Ken Foreman is the Senior Pastor of Cathedral of Faith, a mega-church in San Jose with membership over 7,000.
The Voyage: Sailing the High Seas at Christmas
Turning The Page on Temptation
This weekend we continue a series entitled, “The Voyage – Sailing the High Seas at Christmas.” The starting point for the series is the movie “Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” It is a movie based on a book by the same name that was written by one of the great spiritual leaders of all time, C. S. Lewis. I hope you get a chance to see the movie or to the read the book. It is a wonderful analogy about our spiritual growth as Christians. The movie is about a ship which sets sail on a voyage. While sailing the high seas there are many adventures that happen on this voyage. Some of the things that happen on their voyage are the kinds of things that happen on our voyage. So how about if we climb aboard, set sail on the high seas, and get ready for the ride of your life?
In the voyage that is found in the movie and in the book, one of key themes is “Turning the Page on Temptation.” Let me set the stage for this week’s message.
In the book and in the movie, there is a girl, Lucy, ventures onto one of the islands in search of a special book. When she finds it, she is to find a place in this special book and read the words from a particular place in this special book. When she finds the book, she is looking for that one place. While she is searching, she comes to a particular page and discovers that if she reads this page out loud, it will turn her into the most beautiful girl in the world.
She starts thinking what it would be like to be the most beautiful girl in the world. The longer she looks at the page, the more she can feel that page tugging on her. She can feel the page pulling at her. She is tempted to look at what the page would do for her, to look at how it would pay off for her. Even though she knows that she should not read from the page, “ ‘I will say the spell,’ said Lucy, ‘I don’t care I will.’” She said “I don’t care,” because she had a strong feeling that she must not. It is then that she hears a roar the face of the great lion appears on the page. She then turns the page and resists temptation.
We all know what it is to be in those kind of moments. To feel pull of the temptation, to feel the tug of the temptation. We know what we should do, and we know what we should not do, and yet the pull of temptation is very strong. What can you do in those moments? C. S. Lewis wrote, “Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.”
When you lock on to the page, and the page locks on to you – you can turn the page and resist temptation – you can turn the page and overcome temptation. On the high seas of Christmas, we find the help that we need to turn the page on temptation. The Bible says this about the child who would be born in Bethlehem, “you shall call his name Jesus, because he shall save his people from their sins,” (Matthew 1:21). This is at the heart of His mission, He has come to save us from our sin. If our greatest problem had been technology, then God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest problem had been information, then God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest problem had been pleasure, then God would have sent us an entertainer. If our greatest problem had been money, then God would have sent us an investor. But, our greatest problem has to do with temptation and sin, and so God sent us someone who can save us.
What are some of the ways that this happens? Here are three things for you to think about.
I. Guilt of Sin
First of all, He saves us from the guilt of our sin. There was a little boy who was trying to convince Santa that we was worthy of a visit, that he was worthy of a present. So he wrote the following letter, “Dear Santa, There are three little boys who live in our house there is Jeffrey, who is two, there is David, who is four, and there is Norman, who is seven. Jeffery is good some of the time. David is good some of the time. Norman is good all of the time. I am Norman.” There may be a Norman here or a Norman there who thinks they have been good all of the time, who pretend that they are good all of the time, but deep down in their heart of hearts most people know that there have been moments they have not been good. They have given into temptation and they have sinned. What does a person do about that? How should a person deal with that?
Every major religion in the world tries to answer that question, because we know that something must be done about our sin. Before Jesus came, the priests would take a lamb and place their hands on the lamb, as a symbol of the sins of the people which were being transferred to the animal. The sins of the people were being placed on the animal. The animal would then be put to death. Instead of the people being put to death for their sin, the lamb would be put to death for their sin. The lamb would pay the price for their sin. The lamb would pay the penalty for their sin. This is a picture of the way Jesus saves us. He is called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” (John 1:29)
One the one hand, it seems so strange for Him to be born in a place that was a shelter for the animals. He should have been born in a royal palace. He should have been born in a royal setting. For Him to be born in a place where they kept the animals, seems so out of place. On the other hand, this seems like the perfect place because of who He is, and because of what He has done. He is the lamb who would take away the sins of the world. Your sins were transferred to Him. Your sins were placed upon Him. He paid the price for your sin. He paid the penalty for your sin. When you bring your sin to Him, He takes away your guilt. That is the way to get rid of your shame.
That is what one lady found out. Years ago she had an abortion. She carried around the weight of the guilt for a long time. But then she started attending a course to help women who have been through this. The course was designed to help the women get in touch with the mercy of God, to help them get in touch with the grace of God, to help them get in touch with the forgiveness of God. That is what has happened to her. She writes, “I found the whole process to be very cleansing.” Do you need to bring your sin to Him? This is how He saves us from our sin. He saves us from the guilt of our sin, if we have given into temptation. If we did not turn the page, but we gave into the page, we do not have to get stuck in the past, or stuck by the past. He saves us from the guilt of our sin.
