Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

August 4, 1887

Christ's Triumph in Our Behalf

By Mrs. E. G. White

When Christ was born at Bethlehem, Satan saw the plains illuminated with the brilliant glory of a multitude of heavenly angels. He heard their song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.” The prince of darkness saw the amazement that filled the hearts of the shepherds as they witnessed the display of divine glory, and listened to the songs of the angelic host. And well might the shepherds tremble before this exhibition of bewildering glory, which seemed to entrance their very senses. The rebel chief himself trembled at the announcement that was made to them: “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Satan had been successful in carrying out the plan which he devised for the ruin of men, and success had made him bold and powerful. From the time of Adam he had controlled the minds and the bodies of men; but now he was alarmed, for he felt that both his life and his kingdom were in danger.

Satan knew that the songs of the heavenly messengers celebrating the advent of the Saviour to a fallen world, and the joy expressed at this great event, boded no good to himself. In the infant Christ he recognized a rival,—the coming One who would contest his power, and perhaps overthrow his kingdom; and his mind was filled with dark forebodings. He imbued Herod with the same feelings and fears that disturbed his own mind, by insinuating that his power and his kingdom were to be given to this new king. He thus stirred up the envy and jealousy of Herod to destroy Christ, and this led to the destruction of all the little children that were in Bethlehem.

But a higher power was at work against the plans of the prince of darkness. Angels of God frustrated his designs, and protected the life of the infant Redeemer. In a dream Joseph was warned to flee into Egypt, that in a heathen land he might find an asylum for his precious charge. Satan was thwarted; but he did not give up his efforts to overthrow his hated rival. He followed Jesus from infancy to childhood, and from childhood to manhood, inventing ways and means to allure him from his allegiance to God, and overcome him with his subtle temptation. The unsullied purity of Christ in his childhood, youth, and manhood, which Satan could not taint, annoyed him exceedingly. All the darts and arrows of temptation which were hurled against the Son of God, fell harmless at his feet. And when he found that he prevailed nothing in moving Christ from the steadfastness of his integrity, or in marring the spotless purity of the youthful Galilean, he looked upon him as an enemy that he must dread and fear.

This prince of evil was chafed and enraged that there should be One who walked the earth with moral power to withstand all his temptations, who resisted all his attractive bribes to allure him to sin, One over whom he could obtain no advantage to separate the soul from God.

There was another whom Satan could not swerve from the right way. The childhood, youth, and manhood of John, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah to do a special work in preparing the way for the world's Redeemer, were marked with firmness and moral power. When the voice of this prophet was heard in the wilderness, saying, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” Satan feared for the safety of his kingdom. The sinfulness of sin was revealed in such a manner that men trembled and became alarmed. His power over many who had been under his control was broken; and some, by repentance of their sins, found the favor of God, and gained moral power to resist the temptations of the great adversary.

When Christ presented himself to John for baptism, Satan was among the witnesses of that event. He saw the lightnings flash from the cloudless heavens. He heard the majestic voice of Jehovah that resounded through Heaven, and echoed through the earth like peals of thunder, announcing, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He saw the brightness of the Father's glory overshadowing the form of Jesus, thus pointing out with unmistakable assurance the One in that crowd whom he acknowledged as his Son. The circumstances connected with this baptismal scene were of the greatest interest to Satan. He knew then for a certainty that unless he could overcome Christ, from thenceforth there would be a limit to his power. He understood that this communication from the throne of God signified that Heaven was now more directly accessible to man than it had been, and the most intense hatred was aroused in his breast.

When Satan led man to sin, he hoped that God's abhorrence of sin would forever separate him from man, and break the connecting link between Heaven and earth. When from the opening heavens he heard the voice of God addressing his Son, it was to him as the sound of a death-knell. It told him that now God was about to unite man more closely to himself, and give moral power to overcome temptation, and to escape from the entanglements of Satanic devices. Satan well knew the position which Christ had held in Heaven as the Son of God, the Beloved of the Father; and that Christ should leave the joy and honor of Heaven, and come to this world as a man, filled him with apprehension. He knew that this condescension on the part of the Son of God boded no good to him.

Satan could not comprehend the mystery of this great sacrifice for the benefit of fallen man. His selfish soul could not understand how there could exist benevolence and love for the deceived race, so great as to induce the Prince of Heaven to leave his home, and come to a world marred with sin and with the traces of the curse. Satan knew that the value of Heaven far exceeded man's anticipation and appreciation, and that the most costly treasures of the world would not compare with it in worth. He had a knowledge of the inestimable value of eternal riches that man did not possess. He had experienced the pure contentment, the peace, the exalted happiness and unalloyed joys, of the heavenly abode. He had realized, before his rebellion, the satisfaction of the full approval of God. He had had a full appreciation of the glory that enshrouded the Father, and knew that there was no limit to his power.

The loss he had sustained was well known to Satan. And as the riches and glories of Heaven were lost to him through his rebellion, he determined to be revenged by causing as many as he could to share in his fall. He would lead them to undervalue Heaven, and to place their affections upon things of earth.

The time had now come when Satan's empire over the world was to be contested, his right disputed, and he feared that his power would be broken. He knew, through prophecy that a Saviour was predicted, and that his kingdom would not be established in earthly triumph and with worldly honor and display. He knew that the prophecies foretold a kingdom to be established by the Prince of Heaven upon the earth which he claimed as his dominion. This kingdom would embrace all the kingdoms of the world, and then the power and glory of Satan would cease, and he would receive his retribution for the sins he had introduced into the world, and for the misery he had brought upon the human race. He knew that everything which concerned his prosperity was depending upon his success or failure in overcoming Christ with his temptations; and he brought to bear on the Saviour every artifice at his command to allure him from his integrity.

Man can never know the strength of the temptations to which the Son of God was subjected. All the temptations that seem so afflicting to man in his daily life, so difficult to resist and overcome, were brought to bear upon him in as much greater degree as he is superior in his excellence of character to fallen man.

Our Redeemer was tempted in all points like as we are. As man's representative, he met the strongest force of Satan, his most wily temptations, and conquered in man's behalf. It is impossible for man to be tempted above that he is able to bear while he relies upon Jesus, the infinite Conqueror, whose grace and strength are sufficient for all our needs.

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