The Impeccability of Christ
By Noel Chartier
The Scriptures are absolutely clear as to the perfection, faultlessness, immaculateness, excellence and purity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Although He "was made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7),"in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3), and took part of "flesh and blood" (Hebrews 2:14), He "knew no sin" (2Corinthians 5:21), He "did no sin" (1Peter 2:22), "and in him is no sin" (1John 3:5).
One man was asked the question if it was ever possible for man to refrain from sinning. He resounded "Absolutely! But I know not a man." However, Jesus Christ "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). To the contrary, you and I are sinners in every aspect. First of all, we have sin imputed to us from Adam. When Adam sinned, the whole of humanity was in his loins, genetically speaking, and when He fell, we fell with him. We are therefore born "of corruptible seed" (1Peter 1:23). But Jesus birth was on this wise, "for that which is conceived in (not of) her (Mary) is of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1:20).
As well, our thoughts are tainted with sin, but Jesus never knew an impure thought. Lucifer had one impure thought and he was cast down to the earth out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12). The mind is the breeding ground for sin and when "lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15). In Ecclesiastes 7:20 we read, "For there is not a just man upon the earth that doeth good and sinneth not."
Some have gone on to ponder the question whether it was possible for Christ to have fallen as well. Since Christ was in all points tempted as we are, would it not have been possible for Jesus to sin? The answer is absolutely not for "God cannot be tempted with evil" (James 1:13). Jesus was tested and proved in every way, but even in His humanity He did not cease to be God. "God is light" (1John 1:5), and Jesus is "the light of the world" (John 8:12). "In him is no darkness at all" (1John 1:5), "neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).
The devil tempted Christ in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-11) to prove that Jesus was the Son of God. He was tested with "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1John 2:16). But when He was tried, He was found to be "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26). This test was not so much as to see whether Christ could sin or not, but to prove that He was the Son of God, the "Lamb without spot or blemish".
He lived on this earth for 33 spotless years. Many eyewitnesses could testify to this. As for His actions, the people "were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37). Likewise, Luke records that He "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), and Isaiah said, "he had done no violence" (Isaiah 53:9).
Jesus challenged His adversaries saying, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8:46), and none could put a finger on Him for "no unrighteousness is in him" (John 7:18). Jesus alone could say "I do always those things that please him (God)" (John 8:29), and rightly declare to all "yet none of you keepeth the law" (John 7:19).
But they bore false witness against Him (Mt. 26:57-62). They tried to say He broke the Sabbath (John 5:18). They charged Him with blasphemy for saying He was the Son of God (Mark 14:60-64). But when Christ stood before the judgment seat of Pilate, he said "to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man" (Luke 23:4).
Finally they accomplished what they set out to do from the beginning (John 5:18) and crucified Him for saying He was the Christ, the Son of God (John 19:7). When crucified alongside Jesus, the thief testified that he was justly condemned for his deeds but Jesus "hath done nothing amiss" (Luke 23:41).
As for His conversation, there was no "deceit in his mouth" (Isaiah 53:9), "neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not" (1Peter 2:23). In fact "all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth" (Luke 4:22). Likewise, John with heartfelt and deep adoration recorded: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Truly, Jesus Christ was the embodiment of grace and truth, the Glory of God the Father.
The psalmists record looked forward to Him, "Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever" (Psalm 45:2). "His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely" (Song of Solomon 5:16). "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth" (Psalms 119:103)!
Even at a young age "all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers" (Luke 2:47). Later in life, His countrymen questioned, "Whence hath this man this wisdom" (Matthew 13:54)? But He would tell them "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me" (John 7:16), "as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28). "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (John 12:49). He "is in the bosom of the Father" (John 1:18) and was never once outside of His Fathers will.
