Christian Living, Church, Culture & Society, Faith, God, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit

The Sinlessness of Jesus

Though some within the Church have taught that Christ could sin, the orthodox position has always been that the Lord Jesus Christ could not have sinned. Christian author, W.E. Best (1919 – 2007), explains.

“The point of view that Christ could sin is designated by the idea of peccability, and the fact that He could not sin is expressed by the term impeccability. To suggest the capability or possibility of sinning would disqualify Christ as Savior, for a peccable Christ would mean a peccable God. Holiness is far more than the absence of sin; it is positive virtue. The advocates of peccability say, ‘Christ could have sinned, but He did not.’

However to say that Christ could have sinned is to deny positive holiness. To deny positive holiness, therefore, is to deny the holy character of God. Holiness is positive virtue that has neither room for nor interest in sin.” (W. E. Best, Studies in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ)

In discussing the Doctrine of the Impeccability of Christ, a person must remember several foundational truths.

First, Jesus could not have sinned because Christ is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies that are grounded in the eternal decrees of God. The divine decree foreordained that the Messiah would be without sin and therefore a worthy Savior. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6) To say that Jesus could not have sinned is to say that the decrees of God could not fail as they were manifested in fulfilled prophecies.

Second, Jesus could not have sinned because there is something called moral certitude. If someone were to give you a butcher knife and invite you to cut out the eyes of your child for the mere pleasure of it, you would recoil in horror. You could not do that! If you were offered a million dollars for cutting out the eyes and ten million dollars more if you drove a nail into the child’s brain, you could not do that! You would die before you harmed your child in such a manner. The soul of Jesus Christ was so holy and so pure that the suggestion of any sin was just as abhorrent as the scenario set out above. Jesus could not sin.

Third, it must never be forgotten that Jesus was not two persons in one body. He was one Person with two natures. While He was truly human, He was altogether God, and as the God-man He could not sin.

Fourth, the capacity to sin is not what makes man. If there were no capacity to sin, man would still be man; there was no sin in Adam when he was first created, yet he is called man (Genesis 2:7). In resurrected bodies believers will still be human but without the sin nature. Whatever constitutes man as man does not necessitate sin or a sin nature. Therefore, it was not necessary that Jesus have the moral capacity to sin in order to be true humanity.

Finally, to embrace a concept that there was the possibility of Jesus’ sinning but that He simply chose not to, might make one feel psychologically good as it makes Jesus seem to be more like “me.” However, Jesus is not like “me.” No one who is born of a virgin is just like “me.” No one who is truly God is just like “me.” Jesus did not come into the world to be just like other men. He came to rescue fallen men from the depths of sin into which they had fallen.

To believe that Jesus could have sinned if He so chose is an unworthy thought of Him, for it presupposes that there is still something in His nature susceptible to sin. Logically, this means that Christ was not and is not quite perfect. Christ was not perfect because He consistently chose not to sin. He was perfect and therefore He was without sin. Jesus was perfect in Mary’s womb. He was perfect in the hour of His birth. He was perfect as a child. He was perfect as a man in His ministry. He was perfect in His death. And He is perfect today in His glorified, resurrection body.

To say that Christ could have sinned is to say that Christ could still sin yet, He just chooses not to.

The peccability of Christ is unacceptable to a high view of Christology. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever. He did not and He could not sin. What a Savior!

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