THE TEMPTATIONS OF A SANCTIFIED MAN
How can a man that is "dead to sin" be "tempted?" asked an earnest but unsanctified Christian of me some time ago. "If the very tendencies and inclinations to sin be destroyed, what is there in the man to respond to a solicitation to evil?
This is a question which every man will ask sooner or later, and when God showed me the answer, it threw great light on my pathway and helped me to defeat Satan in many a pitched battle.
The fact is, that the truly sanctified man who is "dead to sin" does not have any inclinations in him that respond to the ordinary temptations of men. As Paul declares, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood" -- against the sensual, fleshly and worldly temptations which used to have such power over him -- but "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in heavenly -- as in his closet, in secret prayer-places" (Eph. vi. 12, marginal reading).
If he were once a drinking man, he is no longer tempted in the least to get drunk, for he is "dead" and his life" is hid with Christ in God" (Col. iii. 3).
If he were ever proud and vain, delighting in dress and jewels, he is no longer allured by the cheap glitter and the vain pomp and glory of this world, for he has set his affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Col. iii. 2). Such things now have no more attraction for him than the brass trinkets, eagle feathers and war-paint of an Indian.
If be once coveted the honor and praise of men, he now counts such as dung and dross, that he may win Christ and have the honor that comes from God only.
If he once desired riches and ease, he now gladly gives up all earthly possessions and comforts, that he may have treasure in Heaven and not be "entangled with the affairs of this life"; "that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Tim. ii. 4). I do not mean to say that Satan will never hold up any of these worldly and fleshly pleasures and honors to induce the soul to leave Christ, for he will. But what I do mean to say is, that the soul being now "dead to sin," having the very roots of sin destroyed, does not respond to the suggestion of Satan, but instantly rejects it. Satan may send along a beautiful adulteress, as he did to Joseph in Egypt; but this sanctified man will flee away and cry out, as Joseph did, "How ... can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen. xxxix. 9).
Or, Satan may offer him great power and honor and riches, as he did to Moses in Egypt; but comparing these with the infinite fullness of glory and power he has found in Christ, the sanctified man will instantly reject the Devil's offer: "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (Heb. xi. 25, 26).
Or again, Satan may tempt his palate with the dainty wines and rich viands of a king's palace, as he did Daniel in Babylon; but, like Daniel, this sanctified man will have at once "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank" (Dan. i. 8).
All these worldly baits were held out to Jesus (Matt. iv. 1-11 and Luke iv. 2-13), but we see in the account of the apostles how gloriously He triumphed over every suggestion of the Tempter. And just as He rejected Satan's temptations and gained the victory, so will the sanctified man, for he has Christ Himself come to dwell in his heart and to fight his battles, and can now say with the Master, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me" (John xiv. 30).
In fact, he has found such satisfaction, such peace and joy, such comfort, such purity and power in Christ, that the power of temptation along any of the old lines is completely broken, and he now enjoys the liberty of the sons of God; he is free as any archangel, for "if the Son ... shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed "(John vii". 36), even with "the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free" (Gal. v. 1).
But while Christ has set this sanctified man at liberty, and he no longer has to fight against his old worldly passions and fleshly appetites, yet he has a continual warfare with Satan to keep this liberty. This warfare is what Paul calls" the good fight of faith" (I Tim. vi. 12).
He must fight to hold fast his faith in the Father's love. He must fight to hold fast his faith in the Saviour's cleansing Blood.
He must fight to hold fast his faith in the Holy Spirit's sanctifying and keeping power.
Although not seen by the world, this fight is as real as that of Waterloo or Gettysburg, and its far-reaching consequences for good or evil are infinitely greater.
By faith, the sanctified man is made an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ (Rom. viii. 17) of all things, and his faith makes his Heavenly Father and this heavenly inheritance so real to him, that the influence of these unseen things far surpasses the influence of the things he sees with his eyes, hears with his ears, and handles with his hands.
The sanctified man says with Paul, and fully realizes it in his heart as he says it, that "the things which are seen are temporal," and will soon perish; "but the things which are not seen" with our natural eyes, but are seen by the eye of faith, "are eternal" (2 Cor. iv. 18) and will remain when" the elements shall melt with fervent heat" (2 Pet. iii. 10), and "the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll" (Isa. xxxiv. 14).
Now in the very nature of the case, these things can only be held by faith; but so long as the sanctified man thus holds them, Satan's power over him is utterly broken. This the devil knows quite well, so he begins systematic warfare against the faith of such a man.
He will accuse him of sin, when the man's conscience is as clear of willfully breaking God's law as is the conscience of an angel. But Satan knows if he can get him to listen to this accusation and lose faith in the cleansing Blood of Jesus, he has him at his mercy. Satan will in this way accuse a sanctified man, and then turn right about and declare that it is the Holy Spirit, instead of himself, condemning the man! He is "the accuser of the brethren" (Rev. xii. 10). Here is the difference we want to notice:
The devil accuses us of sin.
The Holy Spirit condemns us for sin.
If I tell a lie, get proud, or break any of God's commandments, the Holy Spirit will condemn me at once. Satan will a