by A.T. Jones
Now as to Christ's not having "like passions" with us: In the Scriptures all the way through He is like us and with us according to the flesh. He is the seed of David according to the flesh. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. Don't go too far. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, not in the likeness of sinful mind. Do not drag His mind into it. His flesh was our flesh, but the mind was "the mind of Christ Jesus." Therefore it is written: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." If He had taken our mind, how, then, could we ever have been exhorted to "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus?" It would have been so already. But what kind of mind is ours? O, it is corrupted with sin also. Look at ourselves in the second chapter of Ephesians, beginning with the first verse and reading to the third, but the third verse is the one that has this particular point in it:
Now I refer you also to page 191 of the Bulletin, to the lessons we studied on the destruction of that enmity. We studied there where the enmity came from, you remember--how it got into this world--the ground is covered in this that I have just read. Adam had the mind of Jesus Christ in the garden; he had the divine mind--the divine and the human were united, sinlessly. Satan came in and offered his inducements through the appetite, through the flesh. Adam and Eve forsook the mind of Jesus Christ, the mind of God that was in them, and accepted the suggestions and the leadings of this other mind. Thus they were enslaved to that and so are we all. Now Jesus Christ comes into the world, taking our flesh, and in His sufferings and temptations in the wilderness He fights the battle upon the point of appetite.
Where Adam and Eve failed and where sin entered He fought the battle over and victory was won and righteousness entered. He having fasted forty days and forty nights--perfectly helpless, human as ourselves, hungry as we--there came to Him the temptation, "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." He answered, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Then Satan took another turn. He argued: You are trusting in the word of God, are you? All right. Here the word of God says: "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." Now you are trusting in the word of God: you jump off here, for it is written, "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee." Jesus answered again: "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Then Satan took Jesus upon an exceeding high mountain and showed Him all the glory of them too--the glory, the honour, the dignity--he showed Him all that. And there at that moment there was stirred up all the ambition that ever appeared in Napoleon or Caesar or Alexander or all of them put together. But from Jesus still the answer is: "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
Then the devil departed from Him for a season, and angels came and ministered unto Him. There was the power of Satan conquered in man on the point of appetite--just where that power was gained over man. This man at the first had the mind of God; he forsook it and took the mind of Satan. In Jesus Christ the mind of God is brought back once more to the sons of men, and Satan is conquered. Therefore, it is gloriously true, as the word reads in Dr. Young's translation and in the German, as it does in the Greek: "We know that the Son of God is come and has given us a mind."
Read the last words of 1 Cor. 2:16: "We have the mind of Christ." Put the two transactions together. The German and the Danish and also the Greek are alike. Put the two together: "We know that the Son of God is come and has given us a mind" and "We have the mind of Christ." Thank the Lord!
Read in Romans now. I will read from the Greek, beginning with the twenty-fourth verse of the seventh chapter. You remember from the tenth to the twenty-fourth verses is that contest: The good I would do, I do not; and the evil I hate, that I do. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. There the flesh has control and draws the mind after it, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Now.:
O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I myself with the mind indeed serve the law of God [or rather serve God's law, literally here]; but with the flesh, sin's law. There is then now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus who walk not according to flesh but according to Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God having sent his own son in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the requirement of the law should be fulfilled in us, who not according to flesh walk, but according to Spirit. For they that according to flesh are, the things of the flesh mind; and they according to Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit [that is, the Spirit's mind; the one is the flesh's mind, and the other is the Spirit's mind], life and peace. Because the mind of the flesh is enmity toward God: for to the law of God it is not subject; for neither can it be; and they that in flesh are, God please can not [that is, cannot please God]. But ye are not in flesh, but in spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you; but if any one the Spirit of Christ has not, he is not of him: but if Christ be in you, the body is dead, on account of sin, but the Spirit life [is] on account of righteousness.
Our minds have consented to sin. We have felt the enticements of the flesh and our minds yielded, our minds consented and did the wills and the desires of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. The flesh leads and our minds have followed, and with the flesh the law of sin is served. When the mind can lead, the law of God is served. But as our minds have surrendered, yielded to sin, they have themselves become sinful and weak and are led away by the power of sin in the flesh.
