Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)

436/488

Ms 153, 1899

Victory Over Temptation

NP

October 31, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in Ev 591; 1BC 1105; CTr 200.

“Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way; the meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. What man is he that feareth the Lord? Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” [Psalm 25:8-14.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 1

The wilderness temptation which Christ endured was a personal conflict with the wicked one who had shown himself to be the author of sin. Satan was once a covering cherub in the heavenly courts, the angel next in power to Christ Himself. But he lifted himself up against God, and induced some of the angels to join him in rebellion. There was war in heaven, and Satan and his followers were cast out. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 2

Expelled from heaven, Satan determined to set up a kingdom on this earth, and win man to his side. But Christ pledged His word that if man was overcome by temptation, He, the Son of God, would be his surety. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 3

Christ came to our world to stand where Adam stood, to endure the temptations which Adam failed to endure. In behalf of the beings He had created, who had through sin become a fallen race, He stepped from the royal throne which He occupied as Prince of heaven, and clothed Himself with the garments of humanity. He was to be tempted on every point on which man would be tried. After His baptism, He went forth to the wilderness, and there He was tempted by the enemy. For forty days and forty nights He fasted; then, when He was an hungered, Satan came to Him as though he were a messenger from the heavenly courts, and tempted Him. In this contest Christ was at a disadvantage, for His strength was reduced by His long fast. The plan of salvation was so arranged that when Adam was tested, temptation was removed as far as possible from him. But nothing was done to remove temptation from Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 4

Satan came to the Saviour with the words, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” As he tempted Adam on the point of appetite, so he tempted Christ. He knew that if he conquered here, he could gain the victory in any temptation he might bring up. Pointing to the stones lying around them, which resembled loaves of bread, he said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Christ answered, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” [Matthew 4:3, 4.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 5

The enemy well knew the power of God’s word. He knew that this word had supplied bread for the Israelites in their journeyings through the wilderness, and that the same word could now supply the necessities of Christ. But this was not God’s plan. He designed that Christ should be treated as man is treated. He was not to exercise miraculous power in His own behalf; for if He did, Satan would say that His test had not been a fair one, because He had made use of supernatural power; and that He could not require man to keep all His requirements if the effort to keep them would destroy life. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 6

But the Lord does not bring those who live by every word that proceedeth out of His mouth into trying places in order to kill them. He can supply the needful food in a desert place as well as in a fruitful land. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 7

When Adam was tempted, he was not hungry. He had the opportunity of satisfying every want. But when Christ was tempted, He was faint from want of food. He was to qualify Himself for the office of Redeemer by successfully resisting every assault of the enemy. His power of resistance was to be an example for all who would hereafter be placed in trying positions. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 8

Satan had declared to his associate angels that he could overcome Christ on the point of appetite. He hoped to gain a victory over Him in His weakness. But Christ gained a complete victory over this temptation, thus placing men and women on vantage ground, where they can overcome as He overcame. Let those whose mental and moral power has been enfeebled by wrongdoing seek the Lord earnestly, and they will gain the victory, even over long-established appetite. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 9

All who put their trust in God will come off more than conquerors. “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon day. ... The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him in his hand. ... The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord; he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them; he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.” [Psalm 37:5, 6, 23, 24, 39, 40.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 10

*****

“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, 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.” [Matthew 4:5, 6.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 11

Satan desired Christ to make Himself guilty of the sin of presumption by needlessly exposing His life. He did not repeat the whole of the quotation, but left out the words, “In all thy ways,” that is, In the path of duty. [Psalm 91:11.] If Christ had presumed on God’s mercy by risking His life to give Satan evidence of His Messiahship, He would not have been in the path of duty. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 12

Satan knows that if he can persuade human beings to venture out of the path of obedience, he can lead them on and still on in his way. He knows that then he can induce them to follow his plans by presenting something to be gained by disobedience. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 13

This temptation also Jesus firmly resisted. “It is written again,” He said, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” [Matthew 4:7.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 14

All should become familiar with God’s Word, because Satan perverts and misquotes Scripture, and men follow his example by presenting part of God’s Word to those whom they wish to lead in false paths, withholding the part which would spoil their plans. All have the privilege of becoming acquainted with a plain “thus saith the Lord.” God’s commands and requirements are all calculated to promote industry, economy, temperance, and wisdom. When men yield to the temptation to disregard God’s Word, they range themselves under Satan’s banner. There are false shepherds who will say and do perverse things. Children should be so instructed that they will be familiar with God’s Word, and be able to know when part of a Scripture is read and part left unread in order to make a false impression. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 15

We are guilty of the sin of presumption when we defile our bodies. Paul declares, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” [1 Corinthians 3:17.] Our bodies are a wonderful exhibition of God’s incomprehensible skill and unceasing goodness. They are not to be trifled with. With all the power of a sanctified mind and a purified soul they are to be consecrated to God. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 16

Parents, warn your children against the sin of presumption. Teach them that it is presumption to educate an appetite for tobacco, liquor, or any hurtful thing. Teach them that their bodies are God’s property. They are His by creation and by redemption. They are not their own, for they have been bought with a price. Teach them that the body is the temple of God, and that it is not to be made strengthless and diseased by the indulgence of appetite. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 17

