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Tuesday: The Great Controversy in the Desert — 16 Comments

  1. I recall many years ago,I watched a movie named Groundhog Day.

    Film Synopsis:
    A cynical TV weatherman finds himself #reliving the same day over and over again# when he goes on location to the small town of Punxsutawney to film a report about their annual Groundhog Day. His predicament drives him to distraction, until he sees a way of turning the situation to his advantage.

    As he relives the same day over and over and over again, meeting the same people, talking the same conversations and eventually sees his own rudeness and ulterior motivations.
    He decided to correct himself to be pleasant, cordially and be respectful.
    He is then released out of his recurring same day.

    This is not to far off in content in how Jesus perfects us in the satisfaction process.
    Not the exact same day over and over again, but the qualities we need (to be a perfected Son/Daughter) is tried/tested in us in different ways, until we GET IT !

    Jesus will then move on to another quality ...to be perfected in his image of his character.

    Keep on trucking (meme)
    Philippines 1:6

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  2. I graduated from my first degree, married Carmel, got my first job and drove 5000km to the other side of Australia in the space of two months in 1968/69. It was an enormous transition. I can remember arriving in Perth and having to look for a house to live in. Suddenly I was faced with the fact that this was real life and I can remember the feeling of being completely overwhelmed by it all. I had my doubts. Did I really want to be a teacher? Was I married to the right woman? Did I really want to live so far from New Zealand? I was tempted to doubt myself.

    I think the biggest temptation for Jesus in the wilderness was to doubt himself and his mission. Stepping away from what has been the status quo of being a carpenter in a small Galilean village, and entering a life of public ministry with a message that was going to challenge the establishment, Jesus faced the temptation of doubt and accepting what appeared to be an easier way.

    And as one would expect from the Son of God, Jesus chose to put the temptations behind him and get on with his mission. I don't think we should lightly dismiss the temptation of Jesus. Luke tells us:

    Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. Luke 4:1,2 NKJV

    Forty days is a long time. We often concentrate on the theology of the three temptations and their meaning, but this was not just three temptations. It was a period of forty days of nagging doubt, constant reminders of human weakness, and insecurity. The battle between good and evil is a "close-fought battle" and the temptation of doubt is an example of the persistence of the battle. There is no break and you cannot quit the game.

    We can talk a lot about the importance of prayer and Bible study when we have self-doubt. But, I think we need to think outside the box about what we mean when we say these things. Prayer and Bible study only become meaningful when it is purposely directed towards building a relationship with God and one another. Carmel catches me out at times when we have our evening worship. When I pray, she often says, "You said that last night! Think of something else. God is going to get bored with your conversation!" Its a good catch because it makes me think about what I am praying.

    (70)
    • Maurice,
      I can't tell you the number of times I have read this account but NEVER saw the tempted for 40 days! I always as you said focused on the three temptations. This, for me, dramatically changes my mental image of what Jesus had to endure.

      (18)
    • Maurice, I think you probably mean, "I think the biggest temptation for Jesus in the wilderness was to doubt His Father's call and His mission."

      Somehow, "... he biggest temptation for Jesus in the wilderness was to doubt himself ..." doesn't sit quite right, considering that Jesus said that He did nothing of Himself but only did the will of the Father. I believe that when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness, it was a test of His trust/faith in His Father.

      (7)
  3. Why did the Holy Spirit lead Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted? In I order to understand this, we need to step back and consider the 'big picture'.

    Recall that Eve and Adam were successfully tempted by Satan to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil via indulging rather than resisting a self-seeking heart-desire motivation (Genesis 3:6). By embracing self-seeking in place of self-renouncing love, humanity became inherently disconnected from life (Romans 5:12-14) and therefore should have died out that day as God had forewarned (Genesis 2:17). This is because holding on to, or operating from, a heart motivated by self-renouncing love is the fundamental necessity for true life and living. Life is actually not possible on any other basis (despite things seeming to suggest the opposite at under God's temporary restraint/probation of the full inherent consequences Ephesians 2:1-6).

    But God compassionately, mercifully and graciously stepped in to (temporarily) restrain those consequences in order to create a 'second-chance' opportunity for salvation. How was this opportunity created? Jesus stepped into humanity specifically to take on the role of the 'second Adam' - Adam 2.0. Being the second Adam involved Jesus being tempted by Satan just as the first Adam had been tempted, but unlike the first Adam, this time successfully holding on to self-renouncing love in every instance - and in doing so, defeating the devil and retaining the right to true/eternal life.

