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Could Jesus have sinned?

Published: 30 January 2021 (GMT+10)

E.R. from the US wrote in response to a Creation magazine article, ‘The Victory of the Last Adam’ 42(4):20–22:

bible-thorns

I enjoyed the nice article on the Victory of the Last Adam by Lita Cosner, as I enjoy most articles in Creation. It’s one of my favorite magazines, and you do so well putting it together.

I was a little taken aback, however, by a statement in the box at the end, “Could Jesus Have Failed?” Lita states, “It was impossible for Jesus to sin, because Jesus is God.” I have no question that Jesus is God and that God cannot sin. However, Jesus was also 100% man as well as 100% God, despite the mathematical incongruency of these statements. In an article about Jesus as the Last Adam, there should be no equivocation that just as Adam could fail and sin, Jesus could also have failed and sinned. If it were impossible for Jesus in His Humanity to be unable to sin, His incarnation would be a farcical and meaningless exercise rather than a real sacrifice and trial with a great victory. Rather than give Satan the opportunity to mock God for a sham show in which Jesus could not fail, Jesus gained a real victory over Satan’s best temptations far beyond that which Adam had to endure in the Garden of Eden.

Philippians 2:5–7 reveals that Jesus did not cling to the divine prerogatives but emptied Himself of them in His incarnation. Hebrews 2:17–18 states, “Therefore, in all things He had to made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation [atonement] for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (NKJV). He had to go through what we go through, yet without sinning. If that were not real but only in pretense, it would be a sick joke. Hebrews 5:7–9 declares that Christ, “in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (NKJV).

All of this would have been just a meaningless fraud unless it were real, expressive of the genuineness of His humanity, of the same nature as ours, dependent on God for strength and all things. “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” (Hebrews 4:15 NKJV).

Lita Cosner, CMI-US, responds:

Thanks for writing in. The question “Could Jesus have sinned?” is important, and our answer to that question goes to the heart of Jesus’ very nature and how He was able to save us.

First, Jesus is fully God, but it is not His divine righteousness that saves us; if divine righteousness could save us, Jesus would not have needed to live a righteous human life to attain a righteousness that could be imputed to us to bring us into fellowship with God. We need to examine Jesus’ human nature, and the human righteousness He gained by His holy, sinless life.

We might begin by looking at other people in Scripture who are said to be righteous and even to enjoy an unusually close relationship with God. Abraham was called God’s friend (James 2:23); yet he sinned with Hagar, and Ishmael’s descendants plagued Israel. Moses spoke with God face-to-face (Exodus 33:11), yet his disobedience disqualified him from entering the Promised Land. David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), but his rape of Bathsheba and murder of Uriah ensured that his family would suffer murder and strife for the rest of his life. Solomon was granted wisdom from God Himself (1 Kings 3), but was led astray at the end of his life into idolatry, leading God to take most of the nation from his son. The Bible’s record is clear: A man that can sin, will.

We might also think about the nature of sin itself. Sin isn’t just an action that is against God’s will, or anything that falls short of it. It is the nature within us that causes us to do those things in the first place. We are all born with it. No one has to teach a child how to lie, or how to be selfish, or how to rebel. That is part of our nature, and why so much of childhood discipline is about teaching honesty, gratitude, and obedience. Anyone who has this nature will act on it if they live long enough to act on that capacity to sin.

Jesus’ conception was absolutely unique: the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary so that she conceived as a virgin. There was obviously a biological aspect to this miracle. But just as importantly, there was a spiritual aspect. For the first time since God directly created Adam and Eve, a person came into the world who was not conceived with a sinful nature. This holy child was not automatically destined to sin and rebel against God. In that sense, He was the only man since Adam who even had a chance to be holy.

But did He have the choice to sin? Adam shows us that a man who can sin, even if he’s not born with a sin nature, will sin. Adam was in the best circumstances imaginable, in a pleasant garden with daily direct communion with God, and he still sinned. What made Jesus different? Jesus would not carry out His obedience in a perfect paradise, but in a wilderness with no food or water. He would live a life of poverty. And that obedience would culminate in a painful, humiliating death.

