Sermon 689. Temptations On The Pinnacle
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 6, 1866, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, If You are the Sonof God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge over You,' and, 'in their hands they shallbear You up, lest at any time You dash Your footagainst a stone.' Jesus said to him, 'It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Matthew 4:5-7.
THE clearest and most important exposition of the Revelation of God in the inspired Book is the Revelation of God in the renewedman. Every Christian will discover, in proportion to his advances in Divine knowledge, that the very things which are writtenin these hallowed pages are written in hisown experience. We never fully understand Divine Truth until we have experienced it. The diamond of Divine promise neverglistens so brightly as when it is placed in the setting of personal trial and experience. And the gold of sacred Truth isnot valued until it has been tried "soas by fire." Holy Scripture is full of narratives of temptations. Expect, therefore, Christian, that your life will be asabundantly garnished with them as is a rose with thorns.
Provision is made in the Word of God for the assaults of Satan from all quarters and in all fashions-believe, therefore, mostconfidently that the wise provisions of forethought are not made in vain-but will be needed in your own proper person. Youwill have to do battle with thosespiritual foes which have beset and buffeted other saints in days gone by, and you will be wise to array yourself in thosepieces of heavenly armor which proved to be so great a safeguard to them in their seasons of warfare.
This remark, that the Word of God is written out again in the life of the Christian, is emphatically true in that part ofit which concerns the life of Jesus. Every Christian is the image of Christ in proportion as he is a Christian-in proportionas the Spirit sanctifies us-spirit,soul, and body. As the Spirit makes us like the Master we are conformed to Him. And this not only in the holiness and spiritualitywhich sanctification produces, but also in our experience of conflict, sorrow, agony, and triumph. In all points Jesus wasmade like unto His brethren,and now it remains that in all things His brethren should be made like He.
The Savior's public life begins and ends with temptation. It commences in the wilderness in a close contest with Satanic craft.It ends in Gethsemane in a dreadful affray with the powers of darkness. There are a few bright spots between, but the gloomof the desert deepens into the midnightdarkness of the Cross-as if to show us that we, also, must begin with trial and must reckon upon ending with it. The victoryof our Lord was won upon Golgotha in blood and wounds amid the blasphemous exultation of His foes-and the victory of the Believerwill not becheaply bought. Our crown is not to be won without wrestling and overcoming. We must fight if we would reign, and throughthe same conflicts which brought the Savior to His crown, must we obtain the palm branch of everlasting victory. Be it so,O Master! Only let us be prepared forit and by Your Grace may we be strengthened so that we may be more than conquerors through Him who has loved us.
I shall, this morning, first of all take you, dear Friends, to look at the temptation itself as we have felt it. And then,secondly, I shall offer a few considerations deduced.
I. First we are to VIEW THE TEMPTATION ITSELF. The landscape is colored by the glass through which the observer looks-butstill the landscape is really seen. And so in giving you, this morning, much of that which I have myself been made to endure,I may color our Lord's trial-but youwill see it notwithstanding-and the Holy Spirit will show you what is really of Jesus, and what is only mine.
Our trials are sent us on purpose to make us comprehend our Lord's trials and especially is it so with ministers of the Gospel.Martin Luther was a mighty master in the art of consolation because there was scarcely a temptation, except that of covetousness,which he had not experienced. Melancthonbears witness of Luther that he was sometimes so tempted of the devil that he appeared to be at the point of death-the sapand strength of his life seemed to be dried up-and his soul was full of heaviness. After such seasons he would so preach thateach of his hearersthought that he was speaking concerning him alone and wondered from where his knowledge was derived. He learned the artof spiritual navigation from having himself done business upon deep waters of spiritual tribulation. Luther's remark standstrue that prayer, meditation, andtemptation are the three best instructors of the Gospel minister-and since I have been much of late in the last school-Icannot do other than use what I have learned.
Now it may be while I am describing this temptation of our Lord, or rather our own temptations as they are conformed to thetemptations of Jesus, that I may meet the peculiar case of some troubled one who has been long in doubt and darkness and whomay, today, find light and peace. If it is so, theSpirit of God shall be glorified and it shall be to me a sweet recompense for those gloomy hours through which I have latelygroped my way.