    Jesus wasn't just tempted the 3 specific times mention in Luke 4. Jesus was tempted as often as Satan could (eg, Luke 4:2,13), with increasing intensity all the way to being tempted to prevent His death and accompanying separation from God (Philippians 2:8).

    But every temptation was met by Jesus with resolve to hold on to self-renouncing love, knowing that it was the only and vital basis of life and connection (oneness John 17:21) with God. And thus, every temptation became a practice opportunity that 'disciplined' or strengthened Jesus character of self-renouncing love (Hebrews 5:-9). Through successfully resisting every temptation to self-seeking, as an authentic human, Jesus reconnected the human species back to true/eternal life. And then, as the successful second Adam, Jesus offers this inheritance to all who would choose to be adopted/'reborn' with a new heart and right Spirit (as per John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9 and Psalm 51:10) of self-renouncing love.

    Like Jesus, each temptation we face is a necessary training-practice (discipling) opportunity to grow and strengthen our resolve to hold to self-renouncing love over self-seeking indulgence. This is how we, like Christ, and aided by the Holy Spirit, develop a Christlike character that is the only basis that will enable us to share in true, eternal life. And this is why we must unfortunately face temptation (James 1:2-4).

    (26)
    • Phil, do I understand you correctly:

      This is because holding on to, or operating from, a heart motivated by self-renouncing love is the fundamental necessity for true life and living.

      Does this mean one has to have "a heart motivated by self-renouncing love" or one will not be allowed into heaven and will not receive Eternal Life?

      Jesus this time successfully holding on to self-renouncing love in every instance - and retaining the right to true/eternal life.

      So did Jesus earn the right to Eternal Life by being perfect?

      so Jesus offers this inheritance to all who would choose to be adopted/'reborn' with a new heart and right Spirit of self-renouncing love

      Like Jesus, each temptation we face is a necessary training-practice (discipling) opportunity to grow - this is how we, like Christ, and aided by the Holy Spirit, develop a Christlike character that is the only basis that will enable us to share in true, Eternal Life.

      What is the process if one gives in to temptation? Do we have to "born again" every time?

      At what stage does the LORD say:
      Rev 22:11-12 MKJV  He that is acting unjustly, let him still act unjustly. And the filthy, let him be filthy still. And the righteous, let him be righteous still. And the holy, let him be holy still.  (12)  And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each according as his work is.

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      • Hi Shirley

        Thanks for checking what I am saying.

        A heart that holds to self-renouncing rather than self-seeking is a vital necessity for anyone to have abundant
        /eternal life. This is an inherent 'requirement' (ie necessity) by the reality of what is needed for life - hence 1 Samuel 16:7, Psalm 51:10, Ezekiel 36:26, Matthew 15:8, etc principle). Thus "allowed" or "denied" is not the basis on which I find the above to operate.

        Jesus retained the right to eternal life by perfectly holding to self-renouncing love. Had Jesus given in to self-seeking even once, He would have lost connection with eternal life just like the first Adam. Both Jesus and Adam started out being connected with eternal life. We might say it was theirs to lose. This is not the same with all Adam's descents who start out disconnected from life (as per Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12-14; Ephesians 2:1-3).

        With regard to falling into temptation, it is about degree of departure from self-renouncing to self-seeking. It is more about the dominant trend of the heart rather than an individual lapse as a generalisation. Thus, if a person begins again indulging self-seeking as a habitual tendency, then renewal of rebirth would be necessary.

        I believe Revelation 22:11-12 occurs in response to the point at which everyone has set their heart's tendency into either self-seking or self-renouncing love. That point was reached by humanity previously back in Genesis 6:5 where all except Noah (and presumably his family) had set their hearts to self-seeking. Thus, as it was in the days of Noah... (Matthew 24:37-39).

        The key point is that all the above operate on an inherent basis that is reflective of a reality based on cause and effect principles as per Galatians 6:7-8 summary statement. That is where I am coming from in my comments.

