Could Jesus Sin?
Could Jesus Sin?
Spoken at The Lords House
By Michael Leonard
While visiting a church back east I heard a statement that absolutely stunned me. It went like this; “Jesus could have sinned if He wanted to. Oh yes! Otherwise, what would have been the point of His coming?” Immediately bells went off in my head and red flags began to wave. Now I want to say in no uncertain terms that this is blasphemy. To even suggest that the Holy God of the universe could sin is to say that He is unholy, that there is a shadow of turning with Him and that neither He, nor His Word can be trusted! I know that I am using strong words but the accusation merits such language. So what we are going to do is look to the scriptures for the purpose of seeing;
1. Who God is: His nature. (Transcendent Holiness)
2. Who Jesus is. (In Him is no sin)
3. The purpose of His coming! (To live a perfect sinless life on our behalf)
Let us first look at God. We first encounter Him in the opening words of the first book of the bible, Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Note the first four words…In the beginning God! Here in this chapter we have the account of creation. And we must acknowledge, if we have any sense at all, that for there to be a creation, there must be a Creator. And this Creator must be an amazingly powerful, intelligent, Person. In a word, He must be Almighty! As Christians we believe that God is the Creator of all we see and know. We read in (Heb 11:3) “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
This is the only instance when something came from nothing! God spoke and all we see and know came into existence. Who is this God that we find in the bible? He is called Jehovah, the existing one, Elohim, the Mighty One, El Shaddai, God Almighty, Yahweh, the I AM. The scriptures tell us that He is to be feared above all else for it is He alone who can cast body and soul into hell. He holds all life in His almighty hands. He gives life and takes it away. He is the absolute ruler of everything, even though foolish, finite man believes he has a hand in the affairs of this life.
God orders all life: all things live and move and have their being through Him. (Romans 9:20-24) tells us that He is the Potter, the One who creates while we are merely lumps of clay which are molded by God, our Creator into whatever form He desires. Therefore, to those who complain about their lot in life, the Apostle Paul says, “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
You see that we are each created by God for His purposes. We serve His purposes, not ours. We accomplish His will, not ours. Indeed, “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Pr 16:4) In each of these verses we see a Maker and a makee. God is in complete control of all things.
Now what kind of person is God? We have seen from our study of the Holiness of God that He is indeed a Holy God. And we also understand that the nature of Holiness encompasses purity and set apartedness or transcendence. God, according to the scriptures is absolutely perfectly pure. There is no spot or blemish in Him but He is purity itself. He is apart from, above the world: He transcends His creation.
People just don’t seem to understand this fact. But this is nothing new. Men have always set up their own version of who they think God is and we know from the scriptures that this is idolatry: for whatever does not come from the word of God is a lie. One passage that comes to mind that deals with this is (Ps 50:21) “These things you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.” The people in question had sinned in thinking of God in human terms. (Isa 55:9) tells us that nothing could be farther from the truth…“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
God is nothing like us. With us there is sin, procrastination, vacillation, fits of anger, sin, sin, sin. But with God there is none of this. (Jas 1:17) tells us that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no (the Greek eni ouk, means there can be no possibility of) variation or shifting shadow. It is impossible for there to be any change in God. He remains constant. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. From everlasting, to everlasting He is God!
He is always, everlastingly Holy. He is always, everlastingly perfect, without spot or blemish. John declares as much in (1Jo 1:5) when he says “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. In the bible, light is a symbol of purity while darkness is symbolic of sin.
Indeed as you go through the epistle of 1st John you see how John uses these words in this fashion. He declares that God is purity itself, without spot or blemish. There is no darkness, no sin in God. In fact, James goes so far in his epistle to say that God cannot be tempted to sin. Note (James 1:13) “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. He transcends mere mortals! To Abraham He said, “I am God Almighty. Walk before Me and be blameless!”
If there were a possibility for God to sin, then He would not be blameless Himself. Then to issue such a decree would be ridiculous. But God does issue this command. Be blameless. Note the words of (Le 19:2). Here God Himself says to Moses, “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
Consider if you will, the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20 He laid His Holy Law before the people and said OBEY ME! Were He not Holy He would have had to have issued a disclaimer with the Ten Commandments that went: “Do as I say and not as I do.” And if He could sin, He would not be Holy. But the scriptures tell us that God is of purer eyes that to behold evil (sin). They tell us that; not only is God Holy, He is Holy, Holy, Holy! We know from Jewish language structure that they don’t have exclamation points or Italics or all those other things we use to emphasize a point. Instead they merely double or triple the word they wish to emphasize to make their point. And as far as I know, only in the case of God are descriptions taken to the third degree. We will look at two passages where this takes place.
