THE THREE TEMPTATIONS OF CHRIST (EXCERPT OF THREE DEATHS AND THREE RESURRECTIONS)
Copyright © 2008 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
From: Three Deaths and Three Resurrections
Christ was led by the Holy Spirit into a desolate area, there to be tested by the devil. Three temptations were set before Him. Christ overcame the adversary in each of the three areas of temptation. Now it is our turn. Every believer is tested in each of the three areas of temptation. Through the Word of God, the body and blood of Christ, and the help of the Holy Spirit, each of us can obtain victory in the wilderness of this life.
Table of Contents
Salvation: The First Area of Redemption
Sanctification: The Second Area of Redemption
Conquest: The Third Area of Redemption
The First Temptation of Christ
The Second Temptation of Christ
The Third Temptation of Christ
Man is born a sinful, lawless creature. The sin and lawlessness express themselves in man’s love of the world, in the various lusts that reside in man’s flesh, and in rebellion and self-will. The grace of God through Christ is sufficient to give every person perfect, complete victory over the world, over the lusts of the flesh, and over self-will.
Sometimes we hear the expression, “a second work of grace.” Usually the meaning is, being saved is a first work of grace and receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second work of grace.
However, the Scriptures teach throughout, both in type and direct teaching, that there are three works of grace.
For example, there were three major divisions of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; three groups of Levitical feasts; three levels of Noah’s Ark; three anointings of David; three temptations of Christ; three levels of fruitbearing; Egypt, the wilderness, and Canaan; and so forth.
The expression “in three days” or “on the third day,” appears numerous times in the Scriptures.
Because there are three areas of life in which man is bound in chains the Lord God has given an abundance of grace. There are not just two works of Divine grace in the program of redemption but three. Anyone who is familiar with the Christian walk knows that the second work, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, has not brought us to the unity and maturity, the righteousness, holiness and obedience of conduct, set forth as the standard of the Word of God.
Christ was led by the Holy Spirit into a desolate area, there to be tested by the devil. Three temptations were set before Him.
Christ overcame the adversary in each of the three areas of temptation.
Now it is our turn. Every believer is tested in each of the three areas of temptation. By the body and blood of Christ, the help of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God, each of us can obtain victory over the sin and lawlessness that plague us continually.
The work of redemption in us is one whole and every part of that work comes from the one Lord Jesus Christ. But there are three areas in which Divine grace must be applied to us if we are to be “perfect and complete in all the will of God.” These three areas were dealt with in the three temptations of Christ (Luke 4:1-13).
- If thou be the son of God, … command this stone that it be made bread.
- All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
- … cast thyself down from hence.
These three invitations, these issues, were set before Christ throughout His ministry. He overcame them perfectly.
The same three temptations are set before each of us throughout our lifetime on earth. Through the virtue of Christ we too can emerge as more than a conqueror.
THE THREE TEMPTATIONS OF CHRIST
The redemption that is in Christ can be described in three major areas of Divine working. The three areas are not three unrelated experiences but three aspects of the one salvation.
We are naming the first area, salvation; the second area, sanctification; and the third area, conquest. Perhaps as you become acquainted with the three areas you will call them by names more helpful to you.
Our purpose in writing this description of the Divine redemption is that the reader may understand some of the things happening to him in his Christian life and may be better able to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as the Spirit leads him or her toward the fullness of Christ.
First we will give a definition of each of the three areas of redemption. Then we will discuss the three temptations of Christ and show how these temptations are related to the three areas of redemption.
Salvation: the first area of redemption.
The call of the evangelist is that people may believe in Christ and be saved. To be saved is to possess God’s guarantee that when the Day of Wrath comes the believer will not be cast into torment but will be brought forward to the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
God is coming to the earth to judge the works of men and devils. The judgment just over the horizon is unimaginably terrible. Christ came to seek and save those who are lost in sin. If any person will receive Him by faith, repent, be baptized in water, and hold that faith throughout life, he or she will be saved in the Day of the Lord, the Day of Wrath.
He who endures to the end shall be saved. Some will be saved as by fire. Others will gain an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of Christ.
The next coming of Christ to the earth will be so frightful that no words of ours can portray what the world is about to face. The most horrible scenes ever to appear on the earth will seem like child’s play when compared with the wrath of God that will be poured out under the administration of Christ and the saints.
The blood of Jesus is God’s protection on us and our household when God passes over the land to judge the gods of the world.
Let us make as certain as we can that we and our loved ones will be under the protection of the Passover blood in the Day that is coming.
After the thousand-year Kingdom Age has been concluded the judgment of mankind will take place. Those persons whose names are not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The Lake of Fire is no mere symbol of God’s anger. It is a real lake—the dreadful place of eternal torment and separation from the Presence of God. The Lake of Fire is reserved for the devil and his angels and for those people who reject the lordship of Christ.
In Christ is salvation in the Day of God’s wrath. We desire to be saved from such an awful fate. Let us therefore not neglect the Divine salvation. Let us embrace it and preach and teach it. It is God’s gift freely given, the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son on our behalf.
The new heaven and earth reign of Christ will be a paradise of peace and joy. It will be the most wonderful dreams and hope of people in solid and enduring form. To be brought forward to that perfect, eternal realm requires accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord in obedience to the will of God. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”
Each person who receives Christ as Savior and Lord is at once redeemed from the guilt, authority, and death of sin. By death, in this instance, we mean separation from the Presence and acceptance of God.
Every human being was born in sin because of the transgression of Adam and Eve. We all have an inborn tendency toward moral corruption. We sin because it is our nature to do so.
There is no way by which we can redeem ourselves. We do not possess the price to pay God for our past transgressions and we do not have the power to stop sinning. We must have a redeemer.
Christ bore on Himself the sins of the whole world. The judgment of God came upon Christ and He was crucified. In Christ, God brought to an end the first creation. In Christ, God brought judgment on the evil lords of spiritual darkness and destroyed their authority and power.
God “passed over” His redeemed and struck the gods of the world. The Divine redemption was accomplished on Calvary. Man’s religious efforts could never accomplish the smallest part of God’s work on Calvary. Calvary has to do with God’s wrath, God’s law, God’s righteousness, God’s provision, God’s redemption. Our part is to accept the atonement by faith.
When we come to Christ, God directs us to be baptized in water. “Go down into the water,” God commands, “showing you are willing to die to your first life, to the first creation. Accept My judgment on the source of sin in your life. Take your forgiveness by faith and be believing and thankful. It is My gift to you.”
By faith we establish that our “old man,” our first personality, is now dead through participation with Christ on the cross of Calvary. We leave our sinful nature in the water, its authority over us having been done away in Christ. We declare in faith that our new inner man, the new life that has been born again in Christ, is now risen with Christ.
The new life we possess in Jesus is without condemnation from any source. We are free from all guilt. Every “Egyptian died in the Red Sea,” so to speak, as demonstrated in water baptism. By the death of our old nature we are legally free to be married to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Salvation is a first reaping of our life. It is a reaping to Christ. It is an instant death by faith, potentially destroying the ability of our old nature to dominate us.
We say potentially, because the actual destruction of sin and the transformation of our personality into the image of Jesus depends on whether we are willing to work out in the Holy Spirit, by faith, hope and obedience, what God and we declared to be true in our baptism in water.
We declare by our baptism in water that our old personality is crucified and our new born-again inner man is raised with Christ. Each day of our Christian life we are to look back to our water baptism, remember what we declared to be true at that time, and then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, live in the faith that we are crucified and resurrected.
This is how we overcome the world through faith—faith that our old life died with Christ and our new life is in Christ at the right hand of the Father on high.
One of the great errors of contemporary Christian thinking is that the entire redemption has been accomplished the moment we receive the atonement. In the vision and promise of God it indeed has been accomplished. All the righteousness and Glory of Christ are now in our possession by faith.
The moment we accept Christ we receive forgiveness. In addition, we receive the righteousness of Christ applied to our account before God. God judges us as being righteous even though we have not begun as yet in the processes of redemption that actually transform our deeds, speech, and thinking until we are righteous in behavior.
There are two kinds of righteousness, both of which come to us through Christ. The first kind of righteousness is termed imputed (ascribed) righteousness. Imputed righteousness is a legal state in which God judges us as being righteous on the basis that we have received the Righteous One, Christ.
The second kind of righteousness is a developed righteousness, a transformation into the image of Christ. This also comes from Christ, never from the striving of the flesh of humans. Developed righteousness comes to us as we receive the Word of God, the body and blood of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. These three Divine agencies remove from us the bondages of sin and self-will so that we grow in grace, grow in the ability to distinguish between good and evil and to embrace the good and resist and reject the evil (Hebrews 5:14).
When we first are saved the moral image of Christ, the ability to behave righteously, the glory of the royal priesthood, are not as yet in our possession. They shall be in our possession if we continue to abide in the Lord Jesus, living in cross-carrying obedience to Him. But if we do not continue in Him, living instead in the ordinary fleshly pursuits of people, the glory of the Kingdom may never be ours.
By ignoring the fact that we potentially possess the glory of the Kingdom upon receiving Christ, and do not possess the Kingdom until we have entered it through much tribulation, Christian theory has created a schizophrenic condition. The individual has withdrawn from reality, believing and stating that he is and he possesses something other than what is true.
He has not changed in personality. But the Christian teacher beholds him as a hero of faith, a warrior of steel—all because he professes belief in Christ.