We might ask, why is this so important? If Jesus sinned, what's the big deal? Listen, if Jesus would have sinned we could not be saved. If He had sin of His own He could not die for ours, but "he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1John 2:2). "He was manifested to take away our sins" (1John 3:5), so God "made him to be sin for us" (2Corinthians 5:21). We were all as sheep going astray, but the Good Shepard loved us and "giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).
Because we are sinners, we are hopeless to save ourselves. When we are both drowning in the river of iniquity as it flows to the lake of fire, my "helping hand" will do nothing for you. There is none who "can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him" (Psalm 49:7) for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). All of mankind needs to be redeemed for all are under the bondage of corruption due to sin. The soul that sins, it shall die. The payment for sin is death, but if we die in our sins we shall perish in hell and never see light but "blackness of darkness forever" (Jude 13) "in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Revelation 20:8).
What then "shall a man give in exchange for his soul" (Matthew 16:26) that he might "live for ever, and not see corruption" (Psalm 49:9)? The Bible tells us "the redemption of [our] soul is precious" (Psalm 49:8), more costly than "silver and gold", even the "whole world" for these are "corruptible things" (1 Peter 1:17) "that perisheth" (1 Peter 1:7).
There is however one thing that is "precious" in the sight of God, that is, His beloved Son. He was "disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious" (1 Peter 2:4). Indeed the redemption of our soul is precious for it cost "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Peter 1:18-21).
He was without spot or blemish, as was the Levitical sin offering, therefore He needed not to offer sacrifice "first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself" (Hebrews 7:27). Jesus Christ "offered himself without spot to God" and "by his own blood he … obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:14, 12). "After he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, [He] sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12). God raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory exalting Him "with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31).
Jesus is now at Gods right hand, alive forevermore, to intercede for us. If you have not yet trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, "Repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Christ "bare our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24) and is able "to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25). He is the "gate … called Beautiful" (Acts 3:2), alive forevermore, and promises, "by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (John 10:9). "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him" (Psalms 34:8).
Steve, if I may, with all due respects.
You asked Noel very good questions, and indeed, a Pelagian with whom I have been discussing this very doctrine asked basically the same questions.
Could it be proven Christ COULD NOT have sinned ?
There is a Reformed Theologian who used the phrase "would not", with a caveat.
Now, I am going to ask a question.
Since it cannot be proven, according to those who hold to the doctrine that Christ is peccable, could not have sinned, then I ask: then what if He had sinned somewhere in His life here on earth, and the writers of the Bible DID NOT report it.
Wouldn't that put the Bible, the very Scriptures you, Noel, and every born again Christian hold to have been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, under subleepedion ?
In fact wouldn't that omission hold the Holy Spirit Himself under subleepedion ?
Subleepedion of hiding facts, subleepedion of presenting only the best of Christ, subleepedion of 'lying' ?
You see, I don't know if you will agree with me here, but, the Scriptures themselves stand or fall based on the Person of Christ.
If for one moment we think or suspect that Christ could have sinned, or, in the words of the Pelagian I have been in discussion with, COULD sin but chose not to in exercise of free will, on whose integrity are we going to hold to the veracity of Scriptures ?
But the very idea that Christ COULD or COULD HAVE sinned, puts the integrity of the great One-in-Three under a cloud of doubt already, because isn't Christ Himself of God's own substance ?
I was an atheist for a short while, but that short while was cut short by the idea that here at last is Somebody untainted with the sin that I am tainted with, who in fact, could not and would not even THINK of sinning.
Now, here are all these things about Christ, after all, having the ability to sin, just that He did not choose to ?
If this Substance of God, in human form, could sin, who is left to believe on ?
am doing a research on the impeccability of Christ and i have some questions (1) Is it that Christ could not sin or that the power of sin was not in him, (2)If Jesus could not sin how was it then possible that he felt about our sins (3)How was it possible for Jesus to die for our sins if HE was not the perfect lamb tried and found to be ideal. could it be that Jesus could have sinned but never sinned to accomplish the great duty ahead?
