“God cannot be tempted with evil.” (Jas. 1:13).
The envy of Lucifer drove him to destroy God however he
could. But, God stood for perfect righteousness. His example was nothing but
holy. Godliness streamed from His every word and act, and through His godliness
He was a hedge of protection around His kingdom. All of this Lucifer bristled
One accusation of Lucifer’s was, Who can please the infinite
One? Who can perfectly obey the impeccable Law of God? No one can keep its
sky-high standard perfectly as God requires. No one can willingly keep every
aspect of the Law. And the wages of rebellion is extinction. Therefore, God is
unjust to require perfect obedience.
Then, he raised another issue. Can the Law of His kingdom withstand
the most extreme test? Could God ever be tempted to depart from the standard He
set up? Can God be tempted? And can His hedge of protection surrounding His
children be breached? Can they be tempted.
“How will Lucifer destroy God? His reputation, that’s how I
will do it. I will attack His trust in the hearts of His creation. I will turn
them all against Him. He will have to destroy them all, including Lucifer. He
will be left with none of His precious children. Then, let’s see what God will
do. I will tempt God. God can be tempted.”
So, after the war in heaven, and the expulsion of Satan and
his loyalists, the Godhead went to create a world and people it to prove that God’s
will can be obeyed perfectly. Adam and Eve came forth from His power beaming
with loyalty to Him. Daily, their unbiased minds and hearts poured forth the
rivers of living water that the Lord God was continually instilling in them.
Having no connection with the controversy that had affected all heaven, neither
loving Lucifer nor hating him, the holy couple found their only pleasure in
obeying God. Satan was worsted in his war against God’s government of justice and mercy.
But, there was yet the need to overcome Lucifer’s second
accusation. Adam was perfect because he was shielded from temptation. Nobody
can leave God’s will when they are compelled to stay. The incentives are too
good. Could God’s wall of protection that empowered His precious children
withstand a test? Once His protection were breached in their heart, would
His children fall to temptation? Then, if they did fall into sin, what would God do in the emergency? He would have to destroy them and then what? He would be tempted to hate a tempter.
Knowing this accusation, the Lord God planted a tree right
in the middle of their garden home, which would be the point upon which they
could be tested to sin against Him. But, near it in the middle of their home was a tree
representative of His high and holy standard. Day by day they trusted in their Creator and chose to remain
loyal to God and eat of the tree of life. Daily those little tests were
strengthening their will in preparation for the big test.
Finally, the hard test came. Out of the blue, the tempter
appeared. The element of surprise is the best offense and the hardest to defend
against. Speaking through the most beautiful creation of the animal kingdom, he
whispered his temptations and eroded all suspicion.
“Now the serpent…said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye
shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).
“Thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the
ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as
of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall
whisper out of the dust.” (Isa. 29:4).
A familiar spirit, congenial and cordial, speaking in calm, friendly tones and
flattering Eve, shook her into its acceptance and curiosity, and out of communion
with God. After all the blessedness of the garden, Eve fell victim to
temptation. Now she would be sent to her husband as an angel of death.
Adam was more prepared for temptation than his wife, Eve, who being
of the two, “the weaker vessel.” (1Pet. 3:7). He had not wandered close to the
forbidden tree. He kept his distance, in the fear of God. Yet, when Eve came to
him, he had no barriers toward her. Love had bound them in a tight bond. No
wall divided their souls. Vulnerability had always been their key to trust.
But, once Eve entered Adam’s inner space, he instantly saw that a great change
had come over her. Her normal calm, rested, holy character was more carefree
and careless. She had a new bubbly, unguarded behavior sent red flags and abhorrence
all through his thoughts. Like thunder and lightning her disobedience shook
He was immediately forced to weigh between the continued
obedience he had ever chosen, or death with his beloved wife and eternal friend. “My
sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled” (Song 5:2), what have you done? “Alas,
my daughter! thou hast brought me very low.” (Jdg. 11:35). There he teetered,
remembering all the precious communion with the God of love, and beholding his
most precious earthly companion and gift from his Creator. The moment of truth crushed
down upon Adam. This must mean Eve’s death. Should he throw his loyalty for
Lucifer in order to keep his precious dove? Should he forego every pleasant
gift from the hand of the Lord, by rejecting the Giver of those gifts?
Should he walk by faith and not by sight? Should he trust God
to somehow turn this nightmare into a blessing? Or would he keep his rebel
wife, the crowning beauty of his world? Should he join her in rebellion against
his God of love?
