By Evangelist B. N. Wire
How Are The Sanctified Tempted?
My early teaching left me and many others with the impression that sanctification was a finality, a finishing touch of Christian experience. The older saints seemed to always talk about victories and didn't share their private struggles and battles much with the younger Christians. So we got the false idea that sanctified people should be happy all the time and seldom if ever be tempted.
My severest temptation right after I was sanctified was over the reality of temptation itself. Satan said, "How could you be tempted if you loved God with all your heart as you profess?" Because I could not answer this question, and because of great heaviness (bad feeling), I doubted and lost the witness of the Spirit. However, in every time of such distress and defeat, I went to prayer and regained the witness that all was well. However, this sad experience would be repeated in a few days. It took me a long time to discover that it is always the Devil that asks one to judge his spiritual standing by his feelings.
I did not confide in my pastor or the older Christians about these battles because they had not acknowledged such battles in their experience, and I feared that I might be considered a freak or they would doubt my experience, if I told them.
Some months later, while on my knees down in the woods near my home at North Vernon, Indiana, God revealed to me the following outline on how the holy are tempted. This had been the heart of my problem. God showed me that there are four reasons why it is hard to go to heaven and easy to go to hell. There are four reasons why man will be tempted and only one of these is removed even in the experience of the sanctified.
The four causes of temptation are:
This last element, the old man, a dirty heart, is the only one of these four causes of temptation that the highest grace offered in this life will remove. This leaves three very definite reasons why the holy, not may, but will be tempted.
The first and greatest reason or cause of temptation is the existence of the Devil. There is no promise in all the Bible of a grace that will immunize anyone from satanic attacks. Satan is the opposite of the holiness of God, and hence he hates God Therefore, the more holy men become, the more Satan hates them. Holiness certainly is not the end of the fight but only the putting on the whole armor in preparation for the battle . How is it that we look for greater victories after Pentecost, but neglect to warn those young in the way that greater victories of necessity mean greater battles?
Most men do not realize that there is a personal devil. They are led captive in blindness by Satan at his will. People that run with Satan don't run into him. Satan also overcomes weak Christians with small things, but naturally becomes enraged when men fortify themselves in the holiness of God . Only those that are sanctified do much damage to the kingdom, so why shouldn't he turn his heavy artillery upon them? Yes, holy people will not only be tempted, but it is evident that man's temptations are severe in direct proportion to the degree of holiness which he attains.
Yes, Satan hates the holy more than others. Of necessity, he focuses his greatest powers and most subtle deception upon the sanctified. Neither does being filled with the Spirit give us power or authority to defy or dare the Devil. He is a defeated foe, but only as we keep hid behind the Cross and under The Blood of Christ. Satan will exhaust all his supernatural wisdom and powers to wage this war against the Church clear down to the river of death. His chief strategy is to accuse and confuse the saints. Thus he robs them of joy and certainty, which destroys the effectiveness of their witnessing to the world.
There is both dignity and danger in our God given freedom. It is well to remind all that no degree of grace given in this life will ever take away this freedom. "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." John 7:17.Here is revealed the main key to both salvation and sanctification -- THE WILL! Both spiritual crisis are hours of definite decisions of the will. No one is ever sanctified except he who chooses to meet the demands of God which qualify him for such an experience. He willingly takes a vow of separation and dedication which involves all his attitudes and acts for all life to come. It is one thing to make these vows and promises, and get the infilling of the Spirit, but it is another thing to execute or keep these vows across a lifetime.
The vows we make are the posts in the fence that we must build around our hearts and lives to keep Satan from coming in to sow again the seed of sin in the soil of our soul. Keeping these posts standing firm and strong is a matter of absolute necessity to the maintenance of a pure heart. Here is where the battle rages and here the hammer of the will must be exercised daily to keep the posts of obedience standing straight and strong.
We promise God to read the Bible and to pray in secret daily. But many a day we do not feel like it and circumstances are against us. Our only hope of victory is to use the hammer of our will (regardless of our feeling and circumstances). I WILL PRAY! I WILL READ GOD'S WORD! If we neglect these two corner posts of our Christian fence, Satan will soon break through our defenses. The canker worm of neglect having weakened this part of our fence (which Satan inspects so carefully) will weaken our defenses until soon he will break through and pollute again the soil of our soul with sin. Right here is where nine-tenths, if not one hundred per cent of our Christians fail. If Christians would read the Word and spend some time daily in sincere prayer, few if any, would ever back slide.
While backsliding begins with failure to pray and to read the Word, there are many other tests of obedience where we are called upon to choose against our feelings and wants, and many seemingly impossible and unreasonable circumstances. The most prominent of these danger points are over tithing our income, keeping up the family altar, and accepting responsibility and being faithful in our local church membership. But holiness and the final crown of life is promised only to those who are FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH!
