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Don Stewart :: Was It Impossible for Jesus to Sin? (Impeccability)

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Don Stewart

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 Christ could not sin do so for the following reasons.

1. The Dual Nature Of Jesus - God Cannot Be Tempted To Sin

While Jesus 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.

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God;" for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust (James 1:13,14).

Since God cannot be tempted to sin, Jesus could not sin.

2. Christ Has An Unchanging Nature

The Bible says that Christ is unchangeable.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

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.

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. Jesus said about his authority.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18).

Because he is all-powerful he has no weakness. This would include a weakness to sin.

4. Jesus Is All-Knowing

In addition, Jesus is all knowing.

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

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 deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matthew 11:21).

5. The Nature Of The Temptations

Another point is the nature of the temptations. 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.

6. The Purpose Of The Temptations

Finally there is the purpose of the temptations of Christ. The reason he was tempted was not to see whether or not he could sin, 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.

Were They Genuine Temptations?

If Jesus could not have sinned then were the temptations genuine? Why test someone who could not fail?

The following are some of the common objections against this position.

  1. If it was not possible for Christ to sin, then He must not have had the power of choice.
  2. If Christ could not sin, then why was He tempted? Wouldn't the temptation be a farce? In what sense can a sinless being be tempted?
  3. If Christ could not sin, then how could He identify with humanity. How could He sympathize with our temptations?

The answer to this lies in the nature of the temptations of Jesus.

Three Unique Temptations

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 He which Jesus was tempted. None of us could 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.

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

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (1 John 2:16).

The temptations that Jesus experienced fall into these categories.

Was Jesus Tested In All Things?

The writer to the Hebrews says that Jesus was tested in all things.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

This means that Jesus experienced tests that are representative of every category of tests that human's experience not that He experienced each individual temptation.

Summary

Those who believe that Jesus could not have sinned do so based upon His nature as God. Since God cannot be tempted to sin, and Jesus was God, then Jesus could not have sinned. This is known as the impeccability of Christ.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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