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Could Jesus have sinned?

The New Testament gives the answer


          From the July/August 2004 "Acts" magazine
                with a few added comments by
                         Keith Hunt



     Could Jesus Sin? The New Testament authors had no qualms
about declaring that Jesus was truly human and telling us that
Jesus committed no sin. All evangelical scholars affirm that
Jesus did not sin. It is vital to our theology that Jesus was
sinless. For only if Jesus was sinless could His death have been
a vicarious substitution and fulfil God's redemptive plan for
man. If Jesus had not been sinless, then it would mean that He
died for His own sins and not those of mankind. Had Jesus died
for His own sins then His death could not have been accepted by
the Father as a vicarious substitution for the punishment and
judgment each of us are entitled to receive. Even though there is
no serious debate that Jesus was anything but sinless,
theologians have discussed the question of whether Jesus could
have sinned if He had wanted to. The problem centers on the
question of Christ's susceptibility to sin. This is called the
peccability of Christ. The opposing argument, impeccability,
being that even if He had wanted, Jesus could not have sinned
since He was God and God can not sin. Two Latin terms are used
to describe theologically the question of whether or not Jesus
could sin. "Posse non peccare" means able not to sin, and "non
posse peccare" means not able to sin. Simply speaking,
peccability refers to Jesus being liable to or prone to sin and
impeccability speaks of His being not liable to sin and being
incapable of sinning. Upon first consideration, one might view
this question as being trivial. However, there are some very
important and appropriate reasons for examining this issue.
     One of the greatest tragedies in Christian thinking is that
the Jesus has not received the respect and exaltation due to Him
on account of His victory over sin through the development of a
perfect character. The widely held doctrine of the trinitarians
and binitarians makes Jesus into God Himself (not so for
binitarians - as they say Jesus was not God the Father - Keith
Hunt). Since God cannot be tempted and has no possibility of
sinning, it would mean that Jesus did not really have to battle
against sin. Considering this, His life on earth was therefore a
sham, living out the human experience, but with no real feeling
for the spiritual and physical dilemma of the human race, since
He was not personally affected by it.
     There is another side to this issue dealing with whether or
not Jesus could sin. There are groups that fail to properly
appreciate the wonder of Jesus being the only begotten Son of
God. They make Him an angel or the natural son of Joseph.
     Although Jesus did not have a human father, he was conceived
and born like us in all other ways. Many people cannot accept
that a man of our sinful nature could have a perfect character.
It is this fact which is an obstacle to a real faith in Christ.
     Thus, we can see that the peccability or impeccability of
Jesus is more than simply an academic debate. The outcome of such
a debate could have far reaching implications on our view and
knowledge of God, our doctrine of the nature of Jesus, the
question of Biblical inerrancy and integrity and finally, our
view of Jesus' victory over temptation and sin.

THE PECCABILITY OF JESUS


     As already stated, the peccability of Jesus holds to the
idea that it was entirely within the range of possibilities that
Jesus could have succumbed to temptation, and thus could have
stepped outside the will of His Father at any time between His
birth and His death on the cross. This means that during the
whole earthly ministry of Jesus the redemption of humankind was
hanging in the balance while Jesus faced the tempter. This was a
real battle between Satan and Jesus for the salvation of
humankind. The earthly sojourn of Jesus was a long, constant
struggle on His part to avoid yielding to the enticements of
Satan. The Son of God was on a constant alert to escape being
tricked by Satan into departing from the perfect will of His
Father. It was possible for Jesus to choose by His own volition
whether or not to suffer the death at the cross. "O my Father, if
it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I
will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39). This was possibly the
greatest temptation, not to lay down His life for a world that
hated Him.
     To believe that Jesus was of our nature, but was sinless in
His character, always overcoming His temptations, is not easy. It
takes much reflection upon the gospel records of His perfect
life, coupled with the many Biblical passages which deny that He
was God (He was not God the Father for sure - Keith Hunt), to
come to a firm understanding and faith in the real Christ. It is
far easier to suppose that He was God Himself, and therefore
automatically perfect. Yet this view demeans the greatness of the
victory which Jesus won against sin and human nature. He had
human nature; He shared every one of our sinful tendencies, yet
he overcame them by His commitment to God's ways and seeking
God's Spirit to overcome sin. "For we have not an high priest
which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: but
was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
(Hebrews 4:15). This God willingly gave, to the extent that "God
was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," through His
very own Son. (See 2 Corinthians 5:19).

     The following is an examination of the question of the
peccability of Jesus. Three arguments will be given in support of
the peccability of Jesus. Since Jesus temptations were genuine,
He had to be peccable, since Jesus was truly human, He had to be
peccable, and since Jesus as the last Adam corresponds to the
first Adam, He had to be peccable. 

THE TEMPTABILITY OF JESUS

     The Scriptures make it clear that the Savior was indeed
tempted. "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to
be tempted by the devil." (Matthew 4:5). On the basis of the
reality of His temptations, the logical conclusion is that for
the temptations to be genuine, He must have been capable of
sinning. If a person has no susceptibility to sin or if sin has
no appeal for Him, the temptation is a farce and not a temptation
at all.
     Our first argument that Jesus was peccable, centers on the
question of the temptations of Jesus. Temptation in Jesus
indicated the possibility of sin. If it was impossible for Jesus
to sin, how could there have been any temptation? No one can be
tempted to do that which it is impossible for him to do; but
Jesus was tempted in "all points" like as we are tempted. The
emotional treatment of this subject by some who hold the contrary
view is represented by the following statement: "A peccable Jesus
would mean a peccable God"; but this logically is being the
equivalent to saying that a mortal Jesus is equivalent to a
mortal God. The problem with this circular thinking is that of
not understanding that Jesus is not God (not God the Father that
is - Keith Hunt) but the Son of God (by willfully giving up His
Godhead with the one who in the NT is known as God the Father -
Keith Hunt) which makes Him susceptible to human sin and death.
God can not be tempted, can not sin and can not die (unless of
course He becomes a literal flesh and blood human - Keith Hunt)
This will be discussed in greater length later.

     To help us better understand the temptability of Jesus, we
must look at Jesus' wilderness temptations. The Spirit of God
dwelt without measure in the sinless Jesus. The Spirit led Him
into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil.
During this time He ate nothing and became very hungry. After the
forty days the devil came to Jesus and tempted Him. The proper
name for the devil is Satan. He must be understood, not as the
principle of evil, not as a personification of iniquity, but as a
malignant creator of the highest order, and one who is the
conscious enemy of God and man. Satan's malignant hatred of
humanity was first manifested in Eden, and has continued unabated
throughout history, his purpose as the destroyer having been
evidenced in every case in which the Bible has given any
knowledge of it. His strategy of opposing Jesus, the Son of God
was discernible throughout the whole life of the Savior. Satan
attempted to murder the Christ child, and finally, with God's
permission accomplished His death on Calvary. Satan has always
been the accuser of God, claiming that God's laws are untenable,
and at the same time accusing humankind as not worth saving
because of their disobedience. "And I heard a loud voice saying
in heaven, now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom
of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our
brethren is cast down which accused them before our God day and
night" (Revelation 12:10). It is evident from Revelation 12:17
what the devil was up to; "And the dragon was wroth with the
woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which
keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus
Christ." The devil will do whatever it takes to keep people from
having the faith or testimony of Jesus and keeping His
commandments. 
     These temptations in the wilderness were not to be the only
temptations. Temptation came again when the multitude tried to
crown Him king by force, and upon many other occasions. He was
tempted "in all points" (Hebrews 4:15). Some say that the words
rendered "every temptation" would have been more accurately
rendered "every kind of temptation." Nevertheless, the event
recorded in the three synoptic gospels was the decisive
battle between Christ and Satan. 
     These three temptations with their basic appeal to the lust
of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,
repeated the pattern of the temptation of the first Adam, and in
essence, the sum of all temptations. "For all that is in the
world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the
pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1
John 2:16).    
     By His magnificent triumphs over Satan's confrontation
through out His life, Jesus made certain the final victory. When
Satan tested Jesus in the three basic areas of temptation, His
true character was fully revealed.

     If one may hazard a conjecture as to the greatest temptation
of Jesus, it would likely be in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus
had the handicap of human flesh as we do, even the blood of
harlots and Gentiles; and, as a man, Jesus certainly had the
capability of doing wrong if He had elected to do so; and
absolutely no logical refutation appears in any of the writings
seen on this subject that can explain how any person can be
tempted to do that which it is impossible for Him to do. In the
garden of Gethsemane, it was likely an impulse to call the whole
thing off, abort His mission of redemption, call for the legions
of angels, overwhelm His enemies with destruction and consign the
human race to oblivion, a fate fully deserved; and that just such
a temptation did occur is seen in Christ's mention of the twelve
legions of angels. "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my
Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions
of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). Only His great love for humankind
and His obedience to the Father enabled Jesus to forego such a
termination of His mission.

THE HUMANITY OF JESUS

     There is a fine balance to be drawn between those passages
which emphasize the degree to which "God was in Christ," and
those which highlight His humanity. The latter group of passages
make it impossible to Biblically justify the idea that Jesus is
God Himself, "very God of very God," as the doctrine of the
Trinity wrongly states. This phrase "very God of very God" was
used at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., where the idea of God
being a Trinity was first promulgated; it was unknown to the
early Christians.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GOD AND JESUS

     One of the clearest summaries of the relationship between
God and Jesus is found in 1 Timothy 2:5: "There is one God, and
one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." There
being only one God, it is impossible that Jesus could be God; if
the Father is God and Jesus is also God, then there are two Gods.
"But to us there is but one God, the Father." (1 Corinthians
8:6). "God the Father" is therefore the only God (the Scripture
quoted - 1 Cor.8:6 clearly states there is only ONE God the
Father, but that does not mean there is not another who was part
of the Godhead, and hence could be called by the name of God, as
what we know with a "surname" - Keith Hunt). It is therefore
impossible that there can be a separate being called "God the
Son," as the false doctrine of the trinity states (while I do not
believe in the common teaching of "the Trinity" as taught by the
Trinitarians, the NT does indeed call Jesus by the name "God" - a
a look in Strong's Concordance will soon prove that to you -
Keith Hunt)....
     In addition to this one God, there is the mediator, the man
Christ Jesus. Christ being the mediator means that He is a
go-between. A mediator between sinful man and sinless God cannot
be sinless God Himself. It had to be a sinless man, of sinful
human nature. "The man Christ Jesus" leaves us with no doubt as
to the correctness of this explanation. Even though he was
writing after the ascension of Jesus, Paul does not speak of "the
God Christ Jesus." (of course he does not in this specific verse
for he was showing the "humanity" of Jesus, that He had become a
human man, had given up what He had in the Godhead, and was human
as we are human, subject to temptations as we are, but not giving
in to them, and so could be a perfect "go-between" or mediator
for human kind and God the Father. But other verses and other
contexts show Jesus is called by the name "God" - but He is
clearly not, never was, and never will be, God the Father - Keith
Hunt)....
     Christ was clearly "the son of man," as He is often called
in the New Testament. "the man Christ Jesus." He was "the Son of
the Highest" in Luke 1:32. God being the highest indicates that
only He has ultimate highness. Jesus being son of the highest
shows that He cannot be God Himself in person. The very language
of Father and Son which is used about God and Jesus, makes it
obvious that they are not the same. While a son may have certain
similarities to his father, he cannot be one and the same person.
(Yes, Jesus is NOT the FATHER, and the Father is NOT Jesus, they
are two separate beings with separate spirit bodies. All this I
have proved in other studies on this Website - Keith Hunt).

THE NATURE OF JESUS

     Our second argument that Jesus was peccable, centers on the
question of the nature of Jesus. The word "nature" refers to what
we naturally, fundamentally are. The Bible speaks of only two
natures, that of God, and that of man. By His very nature, God
cannot die or be tempted. It is evident that Christ was not of
God's nature during His life. From our definition of the word
'nature' it should be evident that Jesus had a human nature. I am
by no means saying that the Spirit of God did not dwell in Jesus.
"For in him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead
bodily." (Colossians 2:9). In fact, it was the power of God's
Spirit that enabled Jesus not to sin. It is the same power we
have in our lives ...

     To help us understand Jesus' human nature better, let's take
a look at Hebrews 2:1415. "Forasmuch then as the children are
partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part
of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the
power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who,
through fear of death, were all their life-time subject to
bondage. For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but
He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it
behoved 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. For in that He
Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them
that are tempted." 
     This passage places extraordinary emphasis upon the fact
that Jesus had human nature. He partook "of the same" refers to
the flesh and blood nature (human nature) of the children (us).
Jesus did not have angels' nature, but was the nature of the seed
of Abraham. In every way he had "to be made like unto his
brethren" so that God could grant us forgiveness through Christ's
sacrifice. To say that Jesus was not of human nature is therefore
to be ignorant of the very basics of the good news of Jesus.

THE ADAMIC NATURE OF JESUS

     The third argument to support the peccability of Jesus is
His correspondence with Adam's nature. The argument here is that
since Jesus was the last Adam, according to Paul, He corresponds
to the first Adam. and thus had to be peccable.
     Adam was created perfect man, in full possession of all
human faculties, and with a God-consciousness which enabled him
to have spiritual communion with God. Initially innocent,
sinless, and holy, he was in a right relationship with God and
the world around him. The last Adam, Jesus, was a perfect man,
one with God, innocent, sinless, and holy. Many people mistakenly
refer to Jesus as the second Adam, a term not found in the Bible.
However, Scripture refers to Jesus as the second man. There have
been many men since Adam, but Jesus was only the second man to
ever be completely without sin.
     Adam was created in holiness without the inward compulsion
toward sin that now characterizes his progeny and so Jesus came
in holiness without any taint of sin. Adam was given every
natural faculty which constituted him human as one reflecting the
image of the true God. Jesus possessed every natural faculty of
true humanity yet perfectly manifesting God Himself. 
     The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was placed in the
Garden of Eden as a test for Adam. Adam was free to choose to eat
of it or not. Jesus corresponding to the first Adam also had to
be free to choose between good and evil. If Jesus would have no
real choice, He would thereby no longer be a proper substitute
for man.
     The first Adam failed the test, and in doing so involved all
humanity in his defeat, dragging the human race down with him.
"Wherefore as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and
death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have
sinned: ... Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even
over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's
transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not
as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the
offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the
gift by grace which by one, Jesus Christ, bath abounded unto
many" (Romans 5:12,14,15). 
     As a result, in Adam we all stand condemned, spiritually
bankrupt, enslaved to sin, and expelled from the promise land.
The last Adam, Jesus, was victorious over sin, the flesh, and the
devil. As a result, in Christ, believers stand justified and
redeemed, spiritually wealthy, liberated from sin, and included
in the kingdom of God. "For since by man came death, by man came
also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even
so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:21,22).
     We are all connected with the first Adam as depraved and
guilty sinners, and so are included in the sentence of death
which God pronounced on him. However, all who are connected with
the last Adam, Jesus, through repentance and faith in His
redeeming work, are forgiven, have received the free gift of
righteousness and so have passed from death to life.

CONCLUSION

     Could Jesus have sinned? When a child of God asks that
question, he can take comfort in the fact he has a Savior who can
empathize with him because Jesus went through the same kinds of
trials and tribulations that he has experienced. People may
exclaim. "How could Christ be tempted in all points, since He had
no child, did not grow old, never married, was not in business
and therefore did not pass through every situation that produces
temptation in humankind?" Such a question overlooks the fact that
the basic elements of temptation are actually very few in number.
     All human temptations resolve into three basic principles,
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life.
The root cause of these three temptations is self-centeredness.
The natural man without the Spirit of God within him is driven by
selfishness and pride.

     There IS a difference between Jesus and humankind. Humankind
has developed a pattern of sin and self-centeredness from his
first breath. From the time of our birth, our parents, our piers,
our schools and yes, even our churches have taught us things that
are contrary to the word of God. Undisciplined human development
and bad habits become part of our life. It is difficult to break
with these appalling patterns we have developed during the key
learning periods of our lives. Every human born since Adam is
driven by their carnal nature. Without the Spirit of God within
them, they are nothing more than an intellectual animal driven by
animal instincts ... the Spirit of God comes into the believer's
heart and begins to write His laws on the believers heart and
brings discipline into the believers life. Because of all the
years of disregard and disobedience, there is a struggle between
the believers carnal nature (the natural man) and spiritual
nature (God's Spirit within the believer). This is the actual
struggle that Paul describes as having in his own life. "For we
know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do, I allow not, for what I would, that do I not
but what I hate, that do I" (Romans 7:14,15). This is the
struggle that exists in every ... believer. 
     This is where Jesus was different from the rest of
humankind. At His conception, Jesus received the Spirit of God.
He did not spend years of His life being taught wrong things. He
was born with God-consciousness ... We are born without the
Spirit of God; He was born by the Spirit of God. His battle was
to keep from being self-centered. Our battle is to get rid of
self-centeredness. Jesus was attacked by His greatest adversary,
the devil, from the self-serving temptation that came from out
side Himself. Our battle is from within to break old bad habits,
and from without to defeat the selfish results of yielding to
temptation.    
     This is not our battle, for the battle is the Lord's if the
Spirit of God is in us. This is the promise of God; "Ye are of
God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is
he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1John 4:4). 

     Yes, Jesus could have sinned, but by the power of God's
Spirit within Him, He was able to be sinless. We can have that
same power to overcome sin in our lives if we let God's Spirit
come into our hearts ... Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and
the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6). 

                      .................

FROM THE JULY/AUGUST 2004 "ACTS" magazine, a publication of the
General Council of the Churches of God (7th Day), Meridian,
Idaho, USA.

Entered on this Website November 2004

 
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