The Review and Herald


August 4, 1874

The Temptation of Christ



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 overcome the temptations of Satan. As soon as Christ entered the wilderness of temptation, his visage changed. The glory and splendor reflected from the throne of God which illuminated his countenance when the heavens opened before him, and the Father's voice acknowledged him as his Son in whom he was well pleased, was 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. He felt the overwhelming tide of woe that deluged the world. He realized the strength of indulged appetite and of unholy passion that controlled the world, which 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. He was to wrestle with the powers of darkness. RH August 4, 1874, par. 1

As man could not, in his human strength resist the power of Satan's temptations, Jesus volunteered to undertake the work, and bear the burden for man, and overcome the power of appetite in his behalf. He must show in man's behalf, self-denial and perseverance, and firmness of principle that is paramount to the gnawing pangs of hunger. He must show a power of control over appetite stronger than hunger and even death. RH August 4, 1874, par. 2

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, and from which human nature would be inclined to shrink. With these surroundings he fasted forty days and forty nights, “and in those days he ate nothing.” He was emaciated through long fasting, and felt the keenest sense of hunger. His visage was indeed marred more than the sons of men. RH August 4, 1874, par. 3

Christ thus entered upon his life of conflict to overcome the mighty foe, in bearing the very test 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. RH August 4, 1874, par. 4

All was lost when Adam yielded to the power of appetite. The Redeemer, in whom was united both the human and the divine, 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 extent of the sinfulness and power of debased appetite upon the human family. RH August 4, 1874, par. 5

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, which made man a debtor to the law, which debt Christ was himself paying 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. His righteousness he would impute to man, and thus raise him in moral value with God, so 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. RH August 4, 1874, par. 6

As soon as the long fast of Christ commenced in the wilderness, 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 self-denial and the 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. RH August 4, 1874, par. 7

Satan told Christ that he was only to set his feet in the blood-stained path, but not to travel it. 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 the painful hunger and death from starvation; he would help him bear a part of the work in the plan of salvation. RH August 4, 1874, par. 8

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. RH August 4, 1874, par. 9

Christ knew that in taking the nature of man he would not be in appearance equal 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 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. RH August 4, 1874, par. 10

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. He told Christ that one of the exalted angels had been exiled to the world, and that his appearance indicated that, instead of his being the king of Heaven, he was the angel fallen, and this explained his emaciated and distressed appearance. RH August 4, 1874, par. 11

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 adapted to the circumstances and surroundings of Christ, which made his temptations upon appetite almost overpowering. RH August 4, 1874, par. 12

Christ could have worked a miracle on his own account; 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 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. And 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. RH August 4, 1874, par. 13

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 real 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 to insinuate doubts as to his Father's love that 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. 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 seemed to be 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. RH August 4, 1874, par. 14

(To be continued.)