THE TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
(also published as "Confrontation")
(All underlining, Bible references in square brackets, and some titles have been added. These are also identified by being enclosed in square brackets. Some sentences have been separated from the text for added emphasis).
[R&H March 3, 1874]
Birth and Life of Christ.
At the birth of Christ, Satan saw the plains of Bethlehem illuminated with the brilliant glory of a multitude of heavenly angels. He heard their song, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." [Luke 2:14].
Confrontation pp 27-28
The prince of darkness saw the amazed shepherds filled with fear as they beheld the illuminated plains. They trembled before the exhibitions of bewildering glory which seemed to entrance their senses. The rebel chief himself trembled at the proclamation of the angel to the shepherds, "Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." [Luke 2:10]. He had met with good success in devising a plan to ruin men, and he had become bold and powerful. He had controlled the minds and bodies of men from Adam down to the first appearing of Christ. But now Satan was troubled and alarmed for his kingdom and his life.
The song of the heavenly messengers proclaiming the advent of the Saviour to a fallen world, and the joy expressed at this great event, Satan knew boded no good to himself. Dark forebodings were awakened in his mind as to the influence this advent to the world would have upon his kingdom. He queried if this was not the coming One who would contest his power and overthrow his kingdom [He was not sure!]. He looked upon Christ from his birth as his rival. He stirred the envy and jealousy of Herod to destroy Christ by insinuating to him that his power and his kingdom were to be given to this new king. Satan imbued Herod with the very feelings and fears that disturbed his own mind. He inspired the corrupt mind of Herod to slay all the children in Bethlehem who were two years old and under, which plan he thought would succeed in ridding the earth of the infant king. [Comment].
But against his plans, Satan sees a higher power at work. Angels of God protected the life of the infant Redeemer. Joseph was warned in a dream to flee into Egypt, that in a heathen land he might find an asylum for the world's Redeemer. Satan followed him from infancy to childhood and from childhood to manhood, inventing means and ways to allure him from his allegiance to God, and overcome him with his subtle temptations. The unsullied purity of the childhood, youth, and manhood, of Christ which Satan could not taint, annoyed him exceedingly. All his darts and arrows of temptation fell harmless before the Son of God. And when he found that all his temptations prevailed nothing in moving Christ from the steadfast integrity, or in marring the spotless purity of the youthful Galilean, he was perplexed and enraged. He looked upon this youth as an enemy that he must dread and fear.
That there should be one who walked the earth with moral power to withstand all his temptations, who resisted all his attractive bribes to allure him to sin, and over whom he could obtain no advantage to separate from God, chafed and enraged his satanic majesty.
Confrontation pp 28-30
The childhood, youth, and manhood of John, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah to do a special work in preparing the way for the world's Redeemer, were [also] marked with firmness and moral power. Satan could not move his integrity. When the voice of this prophet was heard in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight," [Matthew 3:3]. Satan was afraid for his kingdom. He felt that the voice, sounding forth in trumpet tones in the wilderness, caused sinners under his control to tremble. He saw that his power over many was broken. The sinfulness of sin was revealed in such a manner that men became alarmed; and some, by repentance of their sins, found the favor of God, and gained moral power to resist his temptations.
[The Baptism of Christ]
He was on the ground at the time when Christ presented himself to John for baptism. He heard the majestic voice resounding through Heaven and echoing through the earth like peals of thunder. He saw the lightnings flash from the cloudless heavens, and heard the fearful words from Jehovah, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." [Matthew 3:17]. He saw the brightness of the Father's glory overshadowing the form of Jesus, thus pointing out in that crowd the One whom he acknowledged as his Son with unmistakable assurance. The circumstances connected with this baptismal scene had aroused the most intense hatred in the breast of Satan. He knew then for a certainty that unless he could overcome Christ, from thenceforth there would be a limitation of his power. He understood that the communication from the throne of God signified that Heaven was more directly accessible to man.
As Satan had led man to sin, he had hoped that God's abhorrence of sin would forever separate him from man, and break the connecting link between Heaven and earth. The opening heavens, in connection with the voice of God addressing his Son, was like a death-knell to Satan. He feared that God was now to unite man more fully to himself, and give power to overcome his devices. And for this purpose Christ had come from the royal courts to the earth. Satan was well acquainted with the position of honor Christ had held in Heaven as the Son of God, the beloved of the Father. And that he should leave Heaven, and come to this world as a man, filled him with apprehension for his safety. He could not comprehend the mystery of this great sacrifice for the benefit of fallen man. [Comment} He knew that the value of Heaven far exceeded the anticipation and appreciation of fallen man. The most costly treasures of the world, he knew, would not compare with its worth. As he had lost through his rebellion all the riches and pure glories of Heaven, he was determined to be revenged by causing as many as he could to undervalue Heaven, and to place their affections upon earthly treasures.