Her beauty and memories of their love disarmed his resolution against disobedience.
He fell under the spell of Satan’s newest puppet.
The Job account gives us the clearest picture respecting the
issues of perfect obedience while the divine wall of protection, Christ’s robe
of righteousness, surrounds His children.
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful
in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath
covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with
ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isa. 61:10). “Now
unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless
before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24).
“Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for
nought? Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about
all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and
his substance is increased in the land. But put forth Thine hand now, and touch
all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.” (Job 1:9-11).
What would Job do when all the signs and wonders of his
blessed life were removed? When all the evidence of God’s acceptance should
leave, would Job continue to trust Him? Job’s half-hearted spouse immediately fell
to the loss of her dearest earthly treasures, and became the agent of Satan to
destroy her husband’s possession of the divine nature. “Then said his wife unto
him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” (Job 2:9).
Eventually, Job relied upon himself, his works, his great
morality and circumspect life. He was tempted, and fell to temptation. The Lord
was in no way forbearing toward Job’s failure.
“Then the LORD answered Job out
of the whirlwind, and said,
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee,
and answer thou Me.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
declare, if thou hast understanding.” (Job 38:1-4).
But, God is the progenitor of grace. When Job heard the word
of God, he relented and repented. And the Lord forgave him and restored his
Why did the Lord thunder against Job? Because, like Adam, Job
was raised up before the world around him as one whom God could keep from
falling. The Lord paraded Job all around the land, showing the rewards to having
a relationship with the God of love. Like Mordecai’s reward from King
Artaxerxes, Job was honored by the King of heaven.
“For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, let the
royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the
king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: and let this
apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble
princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour,
and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before
him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.” (Esth.
God wants to fill our lives with perfect happiness. But He
also knows that sometimes He must take away His earthly blessings to increase
our happiness. And He will use His adversary, through his evil temptations, to
enhance that pruning work.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every
branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that
beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (Jn. 15:1,2).
God purposed for Job to reveal Himself to the world. In the
midst of pain and suffering, he was to succeed where Adam failed. Would he
finally choose perfect faithfulness to his Creator after teetering on the
precipice of temptation? Would he throw his whole battered hope onto God’s
promises? He should have, thus providing the world a revelation of God who was
in the throws of the great controversy in the heavenly courts.
My friend, Johnny McKinley, faced his own Adam and Job temptation.
God had won his heart and rescued him from the world of drug addiction in southeast Washington, D.C. The
years following found him daily reveling in the goodness of God toward him,
rehearsing that deliverance, and encouraging others in the power and love of
God. Daily he grew in grace and in a knowledge of God and His righteousness.
Daily, the good things of life were restored to him, and he stood as the story
of success in Christ.
But, the day came for him to be tested. Providence put a
$10,000 check in his hand and then allowed the devil to recreate the scene in
the Garden of Eden. The 16 year old son of his love, in whom he had invested
his whole heart, was brought into question. Johnny’s resentful ex-wife called
him and told him that his son was not really his. Pain, acknowledgment that
this was probably true, disappointment, offense, rage against this aggravated
assault, swirled around his mind. He put the phone down, looked at the $10,000
check, remembered the instantaneous relief drugs had given him in the past, and
almost threw away the past years of salvation from that world of sin.
Should he? Would he? Could he go back to the old life? Should
he throw away the grace of God? But, at
the point of most intense decision-making, the lyrics of a hymn, which had
popped into his mind earlier during his daily devotions and had cheered him all that
morning until the fatal phone call came, resurfaced themselves in his mind. The words
recalled his intellect, reaffirmed his conscience, and strengthened him in that
terrible ordeal. Satan’s temptation to return to the life of drugs had pulled ever
so powerfully, but the hand of a gracious God prevailed over the tempter. That
test hardened Johnny’s trust in God. He passed the test; with Abraham he was
sealed in faith. Of Johnny Jesus says, “He ‘rejoiced to see My day: and he saw
it, and was glad.” (Jn. 8:56).
Yet, this powerful story and all other trials pale in comparison to the greatest of all
trials, of which they are all a lesser, shadowy figure.
There was Christ, trembling under the inescapable evil of Satan’s
presence. “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to
be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding
sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me. And He went a
little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be
possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou
wilt.” (Matt. 26:37-39).
His Father having made Him to be the personification of sin and
the object of His infinite hatred of it, separated Himself from His beloved Son, and
left the door wide for Lucifer to tempt Him.
