The Signs of the Times


June 22, 1891

A Talk on Temperance


Satan was the first rebel in the universe, and ever since his expulsion from heaven he has been seeking to make every member of the human family an apostate from God, even as he is himself. He laid his plans to ruin man, and through the unlawful indulgence of appetite, led him to transgress the commandments of God. He tempted Adam and Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit, and so accomplished their fall, and their expulsion from Eden. How many say, “If I had been in Adam’s place, I would never have transgressed on so simple a test.” But you who make this boast have a grand opportunity of showing your strength of purpose, your fidelity to principle under trial. Do you render obedience to every command of God? Does God see no sin in your life? ST June 22, 1891, par. 1

Would that the fall of Adam and Eve had been the only fall; but from the loss of Eden to the present time, there has been a succession of falls. Satan has planned to ruin man, by leading him away from loyalty to the commandments of God, and one of his most successful methods is that of tempting him to the gratification of perverted appetite. We see on all sides the marks of man’s intemperance. In our cities and villages the saloon is on every corner, and in the countenances of its patrons we see the dreadful work of ruin and destruction. On every side, Satan seeks to entice the youth into the path of perdition; and if he can once get their feet set in the way, he hurries them on in their downward course, leading them from one dissipation to another, until his victims lose their tenderness of conscience, and have no more the fear of God before their eyes. They exercise less and less self-restraint. They become addicted to the use of wine and alcohol, tobacco and opium, and go from one stage of debasement to another. They are slaves to appetite. Counsel which they once respected, they learn to despise. They put on swaggering airs, and boast of liberty when they are the servants of corruption. They mean by liberty that they are slaves to selfishness, debased appetite, and licentiousness. ST June 22, 1891, par. 2

A great controversy is going on in the world. Satan is determined to have the human race as his subjects, but Christ has paid an infinite price that man may be redeemed from the enemy, and that the moral image of God may be restored to the fallen race. In instituting the plan of salvation, God has made it manifest that he values man at an infinite price; but Satan is seeking to make this plan of no effect, by keeping man from meeting the conditions upon which salvation is provided. ST June 22, 1891, par. 3

After His baptism, Christ was led of the Spirit into the wilderness. He had taken humanity upon himself, and Satan boasted that he would overcome him, as he had overcome the strong men of the past ages, and he assailed him with the temptations that had caused man’s downfall. It was in this world that the great conflict between Christ and Satan was to be decided. If the tempter could succeed in overcoming Christ in even one point, the world must be left to perish. Satan would have power to bruise the head [heel] of the Son of God; but the seed of the woman was to bruise the serpent’s head: Christ was to baffle the prince of the powers of darkness. For forty days Christ fasted in the wilderness. What was this for? Was there anything in the character of the Son of God that required such great humiliation and suffering?-No, he was sinless. All this humiliation and keen anguish were endured for the sake of fallen man, and never can we comprehend the grievous character of the sin of indulging perverted appetite except as we comprehend the spiritual meaning of the long fast of the Son of God. Never can we understand the strength and bondage of appetite until we discern the character of the Saviour’s conflict in overcoming Satan, and thus placing man on vantage ground, where, through the merit of the blood of Christ, he may be able to resist the powers of darkness, and overcome in his own behalf. ST June 22, 1891, par. 4

After this long fast, Christ was in a famishing condition, and in his weakness Satan assailed him with the fiercest temptations. “The devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” Satan represented himself as the messenger of God, claiming that God had seen the willingness of the Saviour to place his feet in the path of self-denial, and that he was not required to suffer further humiliation and pain, but might be released from the terrible conflict that was before him as the Redeemer of the world. He tried to persuade him that God designed only to test his fidelity, that now his loyalty was fully manifest, and he was at liberty to use his divine power to relieve his necessities. But Christ discerned the temptation, and declared, “It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” ST June 22, 1891, par. 5

When tempted to the unlawful gratification of appetite, you should remember the example of Christ, and stand firm, overcoming as Christ overcame. You should answer, saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” and in this way settle the question forever with the prince of darkness. If you parley with temptation, and use your own words, feeling self-sufficient, full of self-importance, you will be overcome. The weapons which Christ used were the words of God, “It is written;” and if you wield the sword of the Spirit, you also may come off victorious, through the merit of your Redeemer. ST June 22, 1891, par. 6

(To be continued.)