Temptation and Turkish Delight

InThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund manages to stumble into Narnia by himself after Lucy had previously done so. Upon entering the wintery world, the White Witch finds him. She knew very well who Edmund was. She knew he was a Son of Adam, as the human race is known by in Narnia. She also knew that he was part one of the four rulers prophecied to destroy her and restore Narnia back to its original state. Unfortunately, Edmund did not know who she was. She beguiled him and gained his trust through satisfying his physical appetite for food. For the sake of turkish delight, Edmund allied himself with her.

When all four children came to Narnia, Edmund was a hinderance to their cause and instead aided the White Witch, once again to satisfy his sweet tooth. The “friendship” he shared with the witch quickly turned sour as her true motives became more evident. Edmund soon found himself a prisoner, his agency taken away, and perhaps worst of all… no turkish delight.

As Isaiah wrote, “for your iniquities ye have sold yourselves.” How often do we sell ourselves for things that do not matter? How often do we indulge our physical appetities, whether hunger, lust, or otherwise, while spiritually we starve? I’m certainly not perfect, and I can easily admit that I’ve forfeited a lot of blessings from the Lord that I would’ve received had I cared more about what was most important eternally, instead of what I had wanted in the moment. Edmund made the same mistake and chose a temporary satisfaction, even though he knew that there was going to be consequences later.

By giving in to temptation, he slowly gave up his agency until he was literally bound as a prisoner, his freedom granted only when he was rescued and Aslan stepped in to sacrifice himself on his behalf. In the same way, the devil desires to enslave us. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi tells us of some ways in which Satan tries to trick us,

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28:21-22)

Let’s not make the same mistake as Edmund. In the end, everything was made right and he was crowned as a ruler over Narnia, yet it came through hardship. He suffered sorrow, enslavement, and then remorse when he was finally freed from the witch’s control. Satan desires to enslave us as well, but if we say no to his temptations we won’t fall into his grasp. We each have individual weaknesses. Edmund’s was turkish delight. So what’s your turkish delight? And are you willing to lay aside the things you want right now for the things that will matter eternally?

Not This Way

After Jesus Christ had fasted forty days, Satan came to tempt Him. Being half-mortal, He was suspectible to mortal weaknesses, such as hunger and thirst. He was also susceptible to temptation, or rather, He was able to be tempted. And so, the devil came to tempt Him.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (Matthew 4:5-7)

If you really are the Son of God, Satan said, then throw yourself off of this spire. God said He would send angels to protect you. Surely, if you are the Son of God, He would not let you die. Jump off and see.

Quoting scripture, Jesus did not yield to the temptation. But how easy would it have been if He had done so. Something so spectacular as a man jumping off the temple and then being saved by angels would not go unnoticed. How many people, seeing this, do you think would believe in Him? Personally, I think a lot of people. No doubt Jesus was aware of this. He knew what His mission was, and He knew it would be easier said than done. Such a drastic move, however, would definitely be the easy way.

But it wouldn’t be the right way. Not this way.

We’re always faced with decisions that have at least a couple options. Often, one is the easy way and one is the right way. The easy way is tempting because… well… it’s easy! But it never equals the same results as the right way. Experience, growth, and strength do not come with the easy way, and those things are necessary. If we expect to get anything out of this life, we cannot constantly be walking the easy path.

The right way is usually never easy, but it’s always worth it.

The Search for Happiness: Mists and Mocking

As we make our way on our search for happiness, Satan tries to halt our progress. He is not happy… at all. In fact, Satan is downright miserable, and his only goal in life is to make sure we end up just like him. Lehi sees in his vision a mist of darkness, as well as a great and spacious building.

And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost. (1 Nephi 8:23)

And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.

And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.

And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost. (1 Nephi 8:26-28)

Some people were lost because they let go of the iron rod and could not see the path through the mists of darkness. Others actually made it to the tree, but couldn’t take the mocking of the people in the great and spacious building, and therefore wandered off and were lost. So what are these mists? And what exactly is this great and spacious building?

When Nephi sees the vision, the Spirit explains to him what these things mean.

And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.

