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“For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able
to succour them that are tempted.”—Heb. ii. 18.
LEEDS: TRACT DEPÔT, 10, PARK ROW.
CHANNEL ISLANDS: J. TUNLEY, GUERNSEY.
T HE sympathy of Christ is associated with His 21 priesthood on high. He sympathises not with sin, nor with sinners as such, but with the suffering saints of God. At the same time the Holy Ghost looks back upon Christ's own experience when He was upon earth. He was tempted, but then the temptation was not in any way from within. There was in Him no propensity to evil that answered to the trial of Satan; but, on the contrary, all that the enemy found was dependence on God, simple unwavering faith in His word; never a carnal working, as in our hearts.
Hence, as there was in Christ the total absence of self-will inwardly, as He in every respect hated and rejected evil, there was nothing but thorough suffering. The effect of temptation on fallen humanity is not suffering but rather pleasure, if we can call that pleasure which is the gratification of our evil nature. Christ knew nothing of this in either His person or His experience. Of motions in the flesh, inward solicitations to sin, He had none : He “knew no sin.” Hence, in order to guard against error on
so holy and delicate a theme, it is necessary that we should hold fast the truth of Christ's person as God has revealed it.
It is thus the Holy Ghost introduces the matter in the Epistle to the Hebrews. He begins with the person of the Lord Jesus. He insists upon that which, after all, is the most necessary foundationHis divine glory (chap. i.). From Old Testament witnesses, Messiah is demonstrated to be the Son (verses 1-5), object of angelic worship (verse 6), to be God (verse 8), yea, to be Jehovah (verses 10-12). If I do not start with this as my faith in Christ, as the basis on which all His other glory is built up, my perception of the truth of Christ will be soon seen to be radically false. No one thing at bottom can be right with us, if we are wrong as to Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Next; having thus fully shown His proper divine dignity, the Holy Ghost takes up His humanity (chap. ii.); but there is the most careful exclusion of all thought that Christ assumed humanity in the fallen and morally feeble state in which it is in us. Because the children (the objects of God's favour in this world) were “partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil: and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." It was needful that He should become a man, in order, by His death, to vindicate God, annul Satan's power, and accomplish redemption. But it was in no way incumbent on Him to take into His person here below the smallest taint of the fall. Nay, it was essential that He should not be thus defiled. If it is required of a steward that he be faithful, no less indispensable is it that an offering should be pure and spotless for the altar of God. The Lamb of God must needs be free from the remotest degree of infection. And so Christ was in all respects and to the full. Other scriptures prove this amply in detail, and fully confirm what we have definitely in the Hebrews—that He took blood and flesh without the very least element of fallen nature in connection with it. As to proclivity or even liability to evil, there is absolute silence; yea, rather, we shall see that such thoughts are carefully cut off beforehand.
In the Gospels, where we naturally look for the complete, because inspired, historical accounts of the person of Christ, more particularly in the Gospel of Luke, where He is displayed specifically as man, we find the fullest evidence of this. “The angel answered and said unto her [i.e., the Virgin Mary], the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” It is evident, therefore, though truly born of a woman, though deriving