But Jesus was not just a man, He is God as well. And God cannot sin.

As a man, Jesus has the capacity not to sin because He was born without the sinful nature every other person has inherited from Adam. As God, Jesus has no capacity to sin, because God cannot sin. There would be no way for Jesus to sin as a man without corrupting His divine nature as well, and that could never happen.

Does this mean that “His incarnation was a farcical and meaningless exercise rather than a real sacrifice and trial with a great victory”? To quote the Apostle Paul, “May it never be!” Jesus suffered more in His life and death than we can ever imagine. The holy Son of God came down to earth, laying aside His divine glory and the independent exercise of His divine power. He became a poor man, the one who was worshiped by angels became despised and mocked by men. The one who had never sinned was in the continual presence of sinful people, and these sinful people ultimately killed Him. The fact that Jesus’ obedience was guaranteed doesn’t mean it wasn’t costly. The fact that the result was certain beforehand doesn’t make it a farce or pretense. To say so indicates a fundamental lack of understanding of what was actually happening.

Why would Satan tempt Jesus if Jesus couldn’t sin? It’s possible Satan was stupid enough to believe Jesus could sin. It’s possible that Satan wanted to impose whatever suffering or mental anguish possible. Maybe it was the last desperate death throes because he knew what Jesus had come to do. Maybe it shows the insanity of sin. But Jesus’ victory was real, and it was a victory that no other descendant of Adam could have won.

Sincerely,

Lita Cosner

Helpful Resources

From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
US $14.00
Soft Cover
How Did We Get Our Bible?
by Lita Cosner, Gary Bates
US $3.50
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Sue T.
Re Normand's response, Jesus was a descendant of Adam through His earthly mother, which is why the reference to Messiah in Genesis (3:15) talks about the seed of the woman, which is notable for its discordance in a culture where women were barely acknowledged. (You didn't mention this Lita, so I may be off-track . .)

I have often pondered how Jesus could possibly grow through infant-hood and not strike defiantly, covet toys, sulk and manipulate before He understood the Hebrew Scriptures and recognised Himself in it. How could toddler Jesus contain His discomforts and disappointments to resist acting on frustrations and disclosing selfish motives? Is that where His deity is evidenced?
Having sensed my poor brain's cogs grinding away as I read the article and responses, James V (quoting William Kelly), and also Philip M (Jan 29), David G and Tony J (Jan 30) plus your Feb 1st responses, Lita, have helped me disseminate! Thanks, all! I need to keep working the problem when my brain feels less scrambled!

Surely, as with many inclusions in the Scriptures, it can be added that the temptations of Jesus help us build a picture of the spiritual warfare around us, satan's methods and the utter trustworthiness of Jesus our Saviour.
Steve B.
What a wonderful discussion, gave me new things to see and understand. Thanks Lita and to all who posted.
Ian M.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning
with God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son
from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-2 and 14
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; John 14:6

