Could Christ Have Sinned?

“Do you believe the Lord Jesus could have sinned?” The question was asked in the Nov.-Dec. issue of “Focus”. In the following issue, Mr. George Reader of Peterborough, Ontario, answered unhesitatingly that such a possibility is unthinkable. Since his answer was received for publication, the following comments —which corroborate this viewpoint —have been submitted by brother H.M. : “The question is integral to the whole question of salvation. An acceptable sacrifice had to be without spot and blemish (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 1:3). Christ came as a perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26; 10:5-18).

In order to conserve space and, as well, provide ‘scriptural proof’, an attempt will be made to affirm the impeccability of Christ, with little comment.

The Factual Holiness Of Christ

2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; Luke 4:34; John 8:46. The relationship of Christ to the law (Galatians 4:4) was not one of personal sinfulness, but one of personal identification with the sins of His people.

Hebrews 5:7-8. There is a development in obedience, not in the sense of ethical improvement. In the growing capacity for the fulfilment of His office, obedience was ‘learned’ in terms of increasing cost of obedience. This was ultimately realized in the agonies of the Cross.

The Reality Of The Temptation

Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-14; Hebrews 4:15. Temptation evidently continued through His earthly ministry (Luke 22:28; John 14:30). The reality of the temptation would seem to be precisely because Christ to choose for God and against an attractive alternative. Hunger is not a sin. To satisfy it outside the will of God is sin.

The reality of temptation does not imply a corresponding solicitation to sin from within His nature (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).

The reality of temptation was always counteracted by a real desire to do the will of the Father (Luke 22: 42) and confirmed by the word of God (Luke 4:1-14).

The inability to sin arises out of the immutable nature of His Person (Hebrews 13:8). God is holy and unchanging. Therefore, since Christ is God, sin in any form was impossible to Him.

He never offered a sacrifice, He never prayed for forgiveness, He taught that all others needed a new birth and challenged all to convict Him of a single sin.

We are grateful to brother Henry Palmieri, Mechanicville, N.Y., for the following answer to this question:

“It is the firm conviction of this writer that not only did the Lord Jesus Christ refrain from sinning; it was utterly impossible for Him to do so. In fact, it seems to his humble judgment that to insinuate the possibility of our Lord’s sinning is to dishonour His blessed Person and call into question His unlimited ability.

It was CONSTITUTIONALLY IMPOSSIBLE for the Lord Jesus Christ to sin. Why, His very makeup made sinning impossible. He was not two persons; One Person is in view. We must distinguish between nature and person. Two natures are in view, the Divine and the human, in equally real relation to this Person. He is God: He becomes Man. It is well to remember the weighty words of C.F. Hogg: The Manhood of Christ is to be studied not in the abstract but in its actual, absolute, necessary harmony with His deity, under His Divine Personality.’ Again: ‘One thing we ought never forget, our Lord was not a dual Personality, that is, two Persons, Divine and human, but one Divine Personality, in equal relation to His two perfect natures.’

It was MORALLY IMPOSSIBLE for Him to sin. Sin is morally wrong and for God to stoop to sin would render Him imperfect and God cannot be imperfect and still be God. Why, the very thought is absurd.

It was PURPOSEFULLY IMPOSSIBLE for Him to sin. In order for the purpose of God and His Christ to be accomplished, it was impossible for Him to sin.

The idea that Christ’s human nature might have sinned even though His Divine nature could not have done so is thoroughly contrary to Scripture. The two natures belong to one Person. If the Lord Jesus could have sinned His failure would be the failure of God manifest in flesh. With a host of others I side in and say, ‘the very thought of this is blasphemous.’”

Questions For Future Consideration

One reader writes: “Here are some questions that trouble me in relation to prophecy:

    1. If heaven is the eternal abode of the saints of the Church, what is the explanation of Revelation 21:2, where “the holy city, new Jerusalem” comes down from God out of heaven. Is this not the bride of Christ, the Church taking its place on earth?

    2. When Christ delivers up the kingdom of God, 1 Corinthians 15:24, what becomes of the Kingdom of David which was to be for ever and ever? What is the role of Christ in the eternal state?”

Questions, answers and comments should be submitted to the editor of this column, Dr. J.T. Naismith, 1121 Hilltop St., Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 5S6