The Review and Herald


September 1, 1874

The Temptation of Christ



The humiliation and agonizing sufferings of Christ in the wilderness of temptation were for the race. In Adam all was lost through transgression. Through Christ was man's only hope of restoration to the favor of God. Man had separated himself at such a distance from God by transgression of his law, that he could not humiliate himself before God proportionate to his grievous sin. The Son of God could fully understand the aggravating sins of the transgressor, and in his sinless character he alone could make an acceptable atonement for man in suffering the agonizing sense of his Father's displeasure. The sorrow and anguish of the Son of God for the sins of the world were proportionate to his divine excellence and purity, as well as to the magnitude of the offense. RH September 1, 1874, par. 1

Christ was our example in all things. As we see his humiliation in the long trial and fast in the wilderness to overcome the temptations of appetite in our behalf, we are to take this lesson home to ourselves when we are tempted. If the power of appetite is so strong upon the human family, and its indulgence so fearful that the Son of God subjected himself to such a test, how important that we feel the necessity of having appetite under the control of reason. Our Saviour fasted nearly six weeks, that he might gain for man the victory upon the point of appetite. How can professed Christians with an enlightened conscience, and Christ before them as their pattern, yield to the indulgence of those appetites which have an enervating influence upon the mind and heart? It is a painful fact that habits of self-gratification at the expense of health, and the weakening of moral power, is holding in the bonds of slavery at the present time a large share of the Christian world. RH September 1, 1874, par. 2

Many who profess godliness do not inquire into the reason of Christ's long period of fasting and suffering in the wilderness. His anguish was not so much from enduring the pangs of hunger as from his sense of the fearful result of the indulgence of appetite and passion upon the race. He knew that appetite would be man's idol, and would lead him to forget God, and would stand directly in the way of his salvation. RH September 1, 1874, par. 3

Our Saviour showed perfect confidence in his Heavenly Father, that he would not suffer him to be tempted above what he should give him strength to endure, and would bring him off conqueror if he patiently bore the test to which he was subjected. Christ had not, of his own will, placed himself in danger. God had suffered Satan, for the time being, to have this power over his Son. Jesus knew that if he preserved his integrity in this extremely trying position, an angel of God would be sent to relieve him if there was no other way. He had taken humanity, and was the representative of the race. RH September 1, 1874, par. 4

Satan saw that he prevailed nothing with Christ in his second great temptation. “And the devil, taking him up into a high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, all this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me: and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” RH September 1, 1874, par. 5

In the first two great temptations Satan had not revealed his true purposes or his character. He claimed to be an exalted messenger from the courts of Heaven, but he now throws off his disguise. In a panoramic view he presented before Christ all the kingdoms of the world in the most attractive light, while he claimed to be the prince of the world. RH September 1, 1874, par. 6

This last temptation was the most alluring of the three. Satan knew that Christ's life must be one of sorrow, hardship, and conflict. And he thought he could take advantage of this fact to bribe Christ to yield his integrity. Satan brought all his strength to bear upon this last temptation, for this last effort was to decide his destiny as to who should be victor. He claimed the world as his dominion, and he was the prince of the power of the air. He bore Jesus to the top of an exceeding high mountain, and then in a panoramic view presented before him all the kingdoms of the world that had been so long under his dominion, and offered them to him in one great gift. He told Christ he could come into possession of the kingdoms of the world without suffering or peril on his part. Satan promises to yield his scepter and dominion, and Christ shall be rightful ruler for one favor from him. All he requires in return for making over to him the kingdoms of the world that day presented before him, is, that Christ shall do him homage as to a superior. RH September 1, 1874, par. 7

The eye of Jesus for a moment rested upon the glory presented before him; but he turned away and refused to look upon the entrancing spectacle. He would not endanger his steadfast integrity by dallying with the tempter. When Satan solicited homage, Christ's divine indignation was aroused, and he could no longer tolerate the blasphemous assumption of Satan, or even permit him to remain in his presence. Here Christ exercised his divine authority, and commanded Satan to desist. “Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Satan, in his pride and arrogance, had declared himself to be the rightful and permanent ruler of the world, the possessor of all its riches and glory, claiming homage of all who lived in it, as though he had created the world and all things that were therein. Said he to Christ: “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it.” He endeavored to make a special contract with Christ, to make over to him at once the whole of his claim, if he would worship him. RH September 1, 1874, par. 8