The concept that we have all things in Christ, not differentiating between the fact that we have all things potentially but must journey through a desert of testing before we actually enter the land of promise, causes justification to abolish the need for separate experiences of sanctification and consecration.
The concept that being saved by grace is the waving of a magic wand that makes us something in God’s sight that we are not, that no time period, suffering, or exercise of determination and patience is necessary for the final accomplishment of what God has spoken concerning us, is an intriguing theory that captivates the mind and leads it rapidly away from the truth that is in Jesus.
We must learn to define justification as an ascribed righteousness that has not as yet transformed our personality and not attempt to include all of God’s work in this one initial step of faith.
Conceiving of justification by faith as the entire redemption has created many serious perversions of Divine truth. From this concept comes the error that once a person is saved (justified) he never can be lost to the purposes of God—this in the face of passages of Scripture that teach the opposite.
The doctrine that man is saved by “belief alone” apart from any necessary change in personality is as destructive as any heresy that has afflicted Christian thinking. The result of the Christian theory of an all-inclusive justification is the morally defeated churches of today.
The doctrine of all-inclusive justification by “faith” does not know—has never heard of—the God of Israel. It is not armed for the battle. It is a stranger to rugged, cross-carrying discipleship. The enemy mocks it for the delusion that it is. The wall of its kingdom is a mental vapor easily penetrated by Satan. It cannot cast out demons.
Modern Christian justification, along with its associate in error, the Dispensational scheme of interpretation, is being discarded by the new generation of saints because they are returning to the old paths, to the ways of prayer and holiness. They will stand because they are doing what the Lord said. But the “justified” church members, having only a magical, delusive, illusory form of “grace,” will be blown away by the hurricanes of judgment that are on the horizon.
Water baptism represents not only the death of our first personality with Christ on the cross but also the resurrection and ascension of the new man. Our new born-again life is raised and hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-4).
After we have been baptized in water we are, by the Lord’s help, to start behaving as though we have died to this evil world and have been raised into newness of life in Christ. While we are abiding in Christ His righteousness is imputed (ascribed) to us—given freely to us.
Salvation is the grace of God in action. We now are without condemnation and are invited and welcomed to enter boldly into the Most Holy Place in Heaven before the Father, there to make our needs and desires known to Him who sits on the throne of the universe.
We are accepted in the beloved Son, Christ. The holy angels rejoice and the bells of Heaven ring because a prodigal son has returned to the Father’s house. From now on, death holds no terrors for us. When we die we go to the realms of righteousness, there to await the Day of the Lord.
We were dead spiritually, being cut off from God. Now, by the atonement made through the blood of the righteous Jesus, we are accepted of God. God’s Holy Spirit takes up His abode in us.
The Spirit of God is eternal life in us, the pledge of the more complete redemption yet to come, which is the giving of eternal life to the mortal body. All past transgressions are forgiven. The covering of the Passover blood shields us from the wrath of God.
In the preceding paragraphs we have described the salvation phase of the Divine redemption. Every person who would gain eternal life must appear here. We must receive Christ personally as our Lord and Savior and be baptized in water. Upon doing this we are ready for the Spirit of God to plant the Divine Seed in us so we may be born again.
The only way a man, woman, boy, or girl can enter the Kingdom of God is by being born again. Until a person is born again he can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God. Our death with Christ on the cross and our new birth in the Spirit of God compose the first death and the first resurrection—the first area of redemption.
The first area of redemption, as we have said, is that of justification, of acceptance by the Lord, of passing from death to life, of remission of the guilt of past sin by the blood of Christ. The grace of God is given freely to us through Christ and we are received as a child of God. We are born again of the Word of God.
We have pointed out the danger of making the initial work of justification all-inclusive so that it removes the need for sanctification and consecration.
Sanctification: the second area of redemption.
Sanctification is a work of God that sets us apart as holy to the Lord.
Many Christians have had a genuine experience of justification but have stopped there. They have never cooperated with the Holy Spirit in the task of directing their daily behavior into ways pleasing to the Lord.
They have accepted justification by faith. They have received the Lord Jesus and the load of guilt has been lifted from them. The Spirit of God has touched their spirit and they have felt the joy and peace of the Divine Life from Heaven.
These Divine blessings are the beginning, the elementary principles of salvation (Hebrews 6:1). From this point we are to press onward to the fullness of the redemption that is in Christ.
In the first area of redemption, that of initial salvation, we die to the world and are raised in Christ to the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
In the second area of redemption, that of sanctification, we die to the works of the flesh, to our fleshly nature, and are raised into the life lived in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
The Holy Spirit predominates in the area of sanctification. Christ is emphasized when we pass from death to life. The Holy Spirit is emphasized while we are being sanctified. God the Father comes to our attention while we are being taught difficult lessons of obedience.
However, the Church always worships and glorifies Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and leads us to Christ when we begin the program of salvation. God the Father is in and through every aspect of our redemption, for we belong to God and are given to Christ by Him.
The responsibility of the Holy Spirit is to lead us, instruct us, and to build us up in preparation for our presentation to the Lord Jesus Christ as the glorious Church without spot or wrinkle.
The area of sanctification is one of instruction, of preparation for greater blessings yet to come, of the testimony of the Person, will, and way of God.
The Holy Spirit enables us to live by the Scriptures and to teach others of the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit leads us as we share with others our personal experiences with Christ. The Spirit imparts to us gifts and ministries. Through the anointing of the Spirit, the Word of Christ is confirmed with mighty signs and wonders.
The Holy Spirit works night and day forming Christ in us. He intends to bring us into the image of Christ and into oneness with Christ. If we will cooperate with the Spirit He will set us apart as holy to the Lord. He is the Holy Spirit.
It is the will of God that the members of the Body of Christ follow the Holy Spirit into putting to death the deeds of the body. If the Holy Spirit is not leading us into the conquest of the deeds of our flesh we are not sons of God. The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit into righteous, holy, and obedient behavior.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
Although deliverance from the bondages of the flesh requires a period of time (we are not brought into sinless perfection overnight), our redemption in this area is as definite, as real, as certain, as our initial step of salvation.
In time past we may not have understood how to overcome our sinning, and so we have put our trust in Christ and have left the problem with Him. Now He is showing us that if we will allow the Holy Spirit to do so, the Spirit will enable us to wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb, making them sparkling white in the righteous conduct that God requires.
We must learn to judge our actions through the Holy Spirit. Little by little we achieve the victory of sanctification of body, of soul, of spirit. In this manner we purify ourselves in preparation for His glorious appearing (I John 3:1-3).
We might say that the area of sanctification is a reaping to the Holy Spirit as the area of initial salvation is a reaping to Christ. Of course, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit always work together in all aspects of our redemption. Nevertheless our analysis of these three areas of redemption may be helpful to us as we ponder the meaning of atonement and redemption.
In sanctification we become dead to the life lived in the impulses of the flesh and mind. By the power the Holy Spirit provides we are raised into freedom from the need to continue serving the lusts of the flesh and the eyes.
The second area of redemption is a place of wilderness wandering, of learning the ways of God, of testing, of coming under God’s law of the Spirit of life, of Christ pruning back the fruit of our life and the bearing of more fruit, of daily manna from the Lord.
In the area of sanctification Israel begins to be formed into an army, and also is moving toward maturity as the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah, Chapter 42). But the fullness of the development and ministry of God’s warriors and servants takes place in the third area—that of conquest.
In the first area, salvation, we Christians are so occupied with what we are receiving from God that not too much is accomplished from the standpoint of what we shall return to God in the way of service. Growth in service comes to us if we follow on to know the Lord. We exercise a priestly role as we learn more about how to please the Lord and serve Him.
Spiritual warfare rages about us as we press on past initial salvation into the fullness of sanctification. The battle against sin, against the rulers of spiritual darkness, is taking place in every true believer in Christ.
The peoples of the world do not battle fiercely against sin because the world is dead in sin. But the Holy Spirit lives in the believers in Christ. Therefore, in them there is a struggle against spiritual darkness going on night and day.
Satan is striving to maintain his hold over the conduct of each Christian. The Holy Spirit in each Christian is striving to bring him or her into deliverance from the spirit of the world, Satan, and the fleshly nature.
The Christians who are pressing on in Christ are gaining victory over Satan. Holiness requires a period of time for its accomplishment. However, God has promised that He will deliver the lords of darkness into our hands and that He will make war against them until they have been destroyed completely (Deuteronomy 7:23).
When a Christian confesses a sin of deed, of speech, or of thought, and then gains victory over that sin through the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, it is the judgment of Christ on that sinful spirit.
Each member of the Body of Christ is to walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience of deed, word, motive and imagination. God’s judgment is on His own household in these days. God can have no fellowship with the evil works of darkness and neither can His children. We must learn to put to death the deeds of our body through the wisdom and power the Holy Spirit provides.
The second area of redemption, that of sanctification, is a protracted death of the urges to sin that we have. It is a protracted resurrection as we change over from walking in the sins of the flesh to walking in the holiness of the life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification consists of a long series of lessons in learning how to act, speak, think, fight and minister in the Spirit of God.
Sanctification requires a period of time for its accomplishment, and sometimes the saints become discouraged in the “wilderness.” But there is an end to God’s school. We shall graduate soon enough, so we do not allow ourselves to become discouraged with the seemingly endless problems. Our end will be glorious. But we have so much to learn about the Person, purpose, will, and ways of God!