(Isa 6:1-4) “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.”
(Rev 4:8) “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
Note that in each of these instances, the word holy, is taken to the third degree and the reason for this is to emphasize the Holiness, the transcendent purity and perfection of God! Never once in all of the Word of God do we see any suggestion, any hint, any inkling that God could sin, that there is any possibility of sin (shadow of turning) in God. Indeed, when we come to God in prayer we are told in no uncertain terms that “If I regard iniquity (sin) in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Ps 66:18)
We must understand that sin and holiness are eternal opposites. They repel one another. God is Holy and we are sinful. We must not put human characteristics on God for He is not like us. In fact, the opposite is the case and we must bow to the testimony of scripture or as is stated in Isaiah 8:20, there is no light of dawn in us! We must not take the word of God and twist to support our own futile speculations; we must not suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness.
We must labor to guard ourselves against error concerning God for if we succumb to such wickedness we will be guilty of preaching another gospel which is no gospel at all and we will fall under the curse of Galatians 1:9. The Greek word for accursed is anathema which means:
1. A thing devoted to God without hope of being redeemed.
2. An animal, to be slain.
3. A person or thing doomed to destruction.
4. A man accursed, devoted to the direst of woes.
If we speak of God we must do so accurately, according to the scriptures. And the scriptures, written by God Himself declare that He is Holy, Holy, Holy! Thus we have seen the person, character: the nature of God. We now turn to His Son Jesus Christ. Who is He? What is He like?
We first here of Him in (Ge 1:26) “And God said, Let Us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Now we must ask the question; who is God talking to? Here we have our first glimpse into the Holy Trinity. God wasn’t up in the great wherever just mumbling to Himself. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, had what many commentators call, a divine council to decide how to make man. Again from verse 26 we read: “And God said; Let Us make man in our image, after our likeness…”
Consider the words of the commentator John Gill concerning this passage. He said; “These words are directed not to the earth, out of which man was made, as if God were consulting with it to assist Him in the formation of man, as Moses Gerundensis, and other Jewish writers have stated and which is wretchedly stupid. Nor is He speaking to the angels, as the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, and others asserts. For they are not God’s privy council, nor were they concerned in any part of the creation. Indeed what is said of them as far as Creation is concerned comes from God Himself in the book of Job chapter 38 and beginning with verse 4. God, speaking to Job said this; “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5 who set its measurements? since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? 6 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang (the angels) together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
Mr. Gill continues saying; “nor are the words directed to kings, there were none for there were no men as of yet. No, these words are spoken by God the Father to the Son and Holy Ghost, who were each of them concerned in the creation of all things. A consultation is held among the divine Persons about the formation of man; not because of any difficulty attending it, but as expressive of his honor and dignity; it being proposed he should be made not in the likeness of any of the creatures already made, but as near as could be in the likeness and image of God.
The next time we hear of Christ it is as our Redeemer. (Ge 3:15) tells us, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Here is the first reference to the Messiah coming to save mankind from their sins. Satan is said to bruise Christ’s heel, (the crucifixion) and Christ is said to deal a fatal blow, (defeat the devil at the cross and finally cast him into hell) Now what does the word of God say concerning Jesus Christ? Let’s look at a few passages. The first one I want us to see comes from (Isa 9:6). This of course is a Messianic prophesy of the coming of Jesus Christ.
And His mission was to save His people from their sins. We read “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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Here God Himself refers to His Son Jesus Christ as “The Mighty God”, and “the Everlasting Father.” But let’s go further and turn to the book of Hebrews chapter1 and see what it has to say of Jesus Christ. We read, 1 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”
As we skip down to verse 7 we are given a comparison between Jesus Christ and the Holy Angels. Notice what it says…“And of the angels He says, “WHO MAKES HIS ANGELS WINDS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME OF FIRE.” 8 But of the Son He says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. So now we have Jesus Christ referred to as “The mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Heir of all things, the maker of the world, the radiance of the Fathers glory, the exact representation of His nature, and the One who upholds all things by the word of His power. And in verse 7 God the Father refers again to Jesus Christ as God! There can be no doubt, as far as the scriptures are concerned as to the identity of Jesus! As the creeds say, “He is very God of very God!”
But wait, there’s more! Turn now to the Gospel of John chapter 1 and see further evidence of who Jesus Christ is! 1 “In the beginning was the Word, note the similarity to Genesis. In the beginning, before anything else was, the word existed. Ps 90:2 speaks of the preexistence of God, the eternality of God. it says “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. So now we have the statement that in the beginning was the Word. The Greek here is Logos.
