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Book Two of Three
Growing with Him
"Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"
2 Peter 3:18.
How to deal
Standing on the Promises.
(This hymn covers it all)
Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Thru eternal ages let His praises ring;
Glory in the highest I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love's strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit's call,
Resting in my Saviour as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of God my Saviour
I'm standing on the promises of God.
"There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man". 1 Corinthians 10:13.
There have been many great works written about "justification, by faith". This book includes some reference to that subject, but it is really designed to show in a small way, the practical use of all those good things received at rebirth, and what our part is in "sanctification, by faith".
In connection with this it is important that we understand that the Christian is NOT a "sinner" by nature, even though he or she might often sin. There is a clear distinction made in God's word. Christians are not only called "righteous or just" when they are "good, but also when they are "bad".
God's comment on David was:-
1 Kings 14:8
"And [I] rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it [to] you: and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments, and who followed Me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in My eyes...."
1 Kings 15:5
"Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite".
"And when He had removed him [Saul], He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also He gave testimony, and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, which shall fulfil all My will".
Therefore it is written:
"Righteousness keeps him that is upright in the way:
but wickedness overthrows the sinner".
"For God gives to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner He gives travail, to gather and to heap up, that He may give to him that is good before God".
1 Peter 4:18
"And if the righteous scarcely be saved,
where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
Thus the separation: righteous/wicked; clean/unclean; saint/sinner. The difference is what we described in the last book - the acceptance or rejection of the gift of the righteousness of Christ.
We pray that this book will be of help to those who want to grow into mature Christians, thus giving the witness which will finally allow Christ to win the so-long delayed controversy with Satan. Only when this is done will Jesus be able to come in glory and reap the harvest, for the "firstfruits" must be waved before the ingathering. Leviticus 23:9-11.
So you are a converted person and a born-again child of God. Your "old man" has been crucified with Christ and you had a wonderful experience in righteousness and new-found faith for the first few weeks or months. John 3:5; Romans 6:6. The Bible became a new Book to you. The Holy Spirit showed you wonder upon wonder in the prophecies, past and future. You rejoiced in the certainty of the knowledge that you were a son or daughter of God, having "passed from death to life". 1 John 3:14.
But how is your experience with temptation now? Are you resisting the devil and finding him fleeing from you? Or has something happened to your everyday life? Are you beginning to experience desires which you thought you had overcome and put away forever? Are you becoming worried and perplexed because you are finding internal responses to temptations? Have you committed a KNOWN sin since your conversion?
Are you bewildered, not knowing whether your conversion was real or only a deception of the mind or emotions? Are you beginning to think that you might have been "buried alive" in your baptism? Are you consciously sinless, and if not, why not?
In this book we will attempt to help you understand the forces at work in and around you and where your place of effort in the Christian life should be. The aim is to explain to you:-
1. What temptation is.
2. Why it comes to you.
3. How you deal with it.
4. The sure result of a right approach to it.
As with Book One, the Scripture references are from the king James version of the Bible unless otherwise specified, but they have been considerably modified and modernized to suit todays understanding of English.
What is temptation?
Sin is described in the Bible as the "transgression [or breaking] of the Law". 1 John 3:4. It is an action which is caused by a response to a temptation. Therefore, temptation is the avenue used by Satan to draw back Christians and to retain sinners in his camp through self-seeking.
In the Ten Commandments we have defined for us the areas of right-doing towards God and our neighbour. Anything less than this is sin. Such sin does not necessarily affect God, but it does hurt us or someone else, and therefore He tries hard to show us how to stop this harm by changing our actions. But apart from the simple act of disobedience to any one of the Commandments, sin may also be a thought which is greatly desired. Matthew 5:28. Dwelling on this can change the God-given "good thing" into a man-made "evil thing".
To a Christian sin should be made up of a lawful desire obtained in an unlawful manner. This is what happened to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Their sin was not so much the eating of the fruit as it was the way they attempted to fulfil their lawful desire, which was to be like God their Father. This was a good idea in itself, but not when obtained through an illegal "short cut". Genesis 3:6, 22. However, sin may also be an unlawful desire obtained in what appears to be a lawful manner; legal in the eyes of the world, but not morally right!
You will recognise the difference in each case if you really want to know, for God will educate you. John 7:17. However, if you see that temptation by itself is not sin, but can lead into it, then you are already halfway towards the experience of overcoming it. James 1:13-16. The other half is to know that with each temptation God has provided a way out. "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able [to handle], but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it". 1 Corinthians 10:13.
It is written that Jesus suffered terribly under temptation but He never sinned during it, and you may have the same experience. Hebrews 4:15.
The Holy Spirit's place
Whenever a temptation comes, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict you of your danger and to offer the remedy for it to you. John 16:8. [Comment].
Here is where you must be very careful, for the desire to respond to the temptation can only be resisted when you sincerely want the help. God will not interfere in the slightest way with your will in this very important matter. The following words are written to all Christians: "Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?" Romans 6:16.
The basic difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan is that our Father allows us a free choice every time, while Satan never allows his subjects such freedom. He rules with force, usually hidden with clever cunning.
The Bible's place
We need to realise that temptation is not really a temptation unless there is a possibility of yielding to it. [Comment].