We enter the Kingdom of God through patience and hope. Waiting for God can become almost more than we can bear. We must never, never, never give up in despair. Kings are formed in the pain and pressures of earth’s heartaches. The light will come at the end of the tunnel.
Others have walked this way before us and they are in glory with Jesus. Everlasting joy has been promised to us. Let us continue praying, hoping, and waiting. We must never quit.
In the preceding paragraphs we have discussed the sanctification area of Christianity. Every person who would be in the Body of Christ must appear here. We must seek to follow the Holy Spirit of God. When we follow the Spirit of God we receive power to minister and power to bear the fruit of the image of the moral character of Christ (Galatians 5:22,23).
There are two main elements that must be present in the saint if he or she is to bear an eternal witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. One element is the miraculous manifestation of the Spirit of God in understanding, in power, and in utterance. The second element is behavior that is in keeping with the example and teachings of the Lord Jesus.
These two elements are the testimony we present to the world. If either the supernatural manifestation or the righteous and holy behavior is absent, the testimony will be lacking in effectiveness. Both are necessary and both are the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit alone can bear the eternal witness of the death and resurrection of the Lord.
Salvation is the first area of redemption. Salvation has to do with receiving the gift of forgiveness of our sins on the basis of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. Initial salvation, as we are using the term, also includes our being “born again” of the Spirit of God.
Sanctification is the second area of redemption. Sanctification is the Divine operation in which we learn to live in the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit rather than in the guidance and power of our flesh and blood nature.
Our “natural man” is the human, soulish, flesh and blood personality born of our human parents. Contained in our natural personality is a strong tendency toward sin, pride, and rebellion against the Lord God of Heaven.
God may regard us as holy if we are part of a holy family. A holy family is one in which one or more members of the family are serving God.
God regards our entire personality as holy when we are born again. When we are born again, a firstfruits of our personality, our new born-again spiritual nature, is holy to the Lord. Now, by the law of the firstfruits, our entire personality—spirit, soul, and body—is holy to the Lord.
Then the process of sanctification begins the work of judging and casting out of our personality the demonic entrenchments in our flesh that drive us into adultery, fornication, covetousness, fear, drunkenness, rage, murder, lying, gossiping, sorcery, and every other work of the flesh.
The Lake of Fire has authority over the sinful part of our personality whether or not we are a Christian or part of a holy family. But we are protected by the blood of the Lamb until God is ready to deal with the sins of our flesh.
When the time of judgment and deliverance arrives we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit by renouncing the sinful parts of our personality as demonic and unfit for the Kingdom of God. If we do not cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the removal of sin from our personality we will be punished. If we then do not repent, our end will be the Lake of Fire. God will not permit the demons to enter His Presence.
The process of conquest, the third area of redemption, deals with the sin that is in our will. If anything, the sin in our will is more destructive of our fellowship with God than the demonic areas of our flesh.
Conquest: the third area of redemption.
Conquest is the area of redemption in which we gain victory over the spirit of the world, victory over our rebellious nature, victory over the accuser himself. Stern obedience to God, rest in God’s will, is the goal of the third work of grace.
Sanctification, as we are defining the term, is the product of separating us from moral uncleannesses by the power of the Holy Spirit. Conquest includes sanctification but continues until every aspect of sin—the love of the world, the filth of the flesh, and the disobedience of the soul—is brought under subjection to God through Christ.
A clear conscience (the result of justification), the new birth, sanctification, and stern consecration to God’s will should all begin as soon as we are saved, as soon as we receive Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
Victorious living comes to full development as we are willing to follow Christ in obedience to God. Complete victory is made possible for us through the blood of the Lamb, through the testimony the Holy Spirit works in us, and through our willingness to love not our life to the point of death (Revelation 12:11).
Initial salvation, receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior, makes it possible for us to start on our journey of sanctification.
Sanctification, the second area, is a school. It is the place in which we make the transition from the life of the sins of the flesh to the life of the Spirit.
Conquest, the third area, is the final result, the goal of the first two areas. In the realm of conquest we enjoy the fruitfulness and dominion promised to the heirs of the Kingdom of God.
The blood of Jesus leads the way toward conquest. The Holy Spirit testifies to us, in us, and through us, moving us along toward the “rest” of God—that area of perfect victory in Christ.
Final victory depends on our decision to allow God to slay our will. We must choose to deny our self. Death to our self-will is the deepest of the deaths we die. Death to our will leads to the fullness of resurrection glory.
In initial salvation we are assigned to the death of Christ on the cross and we share with Him in His resurrection.
In sanctification we die to the sins of the flesh and are raised into the life of the Holy Spirit.
In conquest, the third area, we die to our deepest level of self—the origin of our identity as a person. God has His own ways of getting at the center of our personality, often using suffering as a tool. If we allow the Lord to enter the source of our identity we will be raised into the fullness of fruitfulness and dominion in God the Father as one of His eternal servants (Philippians 2:5-9).
It is true of all living creatures, whether physical or spiritual, that they have wills of their own. Mules, men, and angels all have wills of their own.
In bringing us to the fullness of conquest, God does not weaken or destroy our will. God transforms our will until our will corresponds to His will. In Gethsemane, Jesus did not ask the Father to take away His will so He would be left as a person without a will. Instead, Christ consented to the doing of God’s will rather than His own will. This is the third death the saint must die in the program of redemption.
It is difficult to die to the deepest levels of the will, even for the most devout Christian. We are thankful to be saved from wrath and to be accepted of the Father. We are glad to get rid of the sins of the flesh and the other bondages Satan places on us. These are the first two deaths.
The re-creation of our will, the death to what in many instances is lawful, is not easy to accept. However, death to our self-will leads to the highest realms of responsibility and service in God.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:35)
It is not pleasant to lose one’s life!
There are many flaws in the human will—flaws that must be corrected in us by the grace of God before we can serve the Lord Jesus as a king, priest and prophet in the Presence of God.
Some of the flaws are as follows: presumption, personal ambition, disobedience, double-mindedness, suggestibility, man-pleasing, self-aggrandizement, stubbornness, pride, self-pity, self-destruction, self-preservation. These flaws of the will were tested in the temptations of Christ in the wilderness. Christ passed the test with honors.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. (Psalms 19:13)
Presumption is a flaw in the will of mankind.
We Christians are to walk in the way Christ directs and not attempt to force spiritual results before the Lord prepares the time and place. There is a difference between presumption and faith, although sometimes we must be prayerful in order to distinguish between the two. Spiritual presumption is the attempt to force God to fulfill our desires, often through using “faith” and prayer. Presumption leads to sin and defeat. Faith leads to victory.
The current “faith” message is an institutionalizing of presumption.
Personal ambition is another of the flaws in the will of mankind. No person can serve the Lord and his or her ambitions at the same time. He will begin to hate the one and cleave to the other.
We can observe the problems of the will in the behavior of the Pharisees when they came into contact with Jesus of Nazareth. Some of the principal motives behind the desire of the Jewish elders to crucify the innocent Christ were their personal ambition, pride of station, desire for self-aggrandizement, and instinct for self-preservation. They were fearful that Christ was threatening their position as leaders of Israel.
An uncrucified will leads to tragedy in the house of God!
Jonah was a disobedient prophet. The nation of Israel, from the time the people demanded a king until the carrying away into Babylon witnessed few periods in its history when God was able to bless the nation. God was not able to bless the people of Israel because of their continued disobedience to His directives.
The resources of Heaven and earth are required in order for the Holy Spirit to be able to create obedience to the Lord in the will of a human being. We are by nature deeply, instinctively, disobedient to the will of the Lord. We are rebellious and stubborn at heart.
Each saint who would gain the Kingdom must learn obedience to God. For most of us, the methods God uses to teach us are painful—hard on our flesh and our nature. Will the instruction never end? It shall end when we possess a meek, quiet, obedient personality.
A double-minded person is unstable in all his ways and cannot gain success with God because he cannot make a decision. Double-mindedness is a symptom of perfectionism, personal ambition, fear, treachery, deception, romanticism, or some other motivation of the self-seeking human personality.
Suggestion is a powerful tool of those who would manipulate us. The Christian who is suggestible cannot go straight ahead in God’s will because he is open to all voices. Do you recall the prophet who was led into disobedience by the suggestion of an older prophet (I Kings, Chapter 13)?
It is well we “salute no man by the way,” so to speak, but go about our business in the Lord without being led astray by the suggestions of others.
We are not recommending that we refuse to heed the advice and counsel of other Christians or of the elders of the church, because the Lord often will guide us by means of the exhortations of the godly. Rather, we are speaking of being led off course by fleshly suggestions or by spirits and not bringing each decision we make into careful prayer before the Lord.
It is impossible to be an ambassador of Christ if we are given to man-pleasing. Jesus never made an effort to “sell” the Gospel or to please His listeners. “The fear of man brings a snare.” If we fear the faces of “clay” in front of us we will never be free to deliver the whole counsel of God.
We must prepare the Divine food and make it palatable so the “sheep” will eat. But we are never to hold back what the Holy Spirit is speaking in order to gain the approval and support of our listeners.
Self-pity or over-harsh criticism of ourselves are not pleasing to the Lord and have no place in the Kingdom of God. On many occasions the servant of the Lord finds that as he goes forward he is forced to fall back in frustration. One method of coping with repeated disappointments is to curse one’s day, to resolve to destroy one’s environment and oneself. It is a form of suicide.
People of little conscience or integrity may never know the pain experienced by the diligent saint as he seeks to please God—sometimes to the borders of sanity. It seems God is saying no to every desire.
