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    June 9, 1890

    “Christ, the Sinless One” The Signs of the Times, 16, 22.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In the last number but one of the last volume of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, we published a short editorial note in reply to a question that was raised in a certain Sabbath-school, as to Christ’s power to sin when he was here on earth. The statement was there made that he could not. We quote a portion of the note:-SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.108

    “Our whole hope of eternal life through Christ rests upon this; for if there had been any temptation that could have induced Christ to sin, that would show that there is temptation that is stronger than divine power, which, in turn, would show that he is not “able to save to the uttermost.”SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.109

    The question is simply another form of asking: “Can God sin?” for “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” “The word was God,” just as truly when it was “made flesh and dwelt among us,” as it was in the beginning, “before the world was.” The object of that mysterious union of divinity with humanity was to demonstrate the power of God over sin.”SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.110

    We have received several letters in regard to this note, one brother claiming that it is in direct conflict with the following statement made by Mrs. E. G. White: “If it were not possible for him [Christ] to yield to temptation, he could not be our helper.” We are sure that it does not conflict with that statement. The misunderstanding is an instance of the impossibility of giving all sides of a subject in one item. Perhaps we can relieve the minds of our questioners if we say that while holding to the statement previously made, we just as firmly believe the following:-SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.111

    Christ was made “to be sin for us.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. He was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Romans 8:3. He was “made of a woman, made under the law.” Galatians 4:4. He took on Him the nature of Abraham, and was in all things “made like unto his brethren,” and “he himself hath suffered being tempted.” Hebrews 2:17, 18. He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15. These scriptures convey no other meaning to our mind than that Christ voluntarily took upon himself the feeble nature of man, to be subject to all the tendencies of the flesh, and the temptations of the devil. In short, he deliberately put himself into exactly the same position that fallen man occupies, to feel in his own being the full force of the power of Satan working upon fallen humanity. The temptations to which he was subject were real, not fanciful, and the strength of them equaled the strength of all the temptations that all the men in the world have to endure. The human nature that he took was a sinful nature, one subject to sin. If it were not, he would not be a perfect Saviour. We could not then go to him as one who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.112

    We do not think this side of the case can be stated any more strongly; and yet we see no reason to recall the statement before made. If Joseph could say, in the face of strong temptations, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9); if the beloved disciple could write by inspiration of the Spirit, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9); surely it may be said of the only-begotten Son of God, in whom dwelt “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” that he could not sin.SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.113

    Take another point of view. Temptation comes through the working of Satan upon the frailty of human flesh, of which Christ himself was a partaker. We know that Satan in person put forth all his power on Jesus, not only in the wilderness, but through his whole earthly ministry, knowing that the fate of all men depended on him. If it had been possible for Satan to induce Christ to sin, he would have done it. The fact that Christ “did no sin”-that he “knew no sin,” although subjected to the severest assaults of Satan, is sufficient to show that he could not be induced to sin.SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.114

    This is the idea intended to be conveyed in the note referred to. In one sense, it was possible for Christ to sin, provided he had wished to, for the nature which he took was a nature subject to sin. Yet it was impossible for him to sin, because “God was in Christ,” and that in perfect fullness. Not simply did he have the power of God with him, but he was God, for even when he lay a babe in the manger at Bethlehem, the decree went forth, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” Hebrews 1:6. He never ceased to be God, and therefore he did not sin. He demonstrated in his own person the power of divinity to prevail against the power of Satan working through human weakness.SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.115

    But someone will say, “I cannot understand this.” Neither can we. When we can understand how Christ could humble himself to the position of a servant, and become a man, and still retain his divinity; when we can understand how he could be at the same time God and man; when we can understand how the Mighty One who made the heavens and the earth could be born a helpless infant in Bethlehem; in short, when we can understand the mind of God, and can comprehend infinity, then we will explain “the mystery of the gospel.”SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.116

    We advise our friends not to try to explain these things. The fact that we cannot understand how a thing can be, argues nothing against it. Finite minds cannot comprehend the workings of Infinity. We can only accept as true the statements which that same divine power makes concerning itself. But we can take comfort in every revelation of divinity. We take the highest comfort in thinking that Christ voluntarily subjected himself to every condition and every weakness that it is possible for men to be subject to; and our comfort in this arises not less from the fact that there is thus a bond of sympathy established between us, than from the knowledge that “his divine power,” which was such that Satan could not by any possibility overthrow it, is that by which are “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” 2 Peter 1:3. E. J. W.SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.117

