The Review and Herald

96/1902

August 18, 1874

The Temptation of Christ

(Continued.)

EGW

Jesus did not condescend to explain to his enemy how he was the Son of God, and in what manner, as such, he was to act. In an insulting, taunting manner Satan referred to the present weakness and the unfavorable appearance of Christ in contrast with his own strength and glory. He taunted Christ that he was a poor representative of the angels, much more of their exalted Commander, the acknowledged King in the royal courts. His present appearance indicated that he was forsaken of God and man. He said if Christ was indeed the Son of God, the monarch of Heaven, he had power equal with God, and he could give him evidence by working a miracle, and changing the stone just at his feet into bread, and relieve his hunger. Satan promised that, if Christ would do this, he would at once yield his claims of superiority, and that the contest between himself and Christ should there be forever ended. RH August 18, 1874, par. 1

Christ did not appear to notice the reviling taunts of Satan. He was not provoked to give him proofs of his power. He meekly bore his insults without retaliation. The words spoken from Heaven at his baptism were very precious, evidencing to him that his Father approved the steps he was taking in the plan of salvation as man's substitute and surety. The opening heavens, and descent of the heavenly dove, were assurances that his Father would unite his power in Heaven with that of his Son upon the earth, to rescue man from the control of Satan, and that God accepted the effort of Christ to link earth to Heaven, and finite man to the infinite. RH August 18, 1874, par. 2

These tokens, received from his Father, were inexpressibly precious to the Son of God through all his severe sufferings, and terrible conflict with the rebel chief. And while enduring the test of God in the wilderness, and through his entire ministry, he had nothing to do in convincing Satan of his own power, and of his being the Saviour of the World. Satan had sufficient evidence of his exalted station. His unwillingness to ascribe to Jesus the honor due to him, and manifest submission as a subordinate, ripened into rebellion against God, and shut him out of Heaven. RH August 18, 1874, par. 3

It was not any part of the mission of Christ to exercise his divine power for his own benefit, to relieve himself from suffering. This he had volunteered to take upon himself. He had condescended to take man's nature, and he was to suffer the inconveniences, and ills, and afflictions, of the human family. He was not to perform miracles on his own account. He came to save others. The object of his mission was to bring blessings, and hope, and life, to the afflicted and oppressed. He was to bear the burdens and griefs of suffering humanity. RH August 18, 1874, par. 4

Although Christ was suffering the keenest pangs of hunger, he withstood the temptations. He repulsed Satan with Scripture, the same he had given Moses in the wilderness to repeat to rebellious Israel when their diet was restricted, and they were clamoring for flesh-meats, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” In this declaration, and also by his example, Christ would show man that hunger for temporal food was not the greatest calamity that could befall him. Satan flattered our first parents that eating of the fruit of the tree of life of which God had forbidden them would bring to them great good, and would insure them against death, the very opposite of the truth which God had declared to them. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” If Adam had been obedient, he would never have known want, sorrow, nor death. RH August 18, 1874, par. 5

If the people who lived before the flood had been obedient to the word of God, they would have been preserved, and would not have perished by the waters of the flood. If the Israelites had been obedient to the words of God, he would have bestowed upon them special blessings. But they fell in consequence of the indulgence of appetite and passion. They would not be obedient to the words of God. Indulgence of perverted appetite led them into numerous and grievous sins. If they had made the requirements of God their first consideration, and their physical wants secondary, in submission to God's choice of proper food for them, not one of them would have fallen in the wilderness. They would have been established in the goodly land of Canaan a holy, healthy people, with not a feeble one in all their tribes. RH August 18, 1874, par. 6

The Saviour of the world became sin for the race. In becoming man's substitute, Christ did not manifest his power as the Son of God. He ranked himself among the sons of men. He was to bear the trial of temptation as a man, in man's behalf, under the most trying circumstances, and leave an example of faith and perfect trust in his Heavenly Father. Christ knew that his Father would supply him food when it would gratify him to do so. He would not in this severe ordeal, when hunger pressed him beyond measure, prematurely diminish one particle of the trial allotted to him by exercising his divine power. RH August 18, 1874, par. 7

