The Order of the Phoenix introduced us to the concept of spiritual warfare. In the Half-Blood Prince we actually see what spiritual warfare looks like. We see what it looks like to resist the devil and his evil forces. We, also, see the results of not resisting the devil and his evil forces. The lessons we learn from the Half-Blood Prince are these: we live in world divided into two realms: a spiritual realm and a natural realm; resist temptation at all costs; look for “true” love not “obsessive” love; the incomparable power of an untarnished soul; fight, and fight again and keep fighting.
We Live in World Divided into Two Realms: A Spiritual Realm and A Natural Realm
The very first scene in the Half-Blood Prince actually involves the “muggle” Prime Minister. He is sitting in his office worrying about all the strange events and attacks that are taking place in his world. He is also wondering how he is going to example them to the people of his world. These thoughts are interrupted by an unexpected visit by the former Minister of Magic and then by the Minister of Magic himself. These two “wizards” explain to the Prime Minister that the events he is so worried about are the result of a battle being waged in the “wizarding” world between the forces of good and evil.
Much like the fiction tale told in this first chapter of the Half-Blood Prince our world is facing a similar situation. Unknown to most people we are constantly engaged in war between good and evil that has spilled over into our realm (the natural realm) from the spiritual realm. The apostle Paul warns us against this in his letter to the Ephesian church when tells us to put on the armor of God.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.Ephesians 6:12 CSB
Resist Temptation at All Costs
In the Half-Blood Prince we see three very clear instances of temptation. The young Tom Riddle and his desire for power and revenge. Ron and his search for love in all wrong places. Draco and his desire for power, wealth and prestige.
Tom Riddle, aka Voldemort, grows up in an orphanage after his mother dies because his muggle father abandoned her because he had been bewitched by her. This led Tom to develop a desire for revenge. However, before Tom ever knew anything about who his mother and father were he already felt that he was special and that everyone should follow him and give him exactly what he wanted when he wanted it. It was this drive for power and revenge that led him to fall for the temptations that led to his downfall.
Ron was so desperate for love that he was willing to put his friendship with Harry and Hermione on the line to obtain it. Ron fell for the oldest temptation out there: lust. He felt that because Lavender Brown wanted him physically that meant she loved him. As it turns out she didn’t love him and Ron didn’t love her. We will explore this in more depth later.
Lastly, we see Draco and desire for power, wealth and prestige. Voldemort offers him all kinds of things if he will only kill Dumbledore. However, this comes with a big catch. Should Draco fail he will die along with all of his loved ones.
These three examples show us exactly how the devil will tempt you to abandon your walk with God and the things that you know to be true. How, then are we too combat and resist temptation. Hermione in the book actually gives us the answer, abstinence. The best way to resist temptation is flee from it. However, if you can’t flee from it then you need to call upon your knowledge of God and his words to resist the devil and his temptations.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Then the tempter approached him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”Matthew 4:1-11 CSB
He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written:
He will give his angels orders concerning you,
and they will support you with their hands
so that you will not strike
your foot against a stone.”
Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and began to serve him.
Look for “True” Love not “Obsessive” Love
In the Half-Blood Prince we are introduced to the idea of love potions. However, love potions don’t create “true” love. Love potions create “obsessive” love. This is exactly what happened to Voldemort’t parents. His mother created a love potion to make Tom Riddle, Sr. fall in love with her. However, Voldemort’s mother eventual tired of her husband not really loving her so she decided to quit giving him the love potion. This is what caused him to leave her and die giving birth to Voldemort in an orphanage.
Remember Ron and Lavender. Remember how Ron thought he was in love with her, when in fact he was in lust with her. While this was not caused by a love potion. It is still a classic example of “obsessive” love rather than “true” love. Lavender only wanted the physical aspects of the relationship with Ron. In fact she even complains because no one told her that Ron had been poisoned. However, no one told Hermione and yet she showed in the hospital wing to sit with Ron. The question I ask of you is which one showed “true” love. Lavender or Hermione.
