The Signs of the Times


April 4, 1900

Victory Over Temptation


“Good and upright is the Lord,” says the psalmist; “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.” ST April 4, 1900, 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. ST April 4, 1900, 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, that they might have a second trial. ST April 4, 1900, 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 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. For forty days and forty nights He fasted; then, when He hungered, Satan came to Him as though 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 from him as far as possible. When Adam was tempted, he was not hungry. He had the opportunity of satisfying every need. 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. ST April 4, 1900, 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. 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.” ST April 4, 1900, 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 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 God should not require man to obey all His requirements if the effort to obey them would destroy life. ST April 4, 1900, par. 6

Satan had declared to his associate angels that he would 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 become enfeebled by wrong-doing, 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.” ST April 4, 1900, par. 7

By the power of God, man is to firmly resist every temptation. The temptations which Christ overcame cover all the temptations that come to man. Each of these temptations marks a special crisis in the life. If man is overcome, Satan has gained the victory, and man has weakened his own power of resistance. But if the tempted one will lay hold of the strength of the Conqueror, he, too, will overcome. Christ said to His disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” ST April 4, 1900, par. 8

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 noonday.... The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in His way. Tho he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with 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.” ST April 4, 1900, par. 9

After Christ had successfully resisted the first temptation, “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.” ST April 4, 1900, par. 10

Satan desired Christ to become guilty of presumption by needlessly exposing His life. He did not repeat the whole of the scripture which he pretended to quote; he left out the words “to keep Thee in all Thy ways;” that is, to keep Thee in all Thy ways while Thou art in the path of duty. Had Christ 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. ST April 4, 1900, par. 11

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. ST April 4, 1900, par. 12

The second temptation also Jesus firmly resisted. “It is written again,” He said, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” ST April 4, 1900, par. 13

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 that 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, able to know when part of a scripture is read and part left unread, to make a false impression. ST April 4, 1900, par. 14

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.” 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. ST April 4, 1900, par. 15

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. ST April 4, 1900, par. 16

The Lord did not create the disease and imbecility now seen in the bodies and minds of the human race. The enemy has done this. He desires to enfeeble the body, knowing that it is the only medium through which mind and soul can be developed for the upbuilding of a symmetrical character. Habits which are contrary to the laws of nature, war constantly against the soul. ST April 4, 1900, par. 17

God calls upon you to do a work which through His grace you can do. How many sound bodies are there which 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, appetites, 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 of the laws of health. ST April 4, 1900, par. 18

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. The Lord has given His commandments to be a wall of protection round 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.” ST April 4, 1900, par. 19

Mrs. E. G. White

(Concluded next week.)