Confrontation pp 30-31
It was incomprehensible to the selfish soul of Satan that there could exist benevolence and love for the deceived race so great as to induce the Prince of Heaven to leave his home and come to a world marred with sin and seared with the curse. He had knowledge of the inestimable value of eternal riches that man had not. He had experienced the pure contentment, the peace, exalted holiness, and unalloyed joys of the heavenly abode. He had realized, before his rebellion, the satisfaction of the full approval of God. He had once a full appreciation of the glory that enshrouded the Father, and knew that there was no limit to his power.
Satan knew what he had lost. He now feared that his empire over the world was to be contested, his right disputed, and his power broken. He knew, through prophecy, that a Saviour was predicted and that his kingdom would not be established in earthly triumph and with worldly honor and display. He knew that ancient/ prophecies foretold a kingdom to be established by the Prince of Heaven upon the earth, which he claimed as his dominion. This kingdom would embrace all the kingdoms of the world, and then his power and his glory would cease and he would receive his retribution for the sins he had introduced into the world, and for the misery he had brought upon man. He knew that everything which concerned his prosperity was pending upon his success or failure in overcoming Christ with his temptations in the wilderness. He brought to bear upon Christ every artifice and force of his powerful temptations to allure him from his allegiance.
It is impossible for man to know the strength of Satan's temptations to the Son of God. Every temptation that seems so afflicting to man in his daily life, so difficult to resist and overcome, was brought to bear upon the Son of God in as much greater degree as his excellence of character was superior to that of fallen man.
Christ was tempted in all points like as we are. [Hebrews 4:15].
As man's representative, he stood the closest test and proving of God. He met the strongest force of Satan. His most wily temptations Christ has tested and conquered in behalf of man. It is impossible for man to be tempted above what he is able to bear while he relies upon Jesus, the infinite Conqueror. [1 Corinthians 10:13].
[R&H July 28, 1874 __ The Temptation of Christ]]
The Temptation. [Matthew 4:1-11]
In the desolate wilderness, Christ was not in so favorable a position to endure the temptations of Satan as was Adam when he was tempted in Eden. The Son of God humbled himself, and took man's nature, after the race had wandered four thousand years from Eden, and from their original state of purity and uprightness. Sin had been making its terrible marks upon the race for ages; and physical, mental, and moral degeneracy prevailed throughout the human family.
Confrontation pp 31-33
When Adam was assailed by the tempter in Eden, he was without the taint of sin. He stood before God in the strength of perfect manhood. All the organs and faculties of his being were equally developed, and harmoniously balanced.
Christ, in the wilderness of temptation, stood in Adam's place to bear the test he failed to endure. Here Christ overcame in the sinner's behalf, four thousand years after Adam turned his back upon the light of his home. Separated from the presence of God, the human family had been departing, each successive generation, farther from the original purity, wisdom, and knowledge, which Adam possessed in Eden. Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the race as they existed when he came to the earth to help man. In behalf of the race, with the weaknesses of fallen man upon him, he was to stand the temptations of Satan upon all points on which man could be assailed.
Adam was surrounded with everything his heart could wish. Every want was supplied. There was no sin, and no signs of decay in glorious Eden. Angels of God conversed freely and lovingly with the holy pair. The happy songsters carolled forth their free, joyous songs of praise to their Creator. The peaceful beasts in happy innocence played around Adam and Eve, obedient to their word. Adam was in the perfection of manhood, the noblest of the Creator's works. He was in the image of God, but a little lower than the angels.
What a contrast the second Adam presented as he entered the gloomy wilderness to cope with Satan single-handed. Since the fall, the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and sinking lower in the scale of moral worth, up to the period of Christ's advent to the earth. In order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He humiliated himself to the lowest depths of human woe, that he might be qualified to reach man, and bring him up from the degradation in which sin had plunged him. [Back to "Consecrated Way"].
"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." [Hebrews 2:10].
"And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." [Hebrews 5:9].
Confrontation pp 33-34
"Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren; that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." [Hebrews 2:17-18].
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." [Hebrews 4:15].
Satan had been at war with the government of God, since he first rebelled. His success in tempting Adam and Eve in Eden, and introducing sin into the world, had emboldened this arch foe; and he had proudly boasted to the heavenly angels that when Christ should appear, taking man's nature, he would be weaker than himself, and that he would overcome him by his power. He exulted that Adam and Eve in Eden could not resist his insinuations when he appealed to their appetite. The inhabitants of the old world he overcame in the same manner, through the indulgence of lustful appetite and corrupt passions. Through the gratification of appetite, he had overthrown the Israelites. He boasted that the Son of God himself, who was with Moses and Joshua, was not able to resist his power, and lead the favored people of his choice to Canaan; for nearly all who left Egypt died in the wilderness; also, that he had tempted the meek man, Moses, to take to himself glory which God claimed. David and Solomon, who had been especially favored of God, he had induced, through the indulgence of appetite and passion, to incur God's displeasure. And he boasted that he could yet succeed in thwarting the purpose of God in the salvation of man through Jesus Christ. [Comment]
In the wilderness of temptation, Christ was without food forty days. Moses had, on especial occasions, been thus long without food. But he felt not the pangs of hunger. He was not tempted and harassed by a vile and powerful foe, as was the Son of God. He was elevated above the human, and especially sustained by the glory of God which enshrouded him.
