Temptation in the Wilderness – Internal or External

Original URL   Wednesday, May 17, 2023


uh because of interest in difficult Bible passages both for preaching uh for uh teaching in Sunday School

okay am I hearing stuff or is it just is it really bad some background I know you're hearing stuff hey Phil can you uh can you mute yourself Phil Phil Baines

yeah if anybody's unhappy you can you can yell at me for as long as you want uh when we finish I'm real easy on being corrected you know being a professor for 40 years

and it is the truth especially since I taught almost all graduate school you learn a lot from your mistakes uh just try to derive an equation on an old chalkboard and make a mistake and you got 10 students telling you what you've done wrong and so you it humbles you a bit so this topic came up um and as I started looking into it I realized this is quite a controversial topic around the Detroit area and in Ontario and when we visited in Australia found that it's quite a controversial topic there also and because of the implications on the atonement now I think in New England there and probably in the Mid-Atlantic States uh people don't uh I I don't remember people arguing minutia over and over again like sometimes happens in here in the Midwest and it may be partly because of the Collegiates here come out of the Berean tradition and uh so much more argumentative than um I'm used to in the New York area or probably that you're used to in New England so I thought I'd take a look at this and see what is that Community thought about this I mean this is this is a topic where if you ask an average Christian they're going to say well they believe in the devil the supernatural devil so it's obvious the devil took them and uh attempted with all these things


first I think before you ever started studying anything go it's kind of ingrained in me I I don't like to study things that are not important so the first thing that came to my mind when I started hearing about this controversy and why uh people in the Ecclesia asked me to do something about this because there's obviously there's some dissension Even in our pleasure how to teach this I decided I better find out why it's important well

this topic was out of my experience and our collegiers experience and teaching the gospel it is definitely difficult to explain to someone who believes in the devil and we have found here that convincing people there's no devil is actually a lot harder than convincing them there's no Trinity for the obvious reason that the Trinity is never mentioned in the New Testament and the devil is mentioned over and over again and so is Satan so the argument that we might use that that Trinity is a made-up word is not something that we can get away with when it comes to talking about the devil

um as Chris the Dolphins this temptation was internal uh in the imagination of Lord Jesus Christ some people find that very hard to believe because they think that Jesus could never have ever even thought an idea that was contrary to his father's will or if it's external or even an angel or something like that then you have to explain why was something more specific not mentioned uh we have at least a few people here in Detroit area who believe it was Herod who went out into the desert to tempt them uh I won't even I will not touch on that during this class because I [Music] I I found it very hard to bite my tongue and not you know get get laughed when I heard that so how do we view this whether it was external something that Jesus thought up a lot of exactly the way we might be tempted or external

in some way you know that some peer or somebody else trying to put Plants an idea in our head and I think it pays to take a look at these uh three Clauses in the doctrines to be trajector that is the dtbr is doctrines to be rejected which is part of our statement of faith okay I I think people don't always realize the state and effect includes the doctrines to be rejected and includes the Commandments of Christ

okay uh just a brief note here there's a very good description of the Eternal argument in Ron Abel's book Restless scriptures on pages 173 174 and he comes out very strongly in favor of internal now oddly enough some of the ecclesiases right near that where late uh the late brother Iran lived uh are rejecting that these days keep it so what's the picture here are these three doctrines we reject the doctrine that the Son of God was co-eternal with the father so

if you believe Jesus was co-eternal with the father then you really have an impossible time to

even consider that this could have been in the mind of Christ that he thought up

but we reject that Doctrine

number two we reject the doctrine that Christ was born with a free life now I don't know about you but when you explain the doctors to be rejected to someone who's coming in through Bible seminars this is one of these 19th century Expressions that often uh gives trouble uh by free life though in the 19th century the Brethren meant that he he could not commit sin even though he had sin nature

that he could physically not commit sin so if you believe that that that Jesus then is no longer

suffering as we are he's not tempted in all points like we are yet without his sin as the writer of Hebrew tells us okay

and finally um we reject the doctrine that he was Immaculate and that means that that Doctrine says Jesus had a free will but he couldn't use it

now we know that Jesus had you know sometimes I find it kind of silly when I we argue with some people about these ideas but we know Jesus had a free will and he had different thoughts so he would not have been in The Godly good set to me promise saying praying that God said light thy will be done not my own so he obviously had within his thinking a desire to do something else and boy that's as human as can be because I don't know is dying to die