Could Jesus, the Word of God incarnate, rebel against the truth, the word of God so as to sin?
If He did, would He not be rebelling against Himself thus denying His own existence?
Normand C.
The problem with Hebrew 2 was not addressed, therefore in all things He had to made like His brethren. How could Jesus be made in all things like his brethren if he did not have a sinful nature like them. Moreover how could he be recognized as a brethren if he is not a descendant of the first Adam? Jesus is a descendant of Adam according to Matthieu. The messiah had to come from David lineage. It is as true brethren that he could exercise the redemption of the Kidman redeemer. Hebrew 2 also says that He was also tempted. In order to be tempted he had to have the sinful nature for God cannot be tempted. He did not sin because unlike all other humans he was given the spirit of God without measure john3:34.
Lita Cosner
Jesus did not need a sinful nature to be truly human because sin isn't part of humans' designed nature. In fact, Jesus was more truly human, not less, by being free from the sin nature because he was fully in line with what God intended humans to be. If Jesus had a sinful nature, it would have been useless for him to be incarnated, because then He would not have been able to be a suitable sacrifice for sin.
Daniel G.
God is Sovereign. To say that Jesus could sin misses the point. God’s purpose was to restore the sinless state, not nature, of man. Adam’s sin demonstrated that man is fallible even God created him to be sinless. As much as it bursts our bubble, God knew from before the creation that man would ultimately be in a sinless state that only He could bring about and sustain for the rest of eternity. What is hard for me to grasp is how and when Satan fell in relation to the Genesis account. Adam and Eve were sinless and creation had not fallen yet even though Satan had. Very perplexing, as Satan and the third of angels were part of creation.
Steve H.
All sin is against God (Ps 51:4): it involves not loving God above all else (Mk 12:30) eg, saying or doing something against God’s will. As Jesus is God the Son, anything he says is said as God (Jn 12:49; 14:24); anything he does is done as God (Jn 5:36), yet his words and actions are of the man Jesus. Jesus acted wholly in accordance with his Father’s will - so anything he says or does by definition cannot be sin. This plays out in the ultimate temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-46). Jesus was overwhelmed by what he was facing: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…” (v38). Then: “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’”(v39) Clearly it was the Father’s will that Jesus should drink of the cup of God’s wrath for that is what happened. “Yet not as I will, but as you will” implies that the will of Jesus and the will of God were no longer aligned in regard to the cup, though they remained aligned in regard to Jesus’ continuing submission to the Father. How do I understand this? To me: The misalignment of their wills in regard to the cup is a mark of Jesus’ temptation and his humanity. Submission to his Father’s authority - despite overwhelming temptation - is a mark of Jesus’ deity. In his humanity, Jesus was genuinely tempted, and rightly called upon his Father for help. In his deity, Jesus could resist sinning such that he alone could be our saviour. He is our comfort and strength when tempted or persecuted for our faith. But if we should succumb, he will understand for we are weak and he is strong (Heb 4:15).
Julie M.
Interesting discussion! I agree with Lita, but I love the thought provoking idea. =)
Jules D.
I was reminded of 2Co_5:21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Peri S.
Jesus overcame every temptation in the desert also. The fully man in Him let him feel every pang of temptation and urge to sin as we do. But the fully God in Him was impervious to sin, in fact the idea of sin must have hurt Him as much as it hurts God the Father. So it seems that we don't often realize that Jesus was crucified inside and out. People caused Him pain and suffering all his life AND He must have felt the pain of temptation to sin from inside as we all do, but as Lita said, the fully God in Him made it impossible for Him to commit sin. The idea and comprehension of this dichotomy that must have warred within Him (and that he overcame as He walked on this earth) fills me with awe as I realize how powerful He really is as Man and God. Which leads me to bow in humility as I realize how well He knows me, and yet He forgives me.
Kirk P.
Part of this apparent conundrum is that Jesus being true man and true God is impossible for us to fully grasp. However, Scripture clearly states that Jesus was without sin. Scripture also teaches that Jesus is "the fullness of the deity in human form. Jesus' temptation in the wilderness is framed in the 40 days in the wilderness-suffering from the lack of "housing", food, and separation from humanity and its supports. Jesus, is hungry, tired, buffeted by the elements-he has real human needs and feels real human deprivations. He is tempted by Satan to cast off his human nature and feed, shelter, support himself by using his divine powers to solve do away with his suffering. In this the scripture says he was tempted. However, it is not a if Jesus weighed out in his mind, "Should I or shouldn't I?" Rather, for our sakes he turned to God's revealed will in the scriptures. Jesus endured suffering and although he had a way out using his divine powers, he suffered like we do and did not sin. Adam was also sinless in human flesh and blood at the creation. Adam and Eve sinned by rebelling against God's command. They did it to be gods, or like God, if you prefer. We weigh his out using our human wisdom which is corrupted by the sinful nature. God's wisdom is perfect. Jesus coming as he did satisfies God's wisdom, he does not have to satisfy ours.
Lester V.