Now for his prized possession! If he could lead the
unprotected Messiah to abandon the redemption of His most precious race, he
could win the debate against God’s Law and His government. He could bring God and
His goody-goody children down from their exalted place. Righteousness would
cease to have its glory.
The pressure of complete absence of His Father’s Spirit,
which He had enjoyed without measure, now tortured the Son of God without
measure. All the chastisement of our peace was upon His head. Wracked with
mental and emotional pain, in His troubled mind He tasted death for Adam in the
garden and for every son of Adam who should face and who might yet face the decision
to do God’s will at all cost.
The stress of tasting the ultimate destruction of hell,
magnified to the 10 billionth degree, began the offering of His soul for every
man’s rescue from the final judgment. He must receive the hell for every soul,
in order to each to have hope should any of them heed His Spirit’s voice and turn away from sin. Despite the mass
squandering of this provision the next day in Israel and during the whole story of
human experience, historically and in the future, Jesus must accept upon Himself
the eternal death of every soul. Blinding depression, confusion of face,
darkness filled His being. Worthlessness, feeling unloved, utter lostness, forsakenness and
forgottenness, dissolved the internal organs of His solid, strong constitution. “Many
were [astonished] at Thee; His [appearance] was so marred more than any man, and His
form more than the sons of men.” (Isa. 52:14).
Every day, every moment of His life He had prepared for this
hour. Obedience to every law of health and life had produced a perfected specimen
of the fallen human race. His fallen human nature never overcame the divine
nature from His Father, but ever remained subjected and bound in concession to
the stronghold of His Father’s rock-hard righteousness and self-sacrificing
Yet, now, He could feel no sense of His reward. He could
sense nothing of His beloved Father. Alone
in enemy territory. Though surrounded by the children of His yearning, even the
best loved Him from a divided heart, but most people just ignorantly accepted the confusing
lies of the deceiver against His gift of peace with God through repentance and
renunciation of sin.
“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).
“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He
shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53).
Knowing His Father’s willingness to immediately dispatch His angelic hosts and deliver Him from the
overload of wrath to spare them the day of judgment, only added to His temptation.
Should He give them up? “Father, must We destroy this contemptible race of
miscreants? Are they too much for Me to save? I came to help them, but ‘every one
of them doth curse Me’ (Jer. 15:10). Even My closest friends don’t want to stay awake
during My greatest need for their encouragement.” But, not a word of response
from above to help decide whether or not to go on with the plan. All alone, except
for the “great love wherewith He loved us,” (Eph. 2:4); alone, except for the memories of souls
reclaimed and struggling against sin; alone, except for the memorized written word of God. Love, memories, and scripture were His
only companions in the Garden of Gethsemane. Alone in the dark with doubts and recriminations of priest,
Pharisees, and rabble, all mixing with the agony of His Father’s infinite, seemingly permanent retribution left Him
bleary eyed and unable to stand.
Love and mercy for His begotten race carried Him through the emptiness and helplessness and
weakness. Divine Love was the victory. Love for a world that didn’t love Him.
Where selfishness abounded, mercy and self-sacrificing Love much more abounded toward them. Jesus
decided to go on with the plan of salvation which He had studied and rehearsed
with His Father since the beginning of time. Everyone who had been saved could
have eternal salvation. Christ’s decision did not lessen the darkness or the agony,
but it strengthened Him to go through with the crucifixion. And He remained
resolved to take our place until shock carried Him down into death.
“The Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes
free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing;
the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who
knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory” The Great Controversy, p. 213.
“So shall He sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut
their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and
that which they had not heard shall they consider.” (Isa. 52:15).
Everyone who will go through their Gethsemane, teeter on the
brink of decision and temptation, and come through it in favor of the kingdom of God,
will join with Jesus at His Father’s right hand. No one else qualifies for
eternal life. Will they accept redemption from sin? Will they wrestle with God against
the enemy of everything good? Will they survive the hour of temptation? Will
they win a crown of life because they are faithful until death.
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is
tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them
that love Him.” (Jas. 1:12).
“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that
fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1Pet. 1:4).
Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide.
Oh, receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me!
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.
Wilt Thou not regard my call,
Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo, I sink, I faint, I fall;
Lo, on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope, I stand,
Dying, and behold, I live!
Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in Thee I find.
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name;
I am all unrighteousness,
False and full of sin I am;
Thou art full of truth and grace.
Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin.
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the Fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.