Now the flesh of Jesus Christ was our flesh and in it was all that is in our flesh--all the tendencies to sin that are in our flesh were in His flesh, drawing upon Him to get Him to consent to sin. Suppose He had consented to sin with His mind--what then? Then His mind would have been corrupted and then He would have become of like passions with us. But in that case He Himself would have been a sinner; He would have been entirely enslaved and we all would have been lost--everything would have perished.
I will read now from the new Life of Christ, advance copy, upon this very point:
It is true that Christ at one time said of himself, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." John 14:30. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power.
Where does he start the temptation? In the flesh. Satan reaches the mind through the flesh; God reaches the flesh through the mind. Satan controls the mind through the flesh. Through this means--through the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, the pride of life, and through ambition for the world and the honour and respect of men--through these things Satan draws upon us, upon our minds to get us to yield. Our minds respond and we cherish that thing. By this means his temptations assert their power. Then we have sinned. But until that drawing of our flesh is cherished, there is no sin. There is temptation, but not sin. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away thus and enticed, and when lust has conceived, when that desire is cherished, then it brings forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.
Read farther now:
Some sinful desire [with us] is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But he could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. Jesus did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought could he be brought to yield to the power of temptation.
Thus you see that where the victory comes, where the battlefield is, is right upon the line between the flesh and the mind. The battle is fought in the realm of the thoughts. The battle against the flesh, I mean, is fought altogether and the victory won in the realm of the thoughts. Therefore, Jesus Christ came in just such flesh as ours but with a mind that held its integrity against every temptation, against every inducement to sin--a mind that never consented to sin--no, never in the least conceivable shadow of a thought.
And by that means He has brought that divine man to every man on earth. Therefore every man for the choosing and by choosing can have that divine mind that conquers sin in the flesh. Dr. Young's translation of 1 John 5:20 is: "Ye know that the Son of God has come, and hath given us a mind." The German says the same thing exactly and the Greek too--"has given us a mind." To be sure he has. That is what He came for. We had the carnal mind, the mind that followed Satan and yielded to the flesh. What was it that enslaved Eve's mind? O, she saw that the tree was good for food. It was not good for any such thing. The appetite, the lusts of the flesh, the desires of the flesh, led her off. She took of the tree and did eat. The appetite led, and enslaved the mind--that is, the mind of the flesh, and that is enmity against God; it comes from Satan. In Jesus Christ it is destroyed by the divine mind which He brought into the flesh. By this divine mind He put the enmity underfoot and kept it there. By this He condemned sin in the flesh. So there is our victory. In Him is our victory, and it is all in having that mind which was in Him.
O, it is all told in the beginning. There came in this enmity, and Satan took man captive and enslaved the mind. God says, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed." Who was her seed? Christ. "It [her seed] shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his" head? No, sir. No, sir. "Thou shalt bruise his heel." All that Satan could do with Christ was to entice the flesh, to lay temptations before the flesh. He could not affect the mind of Christ. But Christ reaches the mind of Satan, where the enmity lies and where it exists and He destroys that wicked thing. It is all told there in the story in Genesis.
The blessedness of it is, Satan can only deal with the flesh. He can stir up the desires of the flesh, but the mind of Christ stands there and says, No, no. The law of God is to be served and the body of flesh must come under.
We shall have to follow this thought further. But even only so far there is blessing, there is joy, there is salvation in it for every soul. Therefore "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." That conquers sin in the sinful flesh. By his promise we are made partakers of the divine nature. Divinity and humanity are united once more when the divine mind of Jesus Christ by His divine faith abides in human flesh. Let them be united in you and be glad and rejoice forevermore in it.
Thus you see the mind which we have is the flesh's mind. It is controlled by the flesh and it came to us from whom? Satan. Therefore it is enmity against God. And that mind of Satan is the mind of self, always self, in the place of God. Now Christ came to bring to us another mind than that. While we have Satan's mind, the flesh ruling, we serve the law of sin. God can reveal to us His law and we can consent that that is good and desire to fulfil it and make resolutions to do so and sign bargains and make contracts even, "but I see another law in my members [in my flesh], warring against the law of my mind [against that desire, that wish of my mind, that delights in the law of God], and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!" But Christ comes and brings another mind--the Spirit's mind--to us and gives us that. He gives us a mind and we have His mind by His Holy Spirit. Then and therefore with the mind--the Spirit's mind, the mind of Christ which He hath given us--the law of God is served. Thank the Lord.