If we are not careful we may find we are filled with rage and self-pity, a desire for self-destruction. God may bring us to the edge of our ability to cope before He finally gives us a glimpse of the light and glory toward which we are making our way.
Great strength, the strength of Israel, comes from the years of denial. Fruitfulness and dominion come from the years of fulfillment. Joseph was refined during his years in prison. Release brought fruitfulness and dominion.
We cannot serve God perfectly while we are subject to presumption, or personal ambition, or disobedience, or double-mindedness, or suggestibility, or man-pleasing, or self-pity. Christ is able to correct these flaws in our will until our will begins to correspond to the will of God.
In the first death and resurrection (initial salvation) we pass from spiritual death to spiritual life in the Presence of God.
In the second death and resurrection (sanctification) we pass from sinful behavior to holy behavior.
In the third death and resurrection (conquest) we pass from self-will to God’s will.
As soon as we have perfect life in body, soul and spirit; perfect liberty in body, soul and spirit; and perfect will in body, soul and spirit; we are fully redeemed. Then we are able to receive the fullness of the abiding in us of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
The final result of all three deaths and resurrections is our acceptance by the Lord and our rest in Him. In the third death and resurrection (conquest) we die to the rebellion and stubbornness of our will and are raised into the Presence and fellowship of the Father. It is a reaping to the Father. It is a crucifixion and renewing of our will in Christ.
The way to the righteousness of the first resurrection is through the blood of Jesus.
The way to the liberty of the second resurrection is through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
The way to the fruitfulness and dominion of the third resurrection is through fellowship with Christ’s suffering and His Glory. We overcome by loving not our lives to the death. This is the path to the throne of Christ.
Every Christian, through the blood of his Redeemer, has access to the Throne of God, there to make his needs known and to offer adoration. The extent to which he is able to abide in the Presence of God’s throne in every situation depends on his willingness to allow the grace of God to work redemption in him.
How blessed to be released from the bondage of having to have our own way! God strikes down our youthful glee, our striving for position and preeminence, our impulsive enthusiasms.
The third death (death to the human will) requires a period of time for its accomplishment. It is a protracted death to our willingness to accomplish our desires without seeking the will of God. The third resurrection is a protracted resurrection into rulership with Christ and restful service to Him in our land of promise. One part of the resurrection at this level is the making alive of our mortal body, which will occur at the appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The third death and resurrection is necessary for the fullness of the image, union, fruitfulness, and dominion that are our inheritance in Christ. It is death to attempting to serve God in our own wisdom and power. It is judgment on us as an individual, on the deepest center of our will and being.
The fullness of the inheritance of Christ will be given to each person who will remain faithful to God at the level of conquest.
The third death is the crossing of Jordan, so to speak. It is the change from Moses, the shepherd, to Joshua, the commander of battle. It is the throne phase of Christianity.
The third death and resurrection brings us into the rest of God, into the image of Christ, into the realm of authority, into the fullness of redemption from slavery to Satan to the eternal Life of Christ.
The Lord Jesus is predominant in the first area of redemption. The Holy Spirit is predominant in the second area of redemption. Obedience to the Father is emphasized in the third area. It is in the third arena of grace, in the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, that the Lord Jesus reveals the Father to us (Matthew 11:27).
Are we willing to have the “sentence of death” in ourselves and not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead? Are we willing to be troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down, as we attempt to follow the Lord? Are we ready to say yes to the death of the “I will”?
If we consent to die the death God requires of us as an individual we will cross Jordan and conquer our land of promise. We will enter the Holy of Holies and abide there. We soon will be eating of the “old corn of the land” with the Lord Jesus. We will know and understand as we are known and understood.
The third area of redemption is the conquest phase of Christianity. Every believer who would rule with Christ must appear here. We must accept the power of His resurrection, and that power will bring us into and safely through the fellowship of His suffering. This is the only route to becoming part of the Servant of the Lord and to fighting alongside the Lord Jesus in His war against the enemy.
We must accept the sentence of death in ourselves and trust in God who raises the dead. We must never attempt to serve God out of personal ambition or presumption, or neglect to serve Him because of fear, double-mindedness or disobedience. Our service must proceed from our position on the cross. Our personal cross creates the crown of authority in us. Here is the wisdom and power of God.
Until a Christian consents to the rule of Christ after this fashion he may be alive unto God and he may have victory over many of the sins of the flesh, but he is still in bondage to his own will. He must allow Christ to “bring him over Jordan” so he can testify, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).
The creation (and the coming of the Lord from Heaven) await the maturing of the sons of God who will accept the third death and resurrection in their personalities.
Death to self is the third area of redemption. From this vantage point the sons of God will be manifested.
The Divine program of redemption makes possible the establishing of a relationship with God by setting us free from the guilt, bondage and effects of sin.
The person who is wise, whether he or she is young or old, will turn away from everything else in life, if need be, in order to more perfectly lay hold on the fullness of redemption. It is the Father’s good pleasure to bring many sons through to the fullness of redemption, to the fullness of the Glory of God.
Christ asks you: “Will you be saved?”
If your answer is Yes, He will bring you through death and resurrection.
Christ asks you: “Will you follow the Holy Spirit in sanctification?”
If your answer is Yes, He will bring you a second time through death and resurrection.
Christ asks you: “Will you lose your life for My sake and the Gospel’s?”
If your answer is Yes, He will bring you a third time through death and resurrection.
What are your answers to His three questions?
At the beginning of this booklet we said we would give a definition of each of the three areas of redemption, and then discuss the three temptations of Christ and show how these temptations are related to the three areas of redemption.
We have just finished a brief description of the three areas of redemption (salvation, sanctification, conquest). Now we will turn to the discussion of the three temptations of Christ and point out some of the relationships between them and the three areas of redemption.
The First Temptation of Christ
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:1-4)
The three temptations of Christ, as recorded in Luke, include the three ways in which each son of God is tested. These three trials are somewhat parallel to the three deaths and resurrections of redemption (death to the world and resurrection to God’s Kingdom; death to sin and resurrection to spiritual liberty; death to self-will and resurrection to fruitfulness and dominion).
Each son of God is tested concerning the issue of physical comfort and survival on the earth. This is the “bread” question.
“Do I dare forsake the world and put my faith in Jesus? Would it be better for me to make my own way in the world and take care of myself, do my own works, or should I repent, be baptized, and put my trust in Christ for my salvation and safety?
“Should I trust in my own strength and grasp the world I can see, or should I believe in Christ and hope for a world I can’t see?”
Also, each son of God is tested concerning enjoying the sinful pleasures of the kingdoms of the world, as opposed to denying the flesh and spending time in prayer and in the study of the Word of God. The issue here can be stated clearly: “Will I worship Christ or Satan?”
In addition, each son of God is tested concerning steadfast obedience to the Father. “Will I obey God when he asks me to sacrifice my life in order to serve Him, or should I hold on to the right to make my own decisions concerning what I do on the earth? Should I attempt to use God or should I allow God to use me?”
This last test is particularly difficult because the Christian ministry of today is encouraging people to be self-centered. The pastors and evangelists are emphasizing to people that they are central, that God loves them and is carefully attending to their every need so no harm or discomfort can come to them.
“God suffered lashes so you will not be sick. God became poor that you might be rich. God left Heaven and exposed Himself to the filth of demons so that you might be happy and secure with your family.”
This is the teaching of the Gospel in the United States of America.
We are at a loss to understand how the Gospel of the Kingdom became so twisted Perhaps such error and hypocrisy have proceeded from the humanism and self-love that fill our society.
The Scriptures are not a description of God’s solution to our problems but God’s solution to God’s problems. God is central in everything and He is making the Lord Jesus Christ central in everything. Our lives mean little or nothing except as they glorify Christ.
When we come in from the field, so to speak, bone-weary, exhausted from our arduous labors, the Lord commands: “Put on your apron and serve Me and expect no thanks for it.”
It is the privilege of the Mightiest of emperors to address us in this fashion and we are to obey diligently. We are His slaves.
How foolish we Americans are in our pride and self-will! We are attempting to make Christ our servant. What a day of awakening is coming for the blind who are guiding the blind!
Is God seeking our happiness? What of the Christian martyrs who have been tortured and burned at the stake? We need to think more about entering through the Gates of Splendor and less about our efforts to use Christ to ensure a merry, prosperous life in the world.
These three tests become progressively more difficult and pursue us throughout our lifetime just as they pursued Christ throughout His lifetime. He was tested in all the areas in which we are tested.
As soon as the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus He returned from the place of anointing and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. As soon as we are called by the Spirit to be a Christian we are led by the Spirit into the wilderness of testing and instruction. We are not brought immediately into the place of permanent abiding in the land of promise.
Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness of temptation. Then Christ was tempted by the devil, not by the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit leads us into the arena of testing, the trials often are administered by the devil (under the Lord’s careful supervision).
The wilderness is a struggle for our inheritance in the Lord (Israel means “he struggles with God”). The wilderness is not a place in which to be foolish or careless. We are sifted by the devil and much comes out of our nature for examination. Our eternal destiny hinges on our responses in the wilderness of testing.
Christ ate nothing in those days, indicating that the wilderness of testing is not a time of comfort and ease. No chastening for the present seems joyous but grievous. We must arm ourselves with a mind to suffer.
If we cannot accept the thought of suffering and are unwilling to go the Lord’s way of the cross, it is impossible for us to reign with Christ. If we are to know the power of His resurrection we also must come to experience the fellowship of His sufferings.
