you when you fail.

Acts 3:19 (NLT)
Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins.

In Narnia, Edmund betrayed Aslan. But Aslan offered Edmund forgiveness. One of my favourite quotes from the book is after Edmund is rescued from the White Witch, Aslan has a private conversation with Edmund, and then tells the siblings…

“Here is your brother… there is no need to talk to him about what is past.”
~ Aslan, about Edmund

 

You don’t have to give in to temptation. It is possible to overcome it. But if it’s too late for that… if you have already failed… then know that you can get up again. Jesus offers you forgiveness and a fresh start. He is more than willing to put the past in the past and move on. Don’t wallow in your guilt; accept Christ’s forgiveness, resolve not to do it again, and move on.

Psalm 103:12 (NLT)
He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west.

Jeremiah 31:34 (NIV)
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

 

Let’s pray. We all deal daily with temptation, so why don’t you quietly pray something like this…

Father, thank you for the strength that you give me. Thank you for forgiving me when I fail You. Thank you for offering me a fresh start. Help me to overcome temptation, I pray. Help me to resist it, overcome it, and move beyond it. Build in me strength of character. Instil in me Your Word, that I may remember it when I need it and use it to defeat any temptation that may come.

Now let me pray for you…

Lord, I ask that you will take each of us where we’re at and raise us up to be men and women of God. Fill us with Your Spirit… cleanse us and purify us from all sin. Help us to live lives that are honouring to You. Help us to encourage each other on to greater heights. Help us to be overcomers, we pray. And for those of us who may have failed You… we pray for your forgiveness. And we ask You to restore us in our walk with You. Thank You for Your grace and Your mercy.



[Much of this message adapted from “Winning Your Immunity Challenge”]

 

 

 

 

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