Satan had succeeded so well in deceiving the angels of God, and in ruining noble Adam, that he thought he should be successful in overcoming Christ in his humiliation. [Comment] He looked with pleased exultation upon the result of his temptations, and the increase of sin in the continued transgression of God's law, for more than four thousand years. He had worked the ruin of our first parents, and brought sin and death into the world, and led to ruin multitudes of all ages, countries, and classes.
Confrontation pp 34-36
By his power, he had controlled cities and nations, until their sin provoked the wrath of God to destroy them by fire, water, earthquakes, sword, famine, and pestilence. By his subtility and untiring efforts, he had controlled the appetite, and excited and strengthened the passions, to so fearful a degree that he had defaced, and almost obliterated, the image of God in man. His physical and moral dignity were in so great a degree destroyed that he bore but a faint resemblance in character, and noble perfection of form, to the dignified Adam in Eden.
At the first advent of Christ, Satan had brought man down from his original, exalted purity, and had dimmed that golden character with sin. The man whom God had created a sovereign in Eden, he had transformed into a slave in the earth groaning under the curse of sin. The halo of glory, which God had given holy Adam to cover him as a garment, departed from him after his transgression. [Genesis 3:7]. The light of God's glory could not cover disobedience and sin. In the place of health and plenitude of blessings, poverty, sickness, and suffering of every type, were to be the portion of the children of Adam.
Satan had, through his seductive power, led men to vain philosophy, to question, and finally disbelieve, the divine revelation, and the existence of God. He looked abroad upon a world of moral wretchedness, and a race exposed to the wrath of a sin-avenging God, with fiendish triumph that he had been so successful in darkening the pathway of so many, and had led them to transgress the law of God. He clothed sin with pleasing attractions, to secure the ruin of many.
But his most successful scheme in deceiving man has been to conceal his real purposes and his true character, by representing himself to be man's friend - a benefactor of the race. He flatters men with the pleasing fable that there is no rebellious foe, no deadly enemy that they need to guard against, and that the existence of a personal devil is all a fiction; and while he thus hides his existence, he is gathering thousands under his control. He is deceiving many, as he tried to deceive Christ, telling them that he is an angel from Heaven, doing a good work for humanity. And the masses are so blinded by sin that they cannot discern the devices of Satan, and they honor him as they would a heavenly angel while he is working their eternal ruin.
[R&H August 4, 1874 __ Temptation of Christ (Continued)]
Christ had entered the world as Satan's destroyer, and the Redeemer of the captives bound by his power. He would leave an example in his own victorious life for man to follow, and thus overcome the temptations of Satan. As soon as Christ entered the wilderness of temptation, his visage changed.
Confrontation pp 36-38
The glory and splendor which were reflected from the throne of God and his countenance, when the heavens opened before him, and the Father's voice acknowledged him as his Son in whom he was well pleased, were now gone. The weight of the sins of the world was pressing his soul, and his countenance expressed unutterable sorrow, a depth of anguish that fallen man had never realized. [Comment] He felt the overwhelming tide of woe that deluged the world. He realized the strength of indulged appetite and unholy passion, which controlled the world, and had brought upon man inexpressible suffering. The indulgence of appetite had been increasing and strengthening with every successive generation since Adam's transgression, until the race was so feeble in moral power that they could not overcome in their own strength. Christ, in behalf of the race, was to overcome appetite, by standing the most powerful test upon this point. He was to tread the path of temptation alone, and there must be none to help him - none to comfort or uphold him. Alone he was to wrestle with the powers of darkness. [Comment]
As in his human strength man could not resist the power of Satan's temptations, Jesus volunteered to undertake the work, and to bear the burden for man, and overcome the power of appetite in his behalf. In man's behalf, he must show self-denial, perseverance, and firmness of principle, paramount to the gnawing pangs of hunger. He must show a power of control stronger than hunger and even death.
[The First Temptation]
When Christ bore the test of temptation upon the point of appetite, he did not stand in beautiful Eden, as did Adam, with the light and love of God seen in everything his eye rested upon; but he was in a barren, desolate wilderness, surrounded with wild beasts. Everything around him was repulsive. With these surroundings, he fasted forty days and forty nights, "and in those days he did eat nothing." [Luke 4:2]. He was emaciated through long fasting, and felt the keenest sense of hunger. His visage was indeed marred more than the sons of men.
Christ thus entered upon his life of conflict to overcome the mighty foe, in bearing the very test which Adam failed to endure, that, through successful conflict, he might break the power of Satan, and redeem the race from the disgrace of the fall.
All was lost when Adam yielded to the power of appetite.
The Redeemer, in whom both the human and the divine were united, stood in Adam's place, and endured a terrible fast of nearly six weeks. The length of this fast is the strongest evidence of the great sinfulness of debased appetite, and the power it has upon the human family.
Confrontation pp 38-39
The humanity of Christ reached to the very depths of human wretchedness, and identified itself with the weaknesses and necessities of fallen man, while his divine nature grasped the Eternal.
