Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

April 10, 1893

Overcome As Christ Overcame

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”

The world's Redeemer passed over the ground where Adam fell because of his disobedience to the law of Jehovah. The only-begotten Son of God came to our world as a man, to reveal to the world the fact that men through divine power could keep the law of God. Satan, the fallen angel, had declared that no man could keep God's law, and he pointed to the disobedience of Adam as proving the declaration true. But the Son of God placed himself in man's stead, and passed over the ground where Adam fell, and endured temptation stronger than ever was or ever will be brought to bear upon the human race. Jesus resisted the temptations of Satan in the same manner in which every tempted soul may resist the evil one. He referred the tempter to the inspired record and said, “It is written.” Christ overcame the temptations as a man, by relying solely upon the word of God; and every man may overcome as Christ overcame.

We need not place the obedience of Christ by itself as something for which he was particularly adapted, because of his divine nature; for he stood before God as man's representative, and was tempted as man's substitute and surety. If Christ had a special power which it is not the privilege of a man to have, Satan would have made capital of this matter. But the work of Christ was to take from Satan his control of man, and he could do this only in a straightforward way. He came as a man, to be tempted as a man, rendering the obedience of a man. Christ rendered obedience to God, and overcame as humanity overcome. We are led to make wrong conclusions because of erroneous views of the nature of our Lord. To attribute to his nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, is to destroy the completeness of his humanity. The obedience of Christ to his Father was the same obedience that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan's temptations except as divine power works through humanity. The Lord Jesus came to our world, not to reveal what God in his own divine person could do, but what he could do through humanity. Through faith man is to be a partaker of the divine nature, and to overcome every temptation wherewith he is beset. It was the Majesty of heaven who became a man, who humbled himself to our human nature; it was he who was tempted in the wilderness and who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself.

We are not to serve God as if we were not human, but we are to serve him as those who have been redeemed by the Son of God and through the righteousness of Christ we shall stand before God pardoned, and as though we had never sinned. We shall never gain strength in considering what we might do if we were angels; but as obedient children we are to turn in faith to Jesus Christ, and show our love to God through obedience to his commands. Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus says, “Follow me.” “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Jesus leads the way. Do not wait and continue in disobedience, hoping circumstances may change, making it easier for you to obey. Go forward, for you know the will of God. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

The Garden of Eden, with its foul blot of disobedience, should be carefully compared with the Garden of Gethsemane, where the world's Redeemer suffered superhuman agony when the sins of the whole world were rolled upon him. Listen to the prayer of the only-begotten Son of God, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” And the second time he prayed, saying, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” And the third time he prayed, saying the same words. Oh, it was here the mysterious cup trembled in the hands of the Son of God! Shall he wipe the bloody sweat from his agonized countenance and let man go? The wail, wretchedness, and ruin of a lost world roll up before him. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”

The conflict is ended. Jesus consents to endure the curse of sin. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Here we see what was involved in Adam's disobedience, and what the obedience of the Son of God means to us. Adam did not consider what would be the consequences of disobedience. He did not set his mind in defiance against God, nor did he in any way speak against God; he simply went directly contrary to his express command. And how many today are doing the very same thing, and their guilt is of much greater magnitude, because they have the example of Adam's experience in disobedience and its terrible results to warn them of the consequences of transgressing the law of God. So they have clear light upon this subject, and no excuse for their guilt in denying and disobeying God's authority. Adam did not stop to reckon what would be the result of his disobedience.

With the after sight we are privileged to have in this age, we can see what it means to disobey God's commandments. Adam yielded to temptation, and we have sin and its consequences laid distinctly before us. Reasoning from cause to effect, we see it is not the greatness of the act of disobedience which constitutes sin, but the fact of variance from God's expressed will in the least particular, for this is a virtual denial of God, a rebellion against the laws of his government. The happiness of man is found in obedience to the laws of God. In obedience to God's law he is surrounded as with a hedge and kept from the evil. No man can depart from God's specified requirements, and set up a standard of his own which he decides he can safely follow, and still find peace and joy. Were each one left to follow his own way, there would be a variety of standards to suit different minds, and the government would be taken out of the Lord's hands, and man would grasp the reins. The law of self would be erected. The will of man would be made supreme; and the high and holy will of God would be dishonored, disrespected. To what extent man would choose to follow the promptings of his selfish heart it is impossible to tell. But whenever man chooses his own way, there is controversy between the man and God.

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