        (2)
    • Phil, I agree that

      Through successfully resisting every temptation to self-seeking, as an authentic human, Jesus reconnected the human species back to true/eternal life. And then, as the successful second Adam, Jesus offers this inheritance to all who would choose to be adopted/'reborn' with a new heart and right Spirit.

      I believe that was an intrinsic aspect of the Atonement, but, judging from your other comments, you offer that aspect as a replacement for the teaching that Christ offered Himself as our Substitute, bearing our sins on the cross and thus dying the death that we deserved (Rom 6:23) so that we could live the life that He deserves (eternal life). (If I am mistaken, please clarify.)

      I have heard/seen it mentioned that the penal substitutionary atonement does not make sense, because the innocent cannot bear the punishment for the guilty. But how does the teaching of Christ as the "Second Adam" make any more "sense"?

      The "Second Adam" aspect of the Atonement deals with what we normally call "sanctification" - the change into Christ's image that occurs in the life of the believer. But that does not deal with the guilt incurred by sins already committed. Christ's substitutionary death does that - it "sets us right"/justifies us so that we are accepted as "though we had never sinned." That's why in Christ, we become "new creatures." (2 Cor. 5:17) He graciously gives us a new heritage, a new start.

      See further: The Bible Echo, November 25, 1895, par. 5:
      "Herein is the mystery of redemption, that the innocent, pure, and holy Son of the infinite God was permitted to bear the punishment of a thankless race of rebels against the divine government; that through the manifestation of His matchless love, these rebels might be inspired with faith in, and love for God, and might stand before Him repentant, forgiven, guiltless, as if they had never sinned. Angels in heaven marvelled that the wrath of God should be laid on His well-beloved Son; that a life of infinite value in the heavenly courts should be given for the worthless life of a race degraded by sin."

      It seems to me that spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and some things we need to accept on faith, knowing that He who came and died in our place is able to keep us and to perfect us. (Jude 24-25)

      (5)
      • Thanks Inge

        I am unsure whether you are asking questions because you are wanting to genuinely understand better what I am proposing or whether you are convinced it is in error and therefore pointing that out to me. If the former is the case, please ask me one question at a time. If the latter is the case, I hear your concerns.

        I do not agree that the Second Adam is only addressing sanctification.

        (0)
      • I have heard/seen it mentioned that the penal substitutionary atonement does not make sense, because the innocent cannot bear the punishment for the guilty. But how does the teaching of Christ as the "Second Adam" make any more "sense"?

        We are all born “in Adam” with hearts that are inherently self-seeking and are doomed to perish. When a person makes a decision to choose the Lord, he is born again “in Christ,” the second Adam. And the Lord gives that person a new heart and on it writes his Law of self-renouncing other-seeking Love. It is not substitution, but with whom we choose to identify (that is, into whose family we choose to be adopted) that determines our eternal destiny. If our heart’s goal is to be “in Christ” and in God’s family, he will never cast us out.

        As Jesus the Son of God follows the Father wherever he leads through his Spirit, so we follow the Son wherever he leads through that same Spirit. Where he leads is back to the presence of the Father. We see him dimly now, but then face to face.

        This is not a matter of substitution, but with whom we choose to identify that determines our eternal destiny: either the first Adam, or the second Adam, Christ.

        This is my current understanding.

        (1)
        • Ah, yes, Richard, I'm quite familiar with the concept. The believer becomes a "new creation" in Christ, with a new heritage. My point was simply that this concept is no more logically acceptable to the secular person than is the concept of penal substitution.

          The Bible uses many ways to describe the various facets of the Atonement. One of them is the "Second Adam," another is penal substitution - or that Christ died the death that I deserve that I might live the life that He deserves.

          I like the way Ellen White put it in the first chapter of the Desire of Ages, p. 25:

          Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”

          [The whole chapter is full of beautiful truth! I invite our readers to click on the link and read the chapter now.]

          There are many more facets to the plan of salvation, as evidenced in the parables of Christ and the analogies used by the Apostles.

          When we make a single facet of the Atonement the whole teaching, we miss out on what God is trying to tell us and may misrepresent the plan of salvation.

          (3)
  4. Thank God because Jesus did not fail. Thank God because Jesus did not sin. And He supported all of it because His love for us is greater than the desire to give in to sin. Thank God because Jesus paid the full price for our debt, although we continue to pay for the consequences of our own sins, eternal death, the ultimate price for our decaying choices, was conquered and everyone who believes in Jesus might gain eternal life! What a love! What an example! Are we being the same for the ones we love too?