This insult to the Creator moved the indignation of the Son of God to rebuke and dismiss him. Satan had flattered himself in his first temptation that he had so well concealed his true character and purposes that Christ did not recognize him as the fallen rebel chief whom he had conquered and expelled from Heaven. The words of dismissal from Christ, “Get thee hence, Satan,” evidenced that he was known from the first, and that all his deceptive arts has [had] been unsuccessful upon the Son of God. Satan knew that if Jesus should die to redeem man, his power must end after a season, and he would be destroyed. Therefore, it was his studied plan to prevent, if possible, the completion of the great work which had been commenced by the Son of God. If the plan of man's redemption should fail, he would retain the kingdom which he then claimed. And if he should succeed, he flattered himself that he would reign in opposition to the God of Heaven. RH September 1, 1874, par. 9

When Jesus left Heaven, and there left his power and glory, Satan exulted. He thought that the Son of God was placed in his power. The temptation took so easily with the holy pair in Eden, that he hoped he could with his satanic cunning and power overthrow even the Son of God, and thereby save his life and kingdom. If he could tempt Jesus to depart from the will of his Father, as he had done in his temptation with Adam and Eve, then his object would be gained. RH September 1, 1874, par. 10

The time was to come when Jesus should redeem the possession of Satan by giving his own life, and, after a season, all in Heaven and earth should submit to him. Jesus was steadfast. He chose his life of suffering, his ignominious death, and, in the way appointed by his Father, to become a lawful ruler of the kingdoms of the earth, and have them given into his hands as an everlasting possession. Satan also will be given into his hands to be destroyed by death, never more to annoy Jesus, nor the saints in glory. RH September 1, 1874, par. 11

Jesus said to this wily foe, “Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, thou, shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Satan had asked Christ to give him evidence that he was the Son of God, and he had in this instance the proof he had asked. At the divine command of Christ he was compelled to obey. He was repulsed and silenced. He had no power to enable him to withstand the peremptory dismissal. He was compelled without another word to instantly desist and to leave the world's Redeemer. RH September 1, 1874, par. 12

The hateful presence of Satan was withdrawn. The contest was ended. With immense suffering Christ's victory in the wilderness was complete as was the failure of Adam. And for a season he stood freed from the presence of his powerful adversary, and from his legions of angels. RH September 1, 1874, par. 13

After Satan had ended his temptations he departed from Jesus for a little season. The foe was conquered, but the conflict had been long and exceedingly trying. And after it was ended Christ was exhausted and fainting. He fell upon the ground as though dying. Heavenly angels who had bowed before him in the royal courts, and who had been with intense, yet painful, interest watching their loved Commander, and with amazement had witnessed the terrible contest he had endured with Satan, now came and ministered unto him. They prepared him food and strengthened him, for he lay as one dead. Angels were filled with amazement and awe, as they knew the world's Redeemer was passing through inexpressible suffering to achieve the redemption of man. He who was equal with God in the royal courts, was before them emaciated from nearly six weeks of fasting. Solitary and alone he had been pursued by the rebel chief, who had been expelled from Heaven. He had endured a more close and severe test than would ever be brought to bear upon man. The warfare with the power of darkness had been long and intensely trying to Christ's human nature in his weak and suffering condition. The angels brought messages of love and comfort from the Father to his Son, and also the assurance that all Heaven triumphed in the full and entire victory he had gained in behalf of man. RH September 1, 1874, par. 14

The cost of the redemption of the race can never be fully realized until the redeemed shall stand with the Redeemer, by the throne of God. And as they have capacity to appreciate the value of immortal life, and the eternal reward, they will swell the song of victory and immortal triumph, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” “And every creature,” says John, “which is in Heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” RH September 1, 1874, par. 15

Although Satan had failed in his strongest efforts, and most powerful temptations, yet he had not given up all hope that he might, at some future time, be more successful in his efforts. He looked forward to the period of Christ's ministry, when he should have opportunities to try his power and artifices against him. Satan laid his plans to blind the understanding of the Jews, God's chosen people, that they would not discern in Christ the world's Redeemer. He thought he could fill their hearts with envy, jealousy, and hatred against the Son of God, so that they would not receive him, but make his life upon earth as bitter as possible. RH September 1, 1874, par. 16

Satan held a council with his angels as to the course they should pursue to prevent the people from having faith in Christ as the Messiah whom the Jews had so long been anxiously expecting. He was disappointed and enraged that he had prevailed nothing against Jesus in the manifold temptations in the wilderness. He thought if he could inspire unbelief in the hearts of Christ's own people as to his being the promised One, he might discourage Jesus in his mission, and secure the Jews as his agents to carry out his purposes. RH September 1, 1874, par. 17

(To be continued.)