His work in bearing the guilt of man's transgression was not to give him license to continue to violate the law of God; for transgression made man a debtor to the law, and Christ himself was paying this debt by his own suffering. The trials and sufferings of Christ were to impress man with a sense of his great sin in breaking the law of God, and to bring him to repentance and obedience to that law, and through obedience to acceptance with God. He would impute his righteousness to man, and so raise him in moral value with God that his efforts to keep the divine law would be acceptable. Christ's work was to reconcile man to God through his human nature, and God to man through his divine nature.
As soon as the long fast of Christ commenced, Satan was at hand with his temptations. He came to Christ, enshrouded in light, claiming to be one of the angels from the throne of God, sent upon an errand of mercy to sympathize with him, and to relieve him of his suffering condition. He tried to make Christ believe that God did not require him to pass through the self-denial and sufferings he anticipated; that he had been sent from Heaven to bear to him the message, that God only designed to prove his willingness to endure.
Satan told Christ that he was to set his feet in the blood-stained path, but not to travel it, that, like Abraham, he was tested to show his perfect obedience. He also stated that he was the angel that stayed the hand of Abraham as the knife was raised to slay Isaac, and he had now come to save his life; that it was not necessary for him to endure this painful hunger and death from starvation; and that he would help him bear the work in the plan of salvation. [Comment].
The Son of God turned from all these artful temptations, and was steadfast in his purpose to carry out in every particular, in the spirit and in the very letter, the plan which had been devised for the redemption of the fallen race. But Satan had manifold temptations prepared to ensnare Christ, and obtain advantage of him; if he failed in one temptation, he would try another. He thought he would succeed, because Christ had humbled himself as a man. He flattered himself that his assumed character, as one of the heavenly angels, could not be discerned. He feigned to doubt the divinity of Christ, because of his emaciated appearance and unpleasant surroundings. [Comment].
Christ knew that, in taking the nature of man, he would not be equal, in appearance, to the angels of Heaven. Satan urged that, if he was indeed the Son of God, he should give him evidence of his exalted character. He approached Christ with temptations upon appetite. He had overcome Adam upon this point, and he had controlled his descendants, and through indulgence of appetite, had led them to provoke God by iniquity, until their crimes were so great that the Lord destroyed them from off the earth by the waters of the flood.
Confrontation pp 39-41
Under Satan's direct temptations, the children of Israel suffered appetite to control reason, and they were, through indulgence, led to commit grievous sins which awakened the wrath of God against them, and they fell in the wilderness. He thought that he should be successful in overcoming Christ with the same temptation. Satan told Christ, that one of the exalted angels had been exiled to the earth, that his appearance indicated that, instead of his being the king of Heaven, he was the angel fallen, and that this explained his emaciated and distressed appearance.
He then called the attention of Christ to his own attractive appearance, clothed with light and strong in power. He claimed to be a messenger direct from the throne of Heaven, and asserted that he had a right to demand of Christ evidences of his being the Son of God. Satan would fain disbelieve, if he could, the words that came from Heaven to the Son of God at his baptism. He determined to overcome Christ, and, if possible, make his own kingdom and life secure. His first temptation to Christ was upon appetite. He had, upon this point, almost entire control of the world, and his temptations were so adapted to the circumstances and surroundings of Christ, that his temptations upon appetite were almost overpowering.
Christ could have worked a miracle in his own behalf; but this would not have been in accordance with the plan of salvation. The many miracles in the life of Christ show his power to work miracles for the benefit of suffering humanity. By a miracle of mercy, he fed five thousand at once with five loaves and two small fishes. Therefore he had the power to work a miracle, and satisfy his own hunger. Satan flattered himself that he could lead Christ to doubt the words spoken from Heaven at his baptism. If he could tempt him to question his sonship, and doubt the truth of the word spoken by his Father, he would gain a great victory.
He found Christ in the desolate wilderness without companions, without food, and in actual suffering. His surroundings were most melancholy and repulsive. Satan suggested to Christ that God would not leave his Son in this condition of want and suffering. He hoped to shake the confidence of Christ in his Father, who had permitted him to be brought into this condition of extreme suffering in the desert, where the feet of man had never trod. Satan hoped that he could insinuate doubts as to his Father's love, which would find a lodgment in the mind of Christ, and that, under the force of despondency and extreme hunger, he would exert his miraculous power in his own behalf, and take himself out of the hands of his Heavenly Father.
Confrontation pp 41-43
This was indeed a temptation to Christ.
But he cherished it not for a moment. He did not for a single moment doubt his Heavenly Father's love, although he was bowed down with inexpressible anguish. Satan's temptations, though skillfully devised, did not move the integrity of God's dear Son. His abiding confidence in his Father could not be shaken. [Comment].
[R&H August 18, 1874 __ Temptation of Christ (Continued)]
Jesus did not condescend to explain to his enemy how he was the Son of God, and in what manner as such he was to act. In an insulting, taunting manner Satan referred to the present weakness and the distressed appearance of Christ in contrast with his own strength and glory. He taunted Christ with being a poor representative of the angels, much less of their exalted Commander, the acknowledged King in the royal courts, and that his present appearance indicated that he was forsaken of God and man. He said that, if Christ was indeed the Son of God, the monarch of Heaven, he had power equal with God, and he could give him evidence of this and relieve his hunger by working a miracle, by changing the stone just at his feet into bread. Satan promised that, if Christ would do this, he would at once yield his claims of superiority, and that the contest between himself and Christ should there be forever ended.