Fallen man, when brought into straightened places, could not have the power to work miracles on his own behalf, to save himself from pain or anguish, or to give himself victory over his enemies. It was the purpose of God to test and prove the race, and give them an opportunity to develop character by bringing them frequently into trying positions to test their faith and confidence in his love and power. The life of Christ was a perfect pattern. He was ever, by his example and precept, teaching man that God was his dependence, and that in God should be his faith and firm trust. RH August 18, 1874, par. 8

Christ knew that Satan was a liar from the beginning, and it required strong self-control to listen to the propositions of this insulting deceiver, and not instantly rebuke his bold assumptions. Satan expected to provoke the Son of God to engage in controversy with him; and he hoped that thus, in his extreme weakness and agony of spirit, he could obtain advantage, over him. He designed to pervert the words of Christ and claim advantage, and call to his aid his fallen angels to use their utmost power to prevail against and overcome him. RH August 18, 1874, par. 9

The Saviour of the world had no controversy with Satan, who was expelled from Heaven because he was no longer worthy of a place there. He who could influence the angels of God against their Supreme Ruler, and against his Son, their loved commander, and enlist their sympathy for himself, was capable of any deception. Four thousand years he had been warring against the government of God, and had lost none of his skill or power to tempt and deceive. RH August 18, 1874, par. 10

Because man fallen could not overcome Satan with his human strength, Christ came from the royal courts of Heaven to help him with his human and divine strength combined. Christ knew that Adam in Eden, with his superior advantages, might have withstood the temptations of Satan, and conquered him. He also knew that it was not possible for man, out of Eden, separated from the light and love of God since the fall, to resist the temptations of Satan in his own strength. In order to bring hope to man, and save him from complete ruin, he humbled himself to take man's nature, that, with his divine power combined with the human, he might reach man where he is. He obtains for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that strength which it is impossible for them to gain for themselves, that in his name they may overcome the temptations of Satan. RH August 18, 1874, par. 11

The exalted Son of God in assuming humanity draws himself nearer to man by standing as the sinner's substitute. He identifies himself with the sufferings and afflictions of men. He was tempted in all points as a man is tempted, that he might know how to succor those who should be tempted. Christ overcame on the sinner's behalf. RH August 18, 1874, par. 12

Jacob, in the night vision, saw earth connected with Heaven by a ladder reaching to the throne of God. He saw the angels of God, clothed with garments of heavenly brightness, passing down from Heaven and up to Heaven upon this shining ladder. The bottom of this ladder rested upon the earth, while the top of it reached to the highest Heavens, and rested upon the throne of Jehovah. The brightness from the throne of God beamed down upon this ladder, and reflected a light of inexpressible glory upon the earth. RH August 18, 1874, par. 13

This ladder represented Christ who had opened the communication between earth and Heaven. In Christ's humiliation he descended to the very depth of human woe in sympathy and pity for fallen man, which was represented to Jacob by one end of the ladder resting upon the earth, while the top of the ladder, reaching unto Heaven, represents the divine power of Christ, who grasps the Infinite, and thus links earth to Heaven, and finite man to the infinite God. Through Christ the communication is opened between God and man. Angels may pass from Heaven to earth with messages of love to fallen man, and to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation. It is through Christ alone that the heavenly messengers minister to men. RH August 18, 1874, par. 14

Adam and Eve in Eden were placed under most favorable circumstances. It was their privilege to hold communion with God and angels. They were without the condemnation of sin. The light of God and angels was with them, and around about them. The Author of their existence was their teacher. But they fell beneath the power and temptations of the artful foe. Four thousand years had Satan been at work against the government of God, and he had obtained strength and experience from determined practice. Fallen men had not the advantages of Adam in Eden. They had been separating from God for four thousand years. The wisdom to understand, and power to resist, the temptations of Satan had become less and less, until Satan seemed to reign triumphant in the earth. Appetite and passion, the love of the world and presumptuous sins, were the great branches of evil out of which every species of crime, violence, and corruption grew. RH August 18, 1874, par. 15