Therefore a temptation only arises when you are powerfully influenced to do that which you know is a wrong action, or to wallow in a wrong thought. If then, knowing that you have the freedom to do it or not, you firmly resist through faith in Jesus Christ's saving power, then that temptation will relax inside you. You will feel the presence of Jesus as He steps between you and the desired thing or action. Your defence is, "It is written...", with you saying the rest of the verse. Or it may be, "LORD, you promised...", followed by that specific promise. Therefore you need to know the word of God for yourself.
This is the way the man Christ Jesus overcame, and how we may too. Revelation 3:21. He was careful however, to give the verses the correct meaning while His opponent misquoted and misapplied them. Matthew 4:1-11.
"The devil ... said to Him ... it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning You: and in their hands they shall bear You up..." Matthew 4:5-6. Note that Satan dropped some words out from the Old Testament quote. He was suggesting that Jesus jump off the temple tower to show His faith in God's care! But Jesus knew His Father's promises and was aware of the missing words and their meaning. "To keep you in all YOUR ways" is what should have been there. Psalm 91:11.
That is, in God's ways, not our own! [Comment].
If Jesus had obeyed the devil's suggestion He would have been choosing to die and God could not have interfered, because Jesus understood the principle that we are allowed the fearful "right of choice". However, He chose not to do anything other than that which His Father suggested as the safe course, so the devil's temptation failed.
Jesus then quoted him another Scripture, a second witness, for out of the mouth of two or three witnesses should every truth be established in a doubter's mind. He said, "It is written again, You shall not tempt the LORD your God", which means we should not try to make the Spirit of God do what we want Him to do, but we should rather follow His advice believing it to be the ONLY safe way. Matthew 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:16
Satan can never compel you to do evil after you have become a Christian.
He cannot control your mind unless you yield it to him. Your will must consent, your faith must let go your hold upon Christ, before Satan can exercise his power upon you. This is the strength you were given when you received a new heart and the imputed righteousness of Christ. Isaiah 27:5. If you use the word of God, with living faith in its Author and His promises, you will find that you can also live by it just as Christ did. "He humbled you", Moses told the people, "... that He might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD..." See Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4.
Christ Jesus (the Christian)s place
Your ordeals must be the same as those which Jesus passed through or else He could not have been tempted on "all points like as we are". Hebrews 4:15. That He could have fallen under those same temptations was a possibility shown by His use of the titles "the Son of man" and "Son of David". Matthew 8:20; 22:45. In His humanity He suffered extremely during His struggles with the temptations (which were all based on lawful desires within Him), but He never gave in. Hebrews 5:7-11. While on earth He was on probation as is every Christian, with the same liberty to yield to Satan's temptations and therefore to work at cross-purposes against God! But He lived by the word that came daily (or continually) from His Father. Isaiah 50:4-10.
Many Christians, unlike Jesus, pass long years in darkness and doubt because they do not feel as they think they should. But feeling does not always correspond with faith. That faith which "works by love" and purifies the soul, is not dependent upon feeling. Galatians 5:6. It ventures out on the promises of God only, firmly believing as Abraham did, that what He has said He is "able also to perform". Romans 4:20-25. Our minds may be trained to believe and taught to rely upon the word of God. That word declares that "The just shall live by faith" and not by anything else. Romans 1;17.
But remember, it is not the word that has the power, but the Person who said it.
"Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted". Matthew 5:4. The mourning brought to view here is the true heart sorrow for sin which comes when you see that, while you have been loved with unspeakable tenderness, your life has been mainly one of ingratitude and rebellion. 2 Corinthians 7:10. Such mourning will be welcomed because you now know that God has only revealed your guilt to you so that you may run to Jesus and give Him your burdens.
And never forget, we are the cause of our own temptations, as it is written, "Every man [or woman] is tempted when he [or she] is drawn away of his own lust [a strong selfish desire within], and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived it brings forth sin. And sin, when it is finished, brings forth death". See James 1:14-15. Through the illustration of pregnancy God makes it very plain.
An instance in the life of the apostle Peter as recorded in the Bible can be used as an example of how God deals with temptation.
"And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple [John].
That disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known to the high priest, and spoke to her that kept the door, and brought in Peter". John 18:15-16.
And in another place:
"And Jesus answered and said to them, Are you come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves [sticks] to take Me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you took Me not: but the Scriptures must be fulfilled. And they [His disciples] all forsook Him, and fled.... And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire....
"And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there came one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And you also were with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what you say. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crowed. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely you are one of them: for you are a Galilean, and your speech agrees thereto [sounds like it]. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom you speak. And the second time the cock crowed. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said to him, Before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me three times. And when he thought on this, he wept". Mark 14:48-54; 66-77.
It was necessary for Peter to learn of his own faults of character and therefore his personal need of the power and grace of his Saviour. The LORD knew that He could not save Peter from the temptation, for he brought it upon himself, but Jesus wanted to save him from the sin. Mark 14:66-72.
Had Peter been willing to receive Christ's warning, he would have been watching "to prayer" and could have escaped the test as well, for this means that he would have been pleading with the Holy Spirit to lead and teach him in all things, especially this one. Ephesians 6:18. He would have been walking with "fear and trembling;" which means with a healthy respect for the advice of the Spirit of God in case he should stumble and fall. Philippians 2:12. He need not have been exposed to the temptation if he had only behaved as his fellow disciple John did, for John did not hide his loyalty and was not questioned although he was there in the courtyard with Peter.