Lita makes some good points, but I have a different view to propose. Imagine that Wilt Chamberlin (at 7'6" tall) and Tiny Tim (at 3'4" tall) are walking through a forest, and come to a raging stream. Wilt says "I know where the rocks are, just below the surface of the water. If you put your feet exactly where I put mine, you can cross the stream safely." Then, he stretches out to his widest stride, placing his feet on the widely-spaced rocks. Would Tiny Time be able to cross the stream, with his much shorter stride? Obviously not. In a similar way, Jesus declared that He is our example, and we are do "whatsoever I have commanded you to do" (Matthew 28:20). He also said "Be ye holy for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16, quoting from numerous places in Leviticus and elsewhere). It must be possible for us to do so, or He would be setting an impossible standard for us to follow. The only way we can do it is to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus did what He did while on earth. My point is that if Jesus' divine nature made it impossible for Him to sin, then He really wasn't tempted like we are. It's only a true temptation if there is a real choice (to obey or disobey). In every instance, Jesus chose to obey, and submit to the will of the Father, whereas mankind chooses to disobey. The Holy Spirit gives us the power and courage to choose obedience, and that's why Jesus was "without sin" - He chose not to.
Lita Cosner
The Bible has a lot to say about the universal sinfulness of humanity, and Jesus being the exception to that. Your analogy is flawed because it presupposes a difference of degree between us and Jesus, when the difference is one of kind.
Chris C.
I’m with the reader on this one. You state that “the Bible’s record is clear: A man that can sin, will.” But the Bible doesn’t say that. It only shows that even the best have failed before, and to attribute something to the Bible that’s not in the Bible is wrong. Jesus could have sinned, but didn’t, and that’s all the more reason to be thankful and worship Him. To say that Jesus can’t sin is synonymous to saying that God is confined by goodness, which is a failed attempt at limiting Him. He can be and do whatever He pleases, but still chooses to be good and merciful, not because he has no other choice, but because it’s what He chooses.
Lita Cosner
God isn't 'confined' by goodness. God defines what goodness is. God can't un-God Himself, which is what Jesus would do if He sinned.
Howard B.
A good question, and a good answer for it. By not sinning, Jesus proved that He was the Son of God, the mystery of godliness: God manifested in the flesh; God with us. Perhaps we could say that the triune God put everything on the line to take on flesh and blood, to be as one of us -- the Son of Man -- apart from sin. He was tempted in human weakness by the devil -- a spirit being stronger than any created human being -- to demonstrate His power as God. Jesus refused these temptations, subjecting Himself to the will of God His Father. He suffered at the hands of sinners, even by His own specifically chosen disciples, even to the point of frustration at their unbelief, but He never succumbed to only being human and get exasperated to the point of saying, "forget it!".
Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He came into His creation to die for sinners -- in 'weakness' by crucifixion, yet demonstrating in His weakness His godly power -- especially for those who know who He is. Who else would subject himself to such a thing?! Jesus shows us what it is to be Man created in the image and likeness of God. This is the very heart of the gospel, and Jesus asked our Father to forgive us for our sins of not knowing what we are doing. How can it be, that my God should die for me? Amazing love!
Morris B.
When you ask if Jesus “could” not sin, you are saying something beyond Himself controls Him. The fact is, Jesus “would” not sin. He’s in charge and His temptation is one more testimony that proves Jesus is Lord.
Alan B.
"As a man, Jesus has the capacity not to sin because He was born without the sinful nature every other person has inherited from Adam."
I agree that He had the capacity NOT to sin, but what is the evidence that He was not born with the same nature as Adam? Indeed, the "temptations" would not be true temptations at all in that case. We are told that Jesus "learned OBEDIENCE by the things He suffered". Why then would He have to learn obedience if He did not inherit that disobedient nature from Adam through Mary?
Lita Cosner
Jesus has a different nature because He is God, and Adam is not. Learning obedience is not less important just because that obedience was guaranteed.
Bill P.
Lita Cosner, beautiful answer if I may say so. Answering this question using The Word of God to answer this type of question is sadly lacking even in many churches of today.
I know (in person) people that have given up on the promises GOD made to those of us who love HIM and have said to me they quit taking time to pray because it does no good. (I want it clear that I do not accuse this person who asked you this question of anything wrong, in the past I have asked the same thing).
Getting back to those I mentioned before who have recently given up on their faith (expressing this to me in person) many were caught up in the frenzy caused by those that our LORD refers to as wolves dressed like sheep teaching another gospel other than the TRUE Gospel of Jesus Christ. In love I tried to warn them begging them to read Scripture to confirm the fact that those they followed were teaching a false gospel. It seems that many did not do this.
Sadly 3 days ago I came across a person I've known for yrs. who said they loved The Lord. This time that person just said to me they want nothing more to do w/GOD, His Word, or even waste time praying anymore. I begged him not to give up their faith in Jesus Christ. They not only wouldn't listen they wouldn't even look at me.
After trying for some time to convince this person (only to be rejected) I walked away w/a very sad heart and was afraid for what might happen to them now that they have given up, knowing what is soon about to happen here on earth according to The Word of GOD.
Forgive my long comment and let me just say again your answer was beautiful and more important it is The Truth.
Chandrasekaran M.
Thank you all CMI for the wonderful articles you have been publishing for they are blessing to those who struggle with molecules to moral homo sapien evolution and theistic evolution.