The Lord did not create the disease and imbecility now seen in the bodies and minds of the human race. The enemy desires to enfeeble the body, knowing that it is the only medium through which mind and soul can be developed for the up-building of a symmetrical character. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 18

God calls upon you to do a work which through His grace you can do. How many sound bodies are there that can be presented to God as a sacrifice that He will accept in His service? How many are standing forth in their God-given manhood and womanhood? How many can show a purity of tastes, appetite, and habits that will bear comparison with Daniel’s? How many have calm nerves, clear brain, unimpaired judgment? Instead, thousands are today health-destroyers, self-made invalids, because of their disregard for the laws of health. Habits which are contrary to the laws of nature war constantly against the soul. In the Ten Commandments God has laid down the laws of His kingdom. Any violation of the laws of nature is a violation of the law of God. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 19

The Lord has given His holy commandments to be a wall of protection around His created beings, and those who will keep themselves from the defilement of appetite and passion may become partakers of the divine nature. Their perceptions will be clear. They will know how to preserve every faculty in health, so that it may be presented to God in service. The Lord can use them; for they understand the words of the great apostle, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” [Romans 12:1, 2.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 20

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“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.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 21

Satan’s expulsion from heaven had not reformed him. In this last temptation he touched on the subject of his fall from heaven. Then he became dissatisfied because Christ was preferred before him, and he now declared that if Christ would acknowledge him as supreme, he would relinquish his claim to the world. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 22

Christ had heard Satan’s taunting words of scorn regarding His claim to be the Son of God. “Thou the Son of God—born in a stable, hurried off to Egypt for fear of being destroyed by Herod, working as a carpenter in an obscure town of Galilee! If at thy baptism a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ [Matthew 3:17], why art thou now helpless and starving in this wilderness? Why is the illustrious Son of God wandering, unhonored and unattended, among the wild beasts? Where is thy retinue of angels? Where is thy glory and honor?” 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 23

Now Satan presented to Christ the kingdoms of the world in all their glory. The view was the most extensive upon which the eye could rest, and as they looked upon it, Satan said, “All this power ... is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” [Luke 4:6, 7.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 24

In the first temptation Satan had said, “If thou art the Son of God.” [Verse 3.] Evidence was now given him that Jesus was indeed all that He claimed to be. Divinity flashed through humanity as the Saviour said, “Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” [Verse 8.] With such power were these words spoken that Satan left the battlefield a conquered foe. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 25

Christ had gained the victory. Passing over the ground where Adam stumbled and fell, He had not yielded in a single point. The conflict was ended, and He was a conqueror. But the strain had been great, and He lay as one dying. “And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” [Matthew 4:11.] Not only was food supplied to Him; supernatural restoration came. God sent His approval and commendation to revive His Son. How much the Saviour enjoyed the comfort brought to Him by the angels! His time of victory had come. He could accept the companionship and service of the angels, since they came unbidden by Himself, sent direct from the Father, whom He had honored by enduring the test under circumstances such as no human being will ever pass through. He had been given the chance of taking sides with the apostate foe of God, but He repulsed every temptation with the words, “It is written.” [Verses 4, 7, 10.] Well might a voice from heaven declare, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:17.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 26

The lesson taught by these temptations is for us all. The Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering. Today the Lord tried men to see what characters they will develop. He tried the Israelites, that it might be seen what was in their hearts. Paul’s character was perfected by trial. God is today trying the faith of every soul who claims to be in His service. When passing through trials, we may know that thus God is striving to lead us to know Him and to place our trust in Him. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 27

When we choose our own way, our own will, our own pleasure, when we follow the impulses that come to us, we do not live as sons and daughters of God. We do not love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves. We are robbing God. Our time, our service, our affection, our property, all belong to Him. When God’s people meet Him with the willing offering of a faithful tithe, their faithfulness will be rewarded. But many who profess to give God all make a reservation of themselves or of their property. God will accept nothing less than a spiritual priesthood, who can bring Him an offering in righteousness. No selfishness is of Christ. Selfishness lies at the foundation of all sin. The time has come when it is for our present and eternal good to know the will of God for ourselves. The path travelled by Christ is the only safe path for us to follow. The Saviour says, “He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Mark 8:34.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 28

The prayer Christ offered to His Father, just before leaving His disciples, to be betrayed, rejected, and condemned, is for His disciples in all time. In this prayer He said, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee; as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” [John 17:1-5.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 29

It is not enough to have a theory of the truth. The mind must receive enlightenment from the Holy Spirit regarding the will of God. Then by his service man must bear witness to the light, according to his knowledge of God and Christ. The Lord must be honored. His followers must trust in Him, believing that He is working in their behalf to bring them through trying places. In this God consults His own glory and their highest good. He seeks to give them an experience that will be of the greatest value to them. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 30