Christ did not appear to notice the reviling taunts of Satan. He was not provoked to give him proofs of his power, but meekly bore his insults without retaliation. The words spoken from Heaven at his baptism were precious evidence to him that his Father approved the steps he was taking in the plan of salvation, as man's substitute and surety. The opening heavens, and descent of the heavenly dove, were assurances that his Father would unite his power in Heaven with that of his Son upon the earth, to rescue man from the control of Satan, and that God accepted the effort of Christ to link earth to Heaven, and finite man to the infinite God.
The tokens received from his Father were inexpressibly precious to the Son of God through all his severe sufferings, and the terrible conflict with the rebel chief. And while enduring the test of God in the wilderness, and through his entire ministry, he had nothing to do in convincing Satan of his power, and that he was the Saviour of the world. Satan had sufficient evidence of his exalted station. His unwillingness to ascribe to Jesus the honor due to him, and to manifest submission as a subordinate, ripened into rebellion against God, and shut him out of Heaven. [Comment].
It was not part of the mission of Christ to exercise his divine power for his own benefit, to relieve himself of suffering. This he had volunteered to take upon himself. He had condescended to take man's nature, and he was to suffer the inconveniences, ills, and afflictions of the human family. He was not to perform miracles on his own account; he came to save others.
Confrontation pp 43-44
The object of his mission was to bring blessings, hope, and life, to the afflicted and oppressed. He was to bear the burdens and griefs of suffering humanity. [Isaiah 53].
Although Christ was suffering the keenest pangs of hunger he withstood the temptation. He repulsed Satan with the same scripture he had given Moses to repeat to rebellious Israel when their diet was restricted, and they were clamoring for flesh-meats in the wilderness, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." [Matthew 4:4]. In this declaration, and also by his example, Christ would show man that hunger for temporal food was not the greatest calamity that could befall him. Satan flattered our first parents that eating the fruit which God had forbidden them, would bring to them great good, and would insure them against death, the very opposite of the truth which God had declared to them. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." [Genesis 2:17].
If Adam had been obedient, he would have known neither want, sorrow, nor death.
If the people who lived before the flood had been obedient to the word of God, they would not have perished by the waters of the flood.
If the Israelites had been obedient to the words of God, he would have bestowed upon them special blessings.
But they fell in consequence of the indulgence of appetite and passion. They would not be obedient to the words of God. Indulgence of perverted appetite led them into numerous and grievous sins. If they had made the requirements of God their first consideration, and their physical wants secondary, in submission to God's choice of proper food for them, not one of them would have fallen in the wilderness. They would have been established in the goodly land of Canaan, a holy, happy people with not a feeble one in all their tribes. [Comment].
[Man's Substitute and Teacher]
The Saviour of the world became sin for the race.
In becoming man's substitute, Christ did not manifest his power as the Son of God; but ranked himself among the sons of men. He was to bear the trial of temptation as a man, in man's behalf, under the most trying circumstances, and leave an example of faith and perfect trust in his Heavenly Father. Christ knew that his Father would supply him food when it would be for his glory. He would not in this severe ordeal, when hunger pressed him beyond measure, prematurely diminish one particle of the trial allotted to him, by exercising his divine power.
Confrontation pp 44-46
Fallen man when brought into straightened places could not have the power to work miracles on his own behalf, to save himself from pain or anguish, or to give himself victory over his enemies. It was the purpose of God to test and prove the race, and give them an opportunity to develop character by bringing them frequently into trying positions to test their faith and confidence in his love and power. [Comment]. The life of Christ was a perfect pattern. He was ever, by his example and teachings, learning [teaching] man that God was his dependence, and that in him should be his faith and firm trust.
Christ knew that Satan was a liar from the beginning, and it required strong self-control [under the Spirit] to listen to the propositions of this insulting deceiver, and not instantly rebuke his bold assumptions. [John 8:42]. Satan was expecting that the Son of God would, in his extreme weakness and agony of spirit, give him an opportunity to obtain advantage over him by provoking him to engage in controversy with him. He designed to pervert the words of Christ and claim advantage, and call to his aid his fallen angels to use their utmost power to prevail against and overcome him.
The Saviour of the world had no controversy with Satan, who was expelled from Heaven, because he was no longer worthy of a place there. [Comment].
He who could influence the angels of God against their Supreme Ruler, and against his Son, their loved commander, and enlist their sympathy for himself, was capable of any deception. Four thousand years he had been warring against the government of God, and had lost none of his skill or power to tempt and deceive.