Afterward Christ was hungry. Our struggles in the wilderness leave us famished for the good things of God—and for life itself. It is a period of deprivation. Sometimes our friends cannot share the burden of our situation. We are the only ones who feel the thorns. This lack of sympathy and understanding from others makes the experience even more painful.
During Christ’s time of hunger the devil came to Him. The devil began to speak after the forty days of fasting were completed. The devil speaks to us when we are weak. He waits until we have been worn down by painful circumstances and then he moves in with his counsel.
And the devil said unto him, If thou be the son of God, … (Luke 4:3)
Satan did not say, Since you are the Son of God, but “If you are the Son of God.” He approaches you and me in the same way. He keeps on raising the question of our position in God, hoping to get us to react in an unholy manner, either in doubt, discouragement or some other unsatisfactory way. Our trial begins with the raising of the question of our very salvation and calling.
But the Word of God remains true for you and me: “As many as received him, to them gave he power [the right] to become the sons [children] of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
… command this stone that it be made bread (Luke 4:3).
The “bread” question is the first problem many people face when the call of God comes to them. If I serve God, how will I eat? How will my children eat? How will I pay the mortgage? How will I keep up with the car payments, the medical bills? It is not a question of sin but of survival that causes great concern to many would-be disciples of the Lord Jesus.
How many people have refused to become a Christian because they have placed material security as the number one priority of their life? After we figure out how all the expenses will be met and all our desires accomplished on the earth, we may think about God.
Everyone must eat. Everyone must be clothed. Everyone must provide for his family. God understands this better than we do. God has promised us that He is to be depended on to provide all our needs in the world.
“Consider the lilies”! We need to think about what Jesus has stated concerning God’s willingness and ability to take care of us, and then decide for ourselves whether or not God can be trusted (Matthew 6:24-34).
The first trial is the issue of “bread”—the requirement of physical life on the earth. Mankind today seems determined to prove that man is an animal whose business in life is that of working, eating, playing, sleeping and reproducing. If all these are taken care of the destiny of man is complete and fulfilled.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This is the destiny of the dog. A dog eats, plays, sleeps, reproduces, and, in some instances, works for his keep. If he works, the dog does so in order to eat, play, sleep, and reproduce.
Man can reduce himself to the animal level if he chooses to do so. He can abide as a creature of the dirt and dwell in filth and degradation that the owner of a horse would not permit for his animal.
People are the offspring of God, not of apes. The Spirit of God calls men and women up from the dirt of the ground so they may ascend to their lawful place among the stars. God calls us up and up while the world and the flesh drag us down until we are rolling in the gutter in far worse condition than a hog in its pen.
We make the choice. Can man live by bread alone? This is the issue of the first testing of the sons of God. Can we have a satisfactory life on the earth apart from the life of God? Or are we elected to partake of the Substance of God so we truly may serve the Lord in the present age and possess eternal life in the ages to come?
“Command this stone that it be made bread.” Turn all your God-given talents to the task of human survival. The most important aspect of life is the food you put into your mouth. Acquire all the money you can so you will not have to depend on the Lord. Eat, drink and play. This is the whole meaning and purpose of existence.
Do not pay attention to God’s Word because God is not trustworthy. His desire for you is that you be deprived of what is necessary and desirable for your stay on the earth.
Such is the counsel of the devil to us in the first temptation. How shall we answer?
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4)
There always is a flow of Words and Life proceeding from the mouth of God and some of this flow is directed toward us as an individual. It is by the Words and Life of God that we are to live our daily life.
There is more to life than food. A human being possesses a body, a soul and a spirit. Vegetables and meat nourish the human flesh. In addition to these calories and nutrients, people must have the nourishment that comes from the Divine Life of God. If people do not receive on a consistent basis the blessing, guidance, and nourishment that come from God, the soul and spirit wither and die and the body itself suffers from lack of the healing touch of the Lord.
Christ Himself is the Tree of Life. The fruit of the Tree of Life gives us eternal life and the leaves of the tree are for our healing. As Christ is created in the Church, the members of the Body of Christ also become part of the Tree of Life itself. They become “life-giving spirits” (I Corinthians 15:45-48).
The righteous person is a tree of life bringing forth fruit in season (compare Psalms 1:3).
No person can live by natural food alone. If we do not partake of the Life of God there is no enduring life in us. We are as an animal that is born on the earth, exists on the earth, and returns to the dust of the ground.
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27)
God the Father has authorized and endorsed His Son Jesus as the only One who can provide the food by which people are to live.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
Many of the Jews began to follow the Lord Jesus when they realized He possessed the power to multiply loaves and fish. It was not the fact of the miracle that attracted them but the desire to have a ready supply of food. Jesus reproved them for their shortsightedness and presented Himself as the food and drink a person must receive if he is to have eternal life.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:53,54)
Christ Himself is the Word of God made flesh. He is the Substance of God Almighty. When we by faith partake of the body and blood of Christ we are partaking of the Life of God. The Life Substance of God nourishes our entire being.
The Life of God creates eternal life in our spirit, our soul, and—at the coming of the Lord—our body. The revealing of the eternal Divine Life that is in us will take place with the appearing of our Lord and Savior, Christ.
There is no true life apart from Christ. Whoever has not received the body and blood of the Lord Jesus is spiritually dead. He may possess a beating heart and walk in conscious existence on the earth. He may be highly educated, talented, wealthy, handsome, personable and athletic. But he is dead. His life proceeds from vegetables, grains, animal flesh, and dairy products.
He is as the grass of the field—a fine show for a brief period but destined soon to wither and pass away, just as grass is seen today and tomorrow withers and fades away (Isaiah 40:6-8).
The combined efforts of the nations of the earth to perfect human beings are vain and useless. People apart from Christ are little more than highly intelligent animals. Human history is a pitiful spectacle of the helpless groping of mankind for light and peace.
God loves His offspring. Mankind was created in the image of God. Man is destined to sit on the highest throne of the universe. However, this ascent is possible only through the Lord Jesus Christ. People remain in darkness and death until they eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood.
Christ is eternal Life. When we eat of Him and drink His blood we receive into ourselves the Divine creative Substance of God Almighty. As natural food builds muscle and bone, so the Word of God in Christ builds spiritual substance in our personality. We cannot live by natural food alone. We are so constituted that we must partake of the Substance of the Lord God or else the spiritual dimension of our personality will die.
Let us make sure we are not among those who are throwing away their life by ignoring the Bread whom God has given. Let us seek first the Kingdom of God, being aware that He who cannot lie has advised us that all the necessities of life will be added to us if we put Christ in first place in all that we think and do.
Earlier in this booklet we described the three areas of redemption: salvation, sanctification and conquest. We stated that the three temptations of Christ correspond somewhat to the three areas of redemption.
The first area of redemption is salvation. The first temptation of Christ had to do with bread. The concept is that of survival.
The concern at this point is not that of resisting Satan and our fleshly nature; it is not that of ministry or of ruling with Christ as a king and priest. The concern is survival.
Each human being is faced with the problem of survival, not only in the present world but also in the world to come. Each person wants to be sure he will live and not die, he will be saved and not lost, he will be happy and not tormented.
Every person wants to be saved, to live forever in the Presence of God in a joyous, fruitful existence.
Christ says to each, “You cannot survive by bread alone. In order to survive you must eat the Word of God. I am the Bread from Heaven. Come to me and eat and drink. I will not turn you away. If you do not come to me you will continue in darkness and death.”
Each human being makes his or her eternal decision: Yes, I will come to Christ and live. Yes, I want to be blessed, guided, and nourished by the Words and the Life that continually are coming from the Father. Or no, I am receiving all I need from the world. I do not need or want Christ.
Such is the first testing of mankind.
The Second Temptation of Christ
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:5-8)
The three temptations of Christ are the three ways in which every son of God is tested. Each of us is tested concerning trusting God for our survival instead of being occupied solely with physical resources (the test of bread); concerning the lusts and pleasures of the flesh and the worship of idols (the test of sin); and concerning willful behavior, disobedience, presumption (the test of self).
The subject matter of the first test is our attitude toward life itself—what is necessary for our well-being and what is not necessary. The second test has to do with to whom we give our love and worship. The third test has to do with our identity as a self-centered personality and our desire to exalt ourselves apart from the Lord.
Christ was tempted throughout His ministry in these three ways. We are tempted throughout our lifetime in these same three ways. The difference is that Christ was not born with a sinful nature; also, He is filled with the Spirit of God without measure.
The Divine Nature of Christ communicated in the words of Scripture rejected Satan’s counsel in the realm of survival, in the realm of Satan-worship, and in the realm of willful behavior.
We, on the other hand, were born with a sinful nature. Yet we are called to conquer Satan through the virtue of Christ imparted to us, through the Word of God to us, and through the guidance and enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Because of the Divine Nature imparted to us we also shall reject Satan’s counsel in each of the three areas of testing.
The three temptations have to do with what is God-given, what is lawful. Man has a God-given desire for survival. Man has a God-given desire to offer worship—to love and to be loved. Man has a God-given desire to exert dominion and to multiply his image.
It is not the subject matter of the three tests that is at issue, it is the manner in which we satisfy the three God-given needs and desires. We can satisfy them by taking matters into our own hands and wresting them from our environment. But we must sin and reject God’s rule in order to do so. Or, we can satisfy them by committing our needs and desires to the Lord God of Heaven, trusting Him to gives us our needs, our joy, and the achievement of our true destiny.
