Darkness has always been with us. It was there when sin was introduced into the world as the serpent whispered temptation into Eve’s ear, and it was there when sin’s conqueror was born and King Herod ordered his slaughter in a mad desire to extinguish the light of the world.
I just finished watching the third Narnia Film, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, and was reminded that my battle against myself is as much of battle as my battle against the darkness in the world. We become so obsessed with the darkness that surrounds us that we forget about the horrific danger of the darkness that lies within us. In the movie, Lucy is tempted with envy, Eustace by greed, and Edmund with pride. Evil is given a physical manifestation through the manipulation of each temptation, but it is also given another dimension when the travelers are told that the external evil they face is equally an internal struggle with the self.
The children are warned that they will be tested: “Be strong. Don’t fall for temptation. To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness inside yourselves.”
Living in a world of murder, disease, rape, abuse, child slavery, we are so easily distracted by the physical manifestations of evil. Yet, it is important to remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]”( Ephesians 6:12). The physical manifestation of evil is merely a reflection of a greater evil that challenges the very essence of our beings. Satan wants your heart; he wants your mind; he wants your soul. It is the darkness within us that cripples us and consumes us. The battle begins in us. There is a reason Jesus commands us to “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, and with all [our] soul, and with all [our] mind” (Matthew 22:37). This is where we are most vulnerable, and this is where we will be attacked.
The real test for the characters is not in their struggle against the sea serpents, raging waves, or the slave traders, but rather it is in battling their self destructive desire for beauty, wealth, and power. The battle against temptation boils down to a battle with the self.
Despite the fact that the characters battle a common external evil, this darkness cannot be conquered until each character conquers his own internal darkness. Each character faces a unique evil; they all have unique struggles and have unique weaknesses. Each of us face unique struggles because we are battling ourselves and are tempted through our own weaknesses. However, the movie also makes it clear that we cannot defeat the darkness that lies within us on our own. Envious Lucy steals a page from the Book of Incantations to become as pretty as her sister. Aslan asks, “What have you done, my child? … You have doubted who you are. Don’t run away from who you are.” At the heart of temptation, we see not only the depths our disastrous capacity for evil, but we also see the hope in one who is a constant reminder of the source of our value.
Our hope is in this. That there is one who struggles beside us and for us. There is one who is willing to encourage us and remind us of our worth when we fall. There is one that allows us to overcome the darkness that lies within so that His light can defeat the darkness that surrounds us. Without God’s light, we are powerless.
“To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness inside yourselves.” The battle begins in you – but take heart; you are not alone.