    “Newspaper Reading as a Preparation for Church” The Signs of the Times, 16, 22.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In a recent discourse on “The New Birth,” Mr. Moody spoke in the following decided manner concerning the reading of newspapers on Sunday:-SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.118

    “I do not believe Gabriel himself could come down into this pulpit and preach with power to an audience that had been busy for two or three hours reading the Sunday papers. But someone says, ‘Be mild, Mr. Moody, or the papers will pitch into you.’ Let the papers pitch into me. I think the time has come for plain speaking. When ministers and members of the church buy newspapers on the street on Sunday morning from little boys who are kept out of the church and Sunday-school by selling these papers, I think someone should speak. I do not know what the Sunday papers contain. I never read one. I would as soon touch pitch; but I am told that the editors gather the scum from all over the world, and publish it on Sunday.”SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.119

    The New York Observer, which quotes and comments on the above says:-SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.120

    “It is greatly to be regretted that so many Christian people support the Sunday newspaper by purchasing it, and by advertising in its columns. It is a well-known fact that it receives a great deal more attention at the hands of its readers than the edition of any other day of the week, and this is why advertising is so readily found for the Sunday columns. Were every kind of support rendered by Christians withdrawn, it is questionable whether the Sunday edition would hold its own.”SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.121

    This prompts us to make a few remarks. We think there has been a good deal of misdirected effort in connection with this Sunday newspaper business, both on the part of those who want them suppressed by law, and by many who oppose all Sunday laws.SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.122

    In the first place, we will say that the Sunday newspaper is as good as that published on any other day of the week. We speak from actual knowledge. Its only difference from the editions of other days is that it is usually larger.SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.123

    Secondly, we can heartily agree with all that Mr. Moody and others say in regard to the demoralizing effect that the reading of the newspapers before church service has upon the attendant at church. We are sure that he who reads the newspaper for an hour before going to church will not be likely to receive much benefit from the most powerful sermon. Therefore we have no fault to find with those ministers who severely condemn the practice.SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.124

    But let it not be forgotten that the evil effect does not depend entirely upon the day upon which the reading is done, nor at all upon the day on which the paper if printed. Reading newspapers is as poor a preparation for the mid-week prayer-meeting as it is for the preaching service. To be sure, newspapers are not the best nor even good reading for the Sabbath-day, and he who esteems Sunday as the Sabbath will not read them on that day; but so far as unfitting one for worship is concerned, they are no worse before the Sabbath service than just before the Tuesday or Wednesday evening prayer-meeting.SITI June 9, 1890, page 155.125

    And, as we have already intimated, a newspaper published on Tuesday or Wednesday is just as demoralizing Sabbath reading as one published on the Sabbath or Sunday. The man who reads the Saturday evening paper on Sunday morning will be in no better frame of mind for church service than if he read one published on Sunday morning. This must be obvious to everybody.SITI June 9, 1890, page 343.1

    Therefore, instead of fulminating against the Sunday paper, ministers and professional reformers should turn their attention to the delinquent church-members. Let them get up a genuine revival of religion in the church. Let them labor and pray for such a conversion of their flocks as shall make newspapers distasteful reading on the day of rest. The fault lies with the lax professors, and not with the newspapers, and the ax should be laid at the root of the tree. To lop off the Sunday newspaper would do no real good, so long as the desire for unspiritual reading remained. Those who are unfitted for church duties by reading the Sunday newspaper, would, in nine cases out of ten, read something worse if that were withheld from them. The existence of the Sunday newspaper, therefore, is no reason whatever for the enactment of Sunday laws.SITI June 9, 1890, page 343.2

    In justice to Mr. Moody, it should be said that, so far as we are informed, he did not make the stereotyped plea for the suppression of the Sunday newspaper. His complaint, and it was a just one, was directed against those who pursue a practice that is inconsistent with their profession. E. J. W.SITI June 9, 1890, page 343.3

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