“Sinlessness is complete conformity to the will of God in thought, word and deed.” Christ was absolutely without sin, for if He had sinned He would have needed redemption like any other man, and could never have been our Redeemer.
Various theories surround the doctrine of Christ’s sinlessness but almost all agree with the following statements:
• The Son of God possessed a perfect human nature and a divine nature.
• The Son of God suffered temptations in all points as we do and that these were valid temptations.
• The Son of God did not sin in thought, deed or word.
• The Son of God is able to sympathise and aid those who suffer temptations.
Theories diverge over the following statements:
Christ could have sinned but did not sin.
Holds that Christ could have sinned but overcame temptation to do so through the power of the Holy Spirit, much as the believer does today. Some believe that Christ had “sinful flesh” as described in Romans 8:3 (which states that Christ came in the “likeness of sinful flesh”.
Contends that if it were impossible for Christ to sin, His temptations were not valid temptations, that He did not truly identify with the human race and therefore cannot fully sympathize with us in our temptations.
Christ did not sin because He could not sin.
This theory states that Christ was incapable of sinning because of who He was. The Scriptures state that God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13).
The theory takes as its premise the nature of Christ’s “temptation” which was uniquely shared with the only other sinless man (until he fell), Adam.
The Temptation of Christ
The temptation of Christ and Adam were unlike any other:
- Both were Sons of God in a unique sense, Adam created and Jesus begotten.
- Both had sinless human nature, having no sin principle within their being.
- Both were federal heads or representatives of the human race.
- Both were not tempted from a lust within, but from satan without. All men born of Adam are tempted from both within and without (James 1:13-14).
Adam was a created being, with only a perfect human nature. Jesus Christ had both the perfect nature of man and the nature of God. This made Adam laible to sin, wheras Jesus did not have such liability.
Satan was unable to find anything in Jesus to tempt (John 14:30). Adam yielded to satan’s temptation. The temptation of Jesus Christ was therefore a testing and proving of His character and credentials as the Redeemer of mankind.
From without, by satan, He was tested relentlesslessly throughout His life and ministry to forsake the will of the Father and follow His own course. These testings were painfully real to Christ’s humanity, and his humanity surely recoiled from the prospect of the agonies of the cross and separation from His Father.
There was however no possibility of failure. The plan of redemption had been settled in the counsels of the Godhead before the foundation of the world, and never for a moment was Christ liable to the whim and temptations of the evil one. To say so would subject God Himself to satan, which could never be the case.
The Bible states that Jesus
“… was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”Hebrews 4:15
This does not mean that the Son of God was tempted to smoke drugs, sleep with women, steal money or lie and deceive (plus a multitude of other compromises and outright rebellions men are daily tempted with today). What is inferred here is that Jesus Christ, as to His humanity, was tempted in every respect of His whole Being: Spirit , Soul and Body. It does not mean that He faced and overcame every individual temptation to commit every unique sin.
Regardless of whether Christ could or could not have sinned the fact remains that He did not, making Him the perfect Man, and the only Possible Redeemer of mankind.
The testimony of Scripture is overwhelming regarding Christ’s sinless life:
Devils recognise it!
“saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”” (Mark 1:24 NKJV)
Jesus Himself challenged people to find any fault in Him!
“Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?” (John 8:46 NKJV)
Men recognised it!
“saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” (Matt 27:4 NKJV)
The Apostles declared it as so!
Paul said… “He knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Peter said… “He did no sin” (1 Peter 2:21-22)
John said… “In Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5)
The Example of Christ
The final point to make in regard to Christ’s humanity is that He presented for us the perfect example for all believer’s to follow.
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:”1Peter 2:21 NKJV
“example” Strongs #5261 hupogrammos, hoop-og-ram-mos´;
from a compound of 5259 and 1125; an underwriting,
i.e. copy for imitation (figuratively): — example.
A thorough study of Christ’s earthly life reveals the possibilities of the Redeemed life. As Robert Clarke says in “The Christ of God” Christ has become our example in faith, devotion, prayer life, self-abnegation, service, love, anger, patience, gentleness, meekness, courage, compassion, obedience, optimism and worship.
In all He was, all He did and all He said, He presented for us a model of perfect humanity walking with God.
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.”1John 4:17 NKJV
“At His incarnation, Christ added to His already existing divine nature a human nature and became the God-Man. At our regeneration, there was added to our already existing human nature, a divine nature and we thus become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Thus, like Christ, every true Christian is divine-human.”
Herbert Lockyer, “All the Doctrines of the Bible”
In Christ perfect sinless human nature and the Divine nature were united in One Person. The purpose of this union was primarily that He may become the Mediator between mankind and God, redeeming them to their Creator.
Man’s sinful state demanded a Saviour who was not subject to the same death-doomed condition. No creature could die in their place, for the lesser could not die for the greater. A perfect sinless human being was the answer. A Mediator also had to be perfectly at one with God, and stand in a place of perfect righteousness. God’s spotless Son is the answer.
Regarding Job 9:25-35, E W Kenyon in The Bible in the Light of our Redemption, describes for us the condition we were in apart from Christ, and the yearning cry for redemption:
“In the ninth chapter Job speaks out the deepest soul agony of universal man. He lies in his tent surrounded by those whom he loves. He opens his heart and with perfect freedom, speaking the fear that grips his soul in the death struggle. He gives figures of speech that describe the rapidity with which life passes to the aged.
He continues, “If I say I will forget my calamity, I will put off my sad countenance and be of good cheer, I am afraid of my sorrows. I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent; I shall be condemned.”
Every false hope has fled; he is alone with his guilt and despair.
He says, “What is the use of trying to brighten up and put off my sad countenance; I am afraid of my sorrows.”
It is the frankness of despair. It is the hopelessness of full-orbed knowledge. “I shall be condemned.”
He cries, “Why then do I labour in vain? If I wash myself with snow-water and make my hands never so clean; yet wilt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.”
What a picture: “Mine own clothes (or self-righteousness) shall abhor me: for he is not a man, as I am that we should come together for judgement.”
Job knows that He cannot face God, for God is not mortal. He is not under the bondage and guilt of sin as is Job. Then Job utters the saddest words that ever fell from the lips of a human being. “There is no umpire betwixt us, that might lay His hands upon us both.”
In other words, there is no Mediator between us who has a legal standing with God, and at the same time can sympathise and understand as well as represent humanity. This is Job’s cry for a Mediator; it is not the cry of Job alone, for Job has gathered up the cry of the ages and breathed it forth into one hopeless sob.”
Jesus Christ was the answer to this cry!
He perfectly represented God to man, and man to God.
Robert Clarke says
“The eternal Son of God became the sinless Son of Man that the sinful sons of men might become the beloved sons of God”
Again, Kevin Connor in “Foundations” describes how
“Christ became both offerer and offering, sacrifice and sacrificer, priest and gift, heavenly and earthly, spiritual and natural. In His deity, He is the offerer , sacrificer and priest. In His humanity, He is offering, sacrifice and gift.” (Kevin Conner, Foundations of Christian Doctrine)
Galataians 2:20 states:
“… the Son of God, who [THE PRIEST] loved me and gave Himself [THE SACRIFICE] for me.”Galatians 2:20
As Paul states in his letter to Timothy, “without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). We may not fully comprehend the depths of this teaching concerning Christ until the day we see Him face to face, but let us thank God that He did not leave us in the hopeless state Job describes.
The humility and overwhelming love of God that compelled Him to come and identify Himself with us in our humanity is almost beyond our ability to understand. Nevertheless, our acceptance of the fact of His perfection and His sacrifice is not apprehended by intellect, but by faith.