The first route to satisfaction leads to destruction in the world and the Lake of Fire in the world to come. The second route is slow, often painful, complex, full of perplexity, demanding great patience. But it leads to perfect fulfillment of each of the three areas and—infinitely more valuable—the possession of God Himself in Christ.
Do not be surprised if you come into temptation after much seeking of the Lord because it is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the wilderness. Do not become alarmed if there is a great deal of satanic activity in connection with your trials because it is Satan who is allowed to test and sift us.
Every son of God must be examined thoroughly in each of the three realms.
At this point in our booklet we are discussing the second temptation of Christ. The second temptation has to do with conquering sin.
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (Luke 4:5).
God tempts no man. It was the devil who took Christ up into a high mountain representing the places of prestige, of fame, of status, of popularity, of pride and vanity, of soulish romanticism and exaltation, of living according to the lusts and impulses of our sinful nature.
What a tempting contrast this was to the harsh surroundings of the bleak wilderness of temptation! Satan always sets his traps for us where we are most vulnerable so there will be a possibility we will fall into the trap.
The second temptation was designed to be particularly inviting to the Lord Jesus, who is a king by Nature and by inheritance.
How Christ was shown all the kingdoms of the world (perhaps of all time) in such a brief moment must be explained in the supernatural realm. It is important for us to remember that our trials originate in the realm of spirits; therefore we ought not to be blaming people and natural circumstances for our problems and distresses.
People are not the cause of our pain. They merely are the tools the Lord uses to shape us.
The kingdoms of the world speak of being surfeited with food and drink, of unlimited riches, of harems, of power to move armies and launch navies, of subservience from other people, of freedom to make decisions and alter one’s circumstances at will, and of fame.
All of the lust, glory, riches, fame, power, and other delights that can be imagined by the mind of man were presented as a gift to Christ during the depth of His pain and deprivation.
What would you have done? Where would we be if Christ had accepted? What will happen to those people who are trusting in you if you accept Satan’s offer?
Of course, Satan cannot give Christ or you or me anything at all except as God permits. The Scripture states that God alone exalts one person and humbles another. The temptations of Christ were lies and deceptions all the way through.
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. (Luke 4:6)
The kingdoms of the world of themselves are not evil, for we understand from the Scriptures that the Day is coming in which the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. If the kingdoms of the world were inherently evil, God would not give them to Christ for His inheritance.
The evil of the kingdoms of the world is the sin and rebellion against God that Satan has introduced into them.
Some day our Lord Jesus Christ will receive the riches and honor that rightfully are His.
The things and circumstances with which Satan tempted Christ are desirable to Christ. If Christ did not desire them there would have been no temptation. Satan wastes no time in activities that are pointless.
The bread, the kingdoms of the world, and getting off the pinnacle were all desired by the Lord—very much so! The temptation was to take a quick, easy path rather than to wait on God.
It is true also of us that Satan, after discerning the deepest desires of our spirit, soul, and body, the desires that spring from what God has placed in us and that will enable us to accomplish the roles for which we are destined by the Lord, attempts to persuade us to take a quick, easy path.
In order to take a quick, easy path to our desires we must plunge ahead without waiting for God to move. The question is, will we be faithful to God or will we esteem our desires above pleasing God?
The evil found in the kingdoms of the world follows three broad trends: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. From these three flow adultery, fornication, debauchery, sensuality, idolatry, occult practices, hatred, strife, jealousy, anger, intrigues, selfish ambition, envy, drunkenness, lying, and stealing.
If you will study the activities of the highest levels of government among the nations of the earth you will discover that the above list is an accurate description of the things taking place in those circles.
The desire to rule the kingdoms of the earth is not evil in itself. Christ holds out authority over the nations as one of the rewards to be given to the victorious saints.
The child who wants to grow up and achieve his desires is usually admired for his ambition. The problem lies in the manner in which we go about getting what we want. If our desires are in God and we are willing to leave the achievement in His hand, all is well.
If we are ready to gratify our desires by any means without regard to God’s law or His will for us, we are heading toward sin and death.
There is a tendency in human beings to want to be free to take from the world the things that appeal to them, that they covet. There comes to us a false sense of power when we decide to throw off the rule of God in Christ and take what we want when we want it, to go where we want to go in our own time, to be what we want to be according to what pleases us. This kind of liberty (which actually is slavery) is extolled today in prose and poetry.
Satan utilizes this tendency in mankind and promises us pleasure and glory if we will forget about God’s way of restraint and launch out freely to satisfy what our heart craves.
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. (Psalms 2:2,3)
God’s response to those who want to break His bands and throw away His cords of restraint is to laugh in derision. We humans are but dust of the ground. Satan tempts us into a false sense of liberty and power, giving us the feeling we indeed are the master of our fate and are free to go forth and make decisions according to our pleasure.
“Eat, drink and be merry,” the worldly man cries, “for we live today and die tomorrow.” God says to such a man, “Foolish one, this moment your soul shall be required of you!”
In His unbounded love God Almighty offers to us the true freedom, which comes only from a loving obedience to His Son, Christ. We all are slaves to sin until our acceptance of the personal lordship of Christ over us makes us free indeed.
There is no power or freedom for us apart from our entrance into union with the Person and will of Christ. The seeming freedom to gratify our desires that Satan offers is a delusion and a snare—a horrible pit filled with piercing torments and eternal agony and remorse.
We strive to satisfy the lusts of our flesh, the lust of our eyes, and the pride of life that are in us.
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:2,3)
Many evil works spring from men who lust after positions of power over other men. Envy was the ruling motive that caused the leaders of Israel to be blind to their Christ and to demand His murder.
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. (John 12:19)
The lying, stealing, lusting, and murdering that go on in the high places of government are a direct reflection of the activities of the kingdom of Satan.
If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. (Luke 4:7)
There never has been a greater abomination in the history of the world than that of Satan standing before God’s Christ and asking for His worship. Can you imagine such a scene?
Yet that very abomination, though on a lesser scale, happens to you and me each day of our life. God has promised us we will be coheirs with the Living Word. Can we remember that fact when Satan stands before us and invites our worship?
Satan, a cherub, demands worship of every creature. From our point of view such presumption and boldness may seem ridiculous and laughable. Yet we need to be watchful while we are laughing. Satan’s methods of obtaining our worship are surprisingly effective.
Evil spirits and people who are moved by them know no limits of boldness and perversity. Sometimes they obtain their desires because of the boldness of their suggestions and demands.
The righteous need to be careful because the righteous are trusting and sheep-like in their approach to spiritual warfare. Evil personalities possess a fierce drive toward gratification and dominion. Paul speaks more than once of those who come in and derive gain from unsuspecting believers. By flattery and enticing words they deceive the unwary. Their goal is to fatten their own stomach.
It may give us more of a desire to lead the overcoming life of victory in Jesus if we realize that whenever we sin we are giving worship to the devil. We are not stating that everyone who sins is devil-possessed. Nevertheless it is true that all sin has its origin in Satan.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning… (I John 3:8)
If the Spirit of God brings to our attention that we are engaging in some lustful action, word, or imagination, and we refuse to allow Christ to deliver us and cleanse us, what are we really doing? Are we not choosing Satan over God?
If God has directed us to take some action, and we continue to refuse so we may gratify lusts which, according to I John 3:8, have their origin in the devil, are we not then servants of Satan?
Doesn’t the Scripture state that he who commits sin is the servant of sin? Can we be a servant of sin and not be the servant of the devil?
The demand of Satan for worship is not so incredible after all. When we Christians practice gossiping, evil speaking, lust, fornication, lying, stealing, murderous rage, envying, personal ambition, conniving, revelry, we are yielding to Satan’s demand for worship.
Let us answer Satan’s demand for worship with a resounding No!
Let us, through the wisdom and enabling power of the Spirit of God, stop the evil practices, words, and thoughts with which we are occupied. We can stop sinning through the power of Christ.
Now, let us look at the complete text of I John 3:8:
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Christ was manifested in order to destroy the works of the devil. One of the first works of the devil that must be destroyed is the sinning that keeps Christian believers from fellowshiping with God.
God is worshiped when we do the things that please Him. Satan is worshiped when we do the things that please him. To whom, then, will we offer our service of worship—God or Satan?
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (I John 3:9)
The person who has been born of God is not continuing in a sinful way of life. This does not mean a believer should give up and go back into the world because the Holy Spirit or the Bible has reproved him concerning some sin in his or her life. Nor does it mean the sinning believer has never been born again of the Spirit of God.
What I John 3:9 does mean, however, is that sin is of Satan, not of God. As long as we continue sinning, no matter how firmly we profess to be a Christian, we are not serving God in the questionable area but are serving the devil. We can be delivered from every bondage if we will turn to the Lord.
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (I John 3:10)
The children of God are those who resist the devil and practice righteousness. This we can do provided we walk carefully in the Holy Spirit, laying hold on the virtue that is in Christ.
Satan promises us power and glory if we will worship him. But all we will receive is remorse, grief, broken health, the destruction of those who were trusting in us, early physical death, eternal separation from God, and everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire.
Only God is able to give us true power and true glory. He has promised to us both power and glory if we will lay hold on the grace of God to the point of overcoming the world, the sins of our flesh, and our self-will.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:8)
When we are approached and it is suggested to us that we worship and serve Satan by disobeying the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, no matter what area of lust, of personal advantage, of covetousness, of murder, or of occult practices may be involved, there is only one answer: “Get behind me, Satan, for I am a servant of Christ. I choose to serve Him and to resist the deeds, words, motives and imaginations that the Word of God declares to be unholy and against God’s will.”