okay so these are the three doctrines that get kind of get messed up if you um accept that Jesus cannot possibly have an internal idea about Sin

all right so Jesus gets baptized and go quickly over the side

um and in the southern part of the Jordan valleys and he as soon as he does that he heads off uh in in similar nature to Moses where Moses had 40 days and 49s on the mount and the area there and we've been through this some many years back

um and we went through part of this in Jordan just a few weeks back it's not does it quite like the Sahara it's Barren mountainous rocky area

and there's actually a monastery called the monastery of the Temptation which is located on the cliffs overlooking the ancient ruins of Jericho and it's supposedly where Jesus uh hoisted himself for those 40 days and 40 nights to shelter himself from the heat of the sun and the cold of the night whether whether that I there I have not been able to find any as a proof other than this Monastery which was built like roughly about a thousand years ago so some of these some of these are myths and sometimes maybe there was information available then that we no longer have but nevertheless it is a very good Barren place and the issue then becomes what actually happened so now is where I could use some help reading so I could save my voice a little bit uh somebody would read Matthew 4. 1 to 11 but just read uh this these two verses because they're the critical verses

all right I'll read it for you

then Jesus was led by the spirit Into the Wilderness to be tempted by the devil and after fasting 40 days and 40 nights he was hungry

and the chapter came and said to him that you are the Son of God command these stones to become loaves of bread but he answered it is written man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God okay so he took that straight out of Deuteronomy uh verse chapter 8 verse 3 and so he drives off the devil

by quoting scripture yeah so let's pay attention as we go along and then go on please

and the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the Pinnacle of the temple and said to him if you are the Son of God throw yourself down for it is written he will command his angels concerning you and on their hands they will bear you up lest you strike your foot against the stone

okay so if this is literal we got to imagine that the devil had the power to take Jesus and transport him to the the roof the top roof of the temple uh in Jerusalem okay let's continue this what does he do to that challenge Jesus said to him again it is written you shall not put the Lord your God to the test

so again the devil is trident by words from scripture

okay let's go continue again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and he said to them all these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me okay now try to imagine this I I personally I don't know any such Mountain that can show you all the kingdoms of the world and so right there we sort of get a clue that this is metaphorical and it's a picture image of Temptation it's not literal


what does Jesus do again

then Jesus said to him be gone Satan for it is written you shall Worship the Lord your God in him only shall you serve

okay so the devil is chased off by Bible scriptures that in itself sort of is something to keep in mind and keep keep our picture and then the devil left him behold Angels came and were ministering to him all right so first uh it's easy the easy thing to do is to dismiss the idea that there's a supernatural devil Christoph means obviously don't have a problem with this and my first approach has always been you know can you really picture some

Supernatural devil being driven off by three or four verses from scripture and when I presented that sometimes to

um Bible seminar people they they really think about that yeah that doesn't make a lot of sense that the devil would be driven off by reciting a few Bible verses

and there's other other things here that underlie this is the devil does not rule over the kingdoms of men God does

so that quote itself if it's a literal quote is not the absolute picture that the scriptures give us of where the power really lies and um these two verses are really critical in showing the reality that there's no Supernatural devil uh can I get uh Daniel 4 17 reader and a Hebrews 2 14 reader

or readers or reader

I'll read them for you John sure thank you James uh Daniels 4 17. this matter is by the decree of the Watchers and the demand by the word of the Holy ones to the intent that the living may know that the most high ruleth in the kingdoms of men and giveth to whomsoever he will and set it up over at the basis of men okay you don't have to read the blue plot I think everybody can read as it's quite obvious that the Bible doesn't this doesn't say that the devil rules and can we get 214 sure for as much then as the children are partakers of Flesh and Blood he also himself likewise took part taking took part of the same that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death that is the devil thank you Jim so again there is if there ever was a devil is destroyed he's gone Christ destroyed him on the cross so I I I think when we got to that point I've never had any problem with

people who were on the seminar people uh a bigger problem comes actually among Christ adelphians and uh the reason I'm doing this class is because I to me I didn't think this was any problem at all and as soon as it was raised by some people and they started talking to other people and I talked the more I talk the more I said oh my gosh this what I've always thought was simple turned out not to be so simple so

