Could Jesus have sinned while he walked this earth? This is a question that has been asked by just about anyone who has ever discussed the life of Christ. There are really only two possible answers, one is “yes” and the other is “no.” Theologians, laymen and many good people have debated this question for decades, even centuries. Because there is such debate with strong points made on both sides, I don’t propose to be so arrogant as to definitively answer the question here. Instead, I want to approach this question as the launching point to analyze why many Christians do not live in victory, why many Christians do not experience deep joy in Christ, and why many Christians are dissatisfied with their Christian experience. I firmly believe that what you believe affects how you behave. Let us consider Hebrews chapter four.
Hebrews 4:1-16 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limited a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 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. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Since I asked the question I will weigh in with my answer, and my answer is “no.” No, Jesus could not have sinned while he walked the earth. That is my answer. Some will agree, some will not. Everyone who asks the question is agreed that he, in fact, lived his life without sinning; whether Jesus could or could not have sinned, he did not sin. Concerning Jesus, Peter said in 1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. He did no sin; he said nothing that was sin. Not an idle action or word, none.
It is my observation, in the lives of others and, to my shame, in my own life, that Christians really don’t know how evil sin is, how detrimental it is to our hopes, dreams, well-being, joy, satisfaction, contentment, peace, and how it separates us from a loving God. We enjoy sin; we all agree with the scriptures regarding the reality of the pleasures of sin (Concerning Moses; Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.). Even if we don’t tell the dirty joke, we find it humorous more than we wish to admit; Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
The reason I answer the question “Could Jesus have sinned?” with a no-vote is that I believe, as do all Christians, that Jesus was 100% man and also 100% God. It is my belief that Jesus, without the sin nature that we inherited, found sin to have absolutely positively no appeal. Further, he knew, as we should come to know as we mature in our Christian walk, that sin is a dead end, it produces grief, heartbreak, and further it separates us from God.
In Jesus dwelt the fullness of the Holy Spirit without measure. John 3:34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. Because he has the fullness of the Holy Spirit within him, sin had no hold over him, it had no attraction, it had no appeal it had no power. It was just the opposite – he hated it, he despised it, he knew what it really did to men and women, and he came to conquer sin, not toy with it like you and me.
Many Christians think that Jesus could sin, and that if he could not sin then he didn’t really experience life like the rest of us, and thus could not qualify to be the atonement for our sin. This is flawed logic. The Bible doesn’t say Jesus had to have the ability to sin to be our substitution; the Bible says that the blood of animals was insufficient and imperfect, and that Jesus, being a man, living as a sinless man, dying as a sinless man, satisfied God’s bar of judgment.
On first read, it does look like Jesus was tempted in the sense of having a choice to make, and finding appeal in both choices (to sin or not to sin) like happens to the Christian, thus Jesus could have sinned. Let us consider Matthew chapter four. This is the account of when the devil tempted Christ with food when he was hungry, immortality by jumping off a great height and surviving, and even the gift of the very kingdoms of this world. Ask yourself; is there anything the devil had to offer Christ that was appealing to Christ? Think about that. The temptation was there in the sense that the choice was put before Jesus. Yet regarding entertaining the idea of following the devil and desiring what the devil had to offer, there was of that, not a hint, not a scrap, not an iota of any pondering whether or not this was the thing to do or not. He did not consider sin as an option, not once, not ever. He could do no sin.
From our principle text in Hebrews chapter four let us find seven reasons why Christians do not experience victory, joy, peace, and the abundant life Jesus has to offer, and what to do about it.
1. Christians hear the truth, but they do not mix faith with the word of God – 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
When we do not mix faith with the word of God, then the word of God does not benefit us, and we live in defeat, confusion, fear, and there certainly is no victory. Faith is a New Testament reality, but because Christians do not exercise their faith, they don’t have faith when it is needed. This should not be so. One reason we don’t have faith is because we see Jesus as having overcome sin by his strength of will, rather than because he committed all he had to God the Father. Jesus did not barely squeak by but he was overwhelming victorious, living his entire life without sin, without ever missing God’s will, and we too can live in victory as we draw near to God in faith and respond to God’s will for us by mixing faith with the word when we hear it.
2. Christians hear the truth, but they choose to not believe it – 6 Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.
Unbelief is a killer of peace, joy, happiness, and success in God’s kingdom. Why don’t we believe the gospel and the promises of Christ? Part of it is because we believe Jesus could have sinned and luckily he did not. Jesus simply made better choices than we did (we rationalize), but since we have a sin nature and he didn’t he had a small advantage over us and we conclude that he really isn’t all that powerful after all. He wore sandals and a robe and had a beard and spent all his time reading the scriptures. We on the other hand have to work in the real world and we need to relax so we watch a James Bond movie. We therefore do not believe what the Bible says. We don’t believe it applies to us. We get saved to avoid hell and one day go to heaven, but when it comes to believing that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, well, we just don’t believe that. The result is we miss God’s best and experience defeat after defeat, and we live like the world and not like an overcoming Christian.