I first call your attention to the place of this temptation. "Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, and set Him onthe pinnacle of the temple." It was a high place and a holy place, hence a double danger. It was a high place-the temptationcould not have acted upon the Savior had Hebeen sitting in the desert or kneeling in the garden-but aloft, above the city, on the towering pinnacle the foothold wasslender, and the fall would have been terrible. Beneath Him lay a wondrous panorama-the courts of the Lord's House, the streetsof the city, thetowns and villages of Judea-and the broad acres of Immanuel's land.
Little, however, would He care for all these, for His thoughts were concentrated upon the combat within. Yet the widened prospectmust have added to the sense of elevation and so have aided the temptation. Brethren, it is very hard to stand in high places.Those of you who are in humble positionsof society may be very grateful for the safety which usually grows out of lowliness. No doubt you envy those who are moreknown and more wealthy, but if you knew all, instead of envying them you would thank God for the lot which is meted out toyou.
I would be afraid to exchange my temptations with any other man and yet I know my own to be full more than I should be ableto sustain were it not for the Grace of God and the promise, "My grace is sufficient for you." It is hard to carry a fullcup without spilling some of the contents-whenhalf full you may carry it more carelessly without a slip- but when the golden chalice is full to the brim, beware, youcup-bearer of the King! You may walk along the plain, no, you may leap like the children at their play! You may sport at randomwhere you will, but up alongyon narrow knifelike ridge where awful precipices descend on either side, take care, O Traveler, for one slip may be fatal.
Look beneath you through the grim mist which hides the depths below, and be deeply grateful for the invisible and Omnipotenthand which has sustained you until now. The remark as to high places does not merely apply to really high places of wealth,or influence, or fame, but to places high forus-comparatively high places of enjoyment and satisfaction. Nor must I exclude holy places from the remark. The mountainmay be Tabor, but it is still a mountain. If you are called to the elevated position of one who dwells in rapt fellowshipwith Christ, there are temptationspeculiar even to that happy state of mind.
The pinnacle is none the less a pinnacle because it happens to be the pinnacle of the temple. No, let me here note that itis even more dangerous. The place was not only high but holy. Note how that is marked in the text. He took Him to the holycity and to the pinnacle of the temple-twowords-as if to bring up vividly before the reader's mind the sanctity of the position. To stand in a high place, my Brethren,in God's House is very desirable and very honorable, but oh, it is both responsible and perilous! Let those beware whom Godexalts in Israel! He ofwhom it is written that it were better for that man that he had never been born was no less than an Apostle. He who keptthe bag and was the intimate friend of Christ is that man whose damnation surpasses all others in its flaming terrors.
It is a very delightful thing, no doubt, to minister to a large congregation, and to be pastor of a numerous flock. It isa very good degree to earn to be an officer of the Christian Church. It is no small privilege to be permitted by the pen orby the tongue to edify multitudes of saints. Butalas, the high places, even of God's temple, are dizzy places! And lofty positions in the Church are sites where temptationsattack us which would be unknown to us if in the humble obscurity of a retiring piety we were to lie down in green pasturesand feed beside the still waters.After all, if I might be allowed to envy anybody it would be the position of John Bunyan's Shepherd, singing as he feedshis flock in the valley-
"He that is down need fear no fall, He that is low no pride. He that is humble ever shall Have God to be his guide."
What do you think, Brethren, were the temptations which came upon the Savior on account of His position on the high and holyplace? We frequently forget, when we are speaking of the Savior, that He was most truly Man. He was Divine without mitigationof the royalty and splendor of Deity-butHe was Man-altogether such as we are, so that He felt as you and I would have felt in a similar condition. How, then, didHe feel? Did He not tremble with fear of falling? Standing there and looking down, I believe the natural fear came over Himthat He must fall, and thatfalling He would stain the battlements of the consecrated place and crimson the House of God with His own blood!
You will think me singular in imagining that the Savior could be the subject of such feelings, but was He not a Man, and whatman would feel otherwise? It is natural that a shivering emotion of dread should creep over anyone standing in so lofty andunprotected a position! Now this is atemptation-a temptation to which God's servants who are put upon the pinnacle of the temple will find themselves frequentlysubject. But is it a fault to be afraid of falling? Yes. No. It is no fault to be afraid of falling, else the Savior wouldnot have felt it-He washoly and consequently no sinful emotion could cross His breast.