Because man fallen could not overcome Satan with his human strength, Christ came from the royal courts of Heaven to help him with his human and divine strength combined. Christ knew that Adam in Eden with his superior advantages might have withstood the temptations of Satan and conquered him. He also knew that it was not possible for man out of Eden, separated from the light and love of God since the fall, to resist the temptations of Satan in his own strength. In order to bring hope to man, and saved him from complete ruin, he humbled himself to take man's nature, that with his divine power combined with the human he might reach man where he is. He obtained for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that strength which it is impossible for them to gain for themselves, that in his name they might overcome the temptations of Satan. [See 1 Corinthians 10:13].
The exalted Son of God in assuming humanity draws himself near to man by standing as the sinner's substitute. He identifies himself with the sufferings and afflictions of men. He was tempted in all points as man is tempted that he might know how to succor those who should be tempted. Christ overcame on the sinner's behalf. [Hebrews 4:15].
Confrontation pp 46-47
Jacob in the night vision saw earth connected with Heaven by a ladder reaching to the throne of God. He saw the angels of God, clothed with garments of heavenly brightness, passing down from Heaven and up to Heaven upon this shining ladder. [Comment]. The bottom of this ladder rested upon the earth, while the top of it reached to the highest Heavens, and rested upon the throne of Jehovah. The brightness from the throne of God beamed down upon this ladder, and reflected a light of inexpressible glory upon the earth. This ladder represented Christ who had opened the communication between earth and Heaven.
In Christ's humiliation he descended to the very depths of human woe in sympathy and pity for fallen man, which was represented to Jacob by one end of the ladder resting upon the earth, while the top of the ladder, reaching unto Heaven, represents the divine power of Christ, grasping the Infinite, and thus linking earth to Heaven, and finite man to the infinite God. Through Christ the communication is opened between God and man. Angels may pass to and fro from Heaven to earth with messages of love to fallen man, and to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation. It is through Christ alone that the heavenly messengers minister to men.
Adam and Eve in Eden were placed under most favorable circumstances. It was their privilege to hold communion with God and angels. They were without the condemnation of sin. The light of God and angels was with them, and around about them. The Author of their existence was their teacher. But they fell beneath the power and temptations of the artful foe. Four thousand years had Satan been at work against the government of God, and he had obtained strength and experience from determined practice.
Fallen men had not the advantages of Adam in Eden. They had been separating from God for four thousand years. The wisdom to understand, and power to resist, the temptations of Satan had become less and less, until Satan seemed to reign triumphant in the earth. Appetite and passion, the love of the world [or church], and presumptuous sins were the great branches of evil out of which every species of crime, violence, and corruption grew. Satan was defeated in his object to overcome Christ upon the point of appetite. And here in the wilderness Christ achieved a victory in behalf of the race upon the point of appetite, making it possible for man, in all future time in his name to overcome the strength of appetite on his own behalf.
But Satan was not willing to cease his efforts until he had tried every means to obtain victory over the world's Redeemer. He knew that with himself all was at stake, whether he or Christ should be victor in the contest. And in order to awe Christ with his superior strength he carried him to Jerusalem and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and continued to beset him with temptations.
Confrontation pp 47-49
[The Second Temptation]
He again demanded of Christ that if he was indeed the Son of God to give him evidence by casting himself from the dizzy height upon which he had placed him. He urged Christ to show his confidence in the preserving care of his Father by casting himself down from the temple.
In Satan's first temptation upon the point of appetite he had tried to insinuate doubts in regard to God's love and care for Christ as his Son, by presenting his surroundings and his hunger as an evidence that he was not in favor with God. He was unsuccessful in this. He next tried to take advantage of the faith and perfect trust Christ had shown in his Heavenly Father, to urge him to presumption. "If thou be the Son of God cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." Jesus promptly answered, "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." [Matthew 4:6-7].
The sin of presumption lies close beside the virtue of perfect faith and confidence in God. Satan flattered himself that he could take advantage of the humanity of Christ to urge him over the line of trust to presumption. Upon this point many souls are wrecked. Satan tried to deceived Christ through flattery. He admitted that he was right in the wilderness, in his faith and confidence that God was his Father under the most trying circumstances. He then urged Christ to give him one more proof of his entire dependence upon God, one more evidence of his faith that he was the Son of God, by casting himself from the temple. He told Christ that if he has indeed the Son of God he had nothing to fear, for angels were at hand to uphold him. Satan gave evidence that he understood the Scriptures by the use he made of them.
The Redeemer of the world wavered not from his integrity, and showed that he had perfect faith in his Father's promised care. He would not put the faithfulness and love of his Father to a needless trial, although he was in the hands of an enemy, and placed in a position of extreme difficulty and peril. He would not at Satan's suggestion tempt God by presumptuously experimenting on his providence. [Comment]. Satan had brought in Scripture which seemed appropriate for the occasion, hoping to accomplish his designs by making the application to our Saviour at this special time.
Christ knew that God could indeed bear him up if he had required him to throw himself from the temple. But to do this unbidden, and to experiment upon his Father's protecting care and love, because dared by Satan to do so would not show his strength of faith.
Confrontation pp 49-51
Satan was well aware that if Christ could be prevailed upon, unbidden by his Father, to fling himself from the temple to prove his claim to his Heavenly Father's protecting care, he would in the very act show the weakness of his human nature.
