On the basis of the previous three lessons, we can now come to some practical conclusions. We want to know what difference all of this makes for our daily lives. I am tempted constantly, both by outward and inward temptations. How does Jesus' life help me with my daily struggles? Here is where we can tie this study to our overall subject of righteousness by faith.
How was Jesus tempted?
"For we have not an 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." Hebrews 4:15
(A) _____ Jesus was tempted in similar ways to us.
(B) _____ Jesus did not sin because He did not have our temptations.
(C) _____ Jesus was tempted in the same ways we are tempted.
We begin this study with the most important text on this subject. Here we learn that our High Priest is very close to us and very sympathetic to our struggles. He can be "touched" with our weaknesses, because He struggled with those same weaknesses. Jesus was tempted in all points as we are tempted. Since most of my temptations arise out of the drives and impulses of my fallen nature, if Jesus did not take this fallen nature, then He could be tempted on different things than I am tempted on, but He could not be tempted in all points that I am tempted on. He could not be tempted on my temptations to selfishness, pride, anger, discouragement, lust, appetite, carelessness, rebellion, and a host of other temptations which arise out of my fallen nature.
But this text says that Jesus living without sin was not because He avoided 90% of my temptations by not taking a fallen nature, but He lived without sin in spite of being tempted in all the same ways that I am tempted. What an encouragement this should be to us who must live our entire lives fighting against a nature that wants to destroy us. Because of Christ's living with us, and taking our nature, we have hope that sin and failure are not inevitable results of being born into a sinful world with a fallen nature.
What did Jesus not do?
"I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." John 5:30
"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." John 6:38
"Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." Luke 22:42
(A) _____ Jesus did not carry out His own will.
(B) _____ Jesus did what His will told Him to do.
(C) _____ Jesus did His Father's will.
Two correct answers
Why would it be necessary for Jesus to say this if His own will was perfect and could be trusted implicitly, because it was part of a perfect nature? Adam before his fall would not have to pray this prayer, because his will and God's will were in perfect harmony. Would we not expect Jesus to seek both His own will and His Father's will, since in an unfallen nature they would be expected to coincide? But we find this astonishing prayer of Christ repeated several times in His ministry. Jesus clearly saw a difference between His own will and His Father's will. If Jesus did take our fallen nature, then this prayer is natural and easily understood. Our will is part of our fallen nature, and by itself our will leads us to make bad choices. In fact, our will is probably the biggest problem we must deal with on a daily basis. When the will is surrendered to God, we obey. When the will is unsurrendered, we disobey. It is only by denying our own wills that we can have a relationship with God. The reality is that we must pray this prayer of Christ every day of our lives.
The following insight may be helpful here. "The human will of Christ would not have led him to the wilderness of temptation, to fast, and to be tempted of the devil. It would not have led him to endure humiliation, scorn, reproach, suffering, and death. His human nature shrank from all these things as decidedly as ours shrinks from them....What did Christ live to do? It was the will of his heavenly Father." Signs of the Times, Oct. 29, 1894
Jesus' will and His nature, in and of themselves, were not in harmony with the will of God. It was the daily work of Christ to deny that will and nature which He inherited from His mother, and to live instead by His Father's will. The daily experience of Jesus in righteousness by faith is exactly the experience we must have. The key element of our daily Christian walk is to surrender our will and desires to God, and to replace our fallen will with God's will, which is the Holy Spirit controlling our lives. Then everything else in the Christian walk will fall into place rather easily. It really is easy to obey God when the will is surrendered to Him.
Jesus came to this earth to show us how to deal with our weaknesses and our temptations, and our primary weakness is our faulty will. If Jesus really came to live at our level, He must live the way we live. Jesus our Saviour truly experienced our feelings and desires and temptations. He knew what it was like to feel the temptation to rebel against God, and that temptation arose from within His nature. Jesus had to meet the battle as we do. He must "fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss." The Desire of Ages, p. 49
Why was Jesus tempted in this way?
"For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Hebrews 2:18
(A) _____ Jesus was tempted to satisfy Satan.
(B) _____ Jesus was tempted to help us.
(C) _____ We don't know why Jesus was tempted.
The word "succour" means to help and strengthen and encourage. Jesus went through the depths of temptation to show us a way out of failure and despair. He came to live at our level to give us hope. Because of His victory over His own nature and will, He can help us with our identical struggles.
What should be our attitude?
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16
(A) _____ We must be afraid to approach God.
(B) _____ We don't know if God will help us.
(C) _____ We know that we can find grace and help from God.
Because Christ is truly our elder Brother, and has gone through our daily struggles, we can have full confidence that in His name we can approach the very throne of God, and know that our needs will be supplied. Because Christ took our nature, and was tempted in all points as we are, all fear is gone, and we can know that there are answers for all our seemingly insoluble problems.
Conclusion: Jesus overcame by dependence on His Father's power. He did not use His own powers or the power of an unfallen nature. "He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us." The Desire of Ages, p. 24. The power of a sinless nature is not offered to us. For Adam it was natural to do right. For us it is natural to do wrong. If the power of Adam's unfallen nature had been possessed by Jesus, that would have been a mighty power not freely offered to us.
Jesus' victory was remarkable, not because as God He acted like God, but because as man He did not act like every other man. Jesus lived a life that Satan said could not be lived. He lived a life that was supposed to be impossible to live. If Jesus had lived a sinless life on any level other than our fallen level, the question, "What does that prove?" would never have been answered.
If Jesus took a perfect nature He would have bridged the gulf between God and man, but the gulf between unfallen and fallen man would still need to be bridged. If, however, Jesus took our fallen nature, then He bridged the whole gulf from fallen man in his dire need to God.
The practical results of this study for us is that we now know how salvation works. We can experience righteousness by faith by looking to Christ. He overcame through daily surrender and prayer. He let the Holy Spirit control the daily decisions of life. And every member of the human family can access the power of God just as Jesus did. Christ "laid hold on the throne of God, and there is not a man or woman who may not have access to the same help through faith in God. Man may become a partaker of the divine nature." Selected Messages, book 1, p. 409.
Our Saviour and Lord is both our Substitute and our Example. He gives us both the assurance of salvation and the power to live above sin. He has demonstrated that we no longer need to live in rebellion. Jesus proved that with God the impossible is possible. Because of Jesus our future is bright with hope. Because of Christ's victory in our fallen nature, the way is now prepared for God to do the impossible in us. What is totally impossible from a human perspective is simply God's opportunity to accomplish the impossible once again.
If we really want to know what righteousness by faith is and how it works, all we need to do is to take a long, lingering look at Jesus. It is so easy for us to allow the press of daily living to obscure our view of Jesus. Will you take more time to just look at Jesus?