And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof

And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great.

If we desire to obtain true happiness, eternal life that comes from the love of God, we must never let go of the iron rod, and we must never let ourselves be bothered by the mocking of the world. The mists of darkness are all around us, but even if we manage to get to the tree of life, we can still fall away from the path if we let others lead us away.

The search for happiness is a journey outside of this world. We can be in the world, but not of it. Hold to the rod, the word of God and Jesus Christ, that the mists of darkness won’t blind our eyes. And when we make it to the tree, we must still stand firm in our desire to live the gospel of Christ.

Coming Off the Mountain

The Book of Mormon is overflowing with stories we can relate to and learn from. One I’d like to share is the story of Amalickiah (Uh-mal-i-kye-uh) and Lehonti (Leh-hone-tie). Amalickiah was an evil, blood-thirsty, power-hungry man. All he wanted to do was become king of first the Lamanites and then the Nephites, so that he could bring everyone into bondage and under his control. He accomplished half of his designs; he did take the throne of the Lamanite king. He had to do a few things though, before he could accomplish that goal.

The first thing he had to do was take control of Lehonti’s army. Lehonti and his men were Lamanites, and they didn’t want to go up to battle against the Nephites. So they went up to a mountain and refused to fight. Well, the Lamanite king gave Amalickiah an army and commanded him to battle Lehonti. But Amalickiah had other plans. In Alma chapter 47 verse 10 it reads,

And it came to pass that when it was night he sent a secret embassy into the mount Antipas, desiring that the leader of those who were upon the mount, whose name was Lehonti, that he should come down to the foot of the mount, for he desired to speak with him.

The embassy went up three times, and each time Lehonti refused to come down to the foot of the mountain. They were fixed with a determineded resolution that they would not be made to fight against the Nephites. Amalickiah wouldn’t give up though. Since being straightforward didn’t work, he decided to try something a bit sneakier. In verse 12 it reads,

And it came to pass that when Amalickiah found that he could not get Lehonti to come down off from the mount, he went up into the mount, nearly to Lehonti’s camp; and he sent again the fourth time his message unto Lehonti, desiring that he would come down, and that he would bring his guards with him.

Lehonti decides to go along with it and comes just a little ways down the mountain. Amalickiah tells Lehonti to surround his men during the night, and that when they wake up in the morning, he (Amalickiah) would surrender his army to Lehonti, on the condition that Amalickiah would be made second-in-command.

Lehonti agrees and surrounds Amalickiah’s army at night. When they wake up they become afraid and decide to join with Lehonti’s band. So… how does one become leader if he’s second-in-command? Easy. He kills the leader. Verses 17 to 19 read,

Now it was the custom among the Lamanites, if their chief leader was killed, to appoint the second leader to be their chief leader.

And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died.

Now, when Lehonti was dead, the Lamanites appointed Amalickiah to be their leader and their chief commander.

Amalickiah had cleverly played out his entire scheme, and it worked. So what are we to learn from this story? For us, Amalickiah is Satan. We are Lehonti. Satan wants us to come off our mountain. He doesn’t want us to stand in high places, places of spiritual security. He tempts us, sometimes in obvious ways. Sometimes he tells us to come directly off of the mountain. This usually doesn’t work. When something is obviously wrong, it’s easy to just say no.

That’s when Satan gets tricky. He tells us to only come down part way, and bring our guards. When Satan can’t get us with obvious things, he tries to bring us down in small, subtle ways.

Just a litte bit, it won’t hurt. Just this once, it’s no big deal. You can stop anytime. No one will know.

These are all things that Satan tries to put into our heads. He’s clever, and sometimes we’re tricked, as Lehonti was. Lehonti fell for the trap because he let his greed get the best of him. We often do the same thing, allowing our physical appetitites to distract us from the gentle cautions of the Holy Spirit. Lehonti’s decision cost him his life, and it was in degrees. Our own decisions to give in to Satan’s traps can lead us to spiritual death, and it is often in degrees as well.