Christ came off victor in the second temptation. He manifested perfect confidence and trust in his Father during his severe conflict with the powerful foe. Our Redeemer, in the victory here gained, has left man a perfect pattern, showing him that his only safety is in firm trust and unwavering confidence in God in all trials and perils. [Micah 6:8]. He refused to presume upon the mercy of his Father by placing himself in peril that would make it necessary for his Heavenly Father to display his power to save him from danger. This would be forcing providence on his own account, and he would not then leave for his people a perfect example of faith and firm trust in God.
Satan's object in tempting Christ was to lead him to daring presumption, and to show human weakness that would not make him a perfect pattern for his people. He thought that should Christ fail to bear the test of his temptations there could be no redemption for the race, and his power over them would be completed.
[R&H September 1, 1874 __ The temptation of Christ (Continued)]
The humiliation and agonizing sufferings of Christ in the wilderness of temptation were for the race. In Adam all was lost by transgression. Through Christ was man's only hope of restoration to the favor of God. Man had separated himself at such distance from God by transgression of his law that he could not humiliate himself before God in any degree proportionate to the magnitude of his sin. The Son of God could fully understand the aggravating sins of the transgressor, and, in his sinless character, he alone could make an acceptable atonement for man, in suffering the agonizing sense of his Father's displeasure. The sorrow and anguish of the Son of God for the sins of the world were proportionate to his divine excellence and purity, as well as to the magnitude of the offense.
Christ was our example in all things.
As we see his humiliation in the long trial and fast to overcome the temptation of appetite in our behalf, we are to learn how to overcome when we are tempted. If the power of appetite is so strong upon the human family, and its indulgence so fearful, that the Son of God subjected himself to such a test, how important that we feel the necessity of having appetite under the control of reason. Our Saviour fasted nearly six weeks, that he might gain for man the victory upon the point of appetite. How can professed Christians, with enlightened consciences, and with Christ before them as their pattern, yield to the indulgence of those appetites which have an enervating influence upon the mind and body?
Confrontation pp 51-52
It is a painful fact thathabits of self-gratification at the expense of health and moral power are, at the present time, holding a large share of the Christian world in the bonds of slavery.
Many who profess godliness do not inquire into the reason of Christ's long period of fasting and suffering in the wilderness. His anguish was not so much from the pangs of hunger as from his sense of the fearful result of the indulgence of appetite and passion upon the race. He knew that appetite would be man's idol, and would lead him to forget God, and would stand directly in the way of his salvation.
Our Saviour showed perfect confidence that his Heavenly Father would not suffer him to be tempted above what he should give him strength to endure, but would bring him off conqueror, if he patiently bore the test to which he was subjected. [1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 5:7-9]. Christ had not, of his own will, placed himself in danger. God had suffered Satan, for the time being, to have this power over his Son. Jesus knew that, if he preserved his integrity in this extremely trying position, an angel of God would be sent to relieve him if there was no other way. He had taken humanity, and was the representative of the race.
The Third Temptation
Satan saw that he prevailed nothing with Christ in his second great temptation. "And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine." [Matthew 4:8-9].
In the first two great temptations, Satan had not revealed his true purposes or his character; he claimed to be an exalted messenger from the courts of Heaven, but he now throws off his disguise. In a panoramic view he presented before Christ all the kingdoms of the world in the most attractive light, while he claimed to be the prince of the world.
This last temptation was the most alluring of the three. Satan knew that Christ's life must be one of sorrow, hardship, and conflict. And he thought he could take advantage of this fact to bribe Christ to yield his integrity. Satan brought all his strength to bear upon this last temptation; for this last effort was to decide his destiny as to who should be victor. He claimed the world as his dominion, and that he was the prince of the power of the air.
Confrontation pp 53
He bore Jesus to the top of an exceeding high mountain, and then in a panoramic view presented before him all the kingdoms of the world that had been so long under his dominion, and offered them to him in one great gift. He told Christ that he could come into possession of all these kingdoms without suffering or peril. Satan promises to yield his scepter and dominion, and to make Christ the rightful Ruler, for one favor from him. All he requires in return for making over to him the kingdoms of the world that day presented before him, is that Christ shall do him homage as to a superior.
The eye of Jesus for a moment rested upon the glory presented before him; but he turned away, and refused to look upon the entrancing spectacle. [Comment]. He would not endanger his steadfast integrity by dallying with the tempter. When Satan solicited homage, Christ's divine indignation was aroused, and he could no longer tolerate his blasphemous assumption, or even permit him to remain in his presence. Here Christ exercised his divine authority [James 4:7], and commanded Satan to desist. "Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." [Matthew 4:10; James 4:7]. Satan, in his pride and arrogance, had declared himself to be the rightful and permanent ruler of the world, the possessor of all its riches and glory, claiming homage of all who lived in it, as though he had created the world and all things that were therein. Said he to Christ, "All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it." [Luke 4:6]. He endeavored to make a special contract with Christ, to make over to him at once the whole of his claim, if he would worship him.