But there is a something growing out of the fear of falling which is very faulty, namely, the temptation to do something desperatein order to escape from the position which is so full of peril. It is right for me to be afraid of falling into sin-it isnot right for me either to mistrustGod's Grace, which will sustain me-or to run to foolish means in order to escape from the particular peril in which I happento be involved. Jesus did not doubt His Father's care-He could not, for He was perfect. But He did tremble because of thedanger in which He wasplaced. He must have done so because He was a man of like passions like ourselves.
Now, Brethren, may I picture some of you lifted up to such a position? Either in wealth, or in honor, or in communion, orin some way you are lifted up into a sphere of danger and you begin to say to yourself, "Suppose I should fall! Oh, supposeI should disgrace my profession and bring dishonorupon the cause of Christ? What if my foot should slip and I should defile the Church of God with the blood of my eternalruin and of my present disgrace?" I can understand that thought crossing your mind without any sin being involved in it-no,with even a good resolvespringing from it-namely, to walk humbly with your God.
But I can suppose it to be the fulcrum upon which Satan may plant his lever and begin to work so as to bring you into a verysadly weakened and wretched state of mind. Oh Brethren, when I see others falling from their pinnacles! When I feel my ownhead grow dizzy! When I look down and see the ruinthat must come upon every man who apostatizes from the faith! When I look up and see the holiness of God and then look downand feel the attractions of the world enticing and drawing me down to destruction I can but tremble! I cannot do otherwise,and I cannot understand the man whowould not!
If you are placed in such a position you must feel it-it is not possible for you to escape from the fear lest, after all,after having been honored and favored you should become a castaway. This seems to me to be the reason why the devil put ourLord on the pinnacle of the temple. The firsteffort of the devil was to sap the foundations of the Savior's strength with a doubt. The devil whispers to Him, "If-ifYou are the Son of God." Faith is the Christian's strength. He who doubts not, staggers not. Unbelief is the source of ourchief weakness. As soon as webegin to distrust, our feet begin to slide. Hence, Satan, knowing this, injects that cruel and wicked suspicion, "If-ifyou are the Son of God."
Notice the point of attack-it was our Lord's Son-ship. Satan knows that if he can make any of us doubt our interest in theFather's love-doubt our regeneration and adoption-then he will have us very much in his power. How can I pray, "Our Fatherwhich are in Heaven," if I do notknow Him to be my Father? If the dark suspicion crosses my mind that I am no child of His, I cannot say with the prodigal,"I will arise and go unto my Father," for I do not know that I have a Father to go to! Having a Father, I feel sure that Hewill pity my infirmities, that Hewill feel for my needs, redress my wrongs, protect me in the hour of danger and succor me in the moment of peril.
But if-if I have no Father in Heaven. If I am not His child, then, miserable orphan! What shall I do-where shall I flee? Standingon a pinnacle as God's child I shall stand there erect, though every wind should seek to whirl me from my foothold. But ifHe is not my Father and I am upona pinnacle, then my destruction is inevitable and my ruin will be swift and total. "If you are the Son of God."
Oh, dear Friends, beware of unbelief! Those who justify unbelief hold a candle to the devil. I cannot suppose myself doingbetter service to an ill cause than by excusing you in your unbelief of God, or excusing myself in it. God is faithful-whydo we doubt Him? God is true-how can wesuppose that He will be false? That we are His children is also true if we have believed in Jesus. If, having nothing, Ihave cast myself at the foot of the Cross. If, all guilty and defiled, I have seen in Jesus Christ all that my soul can need-thenI am one with Jesus and ajoint heir with Him. I must be the child of God because I am one with Christ Jesus, His only begotten and His well-beloved!
Dear Brethren, let me exhort and stir you all up to seek after the full assurance of your son-ship with God the Father! Giveno sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids unless you know that you are in the Divine family! Remember that doubtshere are perilous to the last degree and most ofall perilous to those of you who stand upon the pinnacle! Let those doubt who are in the valley and they bring themselvessorrow-but those on the mountain must not doubt, for it is by faith alone that they can stand-and where to slip will be sodestructive they must takecare that their faith is firm and strong.