(1) The Bible tells us "in Him is no sin" (1 John 3:5). We must remember, that although God became a man, He did not cease to be God in His humanity. And, "God cannot be tempted with evil" (James 1:13), and this was proved of Jesus throughout His days in the flesh. As for us, "every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:14-15) Jesus never lusted aagaist anything. He came with the specific purpose to fulfill the will of His Father, and this He did spotlessly.
(2) Jesus told Nicodemus, "YE must be born again" (John 3:7). Jesus did not need converting as others do, but recognized the need for man to be regenerated. He loved the sinner but hated the sin as we are told, "God so loved the world" and "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." (Hebrews 1:9)
(3) The Scriptures testify that Jesus was the Lamb without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19). If Jesus could have sinned he would not have been God. He would have been no different than any other of the prophets, David (murderer and adulterer), or Moses (murderer), or Peter (Christ denier) etc. But Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, who says, "I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour." (Isaiah 43:11) God is holy and just and in Him is no darkness at all, therefore He alone could be the Saviour of mankind. He alone could take on the sin of the whole world and pay the debt in full.
Steve, you put forth some thoughtful arguments that make those who are believers dig a little deeper. Indeed, those who are Christ's do not want to preach anything that is contrary to His Word. Sometimes though there are difficult passages, and although both are born again belivers, they may hold to different views, and some of these doctrines will only be cleared up on that day when we shall "know even as also I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Nevertheless, I am not convinced by these arguments that Christ would have been sent on a mission where He could have failed. Although he took on the "likeness of sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3), "and was made in the likeness of men" (Philipians 2:7), He was still God, and "the same, yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8). It seems the "peccability" view all hinges on that one word "tempted" (Gr. peirazo). This word in its first sence is "to try whether a thing can be done".
Now I can try to see if in nature a led ball will drop to the ground when I let it go from my hand. Every time I try it rapidly falls to the ground. This does not mean that there is the possibility that one time it will not fall. Well, when Christ was tempted, tried and proven in the days of His flesh it was shown to all that He could not fall. In His humanity, He did not cease to be God.
In the book of Hebrews we are told "Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation (Gr. peirasmos) in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted (Gr. peirazo) me, proved me, and saw my works forty years." (Hebrews 3:8-9).
Now the children of Israel tempted (Gr. peirazo) God in the wilderness. This does not mean that there was a possibility of Him failing in His purpose. Likewise, although Christ was tempted, tried, tested and proven, it does not mean that it was possible for Him to fail. It proved that Christ was indeed the Messiah, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish, our High Priest in the heavens who is able to interceed for us daily, our Saviour who bore our sins and suffered for them that we might come to God through Him knowing that all our filthy stains are washed in the blood of the Lamb.
God had shown Israel that He could not fail, and Christ has shown us as well, that He could not fail in all His temptations.
Noel: Check out Carter's link to True Victories. It is a good link to someone who holds to impeccability from a view of the sovereignty of God. (You will need to take out the space in his link between the 'p' and 'e' of impeccability.) For a cogent and insightful defense of peccability, you can look at http://www.preservedwords.com/sinned.htm
Noel: You do a masterful job of showing from Scripture that Jesus did not sin. However, the doctrine of the impeccability of Christ is that Jesus could not sin. Any person who believes the Bible will readily agree with you that Jesus was sinless, that is, that He was born without a sin nature (just as Adam was created without a sin nature) and that He never sinned in thought or deed during His entire time on Earth (as also, obviously, before and after). The doctrinal question here is whether He had a will which He could have exercised contrary to the will of His Father (though, again, we know He did not). For that, you provide no Scripture. I could fully embrace, accept and say 'Amen' to everything you say and yet still hold to peccability. You have proved Christ DID NOT sin. Can you prove Christ COULD NOT HAVE sinned?
