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Tempted in All Points
Like as We Are,
by E G White
Youths Instructor 21 Dec, 1899
As Christ's ministry was about to begin, he received baptism at the hands of John. Coming up out of the water, he bowed on the banks of the Jordan, and offered to the Father such a prayer as heaven had never before listened to. That prayer penetrated the shadow of Satan, which surrounded the Saviour, and cleaved its way to the throne of God. The heavens were opened, and a dove, in appearance like burnished gold, rested upon Jesus; and from the lips of the Infinite God were heard the words, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." [Matthew 3:17].
This visible answer to the prayer of God's Son is of deep significance to us. It assures us that humanity is accepted in Christ. The repenting cry of every sinner, the petition of every believing soul, will be heard, and the suppliant will receive grace and power. Christ has opened the way to the highest heavens for every bereaved heart. All may find rest and peace and assurance in sending their prayers to God in the name of his dear Son. As the heavens were open to Christ's prayer, so they will be opened to our prayers. The Holy Spirit will come to every son and daughter of Adam who looks to God for strength.
From the Jordan, Jesus was led into the wilderness of temptation. "And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." [Matthew 4:2-3].
Christ was suffering the keenest pangs of hunger, and this temptation was a severe one. But he must begin the work of redemption just where the ruin began. Adam had failed on the point of appetite, and Christ must conquer here. The power that rested upon him came directly from the Father, and he must not exercise it in his own behalf. With that long fast there was woven into his experience a strength and power that God alone could give. He met and resisted the enemy in the strength of a "Thus saith the Lord." "Man shall not live by bread alone," he said, "but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." [Matthew 4:4].
This strength it is the privilege of all the tempted ones of earth to have. Christ's experience is for our benefit. His example in overcoming appetite points out the way for those to overcome who would be his followers.
Christ was suffering as the members of the human family suffer under temptation; but it was not the will of God that he should exercise his divine power in his own behalf. Had he not stood as our representative, Christ's innocence would have exempted him from all this anguish; but it was because of his innocence that he felt so keenly the assaults of Satan. All the suffering that is the result of sin was poured into the bosom of the sinless Son of God. Satan was bruising the heel of Christ; but every pang endured by Christ, every grief, every disquietude, was fulfilling the great plan of man's redemption. Every blow inflicted by the enemy was rebounding on himself. Christ was bruising the serpent's head.
Satan had been defeated in the first temptation. He next took Christ to the pinnacle of the temple at Jerusalem, and asked him to prove his sonship to God by throwing himself down from the dizzy height. "If thou be the Son of God," he said, "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." [Matthew 4:6]. But to do this would be presumption on the part of Christ, and he would not yield. "It is written," he replied, "thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." [Matthew 4:7]. Again the tempter was baffled. Christ was victor still.
Presumption is a common temptation, and when Satan assails men with this, he gains the victory almost every time. Those who claim to be enlisted in the warfare against evil frequently plunge without thought into temptation from which it would require a miracle to bring them forth unsullied. God's precious promises are not given to strengthen us in a presumptuous course, or to rely upon when we rush needlessly into danger. The Lord requires us to move with a humble dependence upon his guidance. "It is not in a man that walketh to direct his steps." [Jeremiah 10:23]. In God is our prosperity and our life. Nothing can be done prosperously without his permission and his blessing. "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." [Psalm 37:5]. As children of God, we are to maintain a consistent Christian character.
While you pray, dear youth, that you may not be led into temptation, remember that your work does not end with prayer. As far as possible you must answer your own prayers by resisting temptation. Ask Jesus to do for you that which you can not do for yourself. With God's word for our guide, and Jesus for our teacher, we need not be ignorant of God's requirements or of Satan's devices.
"Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." [Matthew 4:8-9]. Then divinity flashed through humanity. "Get thee hence, Satan," Christ said; "for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." [Matthew 4:10]. Satan did not then present another temptation. He left the presence of Christ a conquered foe.
