Could Jesus have sinned?
I think this is such a difficult question for us because it is finite and fallen minds that are trying to grasp it. But I’ll give it a try…
At the outset, there are a few things that scripture identifies as certain.
Jesus was genuinely tempted: “ …for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:2). “[Christ] …was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).
Jesus never actually sinned: “[Christ] committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf…” (2 Cor. 5:21a). “…tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). “…in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:5b).
But the question is, Could Jesus have sinned? Was Jesus impeccable (unable to sin), or was He peccable (able to sin)?
The temptations Christ experienced were indeed very real, although of necessity a bit unique. For example, have you ever been tempted to turn rocks into bread? To leap off a tall building forcing angels to your rescue? To kneel before Satan to close a deal for all the kingdom’s of the world?
Similarly it is pretty safe to assume Jesus was never tempted to cheat on His Income Tax, envy or steal another person’s possessions (He owned all things anyway), or lust after a woman. In Christ God indeed became a very real man, but not a fallen man. Having no fallen nature which the devil might entice “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13b).
Yet still, He was tempted.
But could He have sinned? Could He have opted to turn a few stones to bread? Perhaps we find a clue in part of last Sunday’s message. If you recall, I mentioned how Christ acknowledged “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does…. By myself I can do nothing” (John 5:19, 30a).
And don’t we all feel that way when we are facing temptations? The flesh wants to say ‘yes’ and by itself it can do nothing to stop itself from yielding; but the spirit says ‘no’ and when we choose it we find victory!
John notes something interesting regarding this. He says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” (1 John 3:9). And “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” (1 John 5:18).
When God is in full control of us, we cannot sin either! And in Christ incarnate, God was in control at all times! What an example for us to strive to emulate!
Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.