Why would John use the term Word instead of just saying Jesus? The answer is that Jesus Christ is the revealed truth of God. He told Philip that seeing Him was seeing the Father. He spoke of being the way to God, the truth about God and the life that is from God. As we continue we read, “and the Word was with God, the idea here is face to face. It speaks of intimacy. So the Word has an intimate, face to face relationship with God. And now comes the big one. “and the Word was God. The Greek phraseology looks like this, kai (and qeov (God) hn (was) o (the) logov (word). This is how it looks word for word. Note the Greek letter “o” pronounced Omicron. It is known as an article and its presence lets us know the order of the sentence. Now what is the subject in this sentence? It is the Word. God is the direct object. The Word was God!
The next verse shows us that this Word is a distinct person. 2 He was in the beginning with God. So we now see the Father and the Word. They are one but they are two persons. There is God and there is the Word.
Note also from the book of Revelation, also written by John (the human writer) (Re 19:11-16) “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Returning to John and verse 3 we are told that this Word is the Creator of all life. He is the One we see in Genesis 1, speaking all things into existence. Note, All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. So the word is the Creator. Now I want us to look at verse 14 and see the identity of the Word. it says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. unless we are going to deny that the Bible is the infallible word of God we must come to the conclusion that this is Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God!
Now lets look at one more passage concerning His identity. We read in verse 18 “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. I would like to show you a little more Greek, not because I want to show off but because it is most telling. The KJV took a Greek manuscript known as the Textus Receptus which reads thus…(o monogenhv uiov).. But the best old Greek manuscripts (Aleph B C L) reads this way (monogenhv yeov) (God only begotten) which is undoubtedly the true text. Again we see that Jesus Christ is none other than God! And we know that God is Holy, Holy, Holy. Concerning His nature I would have us look at three passages of scripture.
2Co 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. The first He is God the Father. We see that God the Father made Jesus Christ, the second Him, to be sin, not to sin but to take upon Himself our sins. Note that it says He knew no sin. In fact He once challenged the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, to point out any sin that He had committed and no one said a word. Why? Because God is Holy and there is no spot or blemish in Him. He is perfect in all of His ways.
Look also to (1Pe 2:22) Of Jesus Peter writes, “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; His life was absolutely pure and impeccable. He always did what was pleasing to the Father. So the case is made that Jesus is perfect. Now my last point is this; “Why did Jesus come? What was the purpose of His coming? The statement was made that He could have sinned otherwise the devil would have been wasting his time. But this is absolutely foreign to Scripture. Was the purpose of His coming to see if Satan could have gotten Him to sin? No!
(1Jo 3:5) tells us why He came. “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. Jesus came to live a perfect life on our behalf. He came to do what we could not do and that was to perfectly obey the Law of God for us. God’s standard is perfection and we fall far short of that. Paul speaks of this in (Ro 8:3) “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” We could not obey the law. It was impossible. Therefore God did what sinful men could not do. He came to earth and perfectly obeyed His Law on our behalf. He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial lambs. The requirement was a lamb without spot or blemish. It had to be perfect.
In the same way, God required a perfect sacrifice in order to atone for our sins. Jesus Christ is that perfect sacrifice. He was the propitiation for our sins, that is, He was our substitutionary sacrifice, taking on our sins and dying in our place. In His perfect atoning sacrifice our sins were killed, forgiven, washed away. In (Col 2:13-14) Paul tells us, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, when you were lost, spiritually dead, outside of a saving relationship with Jesus, He Jesus made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
(Heb 4:15) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” This is the outstanding difference that must never be overlooked in considering the actual humanity of Jesus. He did not yield to sin. But more than this is true. There was no latent sin in Jesus to be stirred by temptation and no habits of sin to be overcome. He did have “weaknesses” common to our human nature such as hunger, thirst, weariness. And Satan repeatedly used his strongest weapons against Jesus, AND FAILED. Jesus remained “undefiled” in a world of sin. This is our ground of hope, the sinlessness of Jesus and his real sympathy for us, having experienced every temptation we have YET WITHOUT SIN! There is no sin, not even the possibility of sin in Jesus! He is very God of very God and He is Holy, Holy, Holy. Consider these three passages.
(Heb 9:14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
(1Pe 1:19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
(2Pe 3:14) Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Remember (Re 21:8). Jesus tells us that no sin will dwell in heaven! The hymn writer reflected the hearts of true Christians when he said, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus Name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.