Theology: The Doctrine of God

Did Jesus Ever Sin? Was Jesus Capable of Sinning?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
According to reliable surveys, nearly half of all self-described Evangelical adults believe Jesus committed sin while on earth.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

According to reliable studies, nearly half of all self-described Evangelical adults believe that Jesus committed sin while on earth. This statistic, perhaps more than any other, tells the true state of the Evangelical church: Nearly half believe in "another Jesus" who could not possibly be the Savior of men if their belief about Him were true. [1]

Scripture is absolutely clear: As the God-man, Deity incarnate, Jesus was not capable of sin, and the sinless perfection of His humanity was demonstrated by His perfect life. His sinless perfection is no mere moral example: It made Him the only qualified High Priest and the only acceptable sacrifice to save us from our sins.

Jesus' Nature as the God-Man

Jesus Christ is God incarnate. When God the Son came into the world, taking on human flesh, He did not in any way cease to be God. In the incarnation, the divine Son of God had complete authority over His humanity (e.g., John 10:18).

The divine attributes of Christ testify to this. Christ is unchangeable and immutable (Hebrews 13:8) and therefore He could not sin on earth as He did not sin in heaven. If Christ could have sinned while on earth, then He could sin now at the right hand of the Father since He is still the God-man.

Christ is omnipotent (Matthew 28:18) and therefore not susceptible to sin. Christ is omniscient (John 2:25) and therefore could not be deceived, which one of the principal ways that sin comes about (Genesis 3:13, 1 Timothy 2:14).

Sin is by nature an inward response to outward temptation (James 1:14-15), and Jesus had no inward sinful nature that could respond to outward temptation. Jesus possessed a singular will, to do the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39, John 5:30, 6:38, 10:37).

The angel Gabriel, in announcing the virgin birth to Mary in Luke 1, told her that the child born to her would be holy (in verse 35: the Greek word is hagion, separate and apart from sin). In Hebrews 7:26, Jesus is spoken of as "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." The writer of Hebrews under divine inspiration piles one adjective upon another to emphasize not merely Christ's experiential sinlessness, but His impeccability - His inability to sin. The original Greek of this verse is very specific. Jesus is "holy" - hosios, religiously right and holy, as opposed to that which is unrighteous or polluted. Jesus is "harmless" - akakos, void of evil. Jesus is "undefiled" - amiantos, free from contamination. Jesus is "separate from sinners" - kechoorismenos apo toon hamartooloon, literally, divided asunder from those who miss the mark.

(See also the article, When Jesus Came Into the World as a Man, Did He Remain Fully God? on this website.)

Jesus' Perfect Life Demonstrates His Divine Nature

In John 8:46, Jesus asks His Jewish hearers, "Which of you convicts me of sin?" A form of the word elencho (here translated "convicts") is also used in James 2:9-10: ".you are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all."

The uses of elencho in John 8:46 and James 2:9-10 set up a marked contrast between the status of Jesus Christ and the status of fallen man. We stand convicted of the whole law. Jesus stands unconvicted, and indeed incapable of any violation. He was, as Hebrews 4:15 tells us, "in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." The word translated "tempted" (pepeirasmenon) denotes being tried and proven, as well as being enticed. For man, temptation tests our obedience to our Lord. For Christ, temptation was the proving of His impeccability. The same word "tempted" is used in Hebrews 2:18. W. E. Vine, commenting on that passage, says that

the context [in Hebrews 2:18] shows that the temptation was the cause of suffering to Him, and only suffering, not a drawing away to sin, so that believers have the sympathy of Christ as their High Priest in the suffering which sin occasions to those who are in the enjoyment of communion with God; so in the similar passage in [Hebrews 4:15]; in all the temptations which Christ endured, there was nothing within Him that answered to sin.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ trust in a perfect Savior!

References

1. For a recent picture of the terrible state of theology in the church today, see our article New Survey Reports Rampant Unbelief Among Self-Described Evangelicals.

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