If Peter had believed God's word about his weakness, even at the point of temptation he could still have triumphed in the power of a Saviour who wished to keep him "from falling". Jude 24. However, he rejected the warning as not applying to him and tried to be his own problem solver when the test came. Mark 14:27-31.
It was in defiance of the word of God that Peter tried to live in his own strength. It was in this way that Satan fell, and it is in this way that he is still successful in tempting others to ruin, for Gods "sword" is His word and it is a "war of words" that they have between them. Hebrews 4:12 and see Revelation 12:7-9. Christ fights with the sword of His mouth. Revelation 19:15.
Peter eventually gained the victory (for "he went out and wept bitterly"), and later, after His resurrection, Jesus tested him three times on the same point of self-sureness. Matthew 26:74. Peter's answers then showed the depth of his love and remorse, the extent of his self-denial and his new-found reliance upon divine power to overcome. John 21:15-19. The other person who denied Jesus that night, Judas, refused to be comforted or saved and went out and hanged himself. Matthew 27:3-8.
If you too can endure this trying process (which is not just the pull of temptation but the test of overcoming), and your "self" does not feel hurt and abused, then those probings will reveal to you that your heart is indeed "dead" to self and "alive to God". Romans 6:13. You may know that the axe has been laid at the root of the tree!
Temptation does not come from God but the test of self-awareness does. And they are not the same thing! He just uses what we have already done.
"Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried [and overcomes] he shall receive the crown of life, which the LORD has promised to them that love Him. Let no man say when he is tempted,
I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth [its own child] sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth [its result which is] death. Do not err, [or misunderstand this] my beloved brothers and sisters". James 1:12-16.
So you should see that Satan's attempts cannot meet with success unless you choose to respond to them. The decision is always yours and you must be willing to recognise this in all your prayers for forgiveness. Don't blame anyone or anything other than yourself. It is ALWAYS your fault for not using "the way out".
Some believe that if a Christian stumbles and falls badly after rebirth, then such a person can never regain his or her former position, but Peter's case contradicts this idea. Afterwards, he was not only restored as a member of the flock, but he was also to feed the sheep and the lambs, a broader and more important work than he had ever had before! His very overcoming (not his falling), had made him fitter than ever for the work to which he had been called. John 21:15-16. However, it is a great mistake to think that it is necessary to experience sin in order to be able to sympathise with those who have fallen. Jesus can do this and He has never sinned!
It IS necessary for us to know how to overcome and be able to tell others how it is done, but it is far better to have the experience BEFORE falling!
Peter's example also demonstrates that great and good Christians, those with whom God has worked, will make grievous mistakes when they cease to watch and pray, and to fully trust in God. However, in his letter to the church Peter tells you that there is a precious experience, more valuable than fine gold, to be gained when you walk by faith. 1 Peter 1:5-7.
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, [as we add grace to grace, God works on the plan of multiplication!] according as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity [or love]."
"For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
"For this reason, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall..." 2 Peter 1:1-10.
............................................................................................ Charity (God's love)
................................................................................ brotherly kindness
................................................................patience .............(Outside of this ladder
..................................................... temperance .............. is IMPUTED righteousness)
FAITH ------------- Peter's "LADDER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS" starts with FAITH
It is the "ladder" of the LORD which Jacob saw.
"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac...."
You are to do your work, looking to God alone for guidance and strength, and you must go on without being discouraged or downhearted, in the same way as Jesus. Isaiah 42:1-4. You may still be full of hope while exposed to the most trying and troublesome circumstances, for you can live on God's words, not your feelings.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers [or different] temptations, [but not when you jump into sin!]; knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience". James 1:2-3. James does not mean here that we should be happy when we have succumbed to a temptation, but that we should be able to rejoice when we face up to one, for then we may "stand still and see the salvation of the LORD". Exodus 14:13.
Remember, temptation is not sin! Response to it is.
Remember again, however trying the circumstances in which you may find yourself, nothing can really weaken your position so long as you do not yield to the temptation. [Comment]. All you need to do to maintain your integrity in the face of temptation is to claim His promise as your very own - as meant for you right now, and then stand on it. It is your choice - and His power! No one, nor any thing, can harm you without your consent when you are the son or daughter of God! See Daniel 6:19-22. "Whoever is born of God does not commit sin, for His "seed" remains in him [or her], and he [or she] cannot [be made to] sin, because he [or she] is born of God". 1 John 3:9.
All the Satanic agencies CANNOT injure you unless you open your mind to the temptations of Satan. As long as you are firm to do right in God's strength, your ruin can NEVER take place. If there is no pollution of mind in you then all the surrounding contamination cannot taint or defile you. John 14:30; Daniel 6:4-5, 22. Jesus was brought up in a town of which it was said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" John 1:46. [Comment].
We also have the word of Jesus on this: "Out of the heart [your emotional mind] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man". Matthew 15:19-20.
He further told us, "Whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye offend you [or cause you to offend] pluck it out ..." See Matthew 5:28-29.
God does not mean that you should pull out your eye literally, but because your eye is the gateway to your mind it will need to be closed by using the power of God, if you would not entertain the sight! For it is not just the looking, but the looking with lust that brings forth the sin. Jesus looked at Satan's temptations but He did not respond to them with an illegal desire.
In His strength
Christ has said, "Without Me you can do nothing". John 15:5. The resolutions you may make in your own strength will be as ropes of sand. But if you pray in sincerity, surrendering yourself, soul, body and spirit, to God, you put on the whole armour of God, and open your mind to the righteousness of Christ. And this alone - Christ's imparted righteousness - enables you to stand against the wiles of the devil.