Thus, you see, the Savior was first assailed with a malicious and cruel insinuation of doubt. The cunning Tempter has pavedthe way for the Satanic suggestion, "Cast Yourself down." That advice looks like the most absurd thing that could be suggested.He is afraid of falling, and is therefore bidto throw Himself down? Ah, but if you do not understand this it is because you are not acquainted with Satanic machinery!The human mind oscillates very strangely. Though at first it may be driven by main force from left to right, it naturallyswings to the left again, returning bysheer necessity to the same point. There have been persons who have starved themselves to death from the fear of being poorand destitute- and have brought on disease by fearing disease!
There have been instances of persons who have sought to destroy themselves when condemned because they dreaded being hanged!What escape from death suicide can offer, it is hard to say, but some have tried it. In a position where I cannot stand, thenatural thing is to throw myself down directly.You are afraid, as you stand on the brink of the cliff, afraid that you may fall over, and all the while a mad inclinationto fall over may steal over you. It is strange, but then we are strange creatures. Though it looks to you as if it would bea very unlikely temptation to a manafraid of falling to say, "Cast yourself down," it is not unnatural! It is consistent with the well-known laws of consciousnessthat we are often tempted to do the very thing which we are afraid of doing, and to do it in order to escape from it. Castyourself down, lest you shouldfall.
Let me show you the shapes in which this temptation has come to some of us. The minister of Christ is placed in a positionwhere his labors and his troubles are incessant. He is afraid, with so much to do and such delicate things to handle, thathe may make a mistake and injure the Church which hedesigns to bless. The dark suggestion crosses his mind, "Give it up! Leave the work," that is to say, do the worst mischiefthat you can do to the Church in order to prevent your doing it any mischief!
The same thing happens in business. You have been toiling hard to pay every man his own, to provide things honest in the sightof all men. You have been able to do it until now, but things are, at this moment, very unpropitious. Satan has whisperedto many a tradesman, "Throw it up! Get out of it!Go somewhere else! Leave it, and flee the country." Take another case. You are a Christian and you wish to be an honor tothe Christian Church. But you live in a family where there is everything uncongenial to your piety. You can scarcely get aloneto pray. You certainly never heara good word from any others of the circle. You have been fighting for God until now and the enemy is at this moment saying,"Do not try it any longer! Renounce your profession! Give it all up-go back to the world again!"
In other words, in order that you may not dishonor Christ you are tempted to dishonor Him-and for fear lest you should fall,the whisper is, "Fall at once." It is strange, but strangely true! I thank God for the story of Jonah! That miserable, moroseold Prophet has ever been a warning tosome of us. When God said to Jonah, "Go to Nineveh and preach!" "No," thought Jonah, "I cannot do it. How can I go and preachto such a city? It will not be to my honor." So away he goes to Tarshish. He little knew that in trying to avoid trouble hewas running into it!
So it is also with us. You want to go to Tarshish to get away from Babylon, that is, you run into the depths of the sea toescape the rivers! You run into the fire to escape from the frying pan! Should I happen to be addressing a Christian who ispassing through this terrible, severe, and fieryordeal, I would point him to the Savior standing on the pinnacle of the temple, with the suggestion, "Cast Yourself down,"and bid him imitate Him in standing fast and firm against the desperate foe. "Stand fast in the Lord, and having done all,still stand."
The suggestion to cast Himself down was next backed up by a text of Scripture-wicked advice sustained by a foolish argument."Throw Yourself down because He has given His angels charge over You, to keep You." You notice he knocks out the words, "inall your ways," which limits the protectionpromised. The Lord never promises to keep us in ways of our own choosing! If we go into By-Path Meadow, we go there withouta guarantee of Divine protection, for the Word has it, "in all your ways." Every duty that is required of us, and every paththat is mapped out by Providenceshall have Divine protection accorded to its travelers. But if we go our own road we have no promise that we shall be caredfor.
When the devil takes something away from a text, he generally puts something of his own in its place. He therefore added thesewords, "lest at any time." His object was to make the text more general than it was-to take away its specialties, to breakdown its hedges, and to remove itslandmarks. And so he says, "to keep You, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone." Old Master Trapp has wellobserved that in his day the king was bound to protect travelers on the king's highway between certain hours, "but," saidhe, "he did not promise to protect themout of the king's highway, nor did he promise to protect them in it if they traveled at all hours, for instance, at thedead of night."