Now, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon etc were all born in Adam with the nature of sin because of the original sin. Whereas Jesus the last Adam never had the nature of sin because HE was not born in Adam. If Jesus had not emptied Himself to take the form of a bond servant, HE could not be tempted but Satan did tempt HIM in the wilderness. The life Jesus lived with all the miracles and the death on the cross, HE did as a bond servant. If HE had done all these because HE is God, then HE would not have said to take up the cross and follow HIM. We who are not GOD can not follow HIM if HE was not the last Adam. Because Jesus is GOD, HE emptied Himself to take the form of a bond servant to reveal God the Father to us.
William S.
I have been wrestling with this for some months now, and have come to the same place R.C. Sproul came.. that Jesus was in fact "peccable" - that is able to sin. To clarify.. God has "foreordained whatsoever shall come to pass." (Rom 6:17) - so, in that sense - owing to God's foreordination, Jesus could not sin, but only in that sense - From our perspective, we must see Him as the 2nd Adam, like the first in everyway in His humanity.. with a free human will, and thus able to sin. Certainly Jesus was not encumbered by a sinful nature and so not inclined to sin as we fallen creatures are, but neither was the first Adam.. and he sinned anyway. Most who believe in impeccability point to Hebrews 13:10 "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.." Which is true - but that only is stating that He did NOT sin - which is also clearly true. It is not saying that it was impossible for Jesus to sin.. rather, that He did not.. Now, for me this is the clincher.. IF Jesus could not sin, as is asserted, then HOW could He "become sin for us" as 2nd Cor. 5:21 declarers? Is it not just as impossible - even more so - for Him to become sin than to be able to sin? And - if 2nd Cor. 5:21 is not to be understood as stated, then isn't the Gospel itself compromised? This is a deep subject.. and an important one..
Lita Cosner
I agree that it is an important debate and I explained my reasons for saying that Jesus could not have sinned above.
James V.
Let me also clarify what is meant by "innocence" and "holiness" as pertaining to the matter at hand. "Was Adam unfallen either righteous or holy? Scripture never says so . . . But I go farther: what scripture does say is inconsistent with such a standing. Absence of evil, creature good, is not holiness. There was this positive intrinsic superiority to evil in the Lord Jesus even from His very birth and before it. We are conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity; the Lord's flesh was neither conceived nor made thus, but holy by the power of the Spirit [in His virgin conception]." Christ "alone of all men was born 'holy' [Luke 1:35]; not made innocent and upright only, like Adam." (William Kelly)
By "holiness" is meant "positive intrinsic superiority to evil," which repulses evil and does only good. This is true of the divine nature of the Triune God, and is true of both the deity and manhood in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Adam, fresh from God's hand, was innocent (though mature), but not "holy." Else he would never have fallen (not being capable of sinning)! By "innocent" is meant that unfallen Adam had not the knowledge of the distinction of good and evil; he was created ignorant of good and evil--with no intrinsic perception of right and wrong apart from prescription (apart from God's command to abstain). This he acquired in his fall, in his act of disobedience to God. "Before the fall he [innocent, but mature, Adam] had a conscience in the sense of responsibility to obey, not at all in the way of accusing or else excusing self [Rom. 2:15]; only when he sinned, and thus lost his innocence, did he gain the moral power of knowing good and evil of himself [intrinsically], hence forth his sad, painful, but most useful monitor." (William Kelly)
James V.
