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VI. [The Location, The Wilderness]

The sixth is the place, the lists, to wit [that is], the wilderness,

[note “alone”]

that so he might be alone, and that there might be no fellow-worker with him in the matter of our salvation,

that he alone might have the treading of the wine-press, Isaiah 63.3.

So, in his transfiguration in the mount, he was found alone, Luke 9. 36.

So, in the garden in his great agony, he was in effect alone; for his Disciples slept all the while, Mat. 26. 40 that unto him might be ascribed all the praise.

Secondly, we will note here, that there is no place privileged from temptations, as there be some that think there be certain places to be exempt from God’s presence, (as was noted in the dream of Jacob) so the monks and hermits thought, that by avoiding company, they should be free from temptations; which is not so.[1] For, although Christ were alone in the wilderness, and fasting too, yet was he tempted we see.[2]

And yet it is true, that he that will live well, must shun the company of the wicked, Gen. 19. 17[3] when the Angels had brought Lot & his family out of the doors, they charged him not to tarry, nor to stand still, nor once to look back.[4]

So, after the cock had crowed, and put Peter in mind of his fall; he went out of the doors and wept bitterly, Matt. 26. 75 his solitariness was a cause to make his repentance the more earnest, and helped to increase his tears: and company is commonly a hindrance to the receiving of any good grace, and to the exercising and confirming us in any good purpose.

But as true it is, that temptations are, and may as well be in the deserts, as in public places: not only in the valleys, but in the mountains, verse 8. and not only in the country, but even in the Holy City [Jerusalem], vers. 5 yea, and sometimes full, and sometimes fasting[5], yea, in paradise and in heaven itself; for thither does the devil come and accuse us before God: we are therefore always to stand upon our guard.[6]

 For in the second chap. of Luke verse. 24. He is said to walk through dry places, least happily some might be escaped from him thither: and though we could go whether he could not come, we should not be free: for wee carry ever a tempter about with us.[7] And when we pray to be delivered from temptation, it is not only from the devil, but from ourselves, we carry fire within us. Nazianzen[8] and Basil[9] were of that mind once, that by change of the place a man might go from temptation: but afterward they recanted it, affirming that it was impossible to avoid temptation, yea, though he went out of the world, except he left his heart behind him also[10].


This section concerns the location of the temptation: the wilderness. There are a number conclusions which have been drawn from this over the centuries. For instance, Adam fell to Satan in the Garden; Jesus refused temptation in the wilderness.

Andrews considers the fact Christ was alone. He then gives three other instances of Christ alone. Christ will be alone when treading out the judgment (Is. 63:3).

Christ was alone after the transfiguration. This reference is a bit more complicated. The passage a whole reads:

Luke 9:28–36 (ESV)

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Christ is alone after the transfiguration, in that Elijah and Moses are now gone. But Jesus was still with Peter, James, and John. The reason for this reference by Andrews must be in v. 31: They were discussing Jesus’ “departure” – his “exodus” [that is the Greek word]. The exodus of Jesus was going to be his Passion. Thus, the alone here foreshadows the next alone mentioned is Christ alone in the Garden before he is arrested.

What this means is that at critical moments in his life, Christ’s work was done by Christ alone.

Andrews then draws an application for us. We may think that we can escape temptation merely by changing our address. I heard this referred as to “doing a geographical.” If lived in a different city, I would no longer do this or that. There was a belief in the church after Constantine that one could avoid sin merely by living in the desert away from all human beings.

Such a thing is not true. We can be tempted anywhere. Jesus was tempted in the desert.

But there is a greater trouble. We take ourselves wherever we go. Temptation is not something exterior to us; temptation arises from within us: “13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

 James 1:13–15 (ESV)

[1] There were men and women in the early church who lived by themselves in the desert (or other secluded place) under the belief that by being away from other human beings, they would be safe from temptation. “In general, the hermit life confounds the fleeing from the outward world with the mortification of the inward world of the corrupt heart. It mistakes the duty of love; not rarely, under its mask of humility and the utmost self-denial, cherishes spiritual pride and jealousy; and exposes itself to all the dangers of solitude, even to savage barbarism, beastly grossness, or despair and suicide.” Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 3 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 169.

[2] The example of Christ disproves the thesis that one can avoid temptation by being in the wilderness.

[3] Before God destroyed Sodom, God sent angels to warn Lot and his family to flee. The angels told them to run and to not look back. Lot’s wife did, and was turned to salt.

[4] Even though we cannot avoid temptation by fleeing to the desert, we should not conclude that it is perfectly fine to keep wicked company.

[5] We will be tempted whether we are full or famished.

[6] In Job 1 & 2, the accuser, the “Satan,” is in heaven to accuse Job of hypocrisy.

[7] Our tempter is always with us, because we are our own tempter.

[8] One of the three Cappadocian Fathers, born 330.

[9] One of the three Cappadocian Fathers, born 329. Known as “Basil the Great.”

[10] We cannot avoid temptation in this life, because temptation will always be with us. As for the reference at the end that we cannot avoid temptation unless we leave our “heart behind”: that is reference to Jesus’s statement that temptation comes our heart: “20 And he said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’” Mark 7:20–23 (ESV)