If Adam and Eve had resisted Satan in this manner, think of the agony that would have been spared the peoples of the earth!
So it is with us. Our decisions for righteousness will prove to be the source of deliverance and blessing for multitudes of people—perhaps many of them yet unborn.
But if we decide to yield to Satan our decisions may become the source of agony and death for the same multitude.
He who is not for Christ is against Him. He who gathers not with Christ, scatters. There is no middle ground.
The first area of redemption is initial salvation. The first temptation of Christ had to do with bread. The question is that of human survival. Must we come to Christ in order to be saved from destruction or can we save ourselves by our own resources?
The second area of redemption is sanctification. Sanctification is death to our sinful nature and resurrection into the life lived in the power and holy ways of the Holy Spirit. The second temptation of Christ had to do with the worship of Satan. Are our actions, our words, and our motives and imaginations holy or unholy? Are they part of God’s Person or not part of God’s Person?
The third area of redemption we have termed conquest. The resurrection and the rewards here are highly desirable. The necessary death is not to the world or sin but to self. Death to self is a difficult trial but the realm of spiritual victory into which it brings us contains the richest rewards.
The third area is the test of the gable.
The Third Temptation of Christ
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle [gable; edge] of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. (Luke 4:9-13)
We have mentioned before that the three temptations of Christ represent the three ways in which all people are tested: concerning survival (turn the stone into bread); concerning sin and the lusts of the flesh (worship Satan and gain the kingdoms of the world); and concerning obedience (jump off the gable of the Temple).
The third test, that of the gable, is a very difficult experience for some of us. The devil brings us to “Jerusalem” for this trial, Jerusalem being symbolic of the arena of religious activity.
Although the three deaths and three resurrections of redemption are not experienced one-two-three like the grades of an elementary school, yet the most severe of our “gable” tests take place after we have had some experience as a Christian.
The pinnacle of the Temple was a wing or gable, perhaps on the southeast corner of the Temple overlooking the Kidron Valley. There was a drop straight down of 450 feet or more. Jesus was perched on top of this gable. What a foolish, useless, and dangerous place to be! How ridiculous!
The Mosaic ordinances were being conducted beneath Him in the Temple according to the statutes He Himself—the Lord of Glory—had given Moses on Mount Sinai. The priests, scribes and Pharisees were busily engaged in the daily tasks and responsibilities of the service of God in the Temple, while the Lord whom they were supposed to be worshiping sat up on the pinnacle—a completely inappropriate situation.
What a contrast between Sinai and the pinnacle of the Temple!
What a contrast when we are removed from the place of glorious revelation and service and are thrown into the prison of weakness and futility!
On top of the Temple, Christ could behold the horizon, symbolizing the scope of God’s plan for the redemption of the earth—the release from slavery of earth’s prisoners. He knew also that in the Temple below Him were the priests observing sacraments and rituals He understood better than anyone else—He being the Author and the perfect fulfillment of them all.
Yet He was imprisoned on the gable without the opportunity to accomplish one thing. What a temptation to step off the edge of the Temple, demonstrate His power as the Son of God, and accomplish the burden of His heart!
Before we can move on to God’s fullness we must have our pinnacle experience. We must be brought to the place of uselessness and helplessness. This test may come after we have the vision of the needs of the world and God’s plan to meet those needs, and have also the understanding of what the Lord will perform in the Church. In any case, we possess some understanding of what needs to be done in the Kingdom of God.
Now that we know to a certain extent what should be brought into being, and God’s anointing is abiding on us, can the world, the devil or our own ambition or fears cause us to act before God’s time? Can we be tempted, cajoled, frightened, persuaded or otherwise pushed into “stepping out in faith on God’s Word” apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus was so obedient to God that He would be sitting there yet if the season of temptation had not come to a close. Are we this obedient? Will we remain perched on the gable of futility until God brings us down? Until the angels minister to us?
There are times in our Christian experience when we must step out in faith, and then there are other times when God says, “Wait!”
It is not always clear to us what we should do, whether to wait, or to take a step and watch carefully to see if God is with us and is blessing our efforts. It is easy to get ahead of God.
We must be cautious but not overcautious. Each of our moves and decisions should be accompanied by prayerful attention to the mind of the Spirit. Also we should examine the actual results of what we are doing.
We must present our body a living sacrifice in consecration in order to prove the will of God. There are no shortcuts, no quick, easy way to find God’s will for us.
Sometimes God waits forever it seems. On other occasions He moves like a flash of lightning. Meanwhile the world, the adversary and our self-willed nature challenge us to do something, to come down from the pinnacle, down from the cross.
The three temptations of Christ followed Him throughout His ministry as they follow us throughout our discipleship.
Finally, as Jesus hung on the cross, that ultimate pinnacle, the voice of temptation cried out to Him: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. Do something! Do something! If you are what you claim to be, demonstrate that fact now!”
The Christian churches have not, through the centuries, faced and overcome the pinnacle temptation. Perhaps it is because the motivation of each denomination is to get to work and “do something for the Kingdom of God.”
The idea of being put into a condition of helpless waiting on the Lord for guidance and enablement may be difficult to work out in an organizational framework. Yet the only path to the fullness of fruitfulness and strength is by way of the pinnacle.
William Branham, a Baptist preacher with outstanding gifts of knowledge, of miracles, and of healing, was an excellent example of the Christian who endeavors to wait on the leading of the Holy Spirit. We heard Branham minister in Long Beach, California, about 1950 and witnessed his sincere desire to follow God in every detail of ministry.
An incident occurred during a visit to Africa, at which time the Spirit of the Lord forbade Brother Branham to go to a certain town to minister, while the members of Branham’s party urged him to go to that town because of the extensive preparations that had been made. The Spirit warned him he was to go to another place and rest.
Branham, under protest, went on to the town indicated by the members of his party and became quite ill (described in Footprints on the Sands of Time, Jeffersonville, Indiana; Spoken Word Publications, 1975).
William Branham’s concern was that of the Christian who possesses a gift of God and then must avoid all pressures that would attempt to ignore the will of the Spirit as to how and when to use the gift. People run to anyone who receives power from the Lord and attempt to persuade him or her to use the gift in some desirable or understandable fashion. It is easy for a gifted individual to be victimized by his own gift.
If some believer today could multiply food by the power of the Spirit, can you imagine the social pressure that would be placed on him to use the power to relieve the suffering of mankind? What if God gave such a gift and then forbade the use of it until some unknown future date and setting while people were dying of hunger on every side? What is God gave someone a special gift for healing AIDS and then forbade the use of it? This is the pinnacle temptation.
Some might say God would never do such a thing. They do not know the Lord. They do not understand that almighty God has the power to heal every disease on earth in a moment of time. God is using this sin-cursed earth to produce saints who will obey Him. When God has His saints fully prepared, then the curse will be lifted from the earth and there will be no more disease.
We humans sometimes desire to use the Lord Jesus in a manner tailored to our fancies. For example: “Lord Jesus, send us a revival of the Spirit so we can build a big church to glorify your name. But do not let anyone speak in tongues or be healed because we do not believe in that. Let us use You in the manner we think will be most acceptable to the majority of people and therefore of the greatest help in the building of Your Kingdom.”
Isn’t this what the Lord hears every day?
We are never to use God’s eternal love as a means of accomplishing our ends. God loves us and we love Him. We are the expression of His Being. We flow in the Divine will and purposes. To attempt to wrench this relationship so that the Lord is (we think) hopping around to do our bidding, while we are adoring our idols of people and things, is to miss God’s will and lose His Presence.
God visited William Branham with one of the several extraordinary ministries that have so blessed the twentieth century, ministries that have pointed the way to the fullness of the power of the Spirit that is to be poured on the churches in our day. Dr. Henrietta Mears, Smith-Wigglesworth of England, Aimee Semple McPherson, Billy Graham, Kathryn Kuhlman, Watchman Nee of China—all are “Elijahs” and “Elishas,” prophets of the end-time who announce the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The Spirit of God is ready to anoint the members of the Body of Christ with power so they may reveal the Kingdom of God and call all people everywhere to repentance in preparation for the Day of the Lord that is at hand.
Before God can trust us with the power of the Kingdom we first must be willing to allow God to bring us down to helplessness and barrenness, weakness and futility.
The Lord Jesus waited helplessly on the roof of the Temple. Are we willing for the Lord to bring us to the place where we look foolish and useless while talented and energetic people are passing us by and “accomplishing great deeds in the Kingdom”?
Think how Job, the wealthiest man of his day, must have felt when he became an object of derision and disgust to all who had in time past trembled at his presence.
Are we willing to “sit on the pinnacle” as long as the Lord requires even though we think we have the answer to the needs of the churches and the world? Or are we going to go forth in “ministry” before God’s timing and fall into the sewage of the Kidron Valley?
The death of the pinnacle, of helplessness, futility, frustration, is a difficult test of the servants of the Lord. We may be just one step away from ministry in the power of the Spirit and everything in us may be leaping toward the freedom to work the works of the Kingdom of God.
Here we sit, the picture of incompetence and foolishness. Meanwhile, everyone who sees us is tempted to be scornful, to mock our inability to do anything of value. We grow older while younger people forge ahead with great success. We can become quite frustrated as we wait on the Lord.