Tempted in All Points Like As We Are,
Christ paid an infinite price to redeem the world. He sacrificed his honor, his riches, his glorious home in the royal courts, and endured the fierce assaults of Satan, that man might have strength to overcome as he overcame. The temptations that Satan brings to bear upon the human race are severe; but his test for the Son of God was a hundredfold more severe. It was not merely the gnawing pangs of hunger that made Christ's sufferings so intense; it was the guilt of the sins of the world, which pressed so heavily upon him. He who knew no sin was made sin for us. With this terrible weight of guilt upon him, he withstood the fearful test upon appetite; upon the love of the world and of honor; and upon pride of display, which leads to presumption. Christ endured these great temptations, overcoming in our behalf, and working out for us a righteous character.
Many who fall under temptation excuse themselves with the plea that Christ's divinity helped him overcome, and that man has not this power in his favor. But this is a mistake. Christ has brought divine power within the reach of all. The Son of God came to the earth because he saw that moral power in man is weak. He came to bring finite man in close connection with God. It is by combining divine power with his human strength that man becomes an overcomer.
When we are tempted to question whether Christ resisted temptation as a man, we must search the Scriptures for the truth. As the substitute and surety of the human race, Christ was placed in the same position toward the Father as is the sinner. Christ had the privilege of depending on the Father for strength, and so have we. Because he laid hold of the hand of infinite power, and held it fast, he overcame; and we are taught to do the same. He met every temptation with, "It is written;" and so must we. The one who resists evil in his strength can say, in the words of Inspiration: "The Lord God will help me: therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? . . . Behold, the Lord God will help me: who is he that shall condemn me?" [Isaiah 50:7-9].
The language of Christ on many occasions shows that he was placed in the same position that we are. He had to walk by faith, as we walk by faith; and when temptations came to him with overwhelming power, he used the language that every child of earth must use. "The Son can do nothing of himself," Christ declared, "but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." [John 5:19]. "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." [John 5:30]. "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." [John 8:28].
Christ has wrestled with the powers of darkness. He has trodden the road over which every son and daughter of Adam must pass. He knows how fierce is the conflict, and he gives us the gracious words of instruction and encouragement: "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." [Isaiah 50:10].
This trust in God he contrasts with trust in self. "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire," he says, "that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." [Isaiah 50:11].
Christ is the Captain of our salvation. "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 1:10]. The suffering that poured in upon the Son of God is beyond anything that man will be called to endure; yet Christ overcame, and perfected a spotless character. By his suffering and resistance he made plain to man that perfection of character can be obtained and maintained by humanity.
When Satan fails to lead men into sin by the first two temptations, those of appetite and presumption, he besets them with the third, the love of the world; and in almost every case he leads them into apostasy by this means. It is the glory of this world that attracts and ensnares. But we have reason to thank God that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, and came off conqueror in our behalf. Every son and daughter of Adam may have this divine strength. The promise of the Comforter has been given us. "He that believeth on me," said Jesus, "the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." [John 14:12]. The power that came to Christ as a representative of the human race will come to every member of the human family who will make God his strength.
"We have a great high priest, which is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. . . . We have not an high priest that can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." [Hebrews 4:14-16]. We may take courage, and believe that we shall overcome every imperfection of character. Our Redeemer has taken our nature, fought our battles, and in his name we shall conquer. Human nature may take hold of the strength of God, and be victorious.
Tempted in All Points Like as We Are,
We have little idea of the strength that would be ours if we would connect with the source of all strength. We fall into sin again and again, and think it must always be so. We cling to our infirmities as if they were something to be proud of. Christ tells us that we must set our faces as a flint if we would overcome. He has borne our sins in his own body on the tree; and through the power he has given us, we may resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. Then let us not talk of our weakness and inefficiency, but of Christ and his strength. When we talk of Satan's strength, the enemy fastens his power more firmly upon us. When we talk of the power of the Mighty One, the enemy is driven back. As we draw near to God, he draws near to us.