It should now be plain that when temptation comes it can be used by you to grow in faith and develop a character that is Christ-like. It can be turned into a blessing by the hand of God. Often the temptation comes from Satan's direct attempts to overcome you, but sometimes you draw it by your own love of the world's pleasures. It may come from internal desires which are quite correct in themselves, but not right for that particular time or place. But all temptations are designed to lead you into breaking the Commandments of God, and thereby into death.
These "Commandments" are really God's suggestions, or guidelines, for a happy, successful and lengthy Christian life. Deuteronomy 32:46-47. [See Appendix D for more on this.]
Now, while your loving Saviour is wanting to make the atonement for you, is the time to seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could He be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Yet Satan finds in most Christian hearts some point were he can gain a foothold. Some sinful desire is cherished by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself, as you have already seen, that "The prince of this world comes, and has nothing in Me". John 14:30. Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. Jesus had kept His Father's commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage.
This is the condition you should be in for He has told you, "I can of Myself do nothing", and thereby has given you the secret of the victorious Christian life. John 5:30. If you follow in His footsteps you will be able to do as He did, for He promises, "Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believes on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [or longer] works than these shall he do; because I go to My Father". See John 14:12.
How God uses temptation
Sin in the Christian, as distinct from sin in the worldling or sinner, is normally occasioned by using a natural appetite or passion in a wrong way. Therefore, when you allow yourself to be tempted, God uses this as a channel to show you your need to control your response, for the temptation does not create the evil, it only reveals to you that which was already there in your mind, but not necessarily consciously known. It does not reveal a sin, but shows you a desire which you would like to satisfy illegally! [Comment].
Therefore the illegal desire to sin, not the action of sin, is what Jesus wants to take care of first. This is because the power of temptation cannot be removed while you still have a desire for it. Therefore, you must first be brought to the place where you hate the sin. Not just because of its results, nor for the punishment which you may receive from it, but for the very thought of the sin itself! [Comment].
How can this be done?
If you will accept it, God says that you love sin, and if you give in to the temptation, then you are proving His words and choosing to enjoy it! You must face up to this point or you will eventually lose your relationship with God and thus fail of obtaining redemption.
Your loving Saviour does not abandon you because of this. Oh no! You are first of all given the standard of God's kingdom in these words, "My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not." Then you are given advice about what to do when you become sorry for having chosen not to follow God's original appeal. "And if any man sin, we have an Advocate [or lawyer] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous". 1 John 2:1. So ask Him to defend you. This will give you forgiveness and cleansing, and eventually, resurrection.
He is not, and can not be, an Advocate for the followers of Satan, but only for His own. His children are those who have accepted Him as their Father-in-salvation, and who have undergone the rite of "circumcision of the heart", or rebirth. Deuteronomy 30:6.
So you must first be shown what sin really is:
a destroyer - a killer.
But it is not enough to be shown that it will kill you.
Many seemingly sincere Christians continue on in actions of sin while apparently desiring to overcome them, because self-love is not strong enough to overcome sin-love! You only have to picture some smokers to see this illustrated. Although warned of the dangers of lung cancer they will not give it up because they are addicted. So it is with many a Christian who seemingly would like to stop sinning forever.
You need to see sin in its present relationship with Jesus Christ. What your sins are still doing to Him today. Not just what sin did to Him at Gethsemane and Calvary 2000 years ago. [If you haven't already read it, then this is a short cut to "The Continuing Sacrifice"].
Those object lessons, for that is also what they are, were designed to show you what Jesus has had to bear for nearly 6,000 years since man first sinned. He is "the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world". Revelation 13:8. The burden that passed from you at the time of your heart-conversion became His load at that very time, for He pleads, "Come to Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light". Matthew 11:28-30.
This is clearly an exchange. Ezekiel 36:26-27.
Jesus has carried that burden (and it has constantly increased), since the first sinner became a Christian. Romans 6:3-11; Matthew 8:16-17.
He is being crucified right now.
When you realise that each desire to sin which you have within you, as well as each action of sin which you commit, must eventually add to the load that Christ bears on your behalf, then it may be that Christ-love will cause you to overcome sin-love.
We are told that, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness", but where does the uncleanness go? To Him, of course, for this is an exchange! 1 John 1:9.
An encouraging story
After such a cleansing you may be as thankful as the woman whom Jesus rescued from an angry mob of would-be executioners. See John 8:1-11. He did not accuse her as did the Jews, but neither did He excuse or lessen her sense of guilt for her crime. His aim was to lead her into eternal life and this emotion of guilt was vitally necessary to His plan. The world looked upon the erring woman as one to be slighted and scorned, but the pure and holy Jesus stooped to speak to her words of comfort, encouraging her to accept a change in her life.
Instead of accusing the guilty, His work was to reach to the very depths of human woe and misery, to lift up the immoral and sinful, and to bid the regretful one to become a child of God and "sin no more".
