Overcome as Christ Overcame
Overcome As Christ Overcame
The Signs of the Times-April 17, 1893
"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.
Note by Ron: All who now say that it is impossible to keep the law of God, are agents of Satan, repeating his sentiments. This is of high offense to the highest good, crowing gift that heaven can bestow, the gift of the Divine Nature Holy Spirit of Christ, designed to cure sin and regenerate man back into the image of God. End note.
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[s]. 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.
Since the fall of our first parents, obedience has not been deemed an absolute necessity. Men have followed the imagination of their own hearts, which the Lord has said is "evil, and that continually." The Lord Jesus declares, "I have kept my Father's commandments." How? as a man? "Lo I come to do thy will, O God." To the accusations of the Jews he stood forth in his pure, virtuous, holy character, and challenged them to point out a defect in his life. He said, "Who of you convinceth me of sin?" The world's Redeemer came not only to be a sacrifice for sin, but to be an example to man in all things. He was a teacher, such an educator as the world never saw or heard before. He spake as one having authority, and yet he invites the confidence of all. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The only-begotten Son of the infinite God has, by his words and in his practical example, left us a plain pattern which we are to copy. By his words he has educated us to obey God, and by his own practice he has showed us how we can obey God. This is the very work he wants every man to do, to obey God intelligently, and by precept and example teach others what they must do in order to be obedient children of God. Jesus has helped the whole world to an intelligent knowledge of his divine mission and work. He came to represent the character of the Father to our world; and as we study the life, the words, and works of Christ, we are helped in every way in the education of obedience to God; and as we copy the example he has given us, we are living epistles known and read of all men. We are the living human agencies to represent to the world the character of Christ. Not only did Christ show us how we may become obedient children, but he showed us in his own life and character just how to do those things which are right and acceptable with God, so there is no reason why we should not do those things which are pleasing in his sight.
We are ever to be thankful that Jesus has proved to us by actual life that man can keep the commandments of God, contradicting Satan's falsehood that man cannot keep them. The great Teacher came to our world to stand at the head of humanity, to thus elevate and sanctify humanity by his holy obedience to all the requirements of God, showing it is possible to obey all the commandments of God. He has demonstrated that a lifelong obedience is possible. Thus he gives men to the world, as the Father gave the Son, to exemplify in their life the life of Christ.
Christ redeemed Adam's disgraceful failure and fall, and was conqueror, thus testifying to all the unfallen worlds and to fallen humanity that through the divine power granted to him of heaven man can keep the commandments of God. Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself for us, endured temptation for us, overcame in our behalf, to show us how we may overcome; by the closest ties he bound up his interest with humanity, and gave positive assurance that we shall not be tempted above that we are able; for with the temptation he will make a way of escape.
The Holy Spirit was promised to be with those who were wrestling for victory, demonstrating the power of might by endowing the human agent with supernatural strength, and instructing the ignorant in the mysteries of the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit is to be our helper. Of what avail would it have been to us that the only-begotten Son of God had humbled himself, endured the temptations of the wily foe, and wrestled with him during his entire life on earth, and died, the just for the unjust, that humanity night not perish, if the Spirit had not been given as a constant working, regenerating agent to make effectual in our cases what had been wrought by the world's Redeemer?
The Holy Spirit implanted in the disciples, enabled them to stand firmly against idolatry, and to exalt the Lord alone. The Holy Spirit guided the pens of the sacred historians that the record of the precious words and works of Christ might be presented to the world. The Holy Spirit is constantly at work seeking to draw the attention of men to the great sacrifice made upon the cross of Calvary, to unfold to the world the love of God to man, and to open to the convicted soul the precious promises in the Scriptures. It is the Holy Spirit that brings to the darkened minds the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. It is the Holy Spirit that makes men's hearts burn within them with an awakened intelligence of the truths of eternity. It is the Holy Spirit that presents before the mind the moral standard of righteousness and convinces of sin. It is the Holy Spirit that produces godly sorrow which worketh repentance that needeth not to be repented of, and inspires faith in Him who alone can save from all sin. It is the Holy Spirit that works to transform character by withdrawing the affections of men from those things which are temporal and perishable, and fixing them upon the immortal inheritance, the eternal substance which is imperishable. The Holy Spirit recreates, refines, and sanctifies the human agents, that they may become members of the royal family, children of the Heavenly King.
Jesus says: "Follow me." "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Consider it not a hard duty. The commandments of God are his expressed character flowing out of a heart of love in thoughtful plans that man may be preserved from every evil. They are not to exercise an arbitrary authority over man, but the Lord would have men act as his obedient children, members of his own family. Obedience is the outgrowth and fruit of oneness with Christ and the Father. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
When we unmistakably hear his voice and obey, every murmuring thought will be repressed; and we will leave all consequences with Him who gave the commandment. If, as we see the footprints of Jesus, we step in them and follow him, we shall have love and power.
The question is often asked, "What difference does it make which day we keep for the Sabbath?" But it does make a difference; for the same principle is involved as was involved in Adam's case. He was put to the same test. For he was to prove by obedience his loyalty to God or by disobedience to forfeit the right to the tree of life. Satan presented this same specious question. What difference does it make whether you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or of any other tree of the garden? Adam's sin consisted in doing the thing the Lord had forbidden him to do, and this opened the flood gates of woe on our world. We should carefully meditate upon the life of Christ, and desire to understand the reason why he came at all. We should search the Scriptures as Christ has enjoined upon us to do, that we may know those things that are testified of him. By searching we may find the virtues of obedience in contrast with the sinfulness of disobedience. "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
The Lord Jesus has bridged the gulf that sin has made. He has connected earth with heaven, and finite man with the infinite God. Jesus, the world's Redeemer, as our example, could only keep the commandments of God in the same way that humanity can keep them. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." The glory mentioned is character, and by faith we become changed from character to character. "And be renewed in the Spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." "Ye are the light of the world. . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."