    (8)
  5. As the Spirit entered the unformed deep in Genesis 1, order and beauty and its purpose was created.
    Genesis 1:2

    As the Spirit of the perfected man, Jesus, entered man's motivations (heart and mind) order and beauty and its purpose CAN BE perfected in us also.

    Psalms 8:3-6 (CSB)
    3 When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place,
    4 what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?
    5 You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor.
    6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put #everything under his feet#

    Hebrews 2:5-12 (CSB)
    5 For he has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about.
    6 But someone somewhere has testified: What is man that you remember him, or the son of man that you care for him?
    7 You made him lower than the angels for a short time; you crowned him with glory and honor
    8 and subjected everything under his feet. For in subjecting everything to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him.
    9 But we do see Jesus -- made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace he might taste death for everyone -- crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death.
    10 For in bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God -- for whom and through whom all things exist -- should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
    11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters,
    12 saying: I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters; I will sing hymns to you in the congregation.

    We can share Christ's continued work in the eternal Sabbath rest, eternal state, above even Angels !

    Keep on trucking ...(meme)
    Shalom 🙏

    (4)
  6. Christ’s response to the first temptation tells us how we are related to life from God: “It is written, “Man shall not live on/by bread alone, but on/by every word/thing that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” (Mat 4:4, cf Dt 8:3). Satan quoted the words of God in another temptation, but it was not all that God had said concerning the issue at hand. Christ completed what God had said about the issue. Christ overcame through/by the word of God.
    Jesus later declared, “It is the Spirit who gives life… the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (Jn 6:63). Christ is called the Word, the Word of life, Eternal Life. (Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 1:1,2).
    How did Christ, 2nd (true) Adam, regard the words of God, His Father? “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the Word I Spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is Eternal Life; therefor the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”(Jn 12:48-50)

    How did 1st (type) Adam (Rom 5:14) relate to the words of God? They despised/rejected the word of God like David and Saul for example: 2 Sam 12:9-11; 1 Sam 15:22,23. Eve quoted some of the words of God but rejected/despised the other words pertinent to the issue at hand (Gen 2:9,16,17; Gen 3:3,6). “Man lives by every word/thing that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We obey the word of God we live.
    The universe came to being by the word of God (Ps 33:6-9); we are born again through the living and enduring word of God (1 Pt 1:23); Adam came to life through breath from God’s mouth, it was like God proclaiming to Israel, “Live!”(EzeK 16:6)

    It seems to me, then, that the foundation of life for us is the Word of God.
    God’s proscription of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was not a warning. There was no innate or inherent danger in the tree or its fruit that would require a warning. The tree could have been touched, admired, all such things. Everything that God had created was good (Gen 1:31; 2:9). God’s word, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat”, was a decree, statute, law, ordinance making it an evil deed. Since God is Creator, He alone is qualified to determine good and evil, and the consequences, results, rewards thereof… God’s judgment (James 4:12) of the act of eating of the tree was the death sentence.

    (4)
  7. I believe Christ's greatest temptation was to doubt His Father's care for Him. Satan insinuated that doubt, and if Christ had given in to that temptation, He would have performed a miracle to take care of His own needs - which would have been a self-centered act, out of harmony with the character of God.

    In the book of Job we get a glimpse behind the scenes into the controversy between God and Satan. Satan claims that no one will serve God from pure love and faithfulness - that God is bribing His servant Job to serve Him. Underlying this claim is the claim that God's Law is unjust and cannot be kept. In being faithful, I believe Job was a type of Christ, although I doubt that He was "perfect" from cradle to the grave.

    One aspect of the Atonement is that Christ came to ultimately disprove Satan's accusation against God and His government. He demonstrated that, with the indwelling Holy Spirit, a human being can perfectly keep God's Law of Love. I believe God is judged (Ro. 3:4) in the character of His people, and Christ not only demonstrated the character of God perfectly but blazed the way for His followers to overcome as He overcame. According to the Revelation, before Christ comes, there will be a group of people who will be recognized by their likeness to God's character. They will overcome as Christ overcame. I believe we all have the privilege of being in that group.

    (9)

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