Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Psalm 19:13.
The great leading temptations wherewith man would be beset, Christ met and overcame in the wilderness. His coming off victor over appetite, presumption, and the world shows how we may overcome. Satan has overcome his millions in tempting the appetite and leading men to give up to presumptuous sins. There are many who profess to be followers of Christ, … who, with hardly a thought, plunge into scenes of temptation that would require a miracle to bring them forth unsullied. Meditation and prayer would have preserved them and led them to shun the dangerous positions in which they have placed themselves and which give Satan the advantage over them.
The promises of God are not for us to claim rashly, to protect us while we rush on recklessly into danger, violating the laws of nature, or disregarding prudence and the judgment God has given us to use. This would not be genuine faith but presumption…. Satan comes to us with worldly honor, wealth, and the pleasures of life. These temptations are varied to meet men of every rank and degree, tempting them away from God to serve themselves more than their Creator. “All these things will I give thee,” said Satan to Christ. “All these things will I give thee,” says Satan to man. “All this money, this land, all this power, and honor, and riches, will I give thee”; and man is charmed, deceived, and treacherously allured on to his ruin. If we give ourselves up to worldliness of heart and of life, Satan is satisfied.
The Saviour overcame the wily foe, showing us how we may overcome. He has left us His example, to repel Satan with Scripture. He might have had recourse to His own divine power, … but His example would not then have been as useful to us. Christ used only Scripture. How important that the Word of God be thoroughly studied and followed, that in case of emergency we may be “throughly furnished unto all good works” and especially fortified to meet the wily foe.59Letter 1a, 1872.