Mount Of Temptation
Dear reader, we have now arrived at the first mountain experience that is recorded in the New Testament, and it is found in the Fourth Chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel. It is the record of the awful temptation of the blessed Son of God, and it might properly be called the Mount of Temptation, or we might call it the Mount of Victory for the Son of God, and the Mount of Defeat for the devil. Just as truly as the devil defeated King Saul on Mount Gilboa, the Son of God defeated the devil on this mountain and came off more than conqueror, and won the battle for us, and today we have to make war with a devil that has been defeated by our Christ. We are better able to meet his onslaughts by the fact that the Son of God met him in the open field and defeated him and came out more than a Victor.
The devil knows that Christ is on our side, and he knows that the blessed Christ has defeated him, and that we know it as well as he does. And he knows that we are fighting a winning battle, for the war is between Christ and the devil, and the devil knows just as well as he knows anything that Christ is to run him down and put him off this planet and set up His Kingdom in this world and reign from shore to shore. We read that the devil has come down to this earth with great wrath because he knows that his time is short. Of course we think that a few years of suffering and toil and temptation from the devil is a very long time, but the few years that we are on probation are as nothing compared to the eternities that are to unfold and pass on by. And today we can see that victory is ours in the end, and that is the thing that keeps us in good courage.
We know that the devil is fighting a losing battle while we are fighting a winning battle, but while the devil knows that he is defeated, he is not going to give you up without an awful struggle on his part to keep you in his kingdom of darkness and death, and hell at last. He has defeated many souls since Jesus won the battle for them. The devil made them believe that they were not free, and that he had a perfect right to them and their service and their money and their influence. How many poor souls he has put into hell is unknown by us, and yet every one of them had been redeemed by the blessed Son of God, and a way opened up whereby they every one could escape the snares of the devil and make their way to heaven.
Jesus fought out this awful battle on the Mount of Temptation, and then on the cross He bought us and paid for us with His own precious blood, and today we are His by creation and redemption and preservation. And I am His by my own choice, and my own free will power, bless His holy name.
The Christian who knows nothing of temptation that stands out in his life like a mountain, has not been long in the way, for the devil has a wilderness to take every fellow through, and a mountain-like temptation that will stand just before you. The Lord will permit the devil to give to you this test because He wants a people that He has tried and proven, and the one way the Lord has of trying us is to turn the devil loose on us, and what he will do to us will be a plenty. The Lord will give us grace to come out victorious, and then we have one more defeat recorded over the devil and one more victory recorded for our blessed Savior, and we sing, “Each victory will help you some other to win,” and nobody knows that any better than the fellow who has been through the battle.
We all know that it is one thing to write about the temptation, and one thing to sing about it, but to be sorely tried by the devil is altogether another thing. I am willing to admit that at times I have been so sorely tried, it looked to me that I would die under temptation. When I have been most sorely tried was not when the devil was tempting me to do something that was wrong; he has tried me on all of those things, but the most awful trials that I have ever had from the devil were when he would swoop down on me and seem to close up every avenue of prayer and every avenue of faith and hope, and the arm of trust seemed to be broken, and the awful darkness would settle down over me, and my soul was tossed as a vessel out on the bosom of the great deep. Then it seemed that all the powers of hell were turned loose on me at one time, and there was nothing to do but just stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. While these temptations were going on, there was no temptation to do anything, either good or bad. Our trials will cause us to remember the words of St. Peter when he said that “The trying of your faith is more precious than gold.”