Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

April 24, 1894

Victory in Temptation Through Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

Satan assailed Christ with his strongest temptations in the wilderness. Jesus was forty days tempted of the Devil. “And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the Devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” Shall the Son of God, the world's Redeemer, take up with the doubt, and prove to the apostate that he is indeed the Son of God, the Prince of heaven? Satan sought to engage him in controversy; but should he concede to the demands of the rebel, nothing for the good of man or the glory of God would be gained. Jesus did not produce any evidence or bring forth any arguments. He did not repeat to Satan that which the rebel already knew of his exalted position as the loved Commander of heaven, who was worshiped and adored by the angelic hosts. What evidence would avail in the case before him? Jesus knew that all evidence would be worthless to break the power of rebellion in Satan's heart. Jesus dealt with the tempter in the way in which all his followers are to deal with him through all time.

In meeting the challenge of the evil one to prove himself the Son of God, Christ answered not a word that would in any way lead to a controversy. He said: “It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” The weapon of his warfare was the word of God, thus making it manifest to the tempter that in the conflict he would not depart a jot or tittle from that which had proceeded out of the mouth of God. Satan knew that as long as Jesus held to this position of honoring the word of God, he could not hope for victory over him. Changing his tactics, he bore Christ up and placed him in a most perilous position. “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

In the second temptation, Satan supposes that he has met the second Adam upon his own ground. The wily foe presented in the temptation the words that had proceeded from the mouth of God. He had come to Christ as an angel of light direct from the courts above, and he makes it appear that he is acquainted with the word of God, and understands also the import of what is written. Christ was tempted to answer the “if;” but he knew that there must be no presumption manifested by him, that he must not imperil his life to give the evidence for which Satan had asked. He withheld himself from the slightest acceptance of the doubt with which Satan so artfully sought to overcome him. Jesus said unto him, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

Jesus had humbled himself, clothing his divinity with humanity, and subjecting himself to all the temptations wherewith humanity should be beset; although weakened by his long fast, he would not give Satan the least advantage, or stop to argue with him over his imputation of doubt in regard to the divinity of Christ. He knew that appearances were all against him; for human weakness, human necessities, were upon him, and he felt keenly the want of food and the results of his long fast. In a time like that, he might have allowed a series of suppositions and doubts to assail him, and have given up to the enemy, and have murmured against God in the humiliation of his position, looking at his great want and the lack of that which would supply his needs. He might have parleyed with the enemy, and in doubt have acquiesced in his suggestion that he was not the Son of God. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, he might have said, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” When there was no water for them to drink, and they became thirsty, they murmured against Moses, and said: “Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?... And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?” In this the children of Israel manifested the most decided unbelief in God, who had given them every evidence that he was among them, and that he was able and willing to fulfil his promises to them. Afterward instruction was given them to this effect: “Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.”

How different was the action of Jesus when suffering for the real necessities of life. He did not manifest the least doubt of God's care, or give any heed to Satan's suggestion to question his divine character and mission. “And the Devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed 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.” Satan had questioned as to whether or not Christ was the Son of God, and now Jesus gives him a proof of his connection with God. Divinity flashed through humanity, and Jesus said, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the Devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

Although the only begotten Son of the infinite God humbled himself and took upon him humanity, his faith wavered not; but under the trial and test, he was equal to the proving of temptation on behalf of humanity. Jesus passed over the ground upon which Adam had fallen, and his feet did not stumble. Satan left the field a vanquished foe, peremptorily dismissed. At the word of Christ, “Get thee hence, Satan,” the powerful fallen angel had no choice but to obey. Angels that excel in strength were on the battle-ground, guarding the interest of the tempted soul, and ready to resist the foe. This is always the case in the trial and temptation of any one of the human race; when man is assailed by the tempter, and the powers of darkness press upon the soul, the angels of heaven are on the ground to fly to the aid of Him who would resist evil and follow after righteousness. The promise of God is, that there shall no temptation overcome those who by living faith lay hold of the word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.

In the great battle fought between the Prince of light and the prince of darkness, Jesus gained the victory in behalf of humanity. Had Satan gained a degree of advantage, as he did with the first Adam, the human family would have been left under his control, and without one ray of hope they would have perished from the earth. But in behalf of the human race, Jesus conquered the fallen foe; Satan was vanquished. Through the victory of Christ, the human race was elevated in moral value, not because of anything they had done, but because of the great work that had been wrought out for them through the only begotten Son of God. As man's substitute and surety, in human nature through divine power, Christ placed man on vantage-ground. In believing on him as our personal Saviour, we place ourselves under his blood-stained banner, and the wicked one cannot take us from under his standard as long as we desire to prove loyal to Him who has died for us.

In all the temptations of Satan, there is a deeply-laid plan, a dark purpose, to compass the ruin of the human soul. But we are to meet the wily foe as Christ met him. He presented to Jesus the three great temptations that overpower the human race. He was tested on the point of appetite, presumption, and the acquisition of worldly power and honor. Satan sought to turn him from his integrity by challenging him to prove his relation to God by some act that would call forth a special miracle on the part of God for his preservation, and he presented to him the bribe of the world and its glory, if he would but fall down and worship him. But in every temptation Christ resisted the tempter in man's behalf, and provided grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ, that every man in him may be more than conqueror.

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