the Temptation in the wilderness is repeated in Luke uh it is not mentioned in the Gospel of John at all and in Mark it's only briefly mentioned and in in Mark maybe most many people think Mark may be the most correct gospel that it was uh written at the dictation of Peter

and if that is is that tradition is correct

um Mark doesn't even mention him going out or Wilderness at all which it says he spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness and so there's no mention of him going anywhere so that's that that is pretty um that's pretty conclusive if anyone would know what happened to Jesus in the wilderness it would have been Peter



a couple of things that criticisms of the whole 40 days and 40 nights has come out from people like Richard Dawkins and Hitchens and uh you know did what I call the new atheists they say this whole thing's myth and Legend it's nonsense there's no way Moses or Jesus could have survived 40 days and 40 nights uh fasting well

um it doesn't really say how we fasted and um one should be very careful in these detail

the actual biblical count says more that he didn't eat anything it doesn't really mention anything about uh whether he had any access to to drink

and we are told he was immediately ministered to By Angels so I kind of discount all this this

medical analysis of it that no one can survive could survive 40 days and 40 nights without eating um but I think we all know that without drinking is far more serious and it's it is probable Jesus had access to water


but even in that case Moses has said not to have eaten or drunk and I think that if God wants to preserve you and if he can make you your body be immortal and he wants to do something for 40 days I I don't think this is a big job for God so I trust in my faith that this this is actually what happened

and it's pretty much not the point the point is

Jesus was emulating Moses to show he was the prophet that Moses predicted would come after him

and in sort of to do that when Moses went up the mount to give the Lord Jesus before he could give the New Covenant had to similarly dedicate himself totally [Music] to destroying the flesh

so I'm just going to run through this part fairly quickly because I I don't I don't know if you've ever heard about this there's been a few cases where people have survived quite long times without food or water

um but the record is supposedly by this poor guy Andreas and I am not even gonna per I'm not even gonna pretend to pronounce his last name okay if there's somebody here who's good at polish uh that's fine I I had a way I spent about 20 years uh collaborating with a Polish women scientist and her name was Rick r e k and she used to kid me that the only reason I worked with her is I she had the only polish name that I could pronounce

and that might be true but anyway this guy Andreas he was in an auto accident and apparently they picked him up made a mistake put them down and in prison and forgot about him this was in in Austria and when they found them uh some 21 days later Somebody went and had a look

um and he I guess he he lost 53 pounds now being sick on the ship I lost 15 I am perhaps the only person in history who was on a cruise and actually lost weight

um I think I may have mentioned that Dave I was talking to Dave Jennings before we left I was out in L.A and we had dinner with him and he said he gained six pounds in seven days and he predicted on 97 days I would come back 50 pounds heavier so of course guess who's the first person I called when I came back

so anyway um that's nowhere near 40 days and 40 nights

um if you're interested in this and anybody by the way anybody wants copies of this let me know I'll be more than glad to send you all these all these pictures this is not copyrighted not nothing if you want the notes and you want to use it feel free to feel free to use them

okay so here's the kind of picture you get in ordinary Christian [Music]

and the picture is quite

and I got this because talking to a Christian minister

of possible visions and he didn't say he believed in it he just said he said these are possible visions of how Christians can visualize the Temptation and when I ask them is it is this something you believe in or not he said he repeated this is possible ways that Christians can visualize the Temptation so I took it I didn't didn't want to press the point I got as much information as I needed one is that Jesus was in one place all the time in the wilderness exactly the way it is in the gospel of Mark and he saw all these Visions presented to him by the devil that's one possible Vision the other is that the devil and I don't know why the that's a really really nasty looking devil actually transported them to all these places and then finally and one that I find I have found the fan number of Chris the devians believing is that someone went out into the desert and presented all these ideas to Jesus and planted these ideas in his head and this is a picture of painting that takes place actually in the cave that is where the that Monastery of the Temptation is built okay so I can dismiss the first two this one and I tell you a fan number Krista Dolphins believe this have believed it as we'll see in a few minutes uh this one is not so clear to dismissed

okay so

so let's take a look at the historic perspective on this so at the earliest I could find of someone writing about the Temptation the Wilderness is uh uh good old Robert Robbins what a what an author he was he did so much so much materials just so what what is the historic perspective I mean the first thing I've been able to find was um Robbins