Finally, we come to Harry and Ginny. In this relationship we see “true” love from the start. Harry doesn’t want to risk his friendship with Ron over his growing feelings of love towards Ron’s sister. However, eventually the feelings become to much and both Harry and Ginny can no longer hide the fact that they are truly in love with each other. Nothing shows this more when Harry breaks up her at the end of the book because he knows that Voldemort will use the fact that they are a couple against Harry. However, this does not kill their love for each other, because true love never actually dies.
We see a perfect example of “obsessive” love in the Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba. David sees Bathsheba bathing on the roof wants her and sends a message to her inviting her over. She comes over and she ends up pregnant. David then tries to hide this fact by having her husband sleep with her, even though his soldiers are still on campaign. Bathsheba’s husband won’t sleep with her so David decides to have her husband killed. This bad example of “obsessive” love leads to one of David’s son’s Amon to have an unnatural desire for his sister. Speared on be the fact that David can’t condemn his son for something that he has seen his father doing. It is this failure that leads to bloody civil war in Israel. (For Background see 2 Samuel 11-19)
Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar, and David’s son Amnon was infatuated with her. Amnon was frustrated to the point of making himself sick over his sister Tamar because she was a virgin, but it seemed impossible to do anything to her. Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, a son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was a very shrewd man, and he asked Amnon, “Why are you, the king’s son, so miserable every morning? Won’t you tell me? ”2 Samuel 13:1-20 CSB
Amnon replied, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend you’re sick. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare a meal in my presence so I can watch and eat from her hand.’ ”
So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my presence so I can eat from her hand.”
David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Please go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare a meal for him.”
Then Tamar went to his house while Amnon was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his presence, and baked them. She brought the pan and set it down in front of him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, “Everyone leave me! ” And everyone left him. “Bring the meal to the bedroom,” Amnon told Tamar, “so I can eat from your hand.” Tamar took the cakes she had made and went to her brother Amnon’s bedroom. When she brought them to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come sleep with me, my sister! ”
“Don’t, my brother! ” she cried. “Don’t disgrace me, for such a thing should never be done in Israel. Don’t commit this outrage! Where could I ever go with my humiliation? And you — you would be like one of the outrageous fools in Israel! Please, speak to the king, for he won’t keep me from you.” But he refused to listen to her, and because he was stronger than she was, he disgraced her by raping her.
So Amnon hated Tamar with such intensity that the hatred he hated her with was greater than the love he had loved her with. “Get out of here! ” he said.
“No,” she cried, “sending me away is much worse than the great wrong you’ve already done to me! ”
But he refused to listen to her. Instead, he called to the servant who waited on him: “Get this away from me, throw her out, and bolt the door behind her! ” Amnon’s servant threw her out and bolted the door behind her. Now Tamar was wearing a long-sleeved garment, because this is what the king’s virgin daughters wore. Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long-sleeved garment she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away crying out.
Her brother Absalom said to her: “Has your brother Amnon been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister. He is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in the house of her brother Absalom.
The Incomparable Power of an Untarnished Soul
Over and over again we have seen that Voldemort is unable to beat Harry because of some unknown power that Harry possesses. What is this power? It is the power of an untarnished soul and it is the power of love. Voldemort in his mad quest for power and life has decided to spilt his soul. By destroying his soul he has in actuality sold his soul to the powers of darkness. It is these powers of darkness that he has secretly admired for a long time.
Harry, however, decided a long time ago that he would not surrender his soul to the powers of darkness. Unlike Voldemort Harry still has a conscience that guides and directs him. He has chosen to keep his soul intact and open to love, while Voldemort has not. It is Harry’s conscience that prevents him from killing Sirius in book three, and it his conscience that causes him to prevent Lupin and Sirius from murdering Peter Pettigrew in the same book. It is Harry’s conscience that allows him accept the punishments he receives for any wrong doing that he does.
Remember the story of David and Bathsheba earlier. The last part of that story is that David is approached by the prophet Nathan and told this moving story about a man with a single sheep who visits a man with many sheep. The man with many sheep choses to take the man with one sheep sheep and serve it for dinner. The prophet Nathan than asks David what should happen to that man. David tells the prophet Nathan that that man should die. Nathan then tells David he is that man. Most of us at this point in time would respond by killing this bearer of bad news. However, David does not he instead accepts the punishment that God gives him and repents of his sin. Psalm 51 records Davids response to this sin.