I would like to comment to Lee that Christ was a man made of flesh and doing the will of our Father. Through the power of the Spirit of God that was in Christ was Christ able to do the will of our Father. The flesh of itself can't. Therefore Christ is making the statement "not my will". He is letting us know that it can never be that we can please God by the will of the flesh. The relationship that God requires is that we die to the flesh aka the "old man" so that God can live through us. It's all by faith. We must daily put our flesh under us and ask
our Father what He will have us to do!
Carole: So Christ had a fleshly nature to which He was called to die? Jesus Christ had no "old man" or fleshly nature which He had to put under. The fact that the Word was made flesh does not mean that He had a fleshly nature. The word 'flesh' is often used in Scripture to refer simply to 'flesh and blood', unrelated to a fallen or fleshly nature. Adam was flesh and blood before the fall. The question which Lee brings up is legitimate and cannot be dismissed simply by saying He was speaking only to give us an example. He said He had a will (Lu. 22:42, Jn 5:30, 6:38) and that His will was distinct from that of His Father, but He submitted His choice to that of His Father and, rather than do His own will He did, in distinction, the will of His Father. The question we are asking is not how a saved sinner, with an active 'old man' and fleshly nature, deals with temptation, but rather, whether Jesus Christ had a will, a chooser, which He could have exercised contrary to the will of the Father.
The Lord Jesus, even as a Divine Person, experienced moments in which a particular course of action produced a short-term forfeiture of preference in order to accomplish a higher and better purpose. Experiencing the righteous wrath of God the Father was not the short term preference for God the Son, or for God the Father for that matter, but our Lord, in His Incarnation, submitted to the will of the Father.
Another example is the fall in the Garden. God put the tree there and commanded Adam and Eve to abstain from its fruit. His preference was that they obey Him and remain in innocent fellowship with Him. However, He allowed their rebellion because He had a higher purpose. All of that purpose we may not know, but the purpose of salvation is to more fully disclose the character of God (Eph. 2:7 ff.).
Have you ever been tempted? Have you ever resisted that temptation and had victory over a particular sin? Perhaps you have. Have you ever been drawn away from the path of righteousness? We both know that answer.
Well, Christ has been tempted just like you and I have. There may have been times when we did not yeild to our temptations, but where we have failed, Christ did not. Remember His 40 days in the wilderness? The devil tempted Him with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Where Adam fell, He did not.
So, if Christ could not sin, then how was he ever really tempted in the same way we are, as Hebrews 4:15 tells us? http://www.truevictories.com/2009/01/imp eccability-could-christ-have-sinned.html
In James 1:13 we are told "God cannot be tempted with evil" whereas, in Hebrews we are told that Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin". Jesus even in His humanity never ceased to be God. Even though he and his Father knew he could not sin, men and angels did not, so for our benefit he was tried, tested and proved to be without spot or blemish.
God has commanded us not to sin (1 John 2:1) and has made a way of escape for every temptation (1 Cor 10:13). God would never command us to do something we could not do, so we must say that God has made every provision for us not to sin, but the fact of the matter is that all have sinned. What we failed to do, Christ in his humanity accomplished.
In Philippians we are told Jesus Christ, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no repution, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).
In his humanity it is easily comprehendible how one would be tempted to shrink back from bearing the sin of the whole world and for the first itme being separated from his Fathers favor, and bearing His wrath. But "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). By tasting death for every man, He would bring many sons into glory (Hebrews 2:9-10).
If Christ would have sinned thein we would have no Saviour and we would be forever separated from God. I guess it will long be debated whether He could have sinned or not, but for our benefit it has been proven that He was the Lamb without spot and blemish, and therefore able to offer Himself up as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. And now we might fully trust Him to take away our sins.
I have a question. I have been studying in hebrews and am at chapter 4 vs.15. It says that He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Can you explain how Jesus could be tempted (James 1:13) like us if there was no way He could have sinned. Did He feel a pull to do that which was contrary to His Father's will as expressed in the Garden when He said "Not My will but thine be done"?
What was His will there at that time that He would say "not my will"??? Thank You.