May we learn from this lesson. Be watchful and aware. Satan is always tempting us, trying to get us to come off the mountain. We must ignore him and instead listen to the voice of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ. When we build our foundation on Jesus Christ, listen to the Holy Ghost, and pray continually to our Father in Heaven for strength, we cannot fail.

Tennis ball ice-cream.

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy. The plot line of… pretty much every episode… consisted of the trio coming up with some sort of scam or gimmick to trick the neighborhood kids out of their quarters, which would buy them jawbreakers down at the candy store in town. Eddy was always the mastermind behind each scam, and Ed and Double-D (Edd) were simply present to help carry out the scam.

Unfortunately, the scams always failed. On the very rare occasions when they didn’t, something would eventually happen and the Eds would lose their quarters, often in a publicly embarrassing way.

One of my favorites of Eddy’s scams was a simple one, shown in the beginning of an episode. The trio placed a cardboard ice cream truck in the middle of the cul de sac. While Eddy rang a bell and yelled “Ice cream! Only 25 cents!”, Double-D made cones from paper and tape and Ed made the “ice cream” by dipping tennis balls into paint and then glueing them onto the cones. In this particular episode, they discover the neighborhood kids are gone and therefore the scam fails by default.

I’ll make two analogies with this scenario.

In the first one, we are Eddy. We have a goal in mind and we want to achieve it. In Eddy’s case, he wants quarters so he can go buy jawbreakers bigger than his head. In our case, it can be anything. Work, school, sports achievements, spiritual goals, relationship goals, etc.

We may not always want to put in the real effort. Instead, sometimes we choose to fake the effort. Eddy didn’t want to go buy real ice cream and real cones. Instead, he supposed he could jip the kids out their money with something fake, dishonest, and cheap. Of course, it wouldn’t have worked. Had one of the kids bought some ice cream, they would quickly have discovered what was really going on and demanded their money back. If we want to achieve our goals, we must put forth the honest, hard-working effort.

In the second analogy, Eddy is Satan (and Ed and Double-D are Satan’s angels). He puts forth something that looks appealing but isn’t at all what it seems. We’ll stick with the scam for simplicity sake. Satan gets our attention yelling, “Ice cream! Only 25 cents!” He shows us something that appeals to us, that gives us some kind of gratification, and it’s cheap, only a quarter. Seems like a good deal, right? Often we fall for the trap. We take the ice cream and bite into it, but it’s nothing more than a tennis ball covered in paint. Certainly not as tasty as it looked, and certainly not good for us in any way, and we lost a quarter in the process.

This is how Satan works. With him, everything is a scam. He does all he can to make it look appealing so that he can trick us into giving up our money, our integrity, our virtue, our chastity, our friends’ and family’s trust, etc.

In either case, whether we are Eddy or Eddy is the one trying to sell us something, we must endure, be obedient to God’s commandments, and put our faith in Jesus Christ. I know that if we do these things we can find success in any situation.

“Before I formed thee…”

Jeremiah 1:5

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

When Jeremiah was called to be a prophet, he did not feel like he was up to the job. He felt inadequate, unqualified, perhaps even unworthy.

We are counted on to do a lot of things in life. Many of them are just… tough. Many of them are things we may not want to do. Oftentimes we just don’t feel like we’re strong enough, prepared enough, or good enough. The counsel of the Lord to Jeremiah can be applied to us.

Before this world began, we existed as spirits with our Father in Heaven. We conversed with Him just as we converse with our parents here on the earth. Jeremiah was called to be a prophet because the Lord knew him. He knew Jeremiah’s strengths and weaknesses. He knew his likes and dislikes. He knew Jeremiah better than Jeremiah knew himself.

Our Father in Heaven knows you. Just like Jeremiah, He knows you inside and out. He knows what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at. He knows what you like and what you despise. He knows what you love and fear. He knows exactly how to push you because He knows exactly what you’re capable of, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

1 Corinthians 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Whether it’s temptation or just something that is difficult to do, God will not allow an impassable obstacle to block our path. Whatever life throws at us, it’s there because Heavenly Father knows we can conquer it.

I know this to be true. I know God knows us all better than we know ourselves. And I know that by trusting in Him, and having faith in the Savior Jesus Christ, we can endure anything.