There are two different senses that the Greek word for "temptation" carries in the NT, depending on usage (used in two different senses even within James 1:12 and 1:13-14!). One referring to external trials/testings, trying and difficult circumstances arising from without. The other referring to inward solicitation to evil, unholy desires arising from within, from the sin nature. Consider: God "tempted" Abraham (Gen. 22:1; Heb. 11:7); but James 1:13 tells us that God "tempts" no one. Does the former refer to God soliciting Abraham to evil? Far be the thought! God "tempts" no one in that sense. But God does Himself "put us to the test," to try the genuineness and preciousness of our faith, in soliciting us to obedience (not disobedience!). And in that latter sense, he who endures “temptation” is blessed (James 1:12)! This verse obviously does NOT mean "Blessed is the man who endures inward solicitation to evil, who endures unholy/ungodly desires springing from his sin nature"! For the only thing "proved" by such "temptation" would be that no good thing dwells in my flesh! In that sense, "every one is tempted, drawn away, and enticed by his own lust" (James 1:14).
On Matt. 4:1, the Holy Spirit led Jesus to be "tested" of the devil. ON GOD'S PART, the test was to demonstrate the impeccability of the Son in holy Manhood, to prove His intrinsic holiness and inability to sin, through obedience to the Father in the most trying of circumstances (beyond anything any man as such endured). ON SATAN'S PART, the purpose of his temptation was indeed solicitation to evil, solicitation to disobedience of the Father. But what is in the devil's heart is quite different than what is in God's heart! And our Lord loathed and rejected all that the enemy presented to His holy nature.
David G.
HI, Lita. I read this exchange with interest. I would suggest that since we believe Adam, along with all else God made, was created very good and though possessing the possibility of sinning, the fact that he did sin does not mean that he would or had to sin as your statement implied. He was tempted and failed because - humanly speaking - he turned away from the life-giving and preserving word of God to hear and obey the murderous word of the devil. But in approaching the incarnation and the person and natures of Christ Jesus, we come to undoubtedly the greatest mystery of our faith after the triune character of God himself. As you know, it took centuries for the best and most pious minds in the church to arrive at the statement of Chalcedon in 451 that has probably not been improved on as to the divine person and divine and human natures of Christ. It stated that these two distinct natures - divine and human - exist in Christ without confusion, without change, without division and without separation. To enable his work, his human nature was filled with the Holy Spirit from conception, who further came upon him in a unique degree at the beginning of his public ministry. So I believe we can say that upon any and every temptation - which could only be against his human nature - the Spirit enabled him to sinlessly respond in thought, word and deed to earn, as you wrote, a perfect human righteousness which believers receive by faith. Thus sustained by his divine nature and a Holy Spirit filled human nature, as man he was unable to sin. Hebrews 9:14 is a vital text regarding the sustaining work of the Holy Spirit in the life, ministry and death of the Lord Jesus. Praise God for the gift of the Spirit of the Son for every true Christian!
James V.
It also cannot be alleged that He was able to sin only in His unglorified state, but now in Heaven, glorified, He cannot sin:
(a) For He is morally the SAME yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). And read the following CAREFULLY bearing on His absolute holy Impeccability in Manhood: John 5:19; John 14:30; Heb. 7:26; and Luke 1:35.
(b) For His glorification involved no MORAL change, but related to, among other things, His non-ability to lay down His life ever again.
Be it noted that the denial of Christ’s Impeccability implicitly DIVIDES His Person, and is thus fundamental evil. The false doctrine inherently necessitates that Christ is actually two persons, not deity and humanity united forever in ONE indivisible Person. For if Christ had the potential to sin, then there would also have to be the potential for the humanity that might sin (and only a person can sin, not an impersonal nature) to be split off from the deity that cannot sin. (For there cannot be a union of sinful humanity and holy deity in one Person.) Thus the doctrine of peccability inherently requires Christ to be two persons not one; it inherently denies and destroys the real nature of the Incarnation, the real Theanthropic Person of Christ, the real union of God and man in one indivisible Person forever.
