An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 7 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 243 of 297
that testing which comes from God, and is associated with going on unto
perfection, and those temptations that spring from our own depravity.
Returning to the positive teaching of James 1:14, let us note its
bearing upon the text, 'He was tempted in all points like as we are'.  It is
one thing for a congregation to stand and say, 'We are all miserable
offenders', and quite another for one member to stand and publicly confess
that he is a thief.  In the same way, it is one thing to quote the passage
from Hebrews 4, which says that Christ was tempted in all points like as we
are, and quite another to be specific and say that Christ was actually
tempted to steal.  What is it that causes the presence of an unprotected
pound note to be a temptation to a man?  Is it an outside temptation or is it
something within?  It is difficult, without a feeling of irreverence, for us
to bring our Lord into this controversy: let us therefore, take a step down
and cite two fellow-beings as examples.  First, the 'chief of sinners', Paul,
the apostle.  Is it conceivable that, had Paul entered a synagogue and found
the place unattended, the presence of a piece of money lying uncollected
would be the slightest temptation to him?  Our answer must be 'No'.  The
second example, dear reader, is yourself.  Were you to come into the Chapel
of the Opened Book and discover that the offering had not been taken charge
of by the Treasurer, would that be a temptation to you to steal?  You rightly
repudiate the thought.  Why?  Because the grace of God and the gift of the
new nature make temptation of that kind virtually impossible.
So we return to the Lord Himself.  As He had no corrupt and depraved
nature, He could never be 'led away' by lust and enticed, and, that being the
case, no amount of emphasis upon the words 'in all points' can ever teach the
evil and destructive doctrine we here oppose.  The very presence of
temptation to sin pre-supposes evil already within.  He, the Saviour, could
mingle with publicans and sinners and remain undefiled.  Contrary to all law,
He could touch a leper and remain immune.  We might as well consider that a
sunbeam gathers contamination by shining on a rubbish heap as that, even in
the presence of the most gilded opportunity, Christ could be tempted to sin.
It is possible that the reader's mind may have turned back to Genesis 3
and questioned how far all that we have said would apply there.  For the
moment, our answer is that the words 'tempt', 'temptation' and 'tempter' are
never once used of the Fall of man, in either the Old Testament or New, and,
therefore, believing in the inspiration of all Scripture, we must abide by
this fact and exclude the passage from our present considerations.
Turning to the other Circumcision epistles we find that Peter alone
uses the word peirasmos, translated 'temptation', and that three times:
'Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye
are in heaviness through manifold temptations' (1 Pet. 1:6).
Let us note: these tempted believers are, at the same time, 'greatly
rejoicing' in salvation; the temptations are 'for a season' and 'if need be',
and as a result they are 'in heaviness', or as the word is elsewhere
translated 'grieve' (Eph. 4:30); 'sorrowful' (2 Cor. 6:10).  It sounds a
contradiction to say that a believer who thus rejoiced, and who was thus
grieved, could at the same time be yielding to, or tempted to, actual sin.
But we have no need to interpose on our conjectures, for Peter himself goes
on to expand and explain the meaning.  'That the trial of your faith, being
much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire,
might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus