Could Christ have Sinned?
peccabilty or impeccability
Heb.4:15: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin."
The scriptures are very careful to present Jesus as sinless at all times (2 Cor.5:2; 1 Pt. 2:22; 1 Jn.3:5.)
The question that comes up and has been wrestled with through the centuries is if Jesus could not sin how could he be truly human? On the other side if Jesus could have sinned, how could he be truly God. This is why 1 Tim. 3:16 states, "Great is the mystery of Godliness, God was manifested in the flesh." Since Jesus did not come through the normal means of conception He had no sin nature. Yet He was fully human, feeling the emotions we do, his body got tired, He became hungry and needed sleep just like anyone else. Jesus although fully human was not in the same category as man with a sin nature, although he looked like any other He alone was without sin. At his baptism he was anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit and was immediately led into the wilderness.The Temptation was God's idea, not the devils. For it was the Holy Spirit that led him into the wilderness to fast. He was then tempted by the devil to keep him from the cross. His purpose in the temptation was to cause him to sin, where he was offered a short cut to his goal as the Messiah. God's purpose was prove he was indeed the Son of God. The devil tempted him in three frontal attacks to disqualify him from being the savior. Each time he questioned Jesus saying, "if you are the son of God."
These three areas are the same areas we are all tempted in today (and we can have the same victory that Jesus did.)
1 Jn.2:16 The lust of the flesh- This temptation was focused on the human need for survival. The devil tempting him to use His ability to satisfy his hunger after 40 days of fasting by turning stones into bread (Mt. 4:3-4). Being at his weakest moment he came to have Him do something to feed his flesh. He certainly had the ability to accomplish this however He would have acted upon His immediate need in the flesh and would have broken His position of being in subjection to His Fathers will. While it is God's will to provide for His needs it was not for Him to use his divine power independently. Jesus' answer is that the word is the bread He is sustained on.
The pride of life- The devil next asked him to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple. Here he could prove who he was without any suffering, he could have achieved a shortcut to glory without being trained and perfected in suffering. His dependence on God the father was tested. There are right and wrong ways to depend on God. If he had have jumped he would have tested God to keep His promises, as the devil himself quoted the scripture as assurance of God's protection, wrongly applying it. Jesus would have tempted his Father to do something in the wrong time and way. He rebukes the devil by saying it is written “you shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Showing his dependence on the word of truth and his Father.
The lust of the eyes- The devil took him up to a high Mountain and then showed him all the kingdoms of the world, offering them to him in exchange for worship. This was an appeal to not worship God the creator but to worship the creature, called Satan. It was also to have him submit to the devils will of immediate rulership, again discounting the way of suffering to the cross.
All the world was the devils to give and he was trying to have Jesus violate the timing of having the kingdom under his rulership. Much like Esau he would have traded his birthright for the immediacy of what was being offered. Jesus chose God's way of suffering in patience and not looking to an immediate result that was offered.
Jesus again refers to the truth of the word "you shall worship the Lord your God and him only will you serve." Jesus successfully deterred Satan showing his sinlessness and that He is indeed the Son of God.
All these temptations instigate a response from the sin nature in man of which Jesus had none. The first Adam became a sinner by sinning, after him the whole human race had no choice, it was passed on as our nature, generation after generation. Jesus, as the 2nd Adam had the same choice to become a sinner by sinning. This was the purpose of Satan to have him sin and disqualify him from being the Messiah.
Could Jesus have sinned in his humanity while being God in the flesh? We need to understand that he was one person. If his humanity was separate it could have willed to do just as Adam did. While He had the choice to sin He did not have the ability. The humanity of Christ could never be separate from or unsupported from His deity. With Adam there was only one nature, with Christ He was supported by (and anointed) his deity as the Son of God.
In our fallen humanity we cannot act apart from our nature. Jesus however did not have the sin nature that we have. He was free to act perfectly in all situations. He acted upon his sinless nature obeying another's will, that of his Father. He was not able to go against God's will because He did not have the nature of sin to have that possibility. He knew no sin (2 Cor.5:21) meaning He gained no knowledge of sin through experience. He came like a man (Rom.8:3) looking like anyone else yet without the sinful nature. As Jesus took upon himself another nature of humanity it did not have the indwelling of sin that marred man (Phil.2:5-8).
Jn. 8:46 He asks the people "which of you convicts me of sin." Obviously they could not accuse him of anything.
Some argue that if there was no possibility for his sinning then the temptations were meaningless. The nature of the temptations were not that He could learn about faith as we do, the true purpose of the temptations was to demonstrate He could not sin and was in fact the Son of God. Jesus was born under the law but was kept free from any transgressions of the law. He came to do the Fathers will Jn.4:34 which is perfect. Since sin is falling short of God's perfection Jesus was never less than perfect at any time.
He did not act independently on his own initiative even though He had all the power of God. He submitted Himself over to the Father obeying him in all things acting as a perfect man in obedience to God (as Adam was to before sin). He kept all of the law perfectly but this consisted more than just the outward obedience. Remember at the Sermon on the Mount he gave us the true definition of the law. There was an internal righteousness to the law that the Pharisees neglected to keep. They thought they had kept the law correctly by their outward obedience. However, Jesus pointed to what the law actually commanded, inner obedience. Christ gave us the true interpretation that they were to live up to. This was more than 10 commandments but 613. While the Pharisees argued of their not violating the law of "thou shalt not murder" because they physically did not commit murder. Jesus pointed out that if one has hatred in their heart toward another this was transgression of the law (Mt.5:21-26). So for one not to break the law they had to act perfectly from both the inside and out and not harbor any bitterness or animosity toward another.
Conformity to rules and regulations would only affect the outward, what we need is to be affected from the inside. That means a change of our inner nature, anything short of this does not change our Spirit which is to rule over our flesh. Anyone can practice Christian principles by tithing, doing good deeds, praying, and fasting. They can do these things and even be a Buddhist, not believing in Christ. What makes one a Christian is the new birth, a spiritual birth which gives one a new motivation and attitude from the heart, it is a change of man’s inner nature. This is why Jesus scolded the religious leaders of his day. They had the look from the outside down pat, but inside they were rotting from their sin. It is for this reason God came as a man to give us a perfect example of who He is so we can see how we all fall short.
What of all the temptations were they genuine did he feel what we do? Each of us can relate to being tempted and have successfully resisted that temptation not giving in to the pull of sin. None of us would argue that the temptation was real and had a purpose in its end. The enemy has a different goal than God does.
In putting this in terms we can understand when one tries gold through a series of tests and finds no impurities in it, the test is no less valid then if some impurities showed up. Jesus was dead to sin, just as Paul says we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin. The temptation is there but he did not react to it. Let me give a human example: if I never had a problem of stealing any money in my life and I saw a dollar bill on a table as I sat down in a restaurant I would not be tempted to take that money, because I am dead to that sin. Jesus was like this to all sins. One cannot argue because he could not sin He was not a true human being because sin in its nature was originally foreign to our humanity. Adam was not sinful when he was created, although he did have the ability to choose. Sin became an intruder to the human condition. Temptability does mean one is susceptible to do that temptation. An army can attack another Army but that does not mean it can conquer it. For example, God has all power, He can create and destroy with the blink of an eye. Does this mean if he does not use his power he does not really possess it?
The temptations were every bit real as ours, maybe more intense since the enemy was working vigorously toward the goal of Jesus' defeat. Since he did not give in, it does not discount how real they were.
Christ's temptations were every bit like ours yet they could not bring out any desires. He was tempted from without but not from within, there was no internal reaction to the outward temptation. James 1: 14: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin when it is full grown, brings forth death." We can see where sin begins, we desire from within by an influence from without. We then act on it, first by entertaining the thought then by doing the deed. Jesus was dead to sin on the inside. Jesus was called the last Adam as a man, but had perfect humanity in even a greater way than Adam. While Adam had a choice Jesus could only do what His nature would allow. He was deity and cannot sin. God by his nature is infinite, Holy, righteous, perfect always, at all times. It is impossible for him to do evil.