(Of course, the doctrine of peccability also explicitly denies the true state of Christ's human nature as being intrinsically holy.) And what of the atonement? The doctrine of peccability also thereby destroys the infinite, divine value of His Cross-work. For if Christ, by implication, were two persons (no real union of deity and humanity in one indivisible Person), then His atoning blood would have only the finite efficacy of a human person, and could thus be the ground of saving no one.
Glenn P.
My understanding is that as God, Jesus knew what to expect with respect to temptation to sin. But as Man, Jesus experienced that temptation to sin. Forewarned is forearmed. Even so, undergoing the severe brutality of the wilderness temptations required immense trust in the Word of God. Any weakness would have led to sin. The second Adam did not cave in. I think Jesus suffered worse temptation on eve of His crucifixion. Again, He did not yield. As a man, a truly heroic Savior. In short, Jesus could have sinned, otherwise Satan's temptations were pointless.
James G.
Can a rowboat attack a battleship? According to Dr. John Walvoord, yes, it can. The outcome is evident and attack is real! Jesus could not sin since He had no capacity (nature) to sin. Tested? Yes. To sin? No!
Pratha S.
The statement in the article said it all: 'But Jesus was not just a man,He is God as well.And God cannot sin.' He was both fully God and fully man.It was the only way the Messiah could have been born -- otherwise,He couldn't be the Messiah,the Savior of the world.
Dan B.
Hey there, @Lita, thank you for this detailed answer. Jesus was tempted to sin like all of us are, there's no doubt about it. Besides, He had the "privilege" to be tempted by Satan himself. However, He spent more time with God than any human ever. By living in constant contact with Holiness Himself, Jesus had an extra help to overcame temptation, in my opinion. Be richly blessed in Christ, Dan
Tony J.
"Why would Satan tempt Jesus if Jesus couldn’t sin? It’s possible Satan was stupid enough to believe Jesus could sin." Do you seriously believe that a being who was created chief among angels, and who deceived a third of the heavenly host, could in any way be construed as an idiot? If Jesus was unable to sin, it would have been a pointless exercise for Satan to tempt him. "Adam shows us that a man who can sin, even if he’s not born with a sin nature, will sin." 'Can' sin, not 'will' sin. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Adam was predestined to sin. He, like Eve, could have resisted Satan's offer. Otherwise, God would have placed them in a predicament that they were doomed to fail from the beginning; a farcical and unfair charade. "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham" (Hebrews 2: 16). It was this heredity that meant Jesus faced, and overcame, the same temptations we do. See also Hebrews 2:14 Jesus was fully God and He was fully man, but He did not exercise His divine power to save Himself from the weaknesses and temptations inherited from His human ancestry. To save Himself from sin and the perils of the flesh, He depended constantly and solely upon the power of His Father. How could His victory over Satan, in the flesh, help me at all if it was obtained in some other flesh than mine? To deny the possibility of total victory over sin is to rob Jesus of the glory of His mission. He came, the Bible says, to destroy the works of the devil. Those works are the works of sin. If no one claimed His power to overcome sin completely, the devil's accusation would be confirmed. The requirements of God (His commandments) would be exposed as too difficult to obey.
Lita Cosner
Satan, a created being, rebelled against the Creator and actually believed that he could wage war against Him. So yeah, I think we can characterize him as an idiot, or insane.
Eileen T.
Very thought provoking question, but I’m inclined to go with ER on this one....
Amanda N.
Excellent message thank you. I am now just wondering why the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil?!
Lita Cosner
Probably so that He could manifest victory over Satan by resisting him.
Chris M.
If Jesus could not sin, He lacked in freedom of choice.
Lita Cosner
Free from the curse of sin, Jesus had significantly more freedom than any of us will know this side of the Resurrection. We will not be able to sin in the Resurrection, but we will be free to function and relate to God as He intended us to, which is true freedom.