Our knowledge of God and of Christ is altogether too meager. True knowledge of God is genuine and practical. Those who have this knowledge will not keep silent. They will communicate to others what they have received. They will make an entire surrender of the will to God, realizing that they are to reach higher and still higher, that they may give others the benefit of their experience as those who have been tried and proved through prayer and patience. We have been given to Christ by the Father, and no man can pluck us out of His hand. Our knowledge of the living God is to steadily increase. Christ says, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” [Matthew 5:13.] The leaven of righteousness in the life of believers is revealed by the words, the spirit, the deportment. True virtue is manifested in the daily life. Through Christ we are to be purified, made white, and tried. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 31

We cannot know God and Jesus Christ until we search the Scriptures, beginning with Genesis. In this Word we find out why it was necessary for Christ to leave His high command in heaven, to separate Himself from the angelic family, laying off His royal robe and kingly crown, and clothe His divinity with humanity. For our sake He became poor, that by His poverty He might make many rich, securing for them eternal riches. That He might work in our behalf, He came to live among fallen humanity, in a world marred by sin and misery. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 32

Adam listened to the temptation of Satan. He believed a lie, and thus greatly dishonored God. He had not a semblance of an excuse for his transgression, and his disobedience changed his relation to God. The law can in no case pardon the transgressor. It can only condemn the guilty. Adam had to meet God over His broken law. His fatal disobedience brings out with clear prominence that of which the apostle writes, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” [Romans 5:19.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 33

Man’s happiness must always be guarded by the law of God. In obedience only can he find true happiness. The law is the hedge God has placed about His vineyard. By it those who obey are protected from evil. In transgression Adam became a law to himself. By disobedience he was brought under bondage. Thus a discordant element, born of selfishness, entered man’s life. Man’s will and God’s will no longer harmonized. Adam had united with the disloyal forces, and self-will took the field. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 34

By Christ a higher standard is presented. He made it possible for man to be once more united with God. He came to take the sentence of death for the transgressor. Not one precept of the law could be altered to meet man in his fallen condition; therefore Christ gave His life in man’s behalf, to suffer in his stead the penalty of disobedience. This was the only way in which man could be saved, the only way in which it could be demonstrated that it is possible for man to keep the law. Christ came to this earth and stood where Adam stood, overcoming where Adam failed to overcome. He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. When this work was accomplished, there was great joy in the heavenly courts. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 35

But while the death of the Son of God saves all who repent, it speaks death to those who will not receive Christ as a personal Saviour. That which is life to the believer is death to the impenitent transgressor. The new and living way is seen and followed by those who receive Christ as their Redeemer. But upon those who refuse to accept His sacrifice, the sentence of eternal death is passed. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 36

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have access by faith unto this grace, wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God, ... Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; ... even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” [Verses 1, 2, 12, 18.] Adam’s fall in the garden of Eden caused all to sin, but in the garden of Gethsemane Christ drank the bitter cup of suffering and death, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 37

Before the foundation of the world Christ pledged His word that He would give His life as a ransom if man turned from his allegiance to God. He revealed His love by humbling Himself, stooping from heaven to work among fallen, disorderly, lawless human beings. Of himself man could not possibly cope with the enemy. Christ offers Himself and all He has, His glory, His character, to the service of those who return to their loyalty and keep the law of God. This is their only hope. He says definitely, “I came not to destroy the law. It is a transcript of God’s character, and I came to carry out its every specification. I came to vindicate it by living it in human nature, giving an example of perfect obedience.” 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 38

As Christ took upon Him this work, He saw all it would bring—His betrayal, because of envy, pride, and love of money, by a professed follower; His trial in the judgment hall; the scouring, the cruel death. He had led the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage into the land of Canaan. He had come now to lead them from spiritual bondage into the City of God. But they rejected Him, and delivered Him up to death. He came to His vineyard to receive the fruit thereof, but those who should have welcomed Him, said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” [Matthew 21:38.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 39

Looking into the future Christ saw the return that would be made for His love. He saw Himself condemned to suffer the punishment only inflicted on those most deeply sunked in crime. He saw Himself in His humiliation hanging on the cross, while priests and rulers looked on with exultation, saying in mockery, “He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” [Matthew 27:42.] 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 40

Christ looked down through the ages and saw His humiliation carried into every successive generation. He heard the false testimony that He died to abolish the law. He saw that this error would be more palatable to men and women than the truth. The carnal mind “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” [Romans 8:7.] He saw the enmity of the natural mind, true to its own character, daily enacting afresh the scenes of Calvary, even down to the close of this earth’s history. He saw that some would show indifference and contempt to the law of God, while others would go to greater lengths in their hatred of it, tearing down its precepts by their falsehoods and ingenious arguments. He saw that the law would be trampled upon and dishonored until God should arise to punish the inhabitants of the earth. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 41

Knowing all this, Christ bore the penalty of transgression. He was crucified and buried, but He broke the fetters of the tomb, and over the rent sepulcher of Joseph He proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life.” [John 11:25.] He was in possession of the great gift of eternal life, and He gave gifts unto me. He sent His message of mercy and pardon to all who would receive Him as the world’s Redeemer. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” [John 1:12.] He had paid the price for every son and daughter of Adam, and He is abundantly able to save all who accept Him as the Sinbearer. 14LtMs, Ms 153, 1899, par. 42