MADE LIKE UNTO HIS BRETHREN. NO. I.
In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God-- to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." --Heb. 2:17.
The present time is meant by the Apostle when he speaks of the "Evil day" in which it will be difficult to stand. When he says, Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand, it implies a defensive rather than an aggressive fight--a necessity for defending the faith once delivered unto the saints, from assailants. This is the case now, and the attack upon the truth is daily becoming more pronounced. The fact that errors have long been so mixed with truths in the minds of men, affords the enemy a grand opportunity for assailing the truth, now that the time for the fall of error has come. The armor must be put on before the attack comes; for during the attack we will be kept so busily engaged meeting and parrying the cuts and thrusts of error that we will have little time for the adjusting or polishing of the armor. The attack is already commencing, and the unarmed are beginning to fall; and surely in the end none of that great host will be able to stand--"A thousand shall fall at thy side." But while the necessity of a defence hinders the progress of the armed, yet every blow and every thrust will but prove the strength of their armor, and give the greater confidence in it.
Such an attack is now being made on the advance picket line, in the claim that our Lord Jesus was a sinner like the rest of mankind. The above text is cited in proof of this, and the argument deduced is like this: Our Lord was made like unto his brethren in order that he might be a faithful High Priest, able to sympathize with tempted, fallen men, because made like them a sinner. If not a sinner how could he sympathize with sinners? they confidently ask. Their theory that our Lord did not come to ransom the world, needs in some way to show some reason for our Lord's first advent, and hence their claim that it was merely and only to be an example to men that he then came. And if it was needful for our Lord to come down to manhood in order to furnish an example to sinners, the same logic would demand the admission that he must have been a sinner in order to be able fully to sympathize with them, or to be really the example as they claim.
This is a very delusive and ensnaring argument to all who are not firmly grounded on the rock foundation, to all who do not see the necessity for a ransom. Those who have seen clearly the ransom doctrine taught in the Bible, know that a ransom (1 Tim. 2:6) means a corresponding price, and such see that our Lord became a man in order to give this ransom for Adam and all represented in his trial and fall. Such see at once that in order to be a ransom for the perfect Adam, who sinned, our Lord must be a perfect, spotless, sinless, undefiled, holy man; for nothing else would be a corresponding price. And God, foreknowing the character of the present attack, has been arming us upon this very subject for years. See articles: "Perfecting the New Nature," March, '83; "Himself took our Infirmities," January, '84; "The Undefiled One," September, '85. But some have not put on the armor and are now liable to fall under such attacks as the one we now mention.
But let us help these opposers to a further logical conclusion, by suggesting, that if their theory be correct, if it be true that our Lord's mission was to gain a practical experience with sin in himself, in order to be able to SYMPATHIZE with sinners, and to be able to ILLUSTRATE how they should each put away his own sin, then the logical conclusion must be, that he tasted of every kind of sin, in order to be able to sympathize with and succor every sinner. If their theory be correct, there is no escape from such a conclusion, and some of the more candid promptly acknowledge it and quote in support of it the statement, "He was tempted in all points like as we are."
But what does such a theory and such an interpretation of Scripture imply? It implies a contradiction and setting aside of all those other scriptures which teach that our Lord was pure, holy, undefiled, in mind and body. Let us see that this is so. Imagine the besotted drunkard, so weak as to be unable to resist even the smell of liquor, or frenzied by it to recklessness and crime; imagine the opium user enslaved to his habit; imagine the miser worshipping his money and ready to sell life, health, and every comfort for money; imagine the spendthrift with his inglorious failing; imagine the proud and haughty in their contemptible weakness; imagine the libertine and prostitute whose every thought becomes inflamed with impurity so as to continually beset them with temptations; imagine all these vices and degradations and temptations and then reflect, that if the theory we are opposing be true, that our Lord came to be tempted in all points to the extent that all sinners are tempted in order to fully sympathize with each, and to be an example to each how to put away his sin, then our Lord must have had as unholy, ungodly, unmanly, impure, degrading thoughts and feelings as we have above described. And furthermore, as a pure fountain cannot send forth impure waters and a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, it would follow that to have such thoughts and feelings our Lord must have had a very depraved mental and physical organism. And our Lord then must have been not only as low and degraded in mind, body, thought and feeling as any man, as any sinner, but must have been the worst and most degraded of all, possessing all the bad qualities and weaknesses of all men of his own and every day, before and since. Sodomites and Antediluvians were filthy sinners, but [R952 : page 3] our Lord, according to this theory which we are opposing, was as bad as the worst of them, and as bad in addition as the worst of other sinners in other ages and in other crimes--the vilest of the vile.
How absurd and blasphemous this error thus carried to its logical conclusions. For be it noted carefully, that if it be admitted that it was not needful for our Lord to go into the depths of sin to be able to sympathize and set an example, then it must be admitted that it was not needful that he should be a sinner at all, nor have a single imperfection, which is just what we claim and the Scriptures everywhere teach.
But if our opponents should grant this, their no ransom theory would fall, for they would be forced to admit that our Lord being a perfect man corresponded with the first perfect man (Adam) who sinned; and they would also be forced to admit that when the uncondemned perfect man Christ Jesus died, he gave the very price or penalty that was against Adam--exactly a ransom or corresponding price. Thus our opponents would be forced to admit that the ransom and no other work (no example) was accomplished for the world.
Having shown what our text does not mean we leave the explanation of its true meaning for an article under the same caption in our next issue.