from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 4

Topical and Doctrinal Notes

Leading Thought: Temptations

As you well know, Jesus was God Himself who is Purity and Goodness and Truth itself. But in order that He might convert sinners and make them good and true, He wanted to come down among them. Indeed He could not otherwise have redeemed and saved them. So He clothed Himself with a human body, a human nature that was just like the body or the nature of the people among whom He was going to do His great and merciful work of teaching and saving. But all during His stay on earth, He constantly removed the impurities that were in His human nature, and in their place He put on pure Divine affections and thoughts, Divine truth and Divine good, from His own Divinity. He did this in a way like that in which He helps men from being full of sin and iniquity to become full of justice or righteousness.

You know that although you may feel inclined to say what is not true or to do what is not good, yet you can overcome this; you can gradually, by trying very hard and always resisting wrong impulses, become so that you will at last never feel like saying anything but what is true, and doing anything but what is good. In this way you become angelic, although it takes a long while. In the same way the human nature of the Lord became Divine.

Now, you learned in the last lesson that when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan, this was done to represent that He Himself, the Lord, would wash away with Divine truth (which the water represented) all the impurities which He had taken on with the human nature of the body. And when He had been baptized, and went out of the water, at once the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him; and lo, a Voice out of heaven saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.’

The human nature of the Lord was just as distinct from His Divine nature, as your body is from your spirit. While you live in the natural body you cannot see your spirit, nor the beautiful heavenly scenery and the angels and spirits around you. The two worlds are quite distinct. The human part of Jesus was just as distinct from His Divine part. But on this occasion the heavens were opened to His human part, so that He could see the dove which was not material, but spiritual; and just as the dove came down and rested upon Him, so the Divine Spirit or influence of His Divine Part was to flow down into His Human part and rest there, making it Divine. And then the Divine influence went out from His human nature to regenerate men and women; that is, make them angelic. His Spirit flows from Him, just as the sunbeams flow down from the sun; and it makes men and women angelic just as the sunshine makes of a hard unripe apple a mellow, sweet and fragrant fruit.

Do you notice that there are three things that we think of in regard to the Lord? The first is His Soul, which was the Infinite Jehovah, or His very Divine Nature Itself; from this came the "Voice." The second is the human nature, which the Voice called His "Son." And the third is the Spirit of God, which flows forth from Him. These three things are called "the Divine Trinity." They are spoken of in the Word -the one as the "Father," the second as the "Son," and the third as the "Holy Spirit."

Since the baptism of Jesus showed that there were at first things in His human nature which had to be washed away, and that then the Divine influence would flow down into it from the Divine Itself and make it the Divine Human, therefore we are told how that, immediately after He was baptized, He was driven into the wilderness and fasted there forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was tempted of the devil. All this showed that He actually did what His baptism had represented; that is, He actually removed every wrong thing out of His Human, His body.

Forty days and forty nights also mean temptation. Indeed, the number forty is often used in the Word to mean temptation. And what is temptation? It means trial. The Lord was tried. The devil tried to make Him do things that were not right, by promising Him very agreeable and pleasant things. But Jesus always answered the devil by telling Him that the Word of the Lord teaches us to do the very opposite of what the devil wants. Never throughout all His life, did the Lord do what the devil tried to make Him do, no matter how much it seemed as if it would be pleasant to do it; and the devil tempted Jesus from His babyhood even until the crucifixion.

We all must undergo temptation. That is what the water of our baptism and also the cross made on our forehead and breast, when we are baptized, mean. The Lord said that we must take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 10:38; 16:24); that is, we must undergo temptation and do as He did.

All evil spirits and devils taken together are meant by the devil; all the hells fought against the Lord. But He overcame them all. Now, in our case, whenever any devil or evil spirit whispers in our ear, to try to make us do something which seems very pleasant, and which we would like to do, but which we know is wrong, we must do as the Lord did: We must say, "No, I will not, because it is a sin against God." Indeed, we may use the same words that the Lord did, and say, "It is written."

For instance, if you are inclined to be disobedient, say, "It is written, Honor father and mother."

Or, if tempted to say or do what is hateful, or angry, or mean, say, "It is written, Thou shalt not kill."

Or, if tempted to think or say or do things impure, say, "It is written, Thou shalt not commit adultery."

Or, if tempted to want to have what belongs to others, say, "It is written, Thou shalt not steal."

Or, if tempted to be discontented, say, "It is written, Thou shalt not covet."

You will find the greatest power against the devil when you use the words of the Lord, because the Lord Himself is back of them.

And just as, after the temptation of Jesus, angels came and ministered unto Him, so, after we have fought off the devil with the Lord's words and help, angels come to minister to us and make us happy and contented and blessed.

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