Christ Himself was willing to become nothing, to do nothing. He emptied Himself of His Glory and became a servant. He waited helplessly on God for all things.
People attempted to make Him a king but He would not accept it. He remained throughout His ministry “on the cross,” on the pinnacle of helplessness, coming down to act only in the express timing of the Father.
There are moments when we must go ahead in faith. If we walk prayerfully and carefully in the Lord, one step at a time, we can move along in Christ. We are to proceed prayerfully and watchfully unless the Lord Himself urges us on to greater speed—as He does on occasion.
At other times it appears every door has closed. We are back up on the pinnacle. Then the temptation comes to do something—anything! “Jump off and God will meet you! This is what the Bible teaches,” we are advised. “Saw through the prison bars. Move out and show what you can do by faith in God.”
When God shuts us up in prison we cannot come forth without breaking God’s laws.
God had Abraham on a pinnacle concerning the birth of his heir. On the advice of Sarah, Abraham jumped off the pinnacle, so to speak. Ishmael was the result. “Ishmael,” the enemy of God’s people, always results from jumping off the pinnacle before the Lord’s time.
How we die! What patience waiting on God requires! We are ground to powder as we wait up here on our futile perch. Will we remain here until Jesus comes? Yes we will unless the Spirit of God directs us to do otherwise.
We will be obedient even though the death is great. We must learn that God’s work is done by the Lord Himself. He Himself must direct us in the use of our talents. The gift of the prophet is subject to the prophet. The prophet is subject to the Spirit of God.
Why, one may ask, would God waste time by giving someone great gifts and then moving him into a position of futility? It is because God is more interested in the spiritual maturity of His servants, in their obedience to Himself, than He is in their works. God is preparing kings and priests who will rule and serve God throughout eternity.
The means are more important than the ends at this time. God is developing sons who will walk in obedience, never being moved by personal ambition, by fear, or even by the obvious needs at hand.
We are not suggesting we should be impractical or insensitive to the human needs around us. If someone is hungry or cold, and we have the means to provide the food or warmth, we are to do so. The Book of James instructs us to be charitable and practical. Good works of all kinds are an important aspect of the Christian discipleship. Even in good works, however, we must pray carefully to know what to do because there are more needs around us then we can meet.
We are speaking, rather, of the saint whom God has brought into “prison.”
Joseph is a scriptural example of such helplessness. While Joseph was in prison the Word of the Lord tested him. When his hour came he was released and placed in charge of the land of Egypt, the land of his imprisonment.
When Jesus’ hour came He was released from the pinnacle and brought into His ministry in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. Later He was released from another pinnacle—the cross. After paying the price of redemption for mankind He ascended to the Father and received all authority in Heaven and on the earth.
The throne of Christ and the glory and joy thereof can be reached only by way of the pinnacle—the cross. The cross is death to ourselves, to our way of doing, our impulses, our enthusiasms, our timing, our understanding, our eagerness to help God and people.
The world does not understand the cross. The cross is seen as weakness, defeat, shame, disgrace. To Christians, however, the cross is the power of God. Think of what Christ felt as He was hanging there! The cross is arrayed in light and glory until we ourselves are hanging there. Then the cross is seen as weakness, futility, shame, helplessness, pain, confusion, frustration.
There is no way to the fullness of God other than through the pinnacle experience. It is the devil who puts us on the pinnacle, but only in the deliberate will and timing of the Father.
God studies our reactions on the pinnacle for He is creating sons in His image. He requires obedience in the inner parts of our being. The way of creating obedience in us is by taking from us many relationships, things, and circumstances we embrace and by delaying the gratification of our most fervent desires, the answers to our most fervent prayers.
Sometimes physical pain, weariness, and discomfort are our portion. We are brought into situations we detest and are required to face such situations anew each morning for a season. Or, dread and fear may be the principal actors in the play and fill our future with gloom and seeming doom.
These trials can be exceedingly unpleasant and we may lapse into bitterness, blaming people or even God! If we continue praising God instead, trusting in His Word and giving Him glory for the relief we hope and believe will come our way in His time, precious jewels of patience, faith, courage, and obedience will be created in us.
We may groan in the Lord’s prison for a season. Then the day breaks and we find ourselves in a larger place with God.
If you are on the pinnacle today, wait for Christ. Look diligently to Him, meanwhile letting your desires be made known to the Father with all praise and thanksgiving. He will bring you out on time—not one second too late.
Do not allow your barren condition to cause you to take a “don’t care” attitude toward Christ. Continue praying to God for everything you need and desire. Never, never, never give up. Your answer shall come.
The afflicted saint should pray (James 5:13) and keep his future bright with the promises of God. There is an end to your tunnel. Remain faithful to God and you will receive the desires of your heart. The Scripture cannot be broken.
When we do not pray diligently for release and fulfillment we drift into passivity and may accept pains that are not necessary. This is not healthy spiritually or mentally. Jesus instructed us to ask so we may receive and possess fullness of joy. Let us pray for the desires of our heart, giving thanks to God continually.
Paul had learned to glory in his infirmities. We can do this when the power of Christ is resting on us and we can observe the relationship between our weaknesses and the abundant fruit being produced.
Nevertheless the afflicted saint should hold his desire for better days fervently before the Lord while he is faithfully and diligently working at the tasks set before him.
Christ knows. Christ knows. Christ Himself has been on the pinnacle of uselessness. God is mindful of your willingness to suffer in His name. He who upholds the heavens and the earth and all who dwell therein will make certain you emerge in total victory over all your enemies. You shall receive the desires of your heart.
Your prison doors shall open by the Lord’s hand. There shall come an end. Just remember that—there shall come an end to your misery!
The experience of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego reveal that you will lose nothing in the furnace of affliction except your bonds.
If you die in the will of God you will be raised in the will of God. The deeper your death of obedience the higher will be your ascension into the Glory of the Lord.
Keep your eyes on the reward ahead of you and you will be able, through the wisdom and strength God provides, to remain in the place where God has positioned you. If you are faithful in small things He will entrust great responsibilities to you. Continue trusting in the Lord Jesus and you will take your place alongside the other saints who also have had to endure their pinnacles.
Obedience to God in the inner being of the believer is more of a problem with self-will than it is with the bondages of sin. In the process of sanctification the Holy Spirit leads us to put to death the deeds of the flesh—lust, murder, covetousness, idolatry, occult practices, stealing, lying, and all the other manifestations of the nature of evil, unclean spirits.
Obedience, on the other hand, has more to do with our desire to be ourselves, to be noticed, to succeed, to receive honor, to achieve, to express our own will.
The desire to succeed, to receive honor for an outstanding performance, to achieve a goal—these ambitions are not sin. They are not a violation of the moral law, as are fornication, murder, lying, and stealing. Such ambitions are self. Why does Christ want to interfere with our right to be ourselves? Why must we fall into the ground and die before we can bear fruit?
The answer to this question lies in the destiny of the Church. The Church, the Body of Christ, is destined to be in the moral image of Christ, to be united in Christ in the Godhead, to be coheir with Christ, to be the eternal Temple of God, to be the Servant of the Lord to whom it has been given to judge and liberate the inhabitants of the earth.
The children of Adam are not able to perform such high roles. Only children of God can fulfill these callings. Therefore our first, adamic nature must die so the new Divine nature that has been placed in us can come to maturity and participate in the high calling of the Kingdom of God.
It is not possible that a son of Adam can be saved from wrath, delivered from the bondages of Satan, and then arise as lord of the creation. He would be a monster of pride and self-seeking. He would strive to be above his brothers in the Lord (Luke 22:24).
A further step of redemption is necessary. That step is the re-creating of his entire personality. All that he is must be broken to powder and pounded into the essence of Christ. We are being made part of God Himself through marriage to God’s Son. The process is not enjoyable at times but the final result certainly is worth the discomfort.
If God’s will for Abraham were only that he be a good man, a God-fearing honest herdsman, God would not have required of Abraham that he surrender his only son, Isaac, and slay him as an offering to the Lord.
If Abraham were to be only a righteous sheik of the desert, raising livestock by day and dancing to the flute by night, he never would have been subjected to the awful demand.
But Abraham was called to be the father of all who believe. Abraham’s Seed is destined to be as the stars of the heaven for multitude and the conqueror of every one of its enemies. Because of this incalculable inheritance of fruitfulness and strength, Abraham had to be made obedient to the point of death.
The imprisonment of Joseph, the afflictions of Job, the suffering of Jeremiah, the persecutions of Paul, were not because of sin or to break the yoke of sin. The purpose of this tearing down was that God may build His holy dwelling place, that the resurrection Life of Christ may replace the mind and strength of flesh and blood.
Your present pressures, dear reader, may have little to do with sin. Instead, you may be working in the third area of redemption, in the area of death to self, in the area of the pinnacle, moving toward the realm of fruitfulness and dominion in Christ.
Allow the Father to have His way in your life so you may come to maturity in His Substance, in the image of Christ, in the power and joy of resurrection life.
You are being created the purified expression of single-minded obedience to the Father. You are the flesh being made the Word of God, the shining of the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ asks you: “Will you believe in Me and be saved?”
The Lord Jesus Christ asks you: “Will you follow the Holy Spirit in ministry and in holy living?”
The Lord Jesus Christ asks you: “Will you be sternly obedient to the Father?”
The Lord Jesus Christ asks you: “Will you become nothing so I may become everything in your life?”
What are your answers to His questions?
(“The Three Temptations of Christ”, 3468-1)