3. Christians hear the truth, but from sin and circumstances harden their heart – 7 Again, he limited a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
God speaks today. Many Christians living in victory hear God’s voice and respond according to the will of God. They know Jesus can be trusted and they love him. Others harden their hearts. They resist the will of God. Why would they do this? They don’t love Jesus as they should and could because of circumstances, ignorance, prejudice, lack of teaching, and attitudes inconsistent with Christian behavior. People harden their hearts due to any number of reasons, and I submit one of those reasons is because they see Jesus as someone who could sin and is thus not worthy of praise and adoration. He’s just another man who happened to live right and got lucky but that’s it. Why follow someone who is just a little bit better than we are? But Jesus was on a mission formed in the counsel of God before the foundation of the world. He came in the fullness of time and smashed the devil and redeemed mankind. Why would anyone harden their heart toward the Great God and Savior Jesus Christ when they understand that!
4. Christians hear the truth, but make no effort to pursue God – 11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Laboring is something many defeated Christians have no interest in doing. They see Jesus as not being unique, but rather he was favored by God so of course he was going to succeed. Further, he didn’t have an interest in “real world” things. Of course he didn’t have a drug addiction, he was just someone who wandered in the wilderness saying things that weren’t always clear. But I submit that the habits and behaviors of Jesus were there for a reason and for an example. We have to labor to understand them, we have to study and work at it. Many don’t, because they don’t see Jesus for who he is, the Son of God. They see him as someone who could sin and someone who didn’t sin because he was too lofty to even know what sin was. So there is no rest for such Christians, they struggle with life and go to their grave wondering why God didn’t bless them and answer all their prayers how they thought they should be answered. Beloved, we have to labor in the scriptures, we labor in ministry, we labor in overcoming sin, all because we know Jesus did not sin, and sin had no attraction to him, and as we work to be conformed into his image, we too want to avoid sin.
5. Christians hear the truth, but by ignorance of the ways of God miss God’s best – 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
When we read a verse like this, one has to wonder why any Christian should have a life of anything other than purpose, confidence, prosperity, and happiness. The word of God can sort out any lack of purpose we might have, it can give us confidence where before our hearts were troubled and fearful, it can bring prosperity and increase to relationships, our education, our careers, our families, and our lives. The word of God has the keys to happiness, and that happiness includes avoiding sorrow of the kind experienced by those who have no hope. But if our hope is in a weak, disinterested, unsympathetic Jesus, then we don’t have much hope. If we are to win in the kingdom of God and in our life, we have to let the word of God have its way in our life, and we do this when we see that Jesus, who lived without sin, did so because the word of God has its way in his life. He was a man who lived in the presence of sin like we are, but the word of God was his counselor. Read all of Psalm 119, it’s the longest chapter in all of the Bible, it’s virtually in the center of the Bible, and it deals with the value and importance of the scriptures over and over and over and over again. There’s a reason for that.
6. Christians hear the truth, but still think they can get away with sin and that it goes unnoticed – 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
When you watch Christians playing with sin, justifying sin, and enjoying sin you have to wonder what in the world are they thinking! One thing they might be thinking is that they can get away with it; they can get away with it because others won’t know and the meek Jesus doesn’t care. But the meek Jesus is also the Bright and Morning Star, the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valley. He’s the one who walked this earth and faced off with the religious leaders, lawyers, tax collectors, governors, kings, soldiers and won every time. He’s the one who lifted up the prostitute, the demon possessed, the sick and lame, the brokenhearted and the sinner. He sees it all and he knows it all. You will behave like a Christian when you know God is always watching over you and he’ll make a way for you because he is the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present God, and not some tempted weakling who could have sinned when he walked the earth.
7. Christians hear the truth, but they see Christ as being like themselves (tempted to sin) and just a little stronger, and not really able to help us and thus we have to help ourselves – 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. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
This entire fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews talks of the rest that is to be a part of the life of the follower of Christ. The rest from the burden of sin, the burden of guilt, the burden of confusion, the burden of fear, the burden of life. We have a Jesus that paid it all and made a way. We have a Jesus that walked this earth like you and me, he saw the sin, he saw the misery, he experienced hunger, emotions, friendship, betrayal – all of it. He was 100% man and 100% God. God doesn’t sin; God has an answer for sin. He was touched with the feelings of our infirmities, our weaknesses, our frailties, but he was not infirm, he was not weak, he was not frail, but he was touched with our burdens. He was in the presence of sin as he walked this earth, but sin had no power over him. Because of this, we can come boldly into his presence and we can obtain mercy, we can find grace, and we can find help in time of need.
Christians who understand that Jesus could not sin while he was on earth are the ones who do exploits in the kingdom of God; they are not looking for excuses to fail, rather, they intend on winning. They are the ones who are all-in with Jesus. They are the ones who have faith in God, they believe the Bible and they follow the word of God. They are ones who hear God’s voice and they keep their hearts soft. They are the ones who labor to advance the kingdom of Heaven and understand the work and become workers in the white fields of harvest in these end times. They are the ones who live right and avoid practicing sin. They are ones who are busy being conformed into the image of Christ, because they know God is watching, God is speaking, God is listening, God is caring and lifting burdens, and they know that heaven will be their home one day, and they have confidence in Jesus, the sinless Son of God, the one high and lifted up because he overcame the devil and redeemed men. Could Jesus have sinned? Not a chance! Live a life of victory, live a life of peace, live a life of confidence, live a life of faith knowing that the Jesus you gave your heart and life to is indeed the Righteousness of God, and is well able to bless you and keep you, to guide you and to prosper you, to meet every need and solve every problem and dry every tear. Amen.