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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus

Don Stewart :: Was It Impossible for Jesus to Sin?

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Was It Impossible for Jesus to Sin? (Impeccability)

What Everyone Needs to Know about Jesus – Question 24

While all Christians agree that Jesus did not sin, there is the view that He was incapable of sinning while here upon the earth. This is known, as His “impeccability.” The word comes from the Latin and means, “no sin.”

The Case for Impeccability

Those who argue that Jesus Christ could not sin do so for the following reasons.

1. The Dual Nature of Jesus – God Cannot Be Tempted to Sin

While God the Son, Jesus Christ, had a human nature, He also had a divine nature. Since He was the eternal God who became human it was impossible for the divine nature to sin.

The human nature could not act apart from the divine nature. Therefore He could not sin. James wrote the following words:

Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn’t use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead. (James 1:13-15 CEV)

Since God cannot be tempted to sin, Jesus could not sin. Therefore, the issue as to whether Christ could or could not sin is solved by this fact.

2. Christ Has an Unchanging Nature

There is more. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is unchangeable, He always remains the same. The writer to the Hebrews said,

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)

Since Jesus Christ is God, and God cannot sin in any way, then Jesus could not have sinned in any way. The nature of God does not change. If Jesus could have sinned while on the earth, then it would be possible for Him to sin in heaven. This is a second reason as to why Christ could not have committed sin.

3. Christ Is All-Powerful (Omnipotent)

One of the attributes of God is that he is all-powerful or omnipotent. Jesus did not give up this attribute when He became human. Indeed, Jesus Himself said that He had been given “all authority.” We read,

Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! (Matthew 28:18 CEV)

Because God is all-powerful, He has no weaknesses whatsoever. This would include a weakness to sin.

4. Jesus Is All-Knowing

In addition, Scripture says that Jesus Christ is all-knowing. John wrote,

...and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone. (John 2:25 NRSV)

Since Jesus is all knowing, He could not have been deceived into committing a sin. This includes hypothetical situations for Jesus knew all things that have happened and could possibly happen.

For example, He knew what would have happened to certain cities in the past, such as Tyre and Sidon, had they repented:

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago!” (Matthew 11:21 HCSB)

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

“What horrors await you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have sat in deep repentance long ago, clothed in sackcloth and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse.” (Matthew 11:21 NLT)

Jesus knew what would have happened to the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon had they repented of their sin. Though these cities did not repent, Jesus stated what would have occurred had they done so. This shows that He knew “all things.”

5. The Nature of the Temptations

Another point concerns the nature of the temptations of Christ Jesus. The nature of Christ’s temptation came from without, not from within. For sin to occur there must be an inward response to the outward temptation. Since Jesus did not possess a sin nature, there was no possibility of Him to respond to the temptation. Therefore, the argument goes that He could not have sinned.

The Uniqueness of His Temptations Must Be Considered

The uniqueness of Jesus’ temptation must also be kept in mind. We find that there were only three individuals in Scripture who experienced unique temptations; Adam, Eve, and Jesus. Adam and Eve, unfortunately, gave in to the temptation and brought sin into the world. Jesus, on the other hand, resisted the temptation. They are the only three people who came into this world without a sin nature.

These Tests Were Unique to Jesus

Yet Jesus was unique from Adam and Eve. He was no ordinary man. No ordinary human being would ever be tempted in the ways which Jesus Christ, God the Son, was tempted. Indeed, none of us could ever be tempted to turn stones into bread, or prove that we are the Messiah by jumping from a high place. Neither would any human being be offered all the kingdoms of the world if they simply bowed down to Satan. These particular tests were designed for Jesus only. In other words, they were uniquely given to Him.

They Covered Areas Common to All Humans

Although the specific tests in which Jesus was subjected were unique to Him they do represent temptations that are common to humankind. The Apostle John said that sin could be placed in the following categories:

...the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:16b HCSB)

The temptations that Jesus experienced fall into these categories. He was tempted or tested in each of these areas yet He did not sin.

In What Sense Was Jesus Tested in All Things?

The writer to the Hebrews emphasizes that Jesus was tested in all things. He wrote,

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NIV)

This means that Jesus experienced tests that are representative of every category of tests that human’s experience. It does not mean that He experienced each individual temptation which we will be tempted with. He did not.

Consequently, the temptations of Jesus were real and met a real purpose. Yet in all of this, there was no possibility that He could sin according to this perspective.

Why Then the Temptations?

Finally, there is the purpose of the temptations of Jesus Christ. The reason He was tempted was not to see whether or not He could sin. Indeed, the purpose was to show that He could not sin. It was to demonstrate that He could not succumb in any way to the temptations that were put in His path. The outcome was never in doubt.

Summary – Question 24
Was It Impossible for Jesus to Sin? (Impeccability)

While there are those people who argue that God the Son, Jesus Christ, could have sinned while He was in a human body here upon the earth, there are those which believe that Jesus could not have sinned. This is known as the “impeccability of Christ.” Those who hold this position put forth a number of reasons as to why they believe this.

One reason is based upon His nature as Almighty God. Jesus, as God, could not have sinned. Since He was fully God as well as fully human while He was here on the earth, this makes the idea of sin something which was impossible. God cannot sin! This fact ends the discussion for many people.

We are also told that Jesus Christ had an unchanging nature. This is another reason to believe that He could not sin. Indeed, His divine nature is impossible to change in any way.

Some argue the fact that Christ was both all-powerful and all-knowing precludes Him from being able to sin. Since He always knew what was going to occur, He could make certain that He avoided any missteps.

There are those who argue that the nature of the temptations is another reason for the impossibility of Jesus to sin. His temptations did not come from within but rather from outside. Since He was perfect, it was not possible for Him to respond to the temptation.

It must also be appreciated that the temptations were unique to Him – only Jesus could be tempted with certain things. Indeed, none of us will be tempted in exactly the same way as Jesus.

It is also suggested that His temptations were representative of the various things that all humans face. While there is not necessarily a one to one correspondence with each testing or temptation which we experience, His temptations or testings are of the same nature as what we experience.

Finally, those who hold this position must answer the big question, “Why then the temptations? Why tempt someone who, by definition, could not fail?” The answer lies in the purpose of these testings. It was not to discover whether or not that He would not fail, but rather to show us that He could not fail. It was to make it clear to all who trust Him that we have a Savior who cannot fail. What He sets out to do, He will do.

This is a brief summation of some of the chief arguments for the impeccability of Jesus Christ.

Could Jesus Have Sinned? ← Prior Section
What Are the Usual Objections Brought Up against the Idea That Jesus Could Not Have Sinned? Next Section →
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