1868 and he says here his temptation in the wilderness exhibits the lust of the flesh the lust of the eyes and the pride of life having existed in him as in any other man in the Panorama of the world's Glory which from long fasting he had a naturally dreamed and seen as a vision of abundance is seen by a hungry man's eye in what sense would that fleshly Glory have been to Temptation had he not possessed the fleshly insects to desire it the will to possess it yes and the power to command it the devil attempted Jesus was his flesh the impure flesh the flesh he inherited of Adam's Sinatra so clearly that was him in 1868. okay let's take a look 18 years I'm sorry 80 years later 1876. uh brother Andrew says

in the crystal of imagined I would be observed to speak of anyone being tempted by actual transgression especially Christ who did no sin therefore the devil here whether an individual or the impulses of the sinful nature which Jesus is in common with the rest of the work was tempted was clearly not transgression which conclusion is sufficient for the purpose of the present argument so

he expands on what Robert said and now 1886 this is beautiful

after his baptism Jesus was impelled by the spirit and neighboring Wilderness the purpose that he might be tempted of the devil Paul says he was tempted in all points like as we are yet without sin his temptation in the wilderness must therefore come into the category of our experiences

hmm no man is tempted in this way

oh I'm saying uh just that once excludes the popular idea that there was a supernatural personal devil that attempted Jesus no man has ever tempted in this way but always by the incitements of the flesh either operating spontaneously Within or presented to us an objective manner by the suggestions of a person external to ourselves the whole Narrative of the Temptation shows it was a temptation of the latter sword a Temptation brought to bear by an external tempter a person not the popular devil so this is a total contradiction of what he wrote In 1868. and believe me when I run into crystals have been arguing about this uh they will if you're on one side you'll argue 1868 if you're on the other side you're logging 1886 and you'll say that and here's the argument brother Robertson is more mature understanding

realized that it had to be external okay and then CeCe Walker in 1904 the the editor who succeeded uh Roberts in 1898 he said after baptism came to Temptation in the wilderness there is no doubt certain difficulties in the understanding of it but these we can afford to hold in obeyance it is a great mistake to become lost in controversy over them to the obscuring lessons the record is intended to convey to us the main points are clear as the son the Lord Jesus was in all points tablet as we are yet without sin and he overcame through the word and so Robin Roberts

had changed his opinion and what Walker was trying to do because this whole argument on the atonement was brewing then and unfortunately it's still Brewing today and this whole issue of internal external is one of the flash points

now just uh for the sake of argument here internal either external doesn't matter that's how you can sum up those

four paragraphs

so let's take a look at what we do I always find it really hard to convince Chris Christian dolphins that something they believe with passion no matter how small the point is that that it doesn't matter and we are really really good at arguing about minutia sometimes and the argument turns out to be far worse than anything we could possibly have believed and I won't point to any specifics but I'm sure you all have known examples in your own head okay

uh the argument continued through the 20s with the nineteen twenties uh actions of the Berean split and I I don't think there's any being here that um many of you don't know uh I'll just read after he quotes from Hebrews he says being hungry after 40 days fasting naturally his flesh from broad nature would be for food he's in a desert place where food is not available what more natural propensities suggests using the power so recently given a coming as it was from the voice of Heaven announcing him as God's beloved Son a well-known brother recently clad it is better not to understand quite who the outside tempter was for outside he must have been now that's about the strongest statement and by the way there's a lot more going through the magazine I spent

about a dozen days looking through this stuff I'm only quoting the ones that I thought were right on point but there's a lot more pro and con that has happened over the years uh solely

um who

wrote the famous book on ezekiel's Temple again [Music]

um he goes back to Walker's argument whether there was a personal agent or not and I call that the either argument

and then as late as 1965 in the 1960s about the time that

um you know pretty close to the times when probably uh


I had you know I was just yeah I think I just graduated with my PhD that year and I remember reading this at the time uh there was a letter to the editor who


um an earlier argument in the magazine that year which claimed the Temptation was internal and so he goes on to say uh he's

this brother w.g Holton he cited Elvis Israel where John Thomas said the adversary went forth from the presence of the Lord came to Jesus and then assured assumed the character of an angel of Light to him and he goes on to quote also Kristen demonstrate and Nazareth revisit of all very classic standard Christadelphian works and

um he quotes all the ones that are in favor but he ignored all the other ones uh which not her in favor just

