The Work and Life of Jesus
In order to save man, Jesus laid aside his honor as commander in heaven, left the world of glory, and came to earth to live as a man among men. He might have appeared with all the display of royalty, attended by ten thousand times ten thousand of his ministering angels. But he humbled himself, not only to take our nature, but to become a man of sorrows, to take upon him the form of a servant. He came to do good, to help the needy and the distressed; to heal the sick; to speak peace to the suffering; to deliver those whom Satan was afflicting; to bring redemption to all who would receive this heaven-sent blessing.
The great enemy of men was constantly working to turn their minds from Christ; and he succeeded to a great degree, because the natural heart chooses to do evil rather than good. There was an unceasing battle between Satan and his angels, and Christ and his angels. Our Saviour encountered this wily foe in the wilderness of temptation. During the forty days and nights of Christ’s long fast, Satan, concealing his real character, sought by every means which he could devise, to overcome the Saviour of the world. He finally disguised himself as an angel of light, a heaven-sent friend, and offered to show him an easier way than the path of trial and suffering upon which he had entered. But Jesus repulsed the enemy, and forced him to depart, a conquered foe.
Satan Seeks to Overthrow
Satan still comes with his temptations to the children of men. He employs every means at his command to conceal himself from view, and this is why so many are ignorant of his devices. A few days since, the question was asked me, “Do you believe in a personal devil?” “I do,” was the answer. “Well,” rejoined the questioner, “I do not believe that there is any such being; our evil thoughts and impulses are all the devil we know anything about!” “But,” I asked, “who suggests these thoughts? whence do they originate, if not from Satan?”
My young friends, be not deceived by this fast-spreading delusion. Just as surely as we have a personal Saviour, we have also a personal adversary, cruel and cunning, who ever watches our steps, and plots to lead us astray. He can work most effectually in disguise. Wherever the opinion is entertained that he does not exist, there he is most busy. When we least suspect his presence, he is gaining advantage over us. I feel alarmed as I see so many of the youth yielding to his power while they know it not. Did they but see their danger, they would flee to Christ, the sinner’s refuge. They would resist the devil. They would pray much for wisdom, grace, and strength, and would seek most earnestly to overcome every evil trait of character. They would walk in the path which Jesus trod, and shun that which Satan urges them to choose.
The tempter often whispers that the Christian life is one of exaction, of rigorous duties; that it is hard to be on the watch continually, and there is no need of being so particular. It was thus that he deceived and overthrew Eve in Eden, telling her that God’s commands were arbitrary and unjust, given to prevent men from becoming free and exalted, like himself. Satan’s object is the same now as then. He desires to deceive and ruin us. We should study the life of Christ, and seek to cherish his spirit and copy his example; and the more we become like him, the more clearly shall we discern the temptations of Satan, and the more successfully resist his power.
True Happiness Found in Selflessness
Selfishness cannot exist in a heart where Christ dwells; if cherished, it will crowd out everything besides. It will lead you to follow inclination rather than duty, to make self the subject of thought, and to gratify and indulge yourself, instead of seeking to be a blessing to others. Your wants, your pleasures, will come before everything else. In all this you exemplify the spirit of Satan. Your words and deeds represent his character, instead of the character of Christ.
Jesus bids you,
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
True happiness is to be found, not in self-indulgence and self-pleasing, but in learning of Christ, taking his yoke, and bearing his burden. Those who trust to their own wisdom, and follow their own ways, go complaining at every step, because the burden which selfishness binds upon them is so heavy, and its yoke so galling. They might change all this if they would but come to Jesus, and by his grace put off the yoke that links them to Satan, lay off the self-imposed burden, and take the burden which Christ gives them, and let his yoke bind them to him in willing, happy service.
Jesus loves the young, and he longs to have them possess that peace which he alone can impart. He bids them learn of him meekness and lowliness of heart. This precious grace is rarely seen in the youth of the present day, even in those who profess to be Christians. Their own ways seem right in their eyes. In accepting the name of Christ, they do not accept his character, or submit to wear his yoke; therefore they know nothing of the joy and peace to be found in his service.
If we have become the disciples of Christ, we shall be learning of him,—every day learning how to overcome some unlovely trait of character, every day copying his example, and coming a little nearer the pattern. If we are ever to inherit those mansions that he has gone to prepare for us, we must here be forming such characters as the dwellers there are to possess.