Simon S.
I don't think Satan is stupid. Possibly madly desperate to get the Lord Jesus to sin and thwart Gods plans. It couldn't happen for the reasons Lita outlined above. Satan, like Pharaoh, was raised partly for the purpose of tempting the Lord but to no avail. Like all evil, God rebounds it to His glory, the prime example being the crucifiction of Jesus; the greatest sin and God's highest glory.
Praise our Sovereign God!
David B.
Why would Satan tempt Jesus? Maybe Satan wasn't that stupid and there was a possibility that Jesus in his humanity had that capacity. I've been a Christian a long time and I've never heard this concept articulated this way before. Whatever the truth of the matter is, Jesus didn't sin and that's the good news.
Lita Cosner
It might have been an act of arrogance, or desperation, or both.
Leslie S.
I love Lita's contributions yet ER is persuasive. The difficulty comparing Adam with Jesus is that the former was created while Jesus is the Creator. Even so, it is clear that Adam CHOSE TO disobey the Creator God whereas Jesus CHOSE NOT (or couldn't otherwise because of his essential nature as God?!) to fall to Satan's (or otherwise) temptations. All of this has of course created 'discussion' since Jesus came to earth, hence creeds, heresies, and countless Christian (or otherwise!) denominations. Perhaps Paul has great advice in pursuing the 'mystery of Godliness' in what he emphasised in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 (esp. from verse 18). Les S.
Lita Cosner
Jesus chose to obey, but the argument is that He could not have chosen to disobey, any more than a human could choose to fly by flapping their arms, or a triangle could choose to be round. This doesn't make His obedience any less significant or the trials He faced any easier. And yes, there is probably an element that we truly can't understand as limited, sinful beings.
Philip M.
A question I have never had or seen answered by those who believe Jesus could have sinned, and that is “What if He had have? What then? What then for us? What then for Jesus Himself? What then for God and His eternal purposes?” That is, an answer from them other than “Yes, but He didn’t sin” – which doesn’t answer the question.
Regarding the temptations, it was a case of intrinsic absolute good confronting intrinsic absolute evil. It was not a case of non-intrinsic relative good confronting intrinsic absolute evil. The temptations were a demonstration that Jesus couldn’t sin. For example, if 2 ships were built, one of which it was claimed couldn’t sink and the other of which it was claimed could sink, of which of the two ships would we expect a demonstration? The former obviously.
Was Jesus by nature innocent, sinful, or holy? They are the only three possibilities regarding mankind. And the only two persons to which innocence ever attached were Adam and Eve prior to becoming sinful by nature. The rest of us, as born, are by nature sinful, except Jesus. Had He been born sinful, He would have required a Saviour like the rest of us. To say “Because He never sinned He did not need a Saviour” is bad argument. Babies who have died having never sinned have still required a Saviour.
Jesus was born with a holy nature, meaning He could not sin. A holy nature is one that intrinsically and inherently loves the good and is intrinsically and inherently repelled by evil, even the very notion of evil. Jesus was not only holy in practical living, but as born, was holy by nature. Which is why the angel describes Him to Mary (Luke 2) as that holy THING. Jesus had a nature that could not sin. One day we shall have glorified heavenly bodies, and we too shall be holy by nature and cannot sin
Geoff K.
In the sacrificial laws of the Old Testament, God required an animal from the flock which was a perfect as it could possibly be, so that the shedding of its blood would be sufficient for the atonement of the sin of that person or people. This sacrifice had to be repeated for subsequent sins so that it was never and eternal atonement. Jesus was without blemish, probably because he was spiritually strong enough to resist all temptation and live a righteous life. He is therefore a sufficient sacrifice to make an atonement for you and I forever.
Philip P.
A very good question E R which made me think and Lita too no doubt but she had the answer which I trust will satisfy you too. Phil

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