on The Life Without Temptations

I find it most true, that the greatest temptation out of hell, is to live without temptations.-Samuel Rutherford

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  1. I find it most true, that the greatest temptation out of hell, is to live without temptations. – Samuel Rutherford

    There are as it were two types of ‘temptations’. One as it pertains to trials, testings and persecutions; the other as it pertains to sin. Which of these two Brother Rutherford had in mind we cannot tell. But none the less it is a fact that both are needful for the Christian on this side of Heaven.

    First, ‘temptations’ as it pertains to trials and testings are both needful and good for the Christian, or the Apostle had not said – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations”. [James 1:2].
    These trials and testings are sent to prove the genuineness of our faith; first to ourselves and also to those who know us. The Scripture likens the faith of God’s elect to Gold [see 1Pet 1:7]. But all is not gold that glitters. And just as there is such a thing as imitation gold, even so there is such a thing as ‘false faith’.

    This False faith is one in which multitudes of unregenerate Christians are confidently resting. A false faith may be greatly enlightened and knowledgeable in gospel truth (Heb. 6:4). It may humble itself in sackcloth and ashes (Ahab), confesses sin (Saul), may be very charitable and generous (Ananias), and may even tremble at the Word of God (Felix), it may preach, perform miracles, and cast out demons (Matt. 7:23), lastly it may even persevere and hold out until the Day of Judgment (Matt. 7:22-23). But it cannot endure the Furnace of God’s testing fire![Zech 13:8,9]

    Gold will go through the fire and still come out pure gold, even purer gold, if it is real gold! But you try putting that fake gold through the fire and see what happens! That so-called faith, just like the counterfeit gold, it is not worth a thing the minute it’s put to the test! But the ‘faith of God’s elect’ is not so. It is a faith of which the Lord Jesus is the Author and the Finisher! [Heb 12:2]. The fire of God’s testing shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. Those who are the recipients of this ‘faith of God’s elect’ can go through the worst kind of hell on earth and still say, with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!” [Job 13:15] But those with a ‘false faith’ like Job’s wife will curse God and die! [Job 2:9].

    Secondly, temptations as it pertains to sin and evil are also needful and good for the Christian!

    The Psalmist prayed, “Lord, show me how frail I am” [Psa 39:4]. The most humble Christian needs to be constantly reminded of his frailty and inability to persevere without God’s help. The Master’s words – “Without me ye can do nothing” are soon forgotten, and he presumptuously boasts (in his heart) if not aloud; “though all men forsake thee, yet will not I”!

    But history testifies that No man stands any longer than he is supported by Divine grace. The most experienced saint, if left to himself, is immediately seen to be as weak as water and as timid as a mouse. “Man at his best estate is altogether vanity” (Psalm 39:5). Which is why David prayed, “Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe” [119:117]

    Our Heavenly father wants us to learn this experientially and so as it seemeth Him good He at times leaves a man to himself. Hezekiah was a man of God. Yet there came a time when God left him to himself. ‘Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, GOD LEFT HIM, TO TRY HIM, THAT HE MIGHT KNOW ALL THAT WAS IN HIS HEART’. [2Chron 32:31]

    That WHO might know? Not God! For known unto God are all things from the beginning of the world [Acts 15:18] But that Hezekiah might know! Even so, sometimes, as seemeth good to Him the Lord leaves his saints and does not sustain them in their temptation that they may realize their need and dependency on the Divine hand to uphold them! But for these severe temptations, the soul would go skipping along, gloating over its own pretty piety, full of self-admiration. As a severe case of smallpox will prevent a pretty face from standing before a mirror, so terrible temptations prevent holy souls from admiring their own graces.

    Finally, Temptation leads us into real heart-felt sympathy and compassion for others. ‘Blessed be God, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God [2Cor 1:3,4]. It takes deep trials to soften and widen the sympathies. Having been overtaken by temptation and greatly sinned, our language will cease to be “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers etc” but rather “God be merciful to me a sinner”![Luke 18:11] When a man sees himself as one who has greatly sinned against God and in need of great mercy; there will be a tenderness in his judgment and a broadness in his compassion which no camp-meetings or ‘Word-Studies’ could ever impart.

    So the conclusion of the matter is: Temptation is good for us. ‘Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 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 honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ’! [1Pet 1:7] Amen!

    • He is speaking about leading sin. Here is the entire quote: “I find it most true, that the greatest temptation out of hell is to live without temptations. If my waters would stand, they would rot. Faith is the better for the free air and the sharp winter storm in its face. Grace withereth without adversity. The devil is but God’s master-fencer, to teach us how to handle our weapons.”

      I would caution you to be careful of what you say about temptation leading to sin as being a necessity for the Christian life. Yes, I believe that none will be without sin until we are glorified and with the Lord, but that does not mean that we are not capable nor is sin a necessity for that end.

      If sin was a necessity, this would go against the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit that indwells. When you’re quoting the Psalms and speaking about Hezekiah and David, remember they didn’t have the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the manner that we do today. He didn’t not indwell them as He does us. Yes, God will convict us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but we don’t have to rely upon sin to remember our dependence upon Him…we rely upon the Spirit. That’s where our strength is at, that we have been sealed with a promise and that He testifies about our risen Savior and King, Jesus Christ! (Ephesians 2, John 16)

      Grace and Peace.

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