[Music] um

this is the kind of stuff that if you did this as a scientist you would be drummed out of your profession uh brother Mitchell uh uh just a little bit later

um goes back to the either or argument

he was a master of internal conflicts of Life perhaps it can be best illustrated by reference to the temptation of the Wilderness whether the devotation Came From Within or without is immaterial so I I want to tell um you got you have a lot of really good speakers in your Ecclesia and they speak at a lot of other places

um I'm also it's just kind of a warning I never ever talk about the atonement no matter how much an Ecclesia asks me to talk about it because I'm sure to get in to this argument of how Temptation actually comes about um my favorite one and actually I think one of the that's most that is put in the most intelligent way and that may be just because I always thought a brother Alfred Norris is kind of one of my heroes

um he said in

about a decade after brother Mitchell he said to this view external there remains only that some have regarded as a fatal objection that if Jesus could conceive such thoughts to stay with the thoughts of sin this would make him a sinner in mind if not indeed but to this it must be answered that if Jesus could not have conceived such thoughts then he could not have endured Temptation either

for the external tempted to make suggestions which make no appeal to one's mind brings no temptation at all and if Jesus mind have been able to ponder The Temptations and reject them then it could have been done so in the absence of any outside temperature at all this really follows from what we've already concluded about human nature and involves no offense whatsoever against the Integrity of Jesus Christ I think that's pretty beautiful and and

I think that I especially like what he's saying that even if it was external he had to perceive what Temptation was in order to reject it

okay so again we end up

uh with the internal either

internal or external either or internal uh now I think you already know my choice is

pretty much I need to say I agree with brother alfanaras I think it's just beautifully put and it's certainly something that I hope you know if you want some of these slides remember the references uh that just that you don't forget it okay so here's some some conclusions

um let's deal with the Skeptics first

the scriptures state that Moses spent 40 days and nights without bread or water there's no equivocation obviously Moses survived and did so did Jesus how was this possible I'm not sure we should worry about it because this scripture answers Luke 18 27. but he said what is impossible with man is possible with God so if we're going to question surviving a mere 40 days and 40 nights with our food of water and say that's impossible then then we reject the resurrection yeah

that that our decayed dust bodies can be Resurrected

I personally believe that there's no problem with that I mean whatever is written in the book of life whether it's our DNA code or uh or our various [Music]

sayings through our lives or whatever God can do it and he proved it by the miraculous powers that he focused to his son okay so now was it external

well you can make an argument that these scriptures show external evidence for sin because obviously Eve had no Eve had no possible conception whatsoever of sin and so in in that first instance

an external attempt that was absolutely essential because Eve had no prior experience of anything and that was not the case with Jesus

and was it internal the problem with this describes the Jesus internal rebellious thoughts against God and many find that difficult to accept well

what we're finding from what we read in scriptures is

he had planted in his mind every answer to those internal thoughts and I think one of the great lessons of the Temptation in the wilderness is that if the word of God is implanted in our own minds to that debt that when some temptation is visualized before us whether internal or external we need to be able to draw out

those verses those lessons that God has taught us

to fight off that

so it does not become actionable in sin and I think of one of the greatest things that christadophians have if we live by it and do it is the daily readings because I I know myself I've been probably doing them now I'm 84. I think I started when I was a teenager

um it's really helped me at times to remember something

that I needed to remember to

push off something that I should not have been doing I wish I could say it was always 100 successful that's simply would not be true but there is enough enough times that I needed that that memory that that verse that thing that said to John please remember this verse and don't do it finally since we've been debating this for over 100 years as we have with a few other difficult issues it is in my humble opinion accepting ether is not such a bad idea if you can get the people on both sides to realize that they don't have to shoot each other to Grant the idea that maybe the other fellow has a point of view that needs to be considered in my own personal problem with either is the external is that one has to visualize a perceive why did the scriptures not say something about where that internal external I'm sorry external Temptation came from


in the absence of evidence

it is very difficult to prove a crime

and then that's just good jurisprints

but the most important lesson we learned from the Temptation in the wilderness is it teaches us how to overcome Temptation that's more important than arguing

internal or external if the word of God is engraved on our horn personal one we can draw on it to kill Temptation in the brentis leading us into sin now I I I'm sure that you will share with me this I'm easily tempted internally or externally because that's the way we're built and I think I think you find later Jesus is tempted externally by Peter

and he has to say to Peter get thee behind me Satan so Jesus was faced with external Temptations which are very clearly spelled out in Scripture