Eustace, a pigheaded character in C. S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, goes after a dragon’s treasure and finds himself transformed into a dragon.1 While he seemingly got what he wanted—namely, more gold than anyone could imagine—he was miserable, itchy, uncomfortable, and lonely. The golden band he shoved up his arm as a boy started to cut painfully into his thick dragon arm.
When we reach out for sin—the easy gratification of the witty but cruel comeback, the moment of giving way to our anger, the refusal to inconvenience ourselves to help another—we’re grabbing for the dragon’s treasure, and that comes with a price.
This week, we are talking about turning away from our sin. Sin is rebellion against God’s ways. It acts and thinks in ways contrary to who God made us to be. Every sinful behavior and attitude turn us away from our humanity and toward the dragon.
Over time, Eustace realized his foolhardiness, pride, and sinful desires. He wanted to be human again. This could only happen by allowing Aslan, a lion representing the character of God, to claw off the dragon’s skin and submit to a bath in the healing waters. So we too must submit to God’s work of sloughing off the sinful scales.
Paul tells us to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Colossians 3:5). By “earthly,” he doesn’t mean the ways of God’s beautiful creation, but the ways of the rebellious forces against God’s heavenly kingdom. You once belonged to that old, dying kingdom. You once wore the dragon’s skin. But now you belong to God’s kingdom, and you must turn away from the desires and selfish behaviors of the corrupted and decaying kingdom. This doesn’t happen overnight. Belonging to Jesus doesn’t transform all of our desires and behaviors in one fell swoop. We have to learn what it means to be human, like the beast in Beauty and the Beast, identifying and turning away from our sinful habits until our “automatic” responses look more like the responses of Jesus, the only true human.
Pray that God will convict you where you need conviction and encourage you where you need encouragement. Read through Colossians 3:5–9. While not an exhaustive list of sin, Paul gives a sampling of issues plaguing the Colossians. What sins does he list? Where do you see them in our world? In our churches? In your life? How do our cavalier attitudes toward sin keep us trapped in the dragon’s skin?
Pray that God will bring to mind one practice of the old self you still wear. Anxiety? A temper? Lying? We’ll talk about sin more throughout the week. Right now, just take the time to identify a behavior or thought pattern that looks more like a dragon than a human.
Now read verse 10. God doesn’t leave us naked. As he claws off the dragon skin, he transforms us. After Eustace’s harrowing escapade, he was transformed inside and out. He was more human not just in appearance but in action, and he enjoyed the community of his fellow sailors in a way he couldn’t before. He became an essential part of the Narnian voyage. This is where we are headed too.
1 C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (New York: Macmillan, 1952), 67–93.