So we have a promise that along the King's highway to Heaven no lion shall be there, neither shall any ravenous beast go upfrom it, but the redeemed shall be found there. But if I strike off a path into the wilderness, or go away into the jungleof my own superstition and my own folly, I cannotexpect protection. And if I begin to travel at any time, choosing my own times instead of waiting for the pillar of cloud,then I am not under the Divine protection, nor can I expect it.
Does the text, as you find it in the ninety-first Psalm, give you any reason to believe that if you throw yourself down fromthe pinnacle God would bring you to the bottom safely? Certainly not! A fair reading of it only shows that God will keep usin the path of duty. And so, dear Friends, let us,when Satan tells us a Christian is all right and always safe, go where he may-let us respond to that, that it is true theChristian is safe in the way of duty, and will be kept in the path of God's commands-but he that presumptuously runs in theteeth of God's will, anddisobeys the Most High must look to it lest a lion tear him in pieces!
Brethren, it is a precious doctrine that the saints are safe! But it is a damnable inference from it that, therefore, theymay live as they like! It is a glorious Truth that God will keep His people, but it is an abominable falsehood that sin willdo them no harm. Remember that God gives usliberty, not license. And while He gives us protection He will not allow us presumption. I knew a person once when I wasa child-I remember seeing him go into a country wake in a little village where I lived, though he was a professed Christian-goingto spend the eveningin a dancing booth. And with others he was drinking as other men did. And when I, in my warm zeal, said to him, "What areyou doing here, Elijah?" his reply was, "I am a child of God and I can go where I like and yet be safe."
And though for the moment I knew not what text to quote to answer him, yet my soul revolted from the man ever afterwards-forI felt that no child of God would ever be so wicked as to take poison in the faith that his Father would give him the antidote-orthrust himself into the fire inthe hope that he should not be burned. If God sends me trouble He will yield me deliverance from it-but if I make troublemyself I must bear it. If Providence permits the devil to set me upon a pinnacle, even then God will help me. But if I throwmyself down and go in the veryteeth of Providence, then woe unto me, for I give proof by my presumption that the Grace of God is not in me at all!
Yet the temptation is not uncommon. Do such-and-such a thing-your eternal interests are safe, therefore shun God's service,throw up the reins-and let the horses go as they will! God will guide them! Do not touch the tiller, the God of the wind willmanage the vessel! Do not put yourshoulder to the wheel at all but cry out to God to help you- and sit down and be lazy. That is the devil's talk and ourpoor silly distracted minds too readily drink it in! But if God gives us Divine Grace, we shall say, "God helps those whohelp themselves. God works forthose that work for Him, and in the name of God I set up my banner. Wherever He will call me I will go, though it be throughfloods and flames. And if He sets me upon the pinnacle of the temple, I will do nothing but stand there till He takes me down.But as to throwing myself downin order to escape, O my Father, my God, by the love You bear me, help me to wrestle with this temptation and make me morethan a conqueror through Your dear Son."
Only one thing more remains to be spoken of while upon the text itself, and that is the answer which the Savior gave. He said,"It is written, You shall not tempt the Lord your God." I noticed, when I was carefully reading this verse over and thinkingof it, that Jesus met a promise misused with aprecept properly applied. At that moment the precept was worth more to Christ than the promise. Beloved, there are certainpeople who love the promise part of God's Word, but cannot bear the precept. We have men among us, who, when the ministerpreaches upon a sweet text, aregreatly delighted! That is savory meat such as their soul loves! But if the pastor expounds a precept of God's Word, theyturn upon their heel superciliously and say, "He is a legal preacher."
It is not safe to pick and choose in the matters of Divine Truth! All hail, you fair promises! You meet me as the angels metJacob at Mahanaim! But all hail, fair precepts! You meet me as Nathan met David and rebuke me for my sins! You, also, aremy friends and I salute you and am glad to bear yourcompany. Brethren, we cannot do without a promise, precept, exhortation, and rebuke. The compound of the Scripture, likethe powders of the merchants for sweetness and excellence, must not be injured by being robbed of one single ingredient. Lovethe precept, I pray you. Be of themind of David who wrote the whole of the one hundredth and nineteenth Psalm-not so much in praise of the promises as inpraise of the statutes and the Laws of God as he found them given in that part of the Old Testament which it was his privilegeto read.
