By Evangelist B. N. Wire
Are The Temptations of The Sanctified Without?
I have often heard old time holiness preachers say, "When you are sanctified your temptations are on the outside." This statement or its equivalent has caused most of us a lot of grief. When temptation came we had to acknowledge inner arousings of strong desires. This we feared was carnality and thus doubt entered and defeat followed. How much stumbling and falling away could have been avoided had the ministers had these problems more clearly solved in their own minds and experiences and presented such more clearly to the people.
The SOURCE of the temptation of the sanctified is always outside of the spirit in the sense that no inclination to evil can exist there. However, it is dangerous and often disastrous for spiritual leaders to speak of the temptations of the sanctified as being without unless they take care to clarify their meaning. To open this discussion I wish to state three facts pertaining to the theme at hand.
Since Christ's temptation in the wilderness is fundamentally typical of the experience of all of His purified ones, we shall use His temptation again to help clarify the problem be fore us. Some one may ask what we are going to do with the fifteenth verse of the fourth chapter of Hebrews which reads: "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (our human weaknesses, not carnal lust); but was in all points tempted like as WE ARE YET without sin." In the original Greek this reads: "He was tempted in all points like as without sin." We know that Christ was never drawn away of His own lusts or enticed by an unholy self such as carnal men. If the translators who inserted the three words, "we are" and "yet", meant that Christ was tempted in all points like as the wholly sanctified are tempted then the translation may be permissible. But to say that Christ was tempted as all men are tempted would admit the carnal element in the experience of Jesus; This is contrary to all evidence both scriptural and otherwise, and would break down the whole system of Christian theology. The message, that "Christ is an high priest touched with the feelings of our infirmities" is without doubt to the most spiritual of the church. However, we must say here that Jesus is fully able to sympathize with and succor those who are drawn away by self enticement or the "Old Man" within. He is able although He has never experienced such Himself.
In the account of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness we read that He was "tempted of the Devil." This points to Satan as the source of the temptation of Christ. At that time Christ was suffering severely because of intense desires and inner emotions of the mind and body. Through these cravings Satan forced himself in upon Christ to tempt Him. In Christ's heart there was nothing that would consider for a moment the violating of the law of God by seeking unlawfully that which was proper. The Master said, "When Satan cometh he findeth nothing in Me." That is, there was no carnal inclination in His soul to which Satan could appeal in his endeavor to overthrow the Holy Son of Man.
Although Christ was Divine, it is well to remember that He conquered Satan as a man, not as God. Satan's main attempt was to get Christ to acknowledge His Deity. "If thou be the Son of God?" says he, "Turn those .stones to bread." But Jesus refusing to acknowledge or claim deity answered, "It is written MAN shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God". Matthew 4:4. He refused to use His divine powers or even recognize His divinity in the battle with Satan. Had He acknowledged or exercised His deity in this hour, He would have broken down His ministry as our example. Rut having conquered as a man he set an example to show us how that we, as men, could overcome Satan's attacks. Just as Christ had nothing within His spirit that responded to the wiles of Satan, so may it be a tremendous assistance to us in the hour of temptation to have nothing within that will agree with Satan. The will of God, when clearly known, will be done without debate when the carnal element is destroyed from the human spirit. The source of the temptation will be from without, but to be temptation there must be an appeal to human desires within there is an appeal but there is no drawing away of unholy desire in the heart. Bread would have satisfied the hunger of Christ. Rulership of the nations would have realized His longing to gather all men unto Him. Exercising His miraculous powers would have been enjoyable for the sake of demanding the faith of the multitude. Although Satan made appeal to the strongest desires of Jesus, Christ refused to consider his suggestions for the satisfaction of His desires. His will was to do the will of Him who sent Him into the world.
Thus, it remains just as it was with Christ, that the most severe temptations of the pure in heart may come from the inner emotions of the body and from the desires of the intellect. Aroused human emotions and desires are not connected with sinful tendencies when the spirit keeps utterly opposed to the unlawful. It does not seem proper to say that there is no inner source of temptation to the holy since lawful human propensities often seem to be sources of temptation even when the Satanic presence is not necessarily involved. Especially may this be true when one is tempted to excessive indulgence of any proper appetite. The issue here is usually not a matter of right or wrong, but a matter left to human judgment and wisdom. There is no law or commandment as to how much fried chicken I may eat at one time - some may eat twice as much as others and not injure their body. I must try to be wise and not injure my health by the over exercise of any appetite, but I cannot set the standard for others. Where no law is involved we will be free and happy if we can tell God we used the best judgment we had.
This is a delicate differentiation, and every man must know his own heart by the revelation of the Holy Ghost and win his own battle. When problems of his own conflicting emotions arise and he finds it impossible to understand himself he may cast the whole problem at the feet of Jesus and trust the blood and the Holy Spirit to make it plain. After all we fight by faith, stand by faith, and conquer by faith. In many confusing problems when we cannot reason them out or feel as we think we should, the battle can be won only by claiming victory through faith. "According to your faith be it unto you." Matt. 9:29.
A sane, clear view of the problems of living a holy, sanctified life, plus help from the Lord, will enable the soul to withstand all temptation from without and also from within his human limitations. Neglect of and carelessness in secret prayer life, family altar, Bible reading, tithing, attending church, the keeping of vows, will weaken the soul and encourage Satan to attack the soul. We must nourish and keep up our faith. Only through obedience to every known duty shall we be able to keep an unfaltering and conquering faith.