II. Illusion of Sin
Jesus is the one who saves us. He saves us from the illusion of our sin. We begin to see the truth about sin. There was a man who was at the mall with his wife, (and that is a pretty noble thing to do, when a man goes to the mall with his wife). While they were in one of the stores and his wife was flipping through the dresses, he noticed a striking young lady out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head to get a better look at her. When he did, he heard his wife say, “Was it worth the trouble you are in?” Have you noticed that when you give into the temptation, it always brings you trouble. Temptation does not tell you about this. It does not warn you about this. All it will tell you about is the short term payoff. If you read the page and give into temptation there is only a short term payoff.
There were a couple of guys who were conducting a high school assembly. During the assembly they were warning the kids about the dangers of drugs. They were telling the kids to stay away from drugs. At one time they had both been into drugs, but now they were out of drugs and they did not want the kids to make the same mistakes they had made. At the end of their presentation, they had a question and answer time. One of the kids raised his hand and asked the guys how they got into drugs, and why they got into drugs. They said that the reason they got into drugs was that in the beginning it was fun. That is usually the case. There is a short term payoff when it come to the temptation.
There is a short term payoff, but, there is a long term trouble. So the next time you are about to give in, here is something you can do. Sit down with a piece of paper and tell yourself the truth about sin. See through the illusion of sin. Tell yourself the truth about sin. Make a list of the long term trouble of sin. The sin will never tell you about that. All it will tell you is that if you give into the temptation, there is going to be the short term benefit. Temptation will tell you not to turn the page on the temptation, but to give in to it because it will benefit you. Temptation will not tell you about the trouble it will cause you. It will just tell you about the benefit that it will give you.
That is why one of the best things that you can do is to write down a long list of the trouble that it will cause you. The trouble it can cause your family. The trouble it can cause your career. The trouble it can cause your health. The trouble it can cause your reputation. The trouble it can cause your self esteem. The trouble this can cause your finances. The trouble it can cause your conscience. The trouble it can cause your future. Make a list of the trouble this can cause you and take that list with you. Keep that list close. Look over that list everyday. This will help us to see the truth about the nature and the impact of sin, and set us free from the deception of sin. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free,” (John 8:32). This is one of the ways He saves us from our sin, and helps us to turn the page when you are facing the power of temptation, and having a hard time turning the page.
I heard of a middle school where the girls were putting on their lipstick in the bathroom, and then they were pressing their lips up against the mirror. They were leaving imprints of their lips all over the mirror. The principal had enough. So she called all the girls into the bathroom and said, “Look, you have to stop doing this. It’s a big hassle for the custodian to clean these mirrors, In fact, I want to show you how big of a hassle it is for him to clean.” The custodian then took the squeegee, as all of the girls watched. He dipped it into the toilet. Then he wiped the mirror. That was the last time they had trouble with lip prints. You see, it’s possible, that temptation can be resisted. You just need the right strategy.
III. Isolation of Sin
He saves us from the guilt of our sin, from the illusion of our sin, and He saves us from the isolation of our sin. When you are fighting the battle of temptation in isolation, you are alone in your struggle. You are isolated in your battle. If you are in that room all by yourself, just you and your book and the page of your temptation, it can be a very tough thing to turn the page. But you are not alone. It is not just you and your book and the page of your temptation. The great lion is with you. When you know that, it makes it a little easier to resist temptation and to get that page turned. One way which He saves us is that the great lion makes sure that we are not alone in our struggle. He is with us and he has others with us.
There was an article which once ran in a newspaper entitled “Sober Companions Shadow the Stars.” The article goes on to tell of movie companies and concert promoters will sometimes assign certain people to stick with the stars, during the making of a movie, or during a concert tour. They will assign certain people to stick with the stars, who have drug or alcohol problems, to help them to stay clean and to stay sober. They shadow them and they make sure that they are never alone in their struggle. That is the principle of the power of being together, knowing we are not alone in our struggle.
Your struggle may look different, but one of the ways to turn the page on temptation, is to remember that you are not alone. You have a person who is a shadow to whom you have opened up and told them where you have your struggles. You have let them know where you have your trouble. Then, you have someone who is praying with you about this. They are asking you about it, and you have someone who is going to help you to turn the page on temptation. When you feel the pull of the page you call them. When you feel the pull of the page, you spend time with them. In order to turn the page on the temptation, that is one of the ways which we use His power and we win the struggle.
The strategy of the enemy is to make you feel as if you are isolated in your struggle – that you are alone in your struggle. He knows if he can keep you alone in your struggle, then the chances are he is going to defeat you. So when you are fighting against temptation, do not try and fight that temptation on your own. There is more strength when we fight together. There is more power when we fight together. The Bible says, “Two are better than one,” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). When the two get attacked, they can defend each other. Do not isolate yourself. It has worked in my life. It can work in your life. We are better when we are together. Jesus is the one who saves us. He saves us from the guilt of our sin. He saves us from the illusion of our sin. And He saves us from the isolation of our sin. He can help you turn the page on your temptation.