When the woman stood before Jesus, trembling under the accusations of the Pharisees and the sense of the enormity of her crime brought to her by the Spirit, she knew that her life was hanging in the balance. One word from Jesus could add fuel to the indignation of the crowd so that they would immediately stone her to death. Her eyes drooped before the calm and searching glance of Christ. Stricken with shame, she was unable to look upon that holy face. As she stood waiting for the sentence to be passed on her, there fell upon her astonished ears the words that not only delivered her from her accusers, but which sent them away convicted of their own crimes which were even greater than hers. After they had gone, she heard the solemn yet hopeful words, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more". Her heart melted with real grief, and with gratitude to her Deliverer she bowed at the feet of Jesus, sobbing out the emotions of her heart and confessing her sins with bitter tears.
This was the beginning of a new life for this tempted, fallen person. A life of purity and peace, devoted to the service of God.
In raising this woman to a life of virtue, Jesus performed a greater act than that of healing the most terrible bodily disease, for He cured the sickness of the soul which leads to the second death. This repentant woman became one of the firmest and closest friends of Jesus. She repaid His forgiveness and thoughtfulness with self-sacrificing love and worship.
Afterward, when she stood sorrow-stricken at the foot of the cross of Calvary and saw the dying agony on the face of her LORD and heard His bitter cry, her heart was pierced afresh. She knew that this sacrifice was partly on account of her sins. Her responsibility as one whose deep guilt had helped to bring about the anguish of the Son of God, seemed very heavy indeed. She felt that those pangs which pierced the Saviour's body were for her personally. The blood that flowed from His wounds was to blot out her record of sin. The groans which escaped from His dying lips were caused by her transgression. Her heart ached with a sorrow past all expression and she felt that a life of self-forgetfulness would poorly repay for the gift of life, purchased for her at such an expensive price. Thus she saw the real sacrifice.
In His act of pardoning and encouraging this fallen woman to live a new and better life, the character of Jesus shines forth in the beauty of perfect righteousness. Knowing not the taint of sin Himself, He pitied the weakness of the erring one and offered her a helping hand. While the self-righteous and pretending Pharisees exposed her and the angry crowd were ready to kill her; while the trembling victim waited for death; Jesus, the Friend of sinners, said to her, "Go, and sin no more".
This is real Christianity! Anything less is not.
It will not be the true follower of Jesus Christ who turns from erring ones with cold, down-turned eyes, leaving them unrestrained to pursue their downward course. It will not be the follower of Christ who condemns and punishes the guilty.
Christian love is slow to criticize, quick to detect repentance, ready to forgive and to encourage, to set the wanderer back on to the path of goodness and to help him or her stay there. Nor will the truly sorry one desire to go on and add to the burden which his loving Friend carries for him. After passing through such an experience, he or she will hate sin for what it is, and what it causes - namely, the continuous suffering of Jesus Christ.
The joy of being cleansed
What did this woman get that you too may have?
She had the word of God that her sin was not only forgiven, but also cleansed from her. 1 John 1:9. She believed that word and went on her way. When she felt the next stirring of temptation, all she did was repeat the promise that Jesus had given to her, that she need "sin no more" (for all His commands are enablings), and in that promise was the power, freely available to her. The result was victory every time! She found she could live obediently by the words which had proceeded forth from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4. Such was the result of her choice!
In a very special sense she was able to rejoice every time a temptation came to her, for she could live again His salvation. She could know that she had "passed from death into life" all over again. 1 John 3:14. Different temptations would come from time to time appealing to normal God-given desires within her, but these she could reject as long as she chose the right and lawful way in her Saviour's strength.
Those who have been born-again and received this living experience will want to join with Peter in praising God as he does in his letter to the exiles scattered abroad.
"Without having seen Him you love Him; though you do not (even) now see Him you believe in Him, and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy."
"(At the same time) you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls ... "
"So brace up your minds; be sober - circumspect (morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favour) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is revealed."
"(Live) as children of obedience (to God); do not conform yourselves to the evil desires (that governed you) in your former ignorance (when you did not know the requirements [or power] of the Gospel)."
"But as the One who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44,45)."
"And if you call upon Him as (your) Father Who judges each one impartially according to what he does, (then) you should conduct yourselves with true reverence throughout the time of your temporary residence (on the earth, whether long or short).'
"You must know (recognise) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from (your) forefathers, not with corruptible things (such as) silver and gold, but (you were purchased) with the precious blood of Christ, the Messiah, like that of a (sacrificial) lamb without blemish or spot."
"It is true that He was chosen and foreordained (destined and foreknown for it) before the foundation of the world, but He was brought out to public view (made manifest) in these last days - at the end of the times - for the sake of you". 1 Peter 1:8-20 Amplified Version.
How you may deal with temptation
The death of Jesus Christ pays the penalty for your being born "in sin" under a sinmaster, and also for all the actions of your past sinful life, until the moment of your rebirth.
From that moment on His life saves you "much more" from the power of temptation. Romans 5:6-11.
Therefore His death and life are the double cure.
The result of accepting the gift of salvation is that you are then put into the position where you can choose obedience even though you must rely on Someone else's power to carry out that decision. You need and have a living Saviour today!
Your representative the man Christ Jesus also lived that way for He said, "When you have lifted up [or crucified] the Son of man [for yourself], then you shall know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. And He that sent Me is with Me; the Father has not left Me alone, for I do always those things that please Him". John 8:28-29; Hebrews 11:6.
And in another place, "Verily, verily, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself". John 5:19.
He who came to show you "the way", lived as each Christian, (Christ-like person) may live it.
He lived by exercising His choice of obedience, and then relying on His Father's power to carry it out. John 14:5-6.