So see the difference. In the seventh of Romans there is described the man in whom the flesh rules and leads the mind astray, against the will of the man even. In the ninth chapter of 1 Corinthians, verses 26, 27, is described the man in whom the mind has control. This is the Christian. The mind has control of the body and the body is under, and he keeps it under. Therefore it is written in another place (Rom. 12:2):
Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.
And the Greek word is the same word exactly as that: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation," he is a new creature--not an old man changed over, but a new-made one. So this is not an old mind made over but a new-created mind. That is the mind of Christ wrought in us by the Spirit of God, giving us the mind of Christ and so making an entirely new mind in us and for us.
This is shown in Romans, eighth chapter: "They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh," because they do the works of the flesh, the mind follows sin that way. "But they that after the Spirit [mind], the things of the Spirit." And "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." That which brings to us the mind of Jesus Christ is the Holy Ghost. Indeed, the Spirit of God brings Jesus Christ Himself to us. By the Holy Ghost the real presence of Christ is with us and dwells in us. Can He bring Christ to us without bringing the mind of Christ to us? Assuredly not. So then in the nature of things there is the mind of Christ which He came into the world to give us.
Now see how this follows further and what it cost to do that and how it was done. This mind of the flesh is the minding of self. It is enmity against God and is controlled through the flesh. Jesus Christ came into this flesh Himself--the glorious One--He who made the worlds, the Word of God--was made flesh Himself and He was our flesh. And He, that divine One who was in heaven was in our sinful flesh. Yet that divine One, when in sinful flesh never manifested a particle of His divine self in resisting the temptations that were in that flesh but emptied Himself.
We are here studying the same subject that we have been studying these three or four years, but God is leading us further along in the study of it, and I am glad. We have been studying for three or four years, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," who emptied Himself. That mind must be in us in order for us to be emptied, for we cannot of ourselves empty ourselves. Nothing but divinity can do that. That is an infinite thing. Can the mind of Satan empty itself of self? No. Can the mind that is in us, that minding of self, empty itself of self? No. Self cannot do it. Jesus Christ, the divine One, the infinite One, came in His divine person in this same flesh of ours and never allowed His divine power, His personal self, to be manifested at all in resisting these temptations and enticements and drawings of the flesh.
What was it, then, that conquered sin there and kept Him from sinning? It was the power of God the Father that kept Him. Now where does that touch us? Here. We cannot empty ourselves, but His divine mind comes into us and by that divine power we can empty ourselves of our wicked selves and then by that divine power the mind of Jesus Christ, of God the Father, comes to us and keeps us from the power of temptation. Thus Christ, emptying His divine self, His righteous self, brings to us the power by which we are emptied of our wicked selves. And this is how He abolished in His flesh the enmity and made it possible for the enmity to be destroyed in you and me.
Do you see that? I know it takes close thinking, and I know too that when you have thought upon that and have got it clearly, then the mind cannot go any further. There we come face to face with the mystery of God itself, and human, finite intellect must stop and say, That is holy ground. That is beyond my measure. I can go no further. I surrender to God.
[Question: Did not Christ depend on God to keep Him? Answer: Yes, that is what I am saying. That is the point.]
Christ depended in the Father all the time. Christ Himself, who made the worlds, was all the time in that sinful flesh of mine and yours which He took. He who made the worlds was there in His divine presence all the time, but never did He allow Himself to appear at all or to do anything at all that was done. That was kept back, and when these temptations come upon Him, He could have annihilated them all with the assertion--in righteousness of His divine self. But if He had done so, it would have ruined us. To have asserted Himself, to have allowed Himself to appear, even in righteousness, would have ruined us, because we who are only wicked never would have had anything before us then but the manifestation of self. Set before men who are only wicked, manifestation of self, even in divine righteousness, as an example to be followed and you simply make men that much more confirmed in selfishness and the wickedness of selfishness. Therefore, in order that we in our wicked selves might be delivered from our wicked selves, the divine One, the holy One, kept under, surrendered, emptied all the manifestation of His righteous self. And that does accomplish it. He accomplished it by keeping Himself back all the time and leaving everything entirely to the Father to hold Him against these temptations. He was Conqueror through the grace and power of the Father, which came to Him upon His trust and upon His emptying Himself of self.