Sometimes a precept is the necessary counteracting principle to guard us from the perversion of a promise. Promises aloneare like candy given to children, which, when too profusely eaten, bring on sickness. But the precept comes in as a healthytonic so that you may feed upon the promise withoutinjury. Brethren, is there one of you who is so false and faithless as to desire to shun God's service and God's love? Hearthis-"You shall not tempt the Lord your God." You do so-you tempt God-you tempt Him to sanction your sin when you use wrongmeans in order toescape from danger. A Christian man in business who is going to stoop to a transaction that is not altogether clean in orderto escape from his present dilemma is tempting God, for he asks God to help him and then uses evil tools to effect escape!
Will you tempt God to assist you in defrauding your neighbor? Dare you ask God to aid you in doing what is not strictly upright?Do not dare to do this! "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." The Christian worker who dares to run away from work andsays, "God will take care of me"-what ishe doing? He is asking God one of two things- either to destroy him, which God will not do, for He is a faithful God. Orhe is tempting Him to uphold him and comfort him when he is not in the path of duty-which it would be wrong for God to dosince He cannot give thesweetness of His comfort and the joy of His countenance to a man who would thereby be countenanced and encouraged in sin.
Beware of provoking God to jealousy! Let your walk be such that the Lord may be honored by it and may look down with complacencyupon you. Do not run to such shifts as would involve your asking God to assist you in a wrong thing in order to effect yourdeliverance. Though there are great depthsbeneath you, you cannot fall while He upholds. Though others are dashed in pieces and you can hear the crash of their fearfulfall, yet he upholds the righteous. Though your own brain turns giddy and you are ready to slip from your foothold, yet theeternal God is your refuge andunderneath you are the everlasting arms!
Your extremity of weakness shall be the opportunity of His power. And when you fall back faint and ready to die, then it isthat the angelic wings shall be of service and the cherub-helpers shall bear you up in their arms, lest you dash your footagainst a stone! Only be very courageous andconfident, and say unto the Fiend of Hell, "Get away from me, for the God who allowed me to be placed here never did forsakeme and never will! And while He is for me I will not fear." What may occur is no business of mine, it rests with Him. It ismine to stand in the path of duty,for thus I shall be in the place of safety.
II. I have said much upon the temptation itself, and now in closing I wish to offer A FEW CONSIDERATIONS DEDUCED FROM THEWHOLE. The first is this-it is a commonplace thought, but it has tasted like nectar to my weary heart-Jesus was tempted asI am. You have heard that Truth of God athousand times-have you grasped it? He was not exempted from any of the sinful temptations which occur to us! He was temptedto the very same sins into which we fall!
Do not dissociate Jesus from yourself. It is a dark room which you are going through, but Jesus went through it before. Itis a sharp fight which you are waging, but Jesus has stood foot to foot with the same enemy! It was a great encouragementto the Macedonians in their weary marches when theysaw Alexander toiling always with them. Had Alexander always been riding on Bucephalus when the rest of them were marching,they would have grown weary. But Alexander marched like a common soldier. And when water was scarce Alexander thirsted withthem, and refused to drink of thelittle water which was reserved as a royal luxury. "No," he said, "I will suffer with my men."
They won their battles and they drove the Persian rabble before them as lions drive a herd of sheep, principally through thepersonal prowess of Alexander. First to leap into the ditch, first to cross the river or scale the rampart, always adventuringhimself for death or glory-every man grewinto a hero at the sight of the hero! Let it be so with followers of Jesus! He stays not in the pavilion when His childrenare in conflict. He robes not Himself in scarlet apparel like a king at his ease-but He buckles on His armor and puts on Hishelmet-and above thecry of them that contend for mastery may be heard His cry, "I have trod down strength."