Just as you cannot save yourself when under temptation, so He could not and still be your Representative. He was "tempted in ALL points LIKE AS YOU ARE" the Bible records, which means in the same manner. Hebrews 4:15. Of Him it is written,
"In the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared [because of His reverence; Amplified Translation]; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him". Hebrews 5:7-9.
If your Master suffered under temptation in order to learn and demonstrate obedience, how much more will you need to do so if you wish to follow in His footsteps? Matthew 10:16-26; 1 Peter 2:18-25. Your "work" is to "resist the devil", not considering his suggestions. If you do this, the promise is that, "he will flee from you". James 4:7.
But the question is still often asked, "How can I resist Satan?"
There is only one way by which you can do this, and that is "by faith", taking Christ's power as your strength and pleading with Him for the victory. 1 Corinthians 15:57. "By faith" means that you believe that He lives and wants you to have the same power today. Hebrews 11:6.
But you do not have to plead with Him to give it to you, for this He has already done. You are begging Him to teach you how to use it!
When Satan attempts to suggest doubts to your mind, when he tells you that you are too unworthy, too sinful, to receive the blessing of God, then you must present Christ before him as your Advocate and Saviour. You may tell him that you know that you have sinned, but that Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. You should say, "He came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance", therefore He is looking for me. Mark 2:17.
Repeat His promises:
"Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out". John 6:37.
"Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me:
and he shall make peace with Me". Isaiah 27:5.
"Whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive". Matthew 21:22.
Then be simple-minded enough to believe in the promises of God!
When Satan comes to you, and tells you that the reason you are unhappy and fallen is because you are not a child of God, do not be discouraged for one moment longer, but "gird up the loins of your mind", which means something like, "roll up your sleeves and get to work". 1 Peter 1:13. Let your heart, (your feelings) rest in God's love, and your mind (your decision) rest on His word. He has promised that if you come to Him, you shall find rest, and therefore if you do this, you can be assured that He will fulfil His word to you.
Too many pass long years in darkness and doubt because they do not feel as they desire, when they should know that faith is not dependent upon feelings.
It should be your constant prayer that your Father will be able to teach you to so love Jesus Christ and your fellow humans, that you will not want to hurt Him or them any more; for the Father is one with the Son, "reconciling the world to Himself". 2 Corinthians 5:19.
Under this kind of love, the desire for any sin can be cleansed. The temptation will lose its power, and you will indeed be a "bondservant [or slave]" of love, for "God is love". When you love God with "all your heart", and with "all your soul", which are the two different aspects of humanity, then there will be no more response to sinful temptations. If you have this attitude, any temptation, no matter how strongly it appeals, will be immediately rejected as improper! This is the case with a loving wife. Literally, you will feel the presence of your Saviour come between you and the problem, and the urgent desire for it will subside without any more effort on your part. He is the Saviour and you are the saved.
Remember Jesus said, "The prince of this world comes, and has [found] nothing in Me". John 14:30. There was nothing in Him that responded sinfully to Satan's temptations, and so it may be with you. When He was tempted He recognised the temptation for what it was, something desirable but unlawful, and then He rejected it.
Christ's humanity was fully united with Divinity, and He was fitted and prepared for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So may you be as you climb Peter's ladder of Christian experience. 2 Peter 1:4-10. [See also Appendix A again].
But until the top of the ladder is reached your rejection of temptation will be in strict proportion to your love for God!
This is what it means to lose your life, (die daily to self), so that you may be able to retain it for ever. Luke 9:23. Only as you are totally unselfish and glorify God fully, can you overcome as Jesus did, but in the meantime you should be learning and practicing this in order to reach that goal. John 12:24-28.
In this way you will receive the reward offered for your efforts. Revelation 3:21.
The sure result of the right approach
When Jesus was tempted His answer was, "It is written ...", followed by a promise or statement from the word of God. This was always sufficient to send the devil away. He came back often, but was met again in the same manner each time. Matthew 4:1-11. There is power behind the word of God if you will only use it! You must cry out, and even agonise, as Jesus did, for that power; pray, sing, use the word in every way possible; but use it!
Say, "God, You promised ..."
The crying out and agonising is not to get God to hear you, or to hurry Him up to answer you if He seems to tarry, but for you to maintain your connection with Him!
You give up far too easily Jesus tells you!
"He spoke a parable to them to this end that men ought always to pray,and not to faint [or give up] ... shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night to Him ... I tell you that He will avenge them [as] speedily [as He can] ..." Luke 18:1-8.
To practice this approach, you must know the word of God personally,and then your sure defence will be just the right promise or statement brought from your memory to your attention by the Holy Spirit. If you treasure the word of God and live by every word that proceeds out of His mouth, then you need not know any failure, loss or defeat in the battle with temptation. Jude 24. [Comment].
This means that you must read, and understand what you read. Psalm 17:1-9; 119:9-16.
Whenever you take one step toward Jesus, He, like the prodigal son's father, takes many steps towards you. God has angels whose only duty is to help those who are the heirs of salvation. Hebrews 1:14. These angels work with Him to keep back the influence of Satan and they who are on your side outnumber those who work with Satan, so you have their strength as well. God loves you. He wishes you to draw near to Him so that He may comfort you, to pour into you the "oil of rejoicing", to heal the wounds that sin has made, and to "bind up" where Satan has bruised you. Isaiah 61:1-3. He is the original good Samaritan!
