Could Jesus Have Sinned?

Fred Coulter and Richard Anthony

Was it impossible that Jesus could sin? Or, but because of how he lived his life, was it improbable that he would have sinned, though there was the possibility he could have?

If it was impossible for Jesus to have sinned, what value was the temptation? How could he be tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15)? If the temptation had no effect, because there wasnít the remotest chance the Jesus could have sinned, there would be, in effect, no temptation!

Many people say Jesus was "fully God and fully man." But, at the same time, they claim Jesus did not have man's nature. But, if Jesus did not have man's nature, then it would be innacurate to say Jesus was "fully man." To be "fully man" must mean that one has all the characteristics and qualities that a full man has...otherwise, the phrase "fully man" would not be accurate. Did Jesus have such a different nature, that he was, essentially, not a man? Thatís really what the question gets down to.

Philippians 2:5-8, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, 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.."

Now, if Jesus was made in the likeness of man, then did Jesus have man's nature? If he did have man's nature, could he experience the same thing that man experiences? If he did not have man's nature, but had a different nature, why does scripture call him a "man" over and over again?

John 1:1-3,14-17, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 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 bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

The nature of Jesus was different in that he was full of grace and truth. This still doesnít mean that his nature was different to the extent that he did not have man's nature. Can you be so filled with the Holy Spirit that your natural tendencies is not going to control you? The answer is "Yes".

Ephesians 1:13, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."

Jesus and the Law

Galatians 4:4-6, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. "

This passage says Jesus was under the law, which means Jesus was subject to the law. And if youíre subject to the law, what does the law say?

Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death."

What kind of nature did Jesus take upon himself? Did he not take upon him man's nature? By his conduct, by his choices, he made sinning an improbability, and it did not happen. Not because it was impossible for him to not choose to do so. otherwise, why would there have been any choices for Christ, or temptation for him? You canít tempt anyone unless thereís a choice involved.

Romans 8:3, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:."

Why is the law weak through the flesh? The law cannot compel you to do what is right, it only defines what is right. Jesus had the same kind of fleshy, nature as we have. Now, some people would say this is heresy, or that this is not so. Read on:

Did Jesus Suffer being Tempted?

Hebrews 2:10, "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

Now, how are you going to be made perfect through suffering if you are already perfect? This is not to say that Jesus was imperfect. He was always perfect when he was in the flesh, but he had to be perfected in character. In order for God to understand and properly judge man, Jesus had to live a life in the flesh with man's nature.

Hebrews 2:14-18, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."

If there was no possibility of sinning, how could you tempt him? You cannot. To use an analogy, if you have something that is completely, 100% impossible to burn, what good would it do to put fire to it to try to burn it? You couldnít burn it! Itís impossible! So likewise, if Jesus could not have sinned because it was impossible to sin, why tempt him? But he was tempted because there was that possibility that he could sin, and it would be by choice. That is the key thing to why Jesus never sinned, because of choice. Not because of impossibility, but because he always chose to do God's Will. Therefore, it was improbable that he would ever sin, but the possibility was always there, because he had man's nature, just like we do.

Are we tempted to sin? Yes, we are. Do we succumb to that temptation? All too often. How could Jesus have suffered if there wouldnít have been anything to suffer? Why was Jesus made?

2 Corinthians 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Jesus was a sin offering. And how did he make him "to be sin for us"? That there was that possibility he could have made the wrong choice. Jesus "knew no sin", which means Jesus did not do, by choice or experience, a single sin, and thatís what makes his life so absolutely fantastic, because by the power of the Spirit of God being full of grace and truth, he was able to be made sin for us, but committed no sin. One cannot claim that Jesusí temptation was not like our temptation, because how could he have been tempted if his temptation was not like our temptation?

Hebrews 4:15, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

This makes his ability to understand us even greater since there is no man that cannot go to God and repent of their sins. Thatís why the unpardonable sin is such a horrible thing. A lot of people think they have committed the unpardonable sin, but the very fact that someone worries about committing the unpardonable sin shows you have not committed this sin, because if you committed the unpardonable sin, you wouldnít care or worry.

Hebrews 5:7, "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared."

If Jesus did not have the same kind of temptations as we do, and the absolute need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to completely overcome, his overcoming was a greater overcoming than ours, because he committed no sin. Jesus had to stop every temptation before it conceived into a sin, because sin begins in the mind before it is manifest in actions. Why would Jesus have "strong crying and tears"?

Hebrews 5:8-9, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;"

Jesus was being made perfect. Not that he was ever imperfect, but the whole experience of God could not be perfected until God came in the flesh, and took upon him man's nature with the law of sin and death, and died, and was resurrected, and that is how he was made perfect. And being perfect, "he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."

The Temptation in the Wilderness

Matthew 4:1-2, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred."

This was to show that Jesus put no reliance in the flesh. Why? Because the flesh, of and by itself, with the law of sin and death, would sin! So he had to be made the weakest, physically, to go through this temptation.

Matthew 4:3, "And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."

Why didnít Jesus make the stones bread? He could do it. Because he would have obeyed the tempter instead of God, and Jesus always chose to do the Will of God. So he answered him with scripture, because scripture is True (Daniel 10:21).

Matthew 4:4-6, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."

Now, if you look this up in Psalm 91:11-12, you will see that this is actually, precisely quoted by the devil, but a completely wrong application. To where then you do something you know you should not do, and you know it is something that is sin, pride, or vanity. So he would have used it for his own will, "You cast yourself down." This is not the Will of God, even though it was the Will of God that he not hurt himself.

Matthew 4:8-9, "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."

Just like most men today, the devil offered him material wealth and power, if only he would do what he said, and forget about God's Will, forget about God's Law. But Jesus meditated on God's Law, and this is what allowed him to overcome temptation.

