Charles Colson, in his brilliant book of essays Who Speaks For God?, tells of watching a segment of television’s “60 Minutes” in which host Mike Wallace interviewed Auschwitz survivor Yehiel Dinur, a principal witness at the Nuremberg war-crime trials. During the interview, a film clip from Adolf Eichmann’s 1961 trial was viewed which showed Dinur enter the courtroom and come face to face with Eichmann for the first time since being sent to Auschwitz almost twenty years earlier. Stopped cold, Dinur began to sob uncontrollably and then fainted while the presiding judge pounded his gavel for order. “Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories?” asked Colson, who answers:
No; it was none of these. Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at once he realized Eichmann was not the godlike army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “I saw that I am capable to do this. I am… exactly like he.” Wallace’s subsequent summation of Dinur’s terrible discovery—”Eichmann is in all of us”—is a horrifying statement; but it indeed captures the central truth about man’s nature. For as a result of the fall, sin is in each of us—not just the susceptibility to sin, but sin itself.
It was not the horror of the man Eichmann that smote Dinur, but the horrible revelation of self and the predicament of mankind that made him faint. Eichmann is in all of us, because all of us are in Adam. This is proven by our susceptibility to temptation. We are tempted by theft because we are thieves, even though we may not in fact steal. We are tempted to kill because we are murderers, even if we do not literally slay our brother. We are tempted to adultery because we are adulterers, even though we may not commit adultery. James says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:13, 14). The fact that we are tempted proves that we are prone to evil—and it is terrible. Eichmann is in all of us.
Objecting to this shows that we have not yet fully grasped the Scriptures’ teaching about our sin, nor have we come to grips with the realities about our own personalities.
What is our hope? As believers, it is the fact that we are in the second Adam, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ who conquered temptation. Admittedly this is a wonderous mystery (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13), as is the mystery of his being sinless and yet fully tempted (Hebrews 4:15). Because of our solidarity with him, we can have victory over the sin within us. In recognition of this, we are going to examine the great temptation of Christ in the wilderness—seeing the nature of his temptations and what he did to overcome them, and then seeing how this can be of help in our own struggles with temptation.
Preaching the Word – Preaching the Word – Mark, Volume I: Jesus, Servant and Savior.