All who claim to be Christians are under obligation to guard their "self" and no matter what the temptation, to exercise "self" control through the power of the Holy Spirit. For it is written, and we should make this verse our very own, "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man". 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Every possible temptation has already been overcome by at least two, and sometimes many, of God's people at some point in history. It is also written, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able [if you let Him guide your day-to-day activities]".
He does not bring the temptations of course, but He can make sure that you are only exposed to them when you are ready, if you are listening to His advice. Moreover, He "with the temptation also makes a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, flee from idolatry [which is simply the love of self]". 1 Corinthians 10-13-14.
With these words He has removed every excuse you may think you have for giving in to temptation and for continuing in sin.
I die daily
A practical union with Jesus Christ is enduring, while every other kind of union must eventually perish, so you must stay close to Him to retain eternal life. He chose you while "you were yet a sinner", and is under no illusion as to what He has bought so you may cling to Him and trust Him. Romans 5:8. He paid an infinite price for your redemption and you may repay Him by choosing His way first, last and every time. This union will cost you everything also, for "it costs all [of your "self"] to buy the pearl" - that pearl of great price. Matthew 13:45-46. There can be no compromise in this - it is all or nothing! Luke 9:62.
This has to be a relationship of utter dependence upon Someone else. A relationship which is entered into by you who have been educated to be proud and independent! You will begin and continue in this "marriage" union only because you feel your personal need of the salvation of Jesus Christ. To be successful, you must continue to submit your will to the will of God (as your Husband) every day. An earthly physical marriage is a good training ground for this experience for both males and females, so God established marriage in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:18-24. See also Ephesians 5:20-33.
There will be struggles with inward and outward obstacles.
There will also be a painful work of detachment from your cherished idols.
Pride, vanity, selfishness, worldliness - sin in all its forms - must be overcome every day if you would remain in union with Jesus, but He says that His yoke "is easy". Matthew 11:30. Therefore, if you find the Christian life really hard, if you are fickle and constantly changing, it is because you are trying to keep yourself attached to Jesus, without continuing to detach from your cherished idols.
You have remained an idolater instead of fleeing from it!
You must live "by faith" (this is trust) in the Son of God and the power of His Spirit, for this is the meaning of the words, "Abide in Me". Only then will you know, (personally experience), the power of God in your life. John 15:4.
When you are drawn again and again to your Redeemer,
but lightly treat the warnings given;
when you don't yield to your conviction to repent;
when you ignore the plea to seek pardon and grace;
then, like Peter, you are in a very perilous position.
Jesus is continually drawing you, His Spirit is exerting His power upon you, urging you to surrender your will to the will of God. When this invitation goes unheeded the Spirit is grieved away because of your choice and Jesus is defeated. Ephesians 4:30. The one weapon which beats our God is our right of choice, of self-destruction. Against such a weapon, used in conscious knowledge and defiance, our Lord is helpless!
If you choose to sin and remain unrepentant although you have evidence to encourage your faith, more evidence will not help, not even from the dead! Luke 16:30-31. This because there must be another drawing to which you are responding - none other than the drawing of Satan - and you must be yielding to his powers. It is one or the other.
This course of action will end fatally. Not through God rejecting you, but through you rejecting Him and His offer. This is the blasphemy that occurs far too often among professed Christians. It works in a most subtle way and can continue until the one who has sinned feels no pricks of conscience, no need of repentance, and consequently receives no pardon. Mark 3:28-30. He or she then commits the "unpardonable sin". [Comment].
Idolatry is simply the refusal to take the way of escape which is offered to you by a loving Saviour and bowing instead to the persuasive powers of Satan's temptations, or your belief in your own power. Jesus has made ample provision for you to overcome through Him and this you may do every time.
The strongest temptation cannot excuse sin in one who has been reborn. However great the pressure brought to bear on you, transgression is your choice and act. God has already made the way of escape available to you, therefore if you do sin, it is only because you have chosen not to accept escape. The tempters power is not to be counted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God. He will "keep you from falling". Jude 24. [Comment].
There is no power from earth or hell that can compel you to do evil. Satan may attack you at your weak points (and he certainly knows them) but you need not be overcome. However severe or unexpected the assault may seem to you, God has already supplied the way of escape for He is never taken by surprise. 1 John 3:1-11.
How you can use temptation
Each temptation can be turned into a lesson in the use of faith, and an experience in victory.
If you come to God with a humble and teachable spirit, not with your plans formed and shaped according to your will before you ask Him, but in submission, in willingness to be taught, and in faith believing He knows best, then it is your privilege to claim one of His promises every hour of every day. You must distrust yourself so you can guard against your inclinations and strong tendencies, in case you should follow your own ideas and think they are the way of the LORD. You should not study to have your own way, but to do God's way and God's will.
How may you know God's way?
By believing His word and praying to His Spirit for daily guidance.
Do not operate by "feeling", for your "heart is deceitful above all things". Jeremiah 17:9-10.
you will need to use a portion of His word, which is called "the law",
then ask for understanding of that word for that day, which is called "judgment",
with this you may exercise discretion, which is called "mercy",
and then you are using trust or love, which is called "faith".
Then you may have "feeling". Matthew 23:23.
An example of Gods "judgment" can be seen in the experience of Moses parents when they were faced with the dilemma of Pharaohs death decree for their son and the instruction contained in the Law of God. Exodus 2:1-4; 20:13. They were aware that they should obey the ruler "ordained of God" but did not know how to do it. Romans 13:1. Then God told them to put a boat between Moses and the water so that they could obey both laws. In such a simple way God enabled them to live in both worlds.