Matthew 4:10, "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

You cannot love money and wealth, and be a servant of God at the same time. If you did place wealth higher than God, then you would be serving wealth instead of God. The scripture is clear that you cannot serve God and mammon, mammon meaning wealth and power (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). So Jesus chose to obey God's Law rather than the illusion that wealth provides.

Matthew 4:11, "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."

Notice the devil gave up after he realized he couldn't win. And the angels comforted Jesus because he was physically weak.

One of the things that keeps us from repenting in our own lives, when we know we ought to repent, is that somehow we think we can work it out when we really canít. Or, we somehow have it in mind that God canít forgive what we have done, because we knew when we did it we shouldnít do it and we feel guilty. This is not true, God will forgive us.

The Arrest of Jesus

Before Jesus was arrested, he prayed earnestly to the Father to not let him go through this suffering and crucifixion that lay ahead of him, but Jesus asked this only insofar if it be according to his Father's Will.

Luke 22:39-42, "And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."

Thatís the key choice. Never did he yield to any other than the Father. He always chose the Will of God.

Luke 22:43, "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him."

Why would an angel appear to strengthen him? Why would Jesus need to be strengthened if it werenít for the fact that the flesh is weak?

Luke 22:44, "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

If there was not the slightest possibility of sin, why pray this way? Jesus had to put his whole absolute being, with all of Godís Spirit within him, to confront the coming arrest and crucifixion. If it was impossible for him to sin, why go through this? Because he could choose, at the last minute, to do something that he shouldnít have done.

Now, letís see what happened after he was arrested. Letís see what he could have done.

Matthew 26:51-53, "And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus (Peter) stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"

Jesus could have called 120,000 angels, but he didnít, because it was not the will of God. Now, letís look at the possibility where Jesus said there was a possibility that, by choice, he could sin.

John 5:31, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true."

The word "If" means it was a possibility, but it was improbable he would do so.

John 8:53-55, "Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If (Jesus could have chosen this) I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say (thought, choice, action), I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying."

This shows how Jesus chose not to sin, even though the possibility of sin was thereÖto seek glory to himself, to seek honor to himself. How was Jesus made sin for us, and how did he carry our sins in his very body, but never sin? Letís see:

1 Peter 2:22-24, "Who did no sin (it was by choice he never sinned), neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."

How could he bear our sins within his body? By having the law of sin and death within his members and never sinning. For Jesus to be tempted as we are tempted, he must have had the law of sin and death within him, which means every time the tempter came to tempt Jesus, he was appealing to Jesusí nature to sin. And if Jesus didnít have man's nature like we have man's nature, how could he be tempted?

Mark 7:21-23, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."

Where did Jesus bear our sins? Within his own body! Jesus had to carry man's nature. Does that mean that he sinned in his thoughts? No, because he was filled with the Holy Spirit so he would not sin, even though the possibility was there that he could sin. Letís see how sin comes about, and then weíll see why Jesus never came to that point:

Temptation and Sin

James 1:13, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:"

This is why "tempted" cannot mean just "tested." Can God test us? Yes. Did God test Abraham? Yes. Are we tested of God? Yes. Who tempts us with evil? Not God, it is the devil who tempts with evil (Matthew 4:3). It is the devil who was appealing to the nature of Jesus to put another God before him, break that first Commandment, commit idolatry, go against the Will of God, and that would have been it for Jesus.

What does God do? He places before us choices. God says in Deuteronomy 30:19, "...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"

James 1:14, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."

Notice the definition of temptation. Jesus stopped every temptation by choice. Sin is a process. The temptation comes along and you allow it to get into your own nature and lust. And then that deceives you. How does that deceive you? Because every way of a man is right in his own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8). So then you convince yourself that sin is right. Did Jesus know that sin was wrong? Yes. And he chose what? He chose to do what is right and not sin.

James 1:15, "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

Now Jesus stopped every temptation right at the door. Jesus never allowed temptation to conceive, and since it never conceived, it never brought forth sin. This is the example we are to follow.

How did Jesus avoid sin?

John 8:28, "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."

Jesus did nothing on his own, by choice. He sought not his own glory, or will. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father was able to teach Jesus, so therefore, he always chose to do what was right.

John 8:29, "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

This is how Jesus was able to never sin. Though he was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, even though there was that possibility he could sin, it was improbable that he would have sinned, because he always did what was rightÖby choice.

The following verses shows why Jesus did not sin, because Jesus always chose to do his Fathers will, and not his own will:

John 5:19, "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."

John 5:30, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."

John 7:14-18, "Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."

Hebrews 1:8-9, "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity;"

This is why Jesus was always able to choose what is right. He loved righteousness, and hated iniquity. This is where we get ourselves in trouble, isnít it? Because we compromise in our own thoughts, and we donít hate iniquity like we ought to. But Jesus did, which is why he always made the right choice.

Hereís what Jesus did to not allow any temptation to take root:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"

People who donít do this sin. Now, compare this next verse with Hebrews 5:7, where Jesus cried with strong prayers, who was able to save him from death:

Revelation 3:21, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."

Christ had to overcome so that he would not sin. Through choice, he had to always exercise the Spirit of God. Always choose what was right. Always love righteousness and hate iniquity. So, if it was impossible for Jesus to have sinned, what would he have had to of overcome? It just wouldnít be. There would be nothing to overcome if it was impossible for him to overcome.

Because he always did those things that were right, Jesus did not sin. But the possibility of sin was always there. Thatís what the temptation was all about. But we can be thankful that, through the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus never sinned, and was that perfect sacrifice. He did nail sin to the cross. The sins of all mankind were nailed to that cross by Jesus, the Christ.


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