The Sinless Life of Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ, during His sojourn on earth among men, committed no sin, in word, in thought, or in action. He always did the will of God His Father, never missing the mark set out for Him by God.
It is a matter of great moment for us to appreciate the sinlessness of Christ, first in relation to His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, and in second place, in view of His High Priestly functioning now for us at God’s right hand. If He could be proven a sinner, then He could not avail to put away sins; then could men say that He suffered for His own sins; then His death would be in no way a vicarious death. This was Israel’s opinion, as they thought of Him smitten by God and afflicted. One day their eyes will be opened to realise that not for His own, but for their transgressions was He wounded; not for His own, but for their iniquities was He bruised (Isa. 53:4-5).
If I can be assured of His sinlessness, then can He become my perfect substitute. If He had no sins of His own for which to atone, then He could bear my sins on the tree. If He was spotless, then was He the perfect antitype of the Old Testament sacrifices — the Passover Lamb kept from the 10th till the 14th day to demonstrate its perfection; the Sin Offering, without spot or blemish; the fine flour of the Meal Offering. And He was all that these types demanded.
As the Man without sin how perfectly is He fitted to act as our Great High Priest! As such His intercession on our behalf is readily accepted by God.
That Christ should be sinless was the subject of prophecy. Isaiah (7:16) depicts Him as One who would know to refuse the evil and choose the good; as One who would do no violence, nor would deceit be found in His mouth (53:9). The Psalmist, describing the future reign of the Messiah, said of Him, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness” (Ps. 45:7). The angel Gabriel, sent to announce His birth to Mary, revealed His conception by the Holy Spirit, and described Him as “that holy thing which shall be born of thee” (Luke 1:35). Note the word ‘holy’. Not merely would He be innocent, for that would imply the possibility of sinning later, but He would be holy — essentially pure and unblemished.
Throughout His whole life there were many witnesses to His absolute sinlessness. After thirty years of obscurity in Nazareth Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptised of John. As He was coming up out of the water the heavens were opened, and God the Father testified, “Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Of the years spent at Nazareth little is told us. We have only one glimpse of His boyhood days. But God had seen that life. He had been well pleased with it. For thirty years He had been sinless and perfect — the only one ever to fully satisfy God.
The Holy Spirit, too, in the New Testament writings bore witness to the purity of Christ’s life. In Hebrews 7:26 the Spirit deals with the sinlessness of Christ from two aspects. First, His Character. He was holy — pleasing to God; He was harmless, or guileless (R.V.) —without evil disposition towards man; He was undefiled — without contamination from the sinful world through which He passed. In this verse the Spirit shows us in second place, His Position. This is the position given Him by God consequent upon His perfect life. He is separated from sinners — being far removed from them; He is made higher than the heavens — having passed through the heavens to His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
The friends of Christ told of His spotless life. Look, first, at the words of two who were His intimate companions during the three and a half years of His ministry. Peter, the rough, impulsive fisherman, described Him as a Lamb without blemish — no internal, inherited defilement; and without spot — no external, contracted defilement (1 Pet. 1:19). Again, the honest, conscientious Peter, having watched the Lord’s actions, and having listened to His teaching, wrote of Him, “He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). Neither in word, nor in deed did Jesus sin. John, another of Jesus’ companions, possibly the closest of them, depicted himself as one lying on Jesus’ breast. He, more than any other disciple, knew the heart of Jesus, and His inmost soul. John’s testimony of the Lord was, “In Him was no sin” (1 John 3:5). It was totally foreign to the nature of Christ. Paul, the intellectual giant, to whom sublime, incommunicable words had been given from Heaven, also wrote by inspiration of the character of Christ. He summed it up as that of One who knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21). The Lord had never experienced sin’s power over His life; He had no knowledge of sin as master.
Even the foes of Christ realised that He was sinless. The demons whom He commanded to leave a spirit-defiled man acknowledged Him as the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24). Judas, the companion of Jesus for three years, and His betrayer, confessed afterwards that he had betrayed “innocent (R.V.m., righteous) blood” (Matt. 27:4). Pilate, the fair-minded respresentative of the Roman law, after a lengthy legal investigation, stated as his opinion, “I find no fault in this Man” (Luke 23:4). The centurion, who superintended the crucifixion, and closely watched the events of that momentous day, voiced his conclusion in these words, “Certainly this was a righteous Man” (Luke 23:47).
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, though He would discount a personal witness (John 5:32), was ever conscious of His own inherent sinlessness. He spoke of:
His Confidence Before God
“I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). God never could find fault with His Son. They were ever one — in purpose, in word, in deed.
His Challenge to Men
“Which of you convinceth Me of sin” (John 8:46)? What a challenge! After three and a half years of close scrutiny by men anxious to perceive the slightest flaw in His deportment, the Lord confidently invited their assessment of His life. Their only reply could have been that of Pilate, “I find no fault.”
His Conquest of Satan
“The prince of this world … hath nothing in Me” (John 14:30). Satan tried hard to find a chink in the armour of Christ — in the wilderness temptation, in the daily opposition of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the lawyers, and in Gethsemane. On the cross, through the chief priests and scribes, He had been coaxed to come down to prove His Deity. But He yielded not to the temptation. Others might be the dupes and victims of Satan, but not Christ. Here was One who had never fallen to his blandishments; upon whom he had no claim; over whom he could not gloat. Here was sinless humanity.
Note, too, the Lord’s conduct in the world. This had been perfect. He had never been required to speak words indicating repentance or remorse. There had been no admission of guilt, nor confession of failure from His lips. Even His great servant, Paul, found it necessary on one occasion to apologize (Acts 23:5). But not so Christ. At no time did He feel it incumbent upon Him to take back words. Nor did He ever pray for forgiveness. He needed none.
The Lord’s sinless life is thrown into relief when seen against the background of the sinful lives of those among whom He walked. The Lord had not avoided sinners. He did not find it necessary to withdraw from the haunts of men, as monks of a later day found expedient in their desires to eschew sinful habits. In the quiet obscurity of Nazareth He had lived a normal life— yet He had never sinned. He had been alone with Satan in the wilderness, and was tempted like others — yet without sin. He had received publicans and sinners, and had eaten with them — yet He was ever pure and unsullied. He had touched the lepers, when others dare not — yet He was never defiled by them.
And thus Christ went to the cross—a sinless Man, undefiled and undefilable. Because He was spotless, God could accept His offering of Himself; God could lay on Him the iniquity of us all; God could make Him to be sin for us.
As the sinless One He was crucified, and bore God’s wrath against our sins — He was the Perfect Sacrifice. As the sinless One He needed not to offer sacrifices for Himself
He is our Perfect High Priest. Let us praise Him! Let us adore Him! Let us worship Him in the perfection of His sinlessness!
“How spotless, innocent and pure Our great Redeemer stood; No stain of sin did e’er defile The holy lamb of God.”