If Jesus could have sinned on earth, what is to prevent him from sinning in heaven? This is the same environment that Satan fell in. This makes it clear it is not the environment we live in but what reacts on the inside. Jesus cannot be confronted with temptation even in heaven. Since He resurrected he is the first to be raised to eternal life bodily. He is eternally in this perfect state bodily so even though He can relate to our weaknesses from his temporary stay on earth as a human He can never be tempted again.
What of his agony in Gethsemane where He asked three times for the cup to be taken from him, He gave himself over to the fathers will, "nevertheless not as I will but thine be done." Was he praying not to die a horrible death? If He was praying that He would not have to experience physical death, He would be rejecting the very reason He came to earth. His obedience is expressed in Phil.2 says, "even to the death on the cross." He would not be praying for the very purpose of his coming to be removed since He came to do the Fathers will. There are a number of passages that clear up this seeming contradiction of purposes. Jn. 12:2 7: " \Now my soul is troubled and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour. But for this cause I came to this hour." Here Jesus is reaffirming the reason of his coming. Throughout his ministry we can see who is in control of the events. He awaited the arrest of the Roman guards certainly knowing Judas would betray him. Jn. 18:11 during his arrest He tells Peter to put his sword away saying, "shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me."
What was He experiencing in Gethsemane that tore his soul apart? In Mk.14:33 it tells us he was greatly amazed, meaning to be stunned with astonishment, He was feeling extreme pressure, sorrow, even unto death. This was so intense that there was an imminent danger of his of a total physical collapse as He had drops of blood coming from his brow. The anticipation of what was to transpire made His soul extremely sorrowful, and he was hemorrhaging. Lk.24:44 tells us he was in agony, in conflict with the forces of Satan who were trying to keep him away from the cross. If He would have died at any time before or in a different manner His sacrificed would not have been accepted.
As He asked about the cup His agony increased until he became prostrate on the ground. He asked if the cup would pass by, if there is another way, but He was willing to do the Fathers will.
In Jn.10:18: Jesus said "no one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of myself." This cup that he asked to be removed from was the wrath of God by separation that he would experience on the cross. When we look at the symbolic usages of cups we find it representing God's wrath poured out as punishment. While we are all born in a sinful state and have naturally the consequences of spiritual death by having separation from God. Jesus never knew of this, He was always in perfect fellowship with the Father and the Spirit from eternity. He knew something would take place but did not know what He would experience, that He would be in contact with the effect of sin. As soon as the sins of the world were placed on him as a substitute in our place, He was separated, suffering the wrath of God for us and cried out to the Father "My God, my God why have you forsaken me." His fellowship was broken and He felt the punishment for sin. While no one knows what exactly transpired in this separation which lasted an agonizing 3 hours, we do know his relationship was fully restored before He died, as He cried out it is finished. The debt for sin was taken care of and He cried out Father once again saying "into your hands I commit my Spirit." The agony of body and spirit was over, the debt that was incurred from the beginning in the garden was now paid and everyone here after can enjoy fellowship with God because He paid it in our place with his very life. As Zech. wrote, God speaking, "they will look upon me whom they have pierced and will mourn for him as an only son." So a new covenant of grace based on the blood sacrifice was put in place to replace the old covenant that condemned us by the law.
He was made perfect through his suffering (Heb.2:10) because of this He can sympathize with us being our high priest (Heb.4:15, 2:18). "For in that he himself suffered being tempted, he is able to aid those who are tempted." By becoming a man He can understand our human predicament. He lived it victoriously and can go before the Father representing humanity and pray for our weaknesses.
We are told he was marred more than any other man being unrecognizable. He went to endure 6 hours of torture, the last 3 of which He suffered our penalty for sin. He became the sin offering, the burnt offering. All of God's wrath against sin was focused on Christ. He broke no law and continued without sin as He hung there in our place. In excruciating pain He brought back you and I out of the enslavement of sin. Throughout the Scriptures we find the Old Testament types of the sin offering to be without spot or blemish. John the Baptist introduced him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Lev.3: "offer it without blemish before the LORD."