The foregoing discussion pertains to the test of the will of man as it relates to the revealed will of God. But equally sore temptations may come to the sanctified over the unrevealed will of God.
After sanctification God leaves man to his own judgment and wisdom in many things. Having his heart cleansed, he senses his moral responsibility more keenly than ever before. He realizes how that not only his character and destiny, but also his influence and usefulness in the world depends upon his own will and wisdom. God has not made every detail of life clear, but He has granted us intelligence like unto His own with which we are to form judgments and make choices. Holiness does not mean perfect judgment but, "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him." James l:5. All of us will need to plead this promise again and again as long as we are in this probationary state.
The freedom to do as one pleases has been and will always be a fruitful ground out of which temptation will arise. As a sanctified man, I desire God's will always, but I do not always know His will. He may expect me to search the Word and find His will through truth revealed there. He expects me also to counsel with the brethren and find His will through advice of my leaders. If I fail to do so and am thrown back on my own resources it may be disasterous. Or God may want me to wait patiently for His will to be revealed. Here, again, is abundant room to become tempted in the waiting process. Sometimes the hardest test of our faith is to choose to do nothing when we don't know what to do. When we are free to act it takes strength to purpose and power of the will to "wait for Jehovah."
Petencostal purity means assurance of divine guidance, but again and again guidance fails to come as soon or in the way we think it ought. Here, also is danger. We must choose to keep our wills out of the way and wait until He reveals the way. He will not fail. All of us must recognize this as one of our greatest danger points. "He that believeth shall not make haste." Isa. 28:16.
Most men are proud of their freedom and feel a thrill in having the power of self determination. Although they may be holy men, this quality of personality may be appealed to in such a way as to create a sore temptation. It often causes men to presume upon the mercy of God. Many think that because their destiny pivots back upon the decision of their wills, they can choose to sin and backslide and when they choose they can return to God and be saved. How sad it is to find many, even youth, who have thus abused their God-given freedom and now find no will to hate sin and separate therefrom. It is unspeakably awful how some of our youth trifle with the dealings of the Holy Ghost thinking they can get by and walk in the light any time later. Most of these will find their light turned to darkness and their souls given over to a hellward pull that is stronger than the urge of the Holy Spirit. We cannot abuse our freedom without paying the penalty. Had it not been for moral responsibility and freedom of will and hence possibility of failing, there could have been no temptation possible to Adam, our legal head, or to Christ, our spiritual head, for both were morally pure. The first Adam presents a drama of tragedy in presenting the facts as to how the holy may fall, while Christ, the second Adam, gives a picture of the power of the sanctified to overcome all Satanic enticements.
The third reason, and perhaps the most fruitful ground from which arise our severest temptation is the human element. By the human element I mean the mental and physical appetites, propensities and passions. Again, I ray that God does not in any state of grace remove any desire with which He endowed either the body or the mind. Every bodily appetite and passion is a God-given law of physical life, subject to God's law and the human will, beautifying character, glorifying God, and indispensable to human existence. Sin never adhers in matter, it is always a concern of the spirit. There is no sin in any physical appetite only as it is thrust there by the will of man to exercise or satisfy this appetite contrary to God's will for it. It is also a false idea that some human appetites and functions are based on a lower level than others. All human elements and passions in themselves arc good in the sight of God. Many honest souls have doubted their experiences because they had found normal and proper physical propensities present and demanding attention at improper times or in unlawful circumstances. They had confused proper desire aroused in an improper circumstance with a carnal or unholy desire. There is no sin in desire as long as that desire is proper and God given. Sin enters only when one considers or chooses to satisfy that lawful desire in an unlawful way.
Desire is the most prominent factor in every temptation. All human desires mav be in themselves termed holy and legitimate. But because these human desires are good and right, that does not make them less strong. It is through the human element that Satan makes his most successful approach to entice the holy to evil.
In concluding this most important point on the relation of our humanity in our temptations, we turn to the fall of Adam and Eve as an example of how the holy fail and Jesus in the wilderness of temptation as an example of how the holy win.
Surely no one could doubt that Adam and Eve were holy. They were created in the image of God, which meant moral purity. They had no carnal inclination but were tempted and failed by seeking to satisfy strong human desires contrary to the will or command of God.
Read again Matthew 4:1, "Jesus (Son of Man) was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil." He here lays aside His deity and is led as a man by the Holy Spirit. If He had acted as the Son of God, He would not have needed the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
In this text is a great revelation of the purposes of God even in the temptations of the holy. It didn't just happen, but in some more definite an(l purposeful way than usual, the Holy Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness place for this forty day ordeal of fasting and Satanic attacks. It is a wonderful help to the Christians to discover that our temptations and trials are not only purposed by Satan for our destruction, but God wants a tested and tried people and His divine plan and purpose over shadows and overcomes all the evil purpose of Satan. Here again even in the attacks of the tempter, God says, "All things work together for good to them that love God. "Romans 8:28.