There is where you and I are now. There is where it comes to you and me. We are tempted, we are tried, and there is always room for us to assert ourselves and we undertake to make things move. There are suggestions which rise that such and such things are "too much for even a Christian to bear," and that "Christian humility is not intended to go as far as that." Some one strikes you on the cheek or breaks your wagon or tools or he may stone your tent or meetinghouse. Satan suggests, "Now you send those fellows up. You take the law to them. Christians are not to bear such things as that in the world; that is not fair." You answer Him: "That is so. There is no use of that. We will teach those fellows a lesson."
Yes, and perhaps you do. But what is that? That is self-defence. That is self-replying. No. Keep back that wicked self. Let God attend to the matter. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." That is what Jesus Christ did. He was spit upon; he was taunted; he was struck upon the face; his hair was pulled; a crown of thorns was put upon his head and in mockery the knee was bowed, with "Hail King of the Jews." They blindfolded Him and then struck Him and cried: "Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?" All that was put upon Him. And in His human nature He bore all that, because His divine self was kept back.
Was there any suggestion to him, suppose you, to drive back that riotous crowd? to let loose one manifestation of His divinity and sweep away the whole wicked company? Satan was there to suggest it to Him, if nothing else. What did He do? He stood defenceless as the Lamb of God. There was no assertion of His divine self, no sign of it--only the man standing there, leaving all to God to do whatsoever He pleased. He said to Pilate: "Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." That is the faith of Jesus. And that is what the prophecy means when it says, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." We are to have that divine faith of Jesus Christ, which comes to us in the gift of the mind which He gives. That mind which He gives to me will exercise in me the same faith it exercised in Him. So we keep the faith of Jesus.
So then there was He, by that self-surrender keeping back His righteous self and refusing ever to allow it to appear under the most grievous temptations--and the Spirit of Prophecy tells us that what was brought upon Him there in the night of His betrayal were the very things that were the hardest for human nature to submit to. But He, by the keeping back of His divine self, caused human nature to submit to it by the power of the Father, who kept Him from sinning. And by that means He brings us to that same divine mind, that same divine power, that when we shall be taunted, when we shall be stricken upon the face, when we shall be spit upon, when we shall be persecuted as He was--as shortly we shall be--that divine mind which was in Him being given to us will keep back our natural selves, our sinful selves and we will leave all to God. Then the Father will keep us now in Him, as He kept us then in Him. That is our victory and there is how He destroyed the enmity for us. And in Him it is destroyed in us. Thank the Lord!
I will read a portion now from the Spirit of Prophecy that will help in the understanding of the subject.
First from an article published in the Review and Herald of July 5, 1887. It is so good that I will read a few passages to go into the Bulletin with this lesson so that all can have it and so that all may know for certain that the steps we have taken in this study are exactly correct:
The apostle would call our attention from ourselves to the Author of our salvation. He presents before us his two natures, human and divine. Here is the description of the divine: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." He was the "brightness of his glory and the express image of his person."
Now of the human: He "was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death." He voluntarily assumed human nature. It was his own act, and by his own consent. He clothed his divinity with humanity. He was all the while as God, but he did not appear as God. He veiled the demonstrations of Deity, which had commanded the homage and called forth the admiration of the universe of God. He was God while upon earth, but he divested himself of the form of God and in its stead took the form and fashion of man. He walked the earth as a man. For our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich. He laid aside his glory and his majesty. He was God, but the glories of the form of God he for a while relinquished. Though he walked among men in poverty, scattering his blessings wherever he went, at his word legions of angels would surround their Redeemer and do him homage.
When Peter, at the time of Christ's betrayal, resisted the officers and took the sword and raised it and cut off an ear of the servant of the high priest, Jesus said, Put up your sword. Don't you know that I could call twelve legions of angels?
But he walked on the earth unrecognised, unconfessed with but few exceptions by his creatures. The atmosphere was polluted with sin and with curses instead of the anthems of praise. His lot was poverty and humiliation. As he passed to and fro on his mission of mercy to relieve the sick, to lift up the oppressed, scarce a solitary voice called him blessed, and the greatest of the nation passed him by with disdain.