Lev.1:3 "If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD." Jesus freely gave his live being the lamb without blemish.
Lev.6:25-29 tells us the sin offering is most holy before and after its death. He carried our sin away being perfect and Holy throughout his sacrifice. The great exchange our sins were given to him and anyone who believes on him his righteousness is given to them.
We now have Jesus as our mediator in heaven who has an eternal priesthood and position. All priests are taken from among men so it is the God/man Christ Jesus who is in heaven. 1 Tim.2:5: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man the man Christ Jesus."
Jesus as both man and God, two natures in one person was able to be the perfect mediator for both parties. Christ became our mediator by His death (Heb. 12:24).
Christ represented man by dying as a man to fulfill the requirements of the law. If He was only a man it could only have finite value and He could not be able to save today. His death would only be applied to those living at his time and would hardly be superior to the animal sacrifices. The blood of animals were continual installments until the permanent sacrifice came. The Bible states He died for all our sins past, present and future. Because when He died all our sins were still in the future as we did not exist yet. As God the Son His death had infinite value because He is an eternal being and His priesthood is an eternal one. So unlike the Old Testament sacrifice's which could never take away sins and only cover them, by Jesus it only had to be done once. Because he was perfect and sinless it was acceptable to God for all people of all time.
Heb. 7:25-27: Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
Acts 20:28, we are purchased by blood that is sinless, this is reason for the virgin birth, that God would bypass the normal means to create a man without the nature of sin. It is this blood alone he would accept, the blood of Immanuel's veins.
The mediatorial function is tied with the New Covenant which it is dependent on the God/man accomplishing salvation and distributing the benefits of it for those who enter into the Covenant.
In Heb.2:14, "we see Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death." Was it his humanity made lower than angels? No, all humanity is already in this position. It was the Son of God who willingly put aside his independent use of his authority and power and came in the flesh made lower in position.
Heb.2:17: "In all things he had to be made like his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in all things pertaining to God. " "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (1 Cor. 5:21.)
The creator of the universe understood man’s predicament and came to be numbered among the people. While all the other religions have man reaching up to God hoping that they please him by their actions and religious activities. Christianity teaches God took the initiative entering time and space to become a man and bring us back in relationship with the Father. Only Christ offers the solution to the plague of sin. No other religion deals with this common ailment of mankind for only the true God has the solution.
Heb. 10:9-12 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, 0 God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. As the first covenant was growing obsolete he made a new covenant. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God." His sacrificial act was finished he could now rest from that atoning work but continues in his intercession.
Heb:4:14: "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession."
We see that this clearly states that Jesus is still the Son. He was the Son before and he is the Son for all eternity. He continues in his mediatorial role. Heb. 6:20 he is our high priest forever. We find that Christ intercedes for us in prayer continually he lives to intercede what assurance we have that the one who came and gave his life for us is still personally involved in our lives with a hand of comfort. 1 Jn.2:1 "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Jesus is our advocate to the Father, certainly an advocate cannot be guilty of the same if he is to represent the people to God. An advocate means someone who is as a defense lawyer, and pleads our case to another authority. So although we may be guilty of sin, it is not counted against us because we stand in His righteousness.
While mankind has many solutions to our problems none of them clean up the source. In contrast the Bible speaks about a universal problem of mankind that is the source of all our afflictions, sin. Christ alone is able to give the new nature. Being both God and man He alone possessed a nature without the effect of the fall stamped on it. Jer.17:9: "the heart is deceitfully wicked, (incurably sick). God the creator is the only one capable of fixing what is broken in man. we need a touch from a divine agency the great physician himself. There is only one universal remedy to restore our alienation from God and cleanse us from guilt.
God has given mankind the blood of Christ, His life as the cure to remove the innate problem of sin. It had to come through the sinless Son of God, the perfect man to redeem all mankind back from their enslavement of the sin nature. "For the Joy set before him he endured the cross" What was that joy that he endured the cross for? It was you and I, we were on his mind, and he would not waver, he was set on accomplishing the goal; He knew there was no other way.