Satan was defeated in his object to overcome Christ upon the point of appetite; and here in the wilderness Christ achieved a victory in behalf of the race upon the point of appetite, making it possible for man in all future time in his name to overcome the strength of appetite on his own behalf. Satan was not willing to cease efforts until he had tried every means to obtain victory over the world's Redeemer. He knew that with himself all was at stake, whether he or Christ should be victor in the contest. And, in order to awe Christ with his superior strength, he carried him to Jerusalem and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and continued to beset him with temptations. RH August 18, 1874, par. 16

He again demanded of Christ, if he was indeed the Son of God, to give him evidence by casting himself from the dizzy height upon which he had placed him. He urged Christ to show his confidence in the preserving care of his Father by casting himself down from the temple. In Satan's first temptation upon the point of appetite, he had tried to insinuate doubts in regard to God's love and care for Christ as his Son, by presenting his surroundings and his hunger as evidence that he was not in favor with God. He was unsuccessful in this. He next tried to take advantage of the faith and perfect trust Christ had shown in his Heavenly Father to urge him to presumption. “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.” Jesus promptly answered, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” RH August 18, 1874, par. 17

The sin of presumption lies close beside the virtue of perfect faith and confidence in God. Satan flattered himself that he could take advantage of the humanity of Christ to urge him over the line of trust to presumption. Upon this point many souls are wrecked. Satan tried to deceive Christ through flattery. He admitted that Christ was right in the wilderness in his faith and confidence that God was his Father, under the most trying circumstances. He then urged Christ to give him one more proof of his entire dependence upon God, one more evidence of his faith that he was the Son of God, by casting himself from the temple. He told Christ that if he was indeed the Son of God he had nothing to fear; for angels were at hand to uphold him. Satan gave evidence that he understood the Scriptures by the use he made of them. RH August 18, 1874, par. 18

The Redeemer of the world wavered not from his integrity and showed that he had perfect faith in his Father's promised care. He would not put the faithfulness and love of his Father to a needless trial, although he was in the hands of the enemy, and placed in a position of extreme difficulty and peril. He would not, at Satan's suggestion, tempt God by presumptuously experimenting on his providence. Satan had brought in scripture which seemed appropriate for the occasion, hoping to accomplish his designs by making the application to our Saviour at this special time. RH August 18, 1874, par. 19

Christ knew that God could indeed bear him up if he had required him to throw himself from the temple. But to do this unbidden, and to experiment upon his Father's protecting care and love, because dared by Satan to do so, would not show his strength of faith. Satan was well aware that if Christ could be prevailed upon, unbidden by his Father, to fling himself from the temple to prove his claim to his Heavenly Father's protecting care, he would in the very act show the weakness of his human nature. RH August 18, 1874, par. 20

Christ came off victor in the second temptation. He manifested perfect confidence and trust in his Father during his severe conflict with the powerful foe. Our Redeemer, in the victory here gained, has left man a perfect pattern, showing him that his only safety is in firm trust and unwavering confidence in God in all trials and perils. He refused to presume upon the mercy of his Father by placing himself in peril that would make it necessary for his Heavenly Father to display his power to save him from danger. This would be forcing providence on his own account: and he would not then leave for his people a perfect example of faith and firm trust in God. RH August 18, 1874, par. 21

Satan's object in tempting Christ was to lead him to daring presumption, and to show human weakness that would not make him a perfect pattern for his people. Satan thought that should Christ fail to bear the test of his temptations, there could be no redemption for the race, and his power over them would be complete. RH August 18, 1874, par. 22

(To be continued.)