This insult to the Creator moved the indignation of the Son of God to rebuke and dismiss him. Satan had flattered himself in his first temptation that he had so well concealed his true character and purposes that Christ did not recognize him as the fallen rebel chief whom he had conquered and expelled from Heaven. The words of dismissal from Christ. "Get thee hence, Satan," evidenced that he was known from the first, and that all his deceptive arts had been unsuccessful upon the Son of God. Satan knew that if Jesus should die to redeem man, his power would end after a season, and he would be destroyed. Therefore it was his studied plan to prevent, if possible, the completion of the great work which had been commenced by the Son of God.
If the plan of man's redemption should fail, he would retain the kingdom which he then claimed, and if he should succeed, he flattered himself that he would reign in opposition to the God of Heaven.
Confrontation pp 54-55
When Jesus left Heaven, and there left his power and glory, Satan exulted. He thought that the Son of God was placed in his power. The temptation took so easily with the holy pair in Eden, that he hoped, with his satanic cunning and power, to overthrow even the Son of God, and thereby save his life and kingdom. If he could tempt Jesus to depart from the will of God, as he had done in his temptation with Adam and Eve, then his object would be gained.
The time was to come when Jesus should redeem the possession of Satan by giving his own life, and after a season, all in Heaven and earth should submit to him. He was steadfast. He chose this life of suffering, this ignominious death, and, in the way appointed by his Father, to become a lawful ruler of the kingdoms of the earth, and have them given into his hands as an everlasting possession. Satan also will be given into his hands to be destroyed by death, never more to annoy Jesus nor the saints in glory.
Jesus said to this wily foe, "Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." [Matthew 4:10]. Satan had asked Christ to give him evidence that he was the Son of God, and he had in this instance the proof he had asked. At the divine command of Christ, he was compelled to obey. He was repulsed and silenced. He had no power to withstand the peremptory dismissal. He was compelled without another word instantly to desist and leave the world's Redeemer.
The hateful presence of Satan was withdrawn. The contest was ended. With inestimable suffering, Christ's victory in the wilderness was as complete as was the failure of Adam. And for a season he stood freed from the presence of his powerful adversary and his legions of angels.
Christ's Temptation Ended.
After Satan had ended his temptations, he departed from Jesus for a little season. The foe was conquered, but the conflict had been long and exceedingly trying, and Christ was exhausted and fainting. He fell upon the ground as though dying. Heavenly angels who had bowed before him in the royal courts, and who had been with intense and painful interest watching their loved commander, and with amazement had witnessed the terrible contest he had endured with Satan, now came and ministered unto him. They prepared him food and strengthened him, for he lay as one dead. Angels were filled with amazement and awe, as they knew the world's Redeemer was passing through inexpressible suffering to achieve the redemption of man. He who was equal with God in the royal courts, was before them emaciated from nearly six weeks of fasting. Solitary and alone he had been pursued by the rebel chief, who had been expelled from Heaven.
Confrontation pp 55-56
He had endured a more close and severe test than would ever be brought to bear upon man. The warfare with the power of darkness had been long and intensely trying to Christ's human nature in his weak and suffering condition. The angels brought messages of love and comfort from the Father and the assurance that all Heaven triumphed in the full and entire victory he had gained in behalf of man.
The cost of the redemption of the race can never be fully realized until the redeemed shall stand with the Redeemer, by the throne of God. And as they have capacity to appreciate the value of immortal life, and the eternal reward, they will swell the song of victory and immortal triumph, "Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." "And every creature," says John, "which is in Heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." [Revelation 5:12-13].
Although Satan had failed in his strongest efforts, and most powerful temptations, yet he had not given up all hope that he might, at some future time, be successful in his efforts. He looked forward to the period of Christ's ministry, when he should have opportunities to try his artifices against him. Satan laid his plans to blind the understanding of the Jews, God's chosen people, that they should not discern in Christ the world's Redeemer. He thought he could fill their hearts with envy, jealousy, and hatred against the Son of God, so that they would not receive him, but would make his life upon earth as bitter as possible.
Satan held a counsel with his angels, as to the course they should pursue to prevent the people from having faith in Christ as the Messiah whom the Jews had so long been anxiously expecting. He was disappointed and enraged that he had prevailed nothing against Jesus in the manifold temptations in the wilderness. He thought if he could inspire in the hearts of Christ's own people, unbelief as to his being the promised One, he might discourage Jesus in his mission and secure the Jews as his agents to carry out his purposes.
[RH.1874-09-08.001 __ The Temptation of Christ (Continued)]
Satan comes to man with his temptations as an angel of light, as he came to Christ. He has been working to bring man into a condition of physical and moral weakness, that he may easily overcome him and then triumph over his ruin.
And he has been successful in tempting man to indulge appetite, regardless of the result. He well knows that it is impossible for man to discharge his obligations to God, and to his fellowmen, while he impairs the faculties which God has given him. The brain is the capital of the body. If the perceptive faculties become benumbed through intemperance of any kind, eternal things are not discerned. [What follows is HOW to change this situation].
Continued .. On to part Three