Remember now that Jesus here in the wilderness temptation is a perfect example of how a holy man may be tempted, and also how he may win over Satan's attacks. Here Jesus is the second Adam overcoming Satan, as contrasted with Eve (the first Adam) who fell to his enticements in the Garden of Eden.
Satan's approach to Jesus in the wilderness was practically the same as to Eve in the Garden of Eden with one exception. This one exception was Satan's determined endeavor to get Jesus to quit acting as a man and acknowledge and use His divine powers. In all three temptations Satan's chief goal seemed to be to get Jesus to acknowledge His being the Son of God. He appealed first to the human element of physical hunger Jesus was a man. His body had gone unnourished for forty days and suddenly it seemed that the pangs of hunger seized Him. "He was afterward an hungered." Matt. 4:22. This desire for food was a very natural, proper, human desire. It was also time and right for Jesus to take food, but here again we see the subtility of Satan as he tries to get Jesus to satisfy a proper human desire outside of the will of God. It was a seemingly innocent suggestion that Jesus turn the stones to bread and satisfy His hunger. But remember, Jesus was there as our example "that we should follow in His steps." I Pet. 2:21. He dare not be anything but a man determined to do the will of God in that hour. When Satan said, "If thou be the Son of God turn these stones to bread and satisfy thy hunger", Jesus retorted, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God." Luke 4:4. In other words He said, "Satan, I am a man today and I will overcome you as a man." He did not acknowledge or have to use His divine powers, but using the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and looking always to the will of the Father in seeking to find the satisfaction in all His desires, He could overcome the tempter.
In the second and third temptation of Jesus, Satan used all his subtility trying again to get Jesus to leave His role as a man and show himself God. He appealed to the greatest desires of the mind and heart of Christ. These desires to have all men believe on him and to rule the world in righteousness were holy and right desires which in God's plan and time will be fully satisfied. Jesus did not argue with Satan when he showed unto him all the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them and said "All things will I give thee, if thou will fall down and worship me." Matt. 4:9.
Jesus in His heart and will said no to all these offers of a wrong means to a right end. He said by his actions, I will have bread but like my brethren I'll wait until I get back to the valley (probably to Mary's and Martha's house) and eat. He knew that it was in His Father's will for Him someday to rule the world in righteousness, but the road to this rulership was by way of the cross, the tomb, the resurrection and the ascension. He has not arrived yet, but today sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty making intercession for us, the saints.
In concluding this discussion, let us emphasize this wonderful thought - Jesus never used His Divine powers to help himself while here on earth as a man. "He arose a great while before day, and went out to pray," Matthew tells us. As the Son of God this would have been unnecessary. "And when He had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray and when the evening was come he was there alone." Matt. 14:23.
When Jesus met others in sin and sickness, His great heart went out to them and His Divine powers were manifested to meet their every need. But when He faced His own needs and problems He prayed and suffered and leaned upon the promises and will of God like any holy man should do.
I love Him just as much for making himself of no reputation, and loving us enough to really be one of us as I do that He is the Divine Son. He could not be our example, that we should follow in His steps only as He meets life and overcomes temptation as a man, completely devoted to God.
This treatise is not to deal with the problem of inbred sin and how we get rid of it, but we are facing the problems after its removal. The carnal element is the moral pollution of the human heart inherited from the fall. "Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me," Psalm 51:5. "All we like sheep have gone astray and turned every man to his own way," Isa. 53:6. Man's own way is always away from God and this can only be true because he is by nature evil and unclean. This has been proved thousands of times and in many ways. Even when men are awakened to sin and seek the mercy and find the grace of God; even when they have become new creatures and rejoiced in the love of God, they all find something within that at times rebels against the will of God. Evil tendencies still remain in the soul of the believer. These remains of sin, or roots of bitterness, or the old man (as some designate it) are recognized as being a reality in the hearts of believers.
It is worthy of note that all churches whether Protestant or Catholic, in their creeds at last, believe that this evil nature, the Carnal Element does exist after we become believers, and must be removed someway, sometime, before we can stand in the presence of a Holy God. Some say we are purified in purgatorial fires after death, some that we are purified at death. Others say we grow into it. But we know from God's Word and the witness of thousands, that the baptism or infilling of the Holy Ghost will here and now sanctify the human heart. This means that a Christian can here and now have a clean heart, or be rid of that hell-bent, world-loving disposition. And yet his battles are only begun. He is still human and free and must face Satan, the tempter.