Contrast this with the riches of glory, the wealth of praise pouring forth from immortal tongues, the millions of rich voices in the universe of God in anthems of adoration. But he humbled himself, and took mortality upon him. As a member of the human family he was mortal, but as God he was the fountain of life to the world. He could, in his divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death and refused to come under its dominion, but he voluntarily laid down his life, that in doing so he might give life, and bring immortality to light. He bore the sins of the world and endured the penalty which rolled like a mountain upon his divine soul. He yielded up his life a sacrifice, that man might not eternally die. He died, not by being compelled to die, but by his own free will.
That is self-sacrifice; that is self-emptying.
This was humility. The whole treasure of heaven was poured out in one gift to save fallen man. He brought into his human nature all the life-giving energies that human beings will need and must receive.
And He brings it into my human nature yet, to your human nature, at our choice, by the Spirit of God bringing to us His divine presence and emptying us of ourselves and causing God to appear instead of self.
Wondrous combination of man and God! He might have helped his human nature to stand the inroads of disease by pouring from his divine nature vitality and undecaying vigour to the human. But he humbled himself to man's nature. He did this that the Scripture might be fulfilled. And the plan was entered into by the Son of God, knowing all the steps in his humiliation that he must descend to make an expiation for the sins of a condemned, groaning world. What humility was this! It amazed angels. The tongue can never describe it; the imagination can never take it in.
But we can take in the blessed fact and enjoy the benefit of that to all eternity and God will give us eternity in which to take in the rest.
"The eternal Word consented to be made flesh. God became man." He became man; what am I? A man. What are you? A man. He became ourselves and God with Him is God with us.
"But He stepped still lower." What, still lower than that yet? Yes, sir.
"The man," that is Christ, "must humble himself as a man." Because we need to humble ourselves, He not only humbled Himself as God, but when He became man, He humbled Himself as a man, so that we might humble ourselves to God. He emptied Himself as God and became man, and then as man He humbled Himself that we might humble ourselves. And all that we might be saved! In it is salvation. Shall we not take it and enjoy it day and night and be ever just as thankful as a Christian?
But he stepped still lower. The man must humble himself as a man to bear insult, reproach, shameful accusations, and abuse. There seemed to be no safe place for him in his own territory. He had to flee from place to place for his life. He was betrayed by one of his disciples; he was denied by one of his most zealous followers. He was mocked; he was crowned with a crown of thorns. He was scourged. He was forced to bear the burden of the cross. He was not insensible to this contempt and ignominy. He submitted, but O, he felt the bitterness as no other being could feel it! He was pure, holy, and undefiled, yet arraigned as a criminal. The adorable Redeemer stepped down from the high exaltation. Step by step he humbled himself to die, but what a death! It was the most shameful, the most cruel--the death on the cross as a malefactor. He did not die as a hero in the eyes of the world, loaded with honours, as men die in battle. He died a condemned criminal, suspended between the heavens and the earth--died a lingering death of shame, exposed to the revilings and tauntings of a debased, crime-loaded, profligate multitude. "All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head." Ps. 22:7. He was numbered with the transgressors and his kinsmen according to the flesh disowned him. His mother beheld his humiliation and he was forced to see the sword pierce her heart. He endured the cross, despised the shame. He made it of small account in consideration of the results he was working out in behalf of not only the inhabitants of this speck of a world, but the whole universe--every world which God had created.
Christ was to die as man's substitute. Man was a criminal under sentence of death for transgression of the law of God as a traitor, a rebel; hence a substitute for man must die as a malefactor, because he stood in the place of the traitors, with all their treasured sins upon his divine soul. It was not enough that Jesus should die in order to meet the demands of the broken law; but he died a shameful death. The prophet gives to the world his words: "I hid not my face from shame and spitting!"
In consideration of this, can men have one particle of self-exaltation? As they trace down the life and humiliation and sufferings of Christ, can they lift their proud heads as though they were to bear no shame, no trials, no humiliation? I say to the followers of Christ, Look to Calvary and blush for shame at your self-important ideas. All this humiliation of the Majesty of heaven was for guilty, condemned man. He went lower and lower in his humiliation, until there were no lower depths he could reach in order to lift up man from his moral defilement.
