Here’s a powerful object lesson on temptation, sin, and salvation. First, you’ll need the following three ingredients:
Starch (either liquid or ordinary spray starch will do)
Iodine (be careful, it’s toxic)
Sodium Thiosulfate crystals (sometimes referred to as Photographic Fixer)
The crystals are commonly used in photography in the development process and are often available at a photo supply store and in some hobby stores that cater to photography. You won’t need much for this object lesson, so a small supply will be sufficient.
In addition to the ingredients, you’ll need to gather the following items:
Large clear container
Water, warm or hot (to go in the clear container)
Ladle, stick, or some other implement with which to stir the water
Table or other sturdy surface on which items may be placed during presentation
No one wants to watch their teacher read the directions as they go, or fumble with the ingredients, or hear words like, “I’ve haven’t tried this yet and hope it works.” Worse yet would be the object lesson that doesn’t work, simply because it was never practiced first. Always practice an object lesson before presenting it. Be familiar with not only the handling of the materials, but also with your teaching points at each step in the process.
It’s best to consider the size of your audience and the room you will be presenting this in. For a Sunday school class of a dozen or so children, a large mason jar would be acceptable. For a children’s church group of sixty or more, a gallon container would be barely adequate. In a Sidewalk Sunday School situation, a large clear storage container might be appropriate. For best results, fit the size of your object lesson to your audience.
Now for a brief look at the process. Put the water (warm or hot is better) in the clear container. Add a few drops of iodine. There will be very little effect, maybe just a slight browning of the water. Now, add the starch. If using spray starch, simply spray it on the surface of the liquid for three or four seconds. The liquid will turn dark. Stir the liquid to mix it completely. To clear the dark liquid, sprinkle in a small amount of the sodium thiosulfate crystals (for a gallon-sized container, try using ½ teaspoon or less of the crystals). If you’ve used warm water and stirred it just before adding in the crystals, allow a moment for the chemical reaction to be complete on it’s own. If your water is cold, or if it is completely still, you might want to give the liquid a quick stir. If all goes well, your liquid should clear up quickly.
DO NOT DRINK THE LIQUID. IT STILL HAS CHEMICALS IN IT, EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKS CLEAR.
After practicing, and before you present this object lesson, BE SURE to wash your container and implements completely with soap and water. Allow them to dry completely. Any residue of the photographic fixer that might be left on the container or implements will cause the liquid to become clear before you reach that point of your lesson.
NOW FOR THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION:
The container of liquid represents your audience and their spiritual condition. Dropping in the iodine demonstrates how we might regard the effects of sin. Adding the starch demonstrates the true effects of sin in our lives. The crystals represent Jesus adding His salvation to our lives. The resulting clear liquid represents how God sees us, once we have accepted His salvation.
Here is a brief script you might use as a basis for your presentation. You’ll probably want to adjust it to fit the age group of your audience, and also expand on it to fit your own presentation needs and style.
When God first created man and woman, their lives were pure and unblemished by sin. That is how God meant for us to be. Look at this container of water. We’re going to use it today to represent our lives. Right now you can see straight through the water in this container. It is clean, clear and pure, just like the lives of Adam and Eve when they were first created.
Did you know there are temptations in life? If we love God, we will want to please Him and obey Him. But sometimes, we are tempted to follow our own path instead of doing things God’s way. We might think that it’s okay to lie or it’s okay to swear. Maybe not a lot. Maybe just a little bit (drop in the iodine at this point). Maybe there's something else you've been tempted to do, but it doesn't seem like a big deal at all. See? There’s hardly any effect. There’s almost no change at all going on here. What’s the big deal? We can give in to some of those small temptations and it just won’t hurt us, right? Well, giving in to small temptations leads to bigger problems than we might think. Before we know it, our lives are no longer clean, clear and pure before God.
Have you heard that God sees everything? He sees every sin. He sees every motive. He knows every thought we have. He really just wants us to love Him completely, and to love people completely. (Add the starch) When we give in to a temptation, either small or big, here is how God sees us. (Stir the liquid, as necessary, to completely mix the ingredients. This is not the clean, attractive-looking clear, pure water it once was, is it? Now, the water is full of all sorts of things that are bad for you, and it shows, doesn’t it? This is how our lives look to God, once we start giving in to temptation – dark and full of things that God doesn’t want to see in us, and things that God will not allow in those who enter His kingdom.
Knowing that we would need help in reaching Him, God sent His son, Jesus, to live among us. Jesus came to Earth and lived a life, just like you and I do. He was tempted, just like you and I are tempted. But Jesus never gave in to those temptations. He never sinned. Jesus always pleased His Father by being obedient to Him. Jesus was taken away and He was crucified on a cross. He was killed. But, this was part of God’s plan. Three days after Jesus died on the cross, He came back to life. Many people saw Him, and great miracles happened, too! After many days, Jesus ascended into Heaven. All of this was just as He had told His followers. He suffered and He died to provide a way for you and for me to come to know God. He rose again to show that He has power over death, Hell and the grave. Jesus offers forgiveness to you and to me for all our sins. Our lives don’t have to stay all dark, cloudy and nasty looking inside.
(Sprinkle crystals into liquid and stir as necessary) When we accept Jesus as our Lord, as our boss, He comes and cleans our souls. He places the Holy Spirit within us. He makes us pure and He makes us one of God’s children. Now, with a clean soul, we can serve Him and we can enjoy all the great things He has in store for us, including meeting Him in Heaven one day.
Do you want a clean soul? Would you like Jesus to clean your life up and make you pure? (At this point, you could go straight to your altar time.)