Be gracious to me, God,Psalm 51:1-19 CSB
according to your faithful love;
according to your abundant compassion,
blot out my rebellion.
Completely wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I am conscious of my rebellion,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you — you alone — I have sinned
and done this evil in your sight.
So you are right when you pass sentence;
you are blameless when you judge.
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire integrity in the inner self,
and you teach me wisdom deep within.
Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn your face away from my sins
and blot out all my guilt.
God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore the joy of your salvation to me,
and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach the rebellious your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God —
God of my salvation —
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
you are not pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.
In your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper;
build the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Fight, and Fight Again and Keep Fighting
The Half-Blood Prince ends with one the saddest moments in the entire series: the death of Dumbledore at the hands of Professor Snape. As Harry is sitting and remembering his great mentor Dumbledore he remembers that Dumbledore always taught them to fight, and fight again and keep fighting because the forces of evil can never truly be eradicated. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna all live this out in their lives. When Hermione summons the D.A. to fight the Death Eaters that have invaded Hogwarts, the only ones to show up are Ginny, Neville and Luna. They were the only three outside of Harry, Ron and Hermione who understood that the fight against evil is never ending.
The apostle Paul had a protege by the name of Timothy. A young man that he had mentored and watched grow into maturity much as Dumbledore mentored Harry and watched him grow into maturity. As Paul neared the end of his life he wrote his young protege about continuing the good fight even after he was gone.
Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have shipwrecked their faith.1 Timothy 1:18-19 CSB
But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses.1 Timothy 6:11-12 CSB
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.2 Timothy 4:6-7 CSB
I’m going to end this slightly different then the way you might think I would end it. Remember the Ranger Creed from the Lessons from Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. I’m going to end with a detailed examination of that Creed and what it means for these books and what means for you as walk out the mission that God has called you do.
R-Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna all volunteered to join in the fight against the forces of evil. They volunteered knowing full well the dangers that this posed to them. Just Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna volunteered so do you. In fact God does not draft people. Instead God only takes volunteers.
A-Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna all knew that their friends expected them to be the leaders. Harry more than any of the others, but the fact that the Ginny, Neville and Luna answered the call put out for the D.A. shows that they knew they were needed. When they all volunteered to fight the forces of evil they made a pact that they were going to fight harder then one else to combat the forces of evil. When you willing give your life to God and agree to go on the mission that he has called you to do, you acknowledge that you are expected to fight harder than anyone else against the forces of evil.
N-Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred percent and then some.
Ron and Hermione were always there for Harry and Harry was always there for Ron and Hermione. At the end of Order of Phoenix we see that Ginny, Neville and Luna were also going to always be there for their new friends and comrades in arms. We see this again in the Half-Blood Prince when Ginny, Neville and Luna are the only three to respond to the summons for the D.A. Just as our friends from the novel never let each other down, you also have a duty to stand with your comrades in arms against the forces of evil. You should always be willing to shoulder more than your burden and pick up your comrades when needed.
G-Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna all led by example. They may not have always showed their teachers the respect that they thought they deserved, but they did show them courtesy. Just as you as a follower of God should be setting an example of what others should be doing.
E-Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Dumbledore taught his students to fight, fight and fight again. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna were never going to surrender. They were going to fight on despite the odds because to surrender is to admit defeat. Just as you are to fight, fight and fight again. You are never to give up and never surrender. You are to fight with all your might to defeat the forces the evil.
R-Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna all showed at one point in time or another the intestinal fortitude (the courage) to fight on the objective and to complete their mission even though there were times when they appeared to be the lone survivor. Ron and Hermione were willing to stand alone against Draco if necessary. Ginny, Neville and Luna were the only ones to answer the call for members of the D.A. to stand and fight.
My question to you is this. Are you willing to fight, and fight and fight again. Or are you going to stand to the side and let the forces of evil continue to advanced unchecked. The offer Dumbledore made to Draco on the roof of that tower stands for you too. The offer to come over to the side of good and accept the protection of the only one who can ever protect you from the growing forces of evil. The choice is yours. I hope you make the right choice, because the wrong choice could lead you to an eternity of separation from God.