Many refuse to recognise the claims that God has upon them.
They profess to be the sons and daughters of God, but often they do not behave as the children of their Father. They argue that their evil habits and the customs which they followed when they served under the black banner of the prince of darkness, must be excused on the grounds of their weakness. They claim that it is "their way" of doing things and they can't do otherwise. Thereby they choose to retain their objectionable, hereditary, cultivated, and all too often negative, traits of character. But when a soul is truly reborn all the old habits and natural evil leanings are done away in Christ Jesus and ALL things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Nehemiah the man of God cultivated the habit of silent prayer, and thus he remained faithful even in public. Nehemiah 2:4. To have your mind uplifted to God is a benefit at all times and under all circumstances.
Now that you have read these words resolve never again to excuse your defects of character by saying, "That's just the way I am!" Never declare, "I cannot change my natural habits and tendencies". The truth must be admitted into your soul (your thinking mind) and then it will work for the sanctification of your character. Revelation 3:20. The Spirit will refine and elevate your life and fit you as He did Enoch, for an entrance into the mansions above which Jesus has prepared for those who truly love Him. John 14:1-3.
The plan for the salvation of mankind required that the Son of God should know hunger, poverty and every other possible experience a human might have. He withstood all these temptations through the same power that you may have. He laid hold on the throne of God as you may do. And you may have access to the same help through faith in God's word. You may become a "partaker of the divine nature" by accepting salvation, and by bringing your individual will and inclinations under the control of the Spirit's sanctifying power, and then living a consistently victorious life just as Christ did. 2 Peter 1:4. It is true that you cannot expel sin from your life in your own strength, but by asking Jesus for it you will find that He supplies you with His Spirit and power. Zechariah 4:6.
Jesus came to reveal the Source of His power and how you may obtain it, so that you would not have to continue failing through striving in your own strength. Still, if you would overcome as Jesus did, you must tax every part of your being, for redemption relies on grace and your own diligent effort. [Comment]. Often you will have to agonise on your knees before God for His divine power, just as Jesus did. Hebrews 5:7. Not because God does not want to give you this power, but because you need to grow in grace, in the desire to overcome.
This means to grow in the practice of Christianity.
You must recognise the limits of your faith (and therefore its need of enlargement) for it is only when you know your helplessness that you will accept His help without reservations. Elijah prayed seven times for the rain. 1 Kings 18:42-44. This was not to bring God down to him, but to bring him up to God! When the event did not happen immediately he did not blame the Spirit but continued praying that he might see what in his life was stopping Him from carrying out His word! He needed this experience seven times even though he was a prophet of God and had just observed the miracle of the fire on the altar.
On the other hand, when Joash the king was told to ask the Spirit of God in a picture form for His help, he only tapped the ground three times with his arrows and Elisha had to reprove him for his lack of faith and endurance. 2 Kings 13:14-19.
A fitting end to this book are the words spoken by Moses to the children of God just before they crossed the river Jordan into the "Promised Land", for you too stand today right at the borders of your "Promised Land", expecting and hoping that at any moment your heavenly Joshua, Jesus Christ, will lead you there to live in peace forevermore. Hebrews 4:7-11.
What follows is a Jewish translation of Deuteronomy 30:9-20:-
"... For the LORD will again delight in your well-being, as He did in that of your fathers, since you will be heeding the LORD your God and keeping His Commandments and Laws which are recorded in this book of the Teaching - once you return to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul."
"Surely this instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens that you should say, 'Who among us can go up to the heavens to get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?'"
"No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, to observe it. [Today we even have the story of the life of Jesus in which to observe it!]"
"See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity. For I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His Commandments, His Laws, and His norms, that you may thrive and increase, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land which you are about to invade and occupy."
"But if your heart turns away and you give no heed, and are lured into the worship and service of other gods, I declare to you this day that you shall certainly perish; you shall not long endure on the soil which you are crossing the Jordan to invade and occupy."
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life - if you and your offspring would live - by loving the LORD your God, heeding His commands, and holding fast to Him. For thereby you shall have life and shall long endure upon the soil that the LORD your God swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give to them".
The TORAH by the Jewish Publication Society of America.
Compare this with Romans 10:5-13 and 4:13
and go with God into the land of "rest".
To Book Three and the finishing of the work. (More below)
Christ's Object Lessons pages 312-313.
right-doing, and it is by our deeds that we will be judged.
Our characters are revealed by what we do.
Our works will show whether our faith is genuine.
"It is not enough
for us to believe that Jesus is not an imposter,
and that the religion of the Bible is not a cunningly devised fable.
"We may believe that the name of Jesus is the only name under heaven whereby man may be saved, and yet we may not through faith make Him our personal Saviour.
"It is not enough to believe the theory of the truth.
"It is not enough to
make a profession of faith in Christ and have our names
registered on the church roll.
"He that keeps
His commandments dwells in Him, and He in us.
And hereby we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us".
1 John 3:24.
"Hereby we do
know that we know Him if we keep His commandments".
1 John 2:3.
"This is the genuine evidence of conversion.
"Whatever our profession, it amounts to nothing unless Christ is revealed
in works of righteousness."
To Book Three
To ancient SDA's ............. To "What's New?"