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Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The Impeccable Christ - 16 November 2016, Anno Domini
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Matt 4:1-11 (KJV)
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: (James 1:13)
That which is perfect is not capable of failing in its purpose. A perfect clock is incapable of reading the wrong time else it loses its perfection and would never have been inherently perfect. The sun, moon, stars, and the earth itself, are incapable of violating the orbital order into which the Finger of God has flung them into those orbits. Precision perfection is everywhere evidenced in the character of God and of His Creation. It will be well for us to remember that the Executive Person of Creation was our Lord Jesus Christ. (see John 1:1-5)
All who intimately know the Lord Jesus Christ are aware of His perfection and of His inability to be imperfect. All who have an assurance of the Lord as truly God and truly man will know, not only by Holy Scripture, but by the sense of logic, that BOTH His humanity and His divine Nature must, by definition, be perfect – and perfection is incapable of failure. A pristine bottle of pure water is not diminished in its volume by a single drop of cyanide poison. It is not deadly unless taken, yet has the capability of causing death if taken. The pure water is still in the bottle, but no longer perfect or pure since it is CAPABLE of causing death. This is tantamount with the Divine nature of Christ being polluted with the capability of sin. The Divine Nature, and the sinful nature of man, cannot coexist in the same medium or persons.
There are two different theological views abroad concerning the Nature of Christ. One view is that Christ is IMPECCABLE (meaning incapable of sinning). The other view of PECCABILITY is that Christ “could have sinned” but did not, yet was CAPABLE of sinning. The view of traditional Christianity holds that Christ was IMPECCABLE and incapable of sin. With the advent of the teaching of Jacob Arminius in the 17th century came a weakening of the view of the perfection of Christ, to include His impeccability. Arminianism constantly attempts to bring Christ down to the level of man rather than resting on the assurance that Christ was more than man alone, but Divine as well. Perhaps Arminius does not state this overtly, but this is the outward result of his teaching. The proliferation of corrupt Bible versions is spawned by this lowered view of Christ. The more the nature of Christ can resemble the nature of sinful man, the more it accommodates the will of man to live according to his own will as opposed to that perfect will of the Father.
By making the Will of Christ more closely identifiable with the will of man, the more the Will of God is made to resemble our own imperfect wills. This is the crux of the problem in modern doctrine and theology. Man is untiring in attempting to bring God’s will conform to their own shameful wills. Free will is the watchword of the Arminians, yet man’s will never leads to freedom, being evil in the sight of God, but always to bondage to sin and the devil. Man’s will, in order to be truly free, must be surrendered for that perfect will of God in his life. That is the only means by which man can live free; that is, living in the Light and Will of God.
The question always arises concerning the temptation of Christ in the Wilderness. Was it like unto that temptation of our first parents eastward in Eden? No, it was not at all congruent in any of its points. The human will of Adam was all that he had available. It was not a perfect will, but one subject to temptation and sin. Pride of knowledge may be Satan’s most successful asset in temptation – to be like God! “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof (of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5) The human nature of Christ could never overrule His Divine Nature. If we examine the leading text at the head of today’s devotion, we will recognize a subtle reference to temptation as the purpose of Satan. Let us first of all, observe that temptation does not proceed from within, but without, the heart. Temptation is external in its approach. When surrender is made to that temptation, then it has born its fruit of evil.
The tempter came in the person of Satan, but Christ was not in the least moved by the temptation. Being perfect, He could not have sinned or have been internally tempted to sin. The temptation remained an external factor, but never an internal inducement to sin. Christ did, indeed, have the power to turn the stones into bread, but He would not defeat His purpose in doing so. He was the Word of God, and He answered every temptation of the Adversary with that Word.
Satan’s first appeal came by way of the hunger and emaciated physical condition of our Lord. Satan attacked by way of the Lord’s hunger: “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Was Christ in the least moved by this approach? His answer is sufficient: “ But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” . . . . EVERY WORD which Jesus was!
Satan now attacks the spiritual power of Christ by demanding a sign just as is demanded by the modern charismatic pulpits: “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Please note that just as before Eve in the Garden, Satan employs a corrupt interpretation of Scripture. He quotes correctly Psalms 91:11-12, yet employs the meaning in a wrong sense just as he does from many American pulpits every Sunday. Once, again, the response of Christ is the same response in the Word, but with a proper interpretation thereof: “Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” The answer from Scripture, properly interpreted, is always the right response, and one which will ward off the tempter.
At last, Satan resorts to that same old trick he used against Eve in the Garden by appealing to the pride and vanity of the heart and seeking to subordinate the Will of God to the Will of the lesser being, – a pride and vanity that did not exist in the heart of Christ. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Temptation CANNOT work against the Lord because any nature to sin is absent in the Person of Christ. The only way that we can withstand temptation is by the power of God’s Holy Spirit working in our members. Why shall we not tempt the Lord our God? It is for this reason: “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” (James 1:13)
Once again, and at last, Christ responds with the power of the Word: “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” This latter command will ALWAYS seal the fate of the Tempter. I have tried this often in my young life and it kept me from many dangers and temptations. If you truly believe in God as your Father, it is impossible to follow the will of the devil after repeating the very words of Christ here: “Get thee hence, Satan!” The devil’s approach in tempting Jesus was identical to the approach he uses with us, except such approaches fall on deaf ears with Christ. He is not, nor ever has been, capable of sin or of temptation.
Instead of constantly striving to bring God’s will down to our level, why do we not attempt to lift our wills up to the level of God’s perfect will. As we grow closer to God in Will and spirit, we, too, will become less susceptible to temptation and less capable of sinning.
Unfortunately, just the opposite of the Godly Will is found in most modern churches. They desire to bring the glorious music of God down to the gutter level of the world, the very words of the Bible down to the vulgar and common vernacular of the world, and the Moral Law of God to be brought down to the licentious lifestyle of human vermin.
Do you, friend, believe that Jesus was capable of sin, or not?