“If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”
Conditionalism is the foundation, and the framework, too, of all carnal religion. Like the house built upon the sand, when the floods and the winds and the rain come upon it, it falls. Equivalent reward is the promised result of compliance with the offered conditions. “If.” So much depends upon the force and power of this little word. If you will follow the dictates of the carnal mind, the spirit which controls it will give you all within its jurisdiction. But inasmuch as that jurisdiction only embraces carnal things, therefore “He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption,” as a necessary result. The temptations presented to Jesus in the wilderness were not an isolated experience of Jesus only. Whatever can be said of him under temptation, can be said also of every member of his body. Between Jesus and his redeemed, the power of resisting or withstanding temptation is not in the strength of the temptation, but in the abundance of grace given. It is declared that “Jesus being Full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” Surely Jesus in his humanity was sorely tempted; for did he not come in a body of flesh, and was “in all points tempted as we are”? And also, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” He was without sin in the sense that he was given grace without measure, therefore he was able to resist all sin and all temptation; while to his people the gift of grace is in measure. Consequently we fall by the wayside, and into all manner of pitfalls, that we may be succored in all points as we are tempted. Just here is a point upon which there has been much controversy. It is contended by some that the body of Jesus’ flesh was not like our body; that our body is a body of sin, while his was a sinless body. If that were so, how could he be Like unto his brethren? If that were so, how could he have been “made under the law”! The law has jurisdiction only over these who are under its curse. Well, some will say, he took our sins (not his own) and bare them in his own body. Yes, that is true, but how? When he came under the law in a body of flesh, was it not our flesh in which he cane! Being born of Mary, was he not our very brother! and he had a body of flesh, and the flesh is sin. None will deny that. But as I have before quoted, he was “full of the Holy Ghost,” by which he was able to keep the law, and to live above sin. In that sense then he bore our sins in his own body. Yet he himself was without sin, because grace without measure was given him, by which he was able to resist all temptation. Therefore sin had no dominion over him, yet he was tempted in all points as are we. What is it that constitutes temptation? Must there not be an object greatly to be desired, also a subject whose greatest striving is to gain possession of the object! In the absence of either there could be no temptation. And Adam been created holy, could unholy desires have possessed him? Had Jesus been above all temptation, how could he have been tempted? The record by Luke declares thus: “Being forty days tempted of the devil.” In small measure we all know something of the terrible temptations with which he was tempted in his flesh. And what a cross was the denial, and how severe was the resistance, and the superabundance of grace necessary to overcome. Therefore could he say, out of his own perfect knowledge through suffering and sore trials, “If any man will come after me, lot him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Then follows this record, “And in those days he did eat nothing, and when they were ended he afterward hungered.” The devil was too smart to offer him a stone, but he did say, “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” When one is hungry, it denotes a perishing body, a demand for bread, with a longing desire to obtain it. Had he been offered a stone, would that have been any temptation? No indeed. Had he been offered bread, would That have been any temptation? Yes indeed, his perishing body was crying out for it. This is the strong hope of our sonship, that we are succored in that our Deliverer was tempted as we are, and overcame our temptations in and through his suffering. Now the devil took Jesus up into a high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and offered him all the power and glory of them on these conditions: ”if thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” This is the very essence of all the carnal religion extant in the world: do and live. If you will do, so shall you have. There is no Jesus seen or felt in that kind of religion. Man is the power, and has full liberty to choose, to act, or to let it all alone, and so be lost. When the power and glory of all the worlds were offered to Jesus, think ye not it was a sore temptation? For was he not subjected to these things in our own flesh? For surely power and glory is the highest ambition to which man would attain; and the higher he reaches in the ladder of them, the less esteem he has for his fellow man. But how different with the followers of the lowly Lamb of God. Of Mary, the angel of the Lord said unto Joseph, “And she Shall bring forth a son, and thou Shalt call his name Jesus, for he Shall save his people from their sins.” No conditions there, no Ifs to stumble over, to fall and to die. The only If in the vocabulary of the saints is, If indeed I be risen with Christ. And the doubt arises in our carnal mind, (which is a very nest of ifs) and not in any uncertainty of the power and of the work of the salvation of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In answer to the devil’s fine offer, Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Can the trembling, fearing little child of God say in his own strength, “Get thee behind me, Satan”? No indeed. But when but a moment before he (or she) is tormented with a legion of devils, and in gore straits, suffering untold agony, not knowing whither to turn, the voice of Jesus speaks, saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” We look up, and now our enemies have fled at the voice of Jesus, and we behold Jesus only. The power of his resurrection stands between us and all our enemies. Surely this is how we realize the power of his resurrection. There are no conditions when Jesus deals with our arch enemy. He makes no offer with an If, but he commands, and every earthly power obeys. Does the little child wince under the sovereign rule of their heavenly and divine Master when he says, “I wilt,” and “thou shalt”! No, never. But with joy unspeakable they nestle in his sweet embrace, and his banner over them is love. May we all richly experience the fellowship which the sufferings of Christ have brought into our souls, and remember always that he came where we were, entered the death chamber of his bride, and saw her pollution, then in humility and suffering took up our thread of life, worked out its hidden and mysterious problem by his own death and resurrection, making darkness light before us, clothing us in big spotless robe of righteousness, and presenting us before the throne of the Father’s glory, as a bride adorned for her husband.
B. F. COULTER.
Philadelphia, Pa, July 21, 1902.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 70., No. 17.
SEPTEMBER 1, 1902.