Jesus goes so far into the fight that He advances beyond the front rank, and can say, "I have trod the winepress alone, andof the people there was none with Me." Oh Brothers and Sisters! Let us be of good cheer! Christ has trod the way before usand the bloody footprints of the King of Glory maybe seen along the road which we traverse at this hour! There is something yet sweeter-Jesus was tempted, but Jesus neversinned! Then, my Soul, it is not necessary for you to sin, for Jesus was a Man-and if one Man endured these temptations andsinned not-then bythe same Grace another may do so!
I know it seems to some of you beginners in the Divine life that you cannot be tempted without sinning, but believe me, thisis not only possible, but I hope attainable by you. A man may be tempted to run away from the service of God, but he may hatethe temptation and then there is no sin in it tohim. If I should meet a thief on the road today who should ask me to break into a person's house, I should at once condemnthe suggestion-do you think I should sin because I happened to be tempted in that way? Not at all! The sin would lay withthe tempter, not with thetempted person who instantaneously rejected the suggestion.
If I were to dally with the thief and say, "How much is to be gained by it? What are your plans? I will go with you if so-and-so,"then I sin. But if I say at once, "How dare you come to me with such a temptation? I loath it," then I should commit no sin.Often God's servants, in their worst andmost bitter temptations, are, to a great extent, free from sin and are to be pitied-not to be blamed. John Bunyan has afamous picture of Christian going through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. When the fiends whispered temptations in hisears, "So," said he, "I did verilythink that these were in my own heart," whereas they were only temptations of the devil, and not his own. And because hehated them there was no sin in them-to him I mean. Of course there was sin to the person who made the suggestion, but notto the person suffering it,inasmuch as he stopped his ears against it and refused to touch it.
Now, Christian, in this you may be encouraged, that you may go through the fiercest possible temptation heated seven timeshotter, like Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, and yet the fire may not injure you but you may come out with not so much as the smellof fire upon you though you have trod in the midstof the glowing coals!
The third thing which comforts us, is this-Jesus not only did not fall, but He gloriously triumphed! Satan received a desperatefall and a deep discouragement as the result of this conflict, and as Jesus overcame, so may we. Jesus is the representativeMan for His people. The Head hastriumphed and the members share in the victory. While a man's head is above the water you cannot drown his body. The headis above the great floodwaters of temptation, and we, who are the lower members, are not drowned, nor shall we be! We shallwade through the swelling current andland safely upon Canaan's side. "They feared as they entered into the cloud," it is said of the disciples on the Mount,but their Master was with them there and therefore their fears were frivolous.
We, too, are fearing because we have entered the cloud or are in the midst of it. But our fears are needless and vain, forChrist is with us, armed for our defense! Brothers and Sisters, our place of safety is the bosom of the Savior! Perhaps weare tempted just now in order to drive us nearer toHim. Blessed be any wind that blows me into the port of my Savior's love! Happy, happy, happy wounds which make me seekthe beloved Physician! Yes, blessed Death, which with black wings shall bear me up to my Savior's Throne! Anything is goodthat brings us to Christ-anythingis mischievous that parts us from Him. Come, you Tempted, wherever you wander! Come to your tempted Savior! Come, you cast-downand troubled ones, however much dismayed, come to Him-
"Though now He reigns exalted high His love is still as great."
He forgets not the temptations through which He passed, and He is ready to succor and to help you in the same.
Ah, but there are some here who do not know Him-some who say, "We do not understand this sermon, for we never feel such temptations."I can understand why not. You see, you have no spiritual life. The tree planted by the river feels not the chill which breedsin the marsh and lurks in theswamp. But put a man there and before long you will see him shivering from head to foot! And the carnal mind, dead in sin,knows not the fog of temptation which lurks around him! But oh, if you were alive unto God your struggle would begin and youwould cry to the strong for help!My advice to you is that which I gave to the Christian just now-the Believer must go to Christ for help-and so must you.
There is balm in Gilead! There is a Physician there! Sinner, if you look to Christ you shall live! Though you stand todayupon the pinnacle-for life is such-though death is your dreadful fate and the fiery lake is your everlasting portion, presumenot! Dash not yourself further intosin! Plunge not into ruin but lift your eyes upwards and say, "My God, my Father, help me! God the Son who did redeem withprecious blood, wash me from my sin! Spirit of the living God renew me in heart and life," and it shall be done, for, "hethat asks, receives, he that seeks,finds, and to him that knocks it shall be opened." "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."