Christ knows all about our trials and temptations; for he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Before the heavenly universe he showed that men can keep the commandments of God, and perfect a Christian character. He poured out his petitions to the Father with strong crying and tears. He set his face as a flint to conquer. And he could say, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." [John 14:30]. In the life and character of Christ there was nothing that the enemy of souls could use to serve his evil purpose.
Many of us fail to improve our privileges. We make a few feeble efforts to do right, and then go back to our old life of sin. If we ever enter the kingdom of God, we must enter with perfect characters, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Satan works with increased activity as we near the close of time. He lays his snares, unperceived by us, that he may take possession of our minds. In every way he tries to eclipse the glory of God from the soul. It rests with us to decide whether he shall control our hearts and minds; or whether we shall have a place in the new earth, a title to Abraham's farm.
The power of God, combined with human effort, has wrought out a glorious victory for us. Shall we not appreciate this? All the riches of heaven were given to us in Jesus. God would not have the confederacy of evil say that he could do more than he has done. The worlds that he had created, the angels in heaven, could testify that he could do no more. God has resources of power of which we as yet know nothing, and from these he will supply us in our time of need. But our effort is ever to combine with the divine. Our intellect, our perceptive powers, all the strength of our being, must be called into exercise. We must co-operate with God in this work of salvation. If we will rise to the emergency, and arm ourselves like men who wait for their Lord; if we will work to overcome every defect in our characters, God will give us increased light and strength and help.
Tempted in All Points Like as We Are,
Christ bids you bring all of heaven you can into your life. Talk of the great reward that awaits the overcomer. Set your face as a flint heavenward, saying, as you advance, Hear what the Lord has wrought for me. Shall we not come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty? Shall we not work with all the power that God has given us to oppose the work of Satan? An eternal weight of glory awaits the overcomer. If we gain heaven, we gain everything. Shall we not put away sin, and let Christ abide in our hearts by faith? Not until we have the mind of Christ shall we be like him, and see him as he is. When the warfare is ended, and we have gained the crown of immortality, the harp of God, the palm branch of victory, and wear the white robe of Christ's righteousness, we shall say, Heaven is cheap enough.
By right of inheritance the universe belonged to Christ, but for this world he battled and fought; and by a terrible struggle he obtained the territory. When he yielded up his life on Calvary, he drew back into favor with God this world, which was lost. It is here that the saints of the Most High will reign. When the earth is cleansed by the purifying fires of God, those who have laid hold of the merits of Christ will dwell in the kingdom prepared for them. The disciple John writes: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." [Revelation 21:1-4].
It is impossible for us to understand the depth of the ruin from which we have been rescued, only as we realize how deep the Son of God has reached to save us. We may estimate the love of Christ by the chain of mercy let down to lift us up. The disciple John could not find words to express the measureless love of God, and he calls us to "behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." [1 John 3:1]. We must accept the provisions of the gospel; we must be reconciled to God through obedience to his law, and faith in Christ. Through repentance, faith, and good works, we may perfect a Christian character; and through the merits of Christ we may claim the privileges of sons and daughters of God. The principles of divine truth, received and cherished in the heart, will carry us to a height of moral excellence that we have not dreamed it possible to reach. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." [1 John 3:2, 3]. Mrs. E. G. White.
Selected Messages Vol. 3, page 129
In your letter in regard to the temptations of Christ, you say, "If He was One with God He could not fall."
The point you enquire of me is, In our Lords great scene of conflict in the wilderness, apparently under the power of Satan and his angels, was He capable, in His human nature, of yielding to these temptations?
I will try to answer this important question: As God He could not be tempted: but as a man He could be tempted, and that strongly, and could yield to the temptations. His human nature must pass through the same test and trial Adam and Eve passed through. His human nature was created; it did not even possess angelic powers. It was human, identical with our own. He was passing over the ground where Adam fell. He was now where, if He endured the test and trial in behalf of the fallen race, He would redeem Adams disgraceful failure and fall, in our own humanity.
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