How low down were we then when, in order to lift us up from moral defilement He had to go step by step lower and lower until there were no lower depths He could reach? Think of it and see how low we were! All this was for you who are striving for the supremacy, striving for human praise, for human exaltation--you who are afraid you will not receive all that praise, all that deference from human minds, that you think is your due! Is this Christ like?
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. He died to make an atonement, and to be a pattern for every one who would be his disciple. Shall selfishness come into your hearts? and shall those who set not before them the pattern, Jesus, extol your merits? You have none, except as they come through Jesus Christ. Shall pride be harboured after you have seen Deity humbling himself, and then as man debasing himself, until as man there were no lower depths to which he could descend? Be astonished, O, ye heavens, and be amazed, O ye inhabitants of the earth, that such returns should be made to your Lord.
What contempt, what wickedness, what formality, what pride, what efforts made to lift up man and glorify himself, when the Lord of glory humbled himself, agonised, and died the shameful death on the cross in our behalf.
Who is learning the meekness and lowliness of the pattern? Who is striving earnestly to master self? Who is lifting his cross and following Jesus? Who is wrestling against self-conceit? Who is setting himself in good earnest and with all his energies to overcome Satanic envyings, jealousies, evil-surmisings, and lasciviousness, cleansing the soul-temple from all defilements, and opening the door of the heart for Jesus to come it? Would that these words might have that impression on the mind that all who read them might cultivate the grace of humility, be self-denying, more disposed to esteem others better than themselves, having the mind and spirit of Christ to bear one another's burdens. O, that we might write deeply on our hearts, as we contemplate the great condescension and humiliation to which the Son of God descended, that we might be partakers of the divine nature.
Now I read a few lines from the advance pages of the new Life of Christ.
In order to carry out the great work of redemption, the Redeemer must take the place of fallen man. Burdened with the sins of the world, he must go over the ground where Adam stumbled. He must take up the work just where Adam failed, and endure a test of the same character, but infinitely more severe than that which had vanquished him. It is impossible for man fully to comprehend Satan's temptations to our Saviour. Every enticement to evil which men find so difficult to resist, was brought to bear upon the Son of God in as much greater degree as his character was superior to that of fallen man.
When Adam was assailed by the tempter, he was without the taint of sin. He stood before God in the strength of perfect manhood, all the organs and faculties of his being fully developed and harmoniously balanced; and he was surrounded with things of beauty, and communed daily with the holy angels. What a contrast to this perfect being did the second Adam present, as he entered the desolate wilderness to cope with Satan. For four thousand years the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and deteriorating in moral worth; and in order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he stood. He assumed human nature, bearing the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He humiliated himself to the lowest depths of human woe, that he might sympathise with man and rescue him from the degradation into which sin had plunged him.
"For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Heb. 2:10. "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Heb. 5:9. "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Heb. 2:17, 18. "We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Heb. 4:15.
It is true that Christ at one time said of himself, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." John 14:30. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But he could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. Jesus did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought could he be brought to the power of Satan's temptations. Yet it is written of Christ that he was tempted in all points like as we are. Many hold that from the nature of Christ is was impossible for Satan's temptations to weaken or overthrow him. Then Christ could not have been placed in Adam's position, to go over the ground where Adam stumbled and fell; he could not have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. Unless he was placed in a position as trying as that in which Adam stood, he could not redeem Adam's failure. If man has in any sense a more trying conflict to endure than had Christ, then Christ is not able to succour him when tempted. Christ took humanity with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man with the possibility of yielding to temptation, and he relied upon divine power to keep him.
The union of the divine with the human is one of the most mysterious, as well as the most precious, truths of the plan of redemption. It is of this that Paul speaks when he says, "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." 1 Tim. 3:16. While it is impossible for finite minds fully to grasp this great truth or fathom its significance, we may learn from it lessons of vital importance to us in our struggles against temptation. Christ came to the world to bring divine power to humanity, to make man a partaker of the divine nature.
You see, we are on firm ground all the way, so that when it is said that he took our flesh but still was not a partaker of our passions, it is all straight; it is all correct, because His divine mind never consented to sin. And that mind is brought to us by the Holy Spirit that is freely given unto us.
"We know that the Son of God has come, and hath given us a mind" and "we have the mind of Christ." "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."