The Impeccable Christ
D. G. Pullman
Over the years many have asserted that because the Lord became a Man it must have been possible for Him to sin, even if He did not do so. However, the Scriptures show that such teaching is erroneous and destructive of the holy Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. It really subverts the truths that the Lord Jesus is God and that the work of salvation is complete. For it is impossible for God to sin and if the Lord could have sinned He would not have been the perfect sacrifice by which sin, and the sins of those who believe, were dealt with.
There are at least four scriptures which taken together clearly teach us that the Lord was completely sinless. In each case the context has a very positive bearing upon our salvation, both now and for eternity.
Christ knew no sin
2 Corinthians 5:21 is a wonderful verse which tells us a number of important facts. "For He hath made Him to be sin for us." There came a moment when the Lord Jesus Christ was brought into a situation which He had never been in before. In Hebrews 9 and 10 we are told that Christ was both the sacrifice and the Offerer. This sacrifice was and is the only sacrifice acceptable to God, to deal with the sin question and make it possible for those who believe to have their sins forgiven. God made Christ that sacrifice for sin, and this was on the cross at Golgotha. It was only there that Christ was made sin, that the work of redemption might be accomplished, that salvation might be available to "whosoever will," and that believers might be reconciled to God (see 2 Cor. 5:18).
The next part of the verse, "who knew no sin," shows clearly and emphasises what is true. Christ had no knowledge of sin in Himself when He was here, for sin was not part of the manhood that He took. His manhood was perfect and holy, and every thought, word and deed was consistent with the fact that He is both God and Man. As Man, Christ pleased God perfectly.
Finally, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him," brings us to the consequence of what has gone before in this verse. We have been made righteous who before were unrighteous. We are brought into a new condition, which is suitable for the presence of God, and by this there is demonstration of the fact that God is righteous in all his dealings concerning sin.
Christ was without sin
In Hebrews 4 we touch upon a different aspect of this subject. Here the writer is considering the high priestly function of Jesus, the Son of God. Now in heaven, one of the services He fulfils is that of supporting His own who are still in this scene of trial.
In verse 15 we read, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." One of the blessed facts about the Lord taking up manhood and living here is that He understands completely the kind of difficulties we go through. The double negative emphasises how well the Lord knows and understands our situation and He is therefore ideally placed to provide timely help and support. Why is this so? The next part of the verse explains: "but was in all points tempted like as we are..." When in this world, Jesus was attacked by both Satan and men who sought to make Him fail. His response to Satan's temptations highlights the value of always relying upon the Scriptures for our defence. If Eve had taken this line all would have been well, but sadly she failed. The Lord did not fail. The men who tried to confound Him were themselves confounded by the wisdom that is in Jesus. Even Pilate, the representative of the worldly power, acknowledged three times, "I find no fault in this man."
Finally verse 15 states, "yet without sin." Again, Scripture very carefully guards against any wrong impression. Unlike us who sometimes fail, Jesus triumphed every time the testings came. He lived in this world and did not sin and moreover there was nothing in Him that responded to the temptations.
When a situation arises which brings temptation we ought not to rely on ourselves to work out a solution but turn to the "throne of grace." It is only there that we will find the help necessary to overcome the difficulties. We should seek the throne of grace to find "help in time of need," in order to avoid failing into the temptation.
Christ did no sin
In 1 Peter 2:22 we have a clear statement that Christ "did no sin." There was never a situation in which Christ responded with an act of sin. Here in this scene where opposition and injustice constantly pressed upon this impeccable Man, He did not fail. Of Him only could it be said that He did no sin. Apart from Him the whole of mankind is under the condemnation that, "all have sinned." This chapter gives us encouragement to help us as we live in a world which is in opposition to God. Christ was here, but as the perfect Man He did not respond to reviling and suffering as the people of this world respond to it. He depended upon His God. Furthermore, He bore our sins that we being now dead to sins should live righteously and respond to these adverse things as He did.
Thus, in whatever situation we may find ourselves, we ought not to react as sinners do. We should commit every situation to God who judges righteously. This is not easy in a world where day by day we come up against injustice. An earlier verse (1 Peter 2.20) reminds us that if we do wrong, and suffer as a consequence, it reflects no credit on us if we bear the suffering patiently. However, when we suffer and take it patiently, even though doing that which is right, this is acceptable to God. It is this attitude which is sometimes hard to put into practice. We require help in such situations and should look to Christ who suffered for us and not for Himself. Our Christian life is to be characterised by living patiently and bearing with injustice. There is no excuse if we respond to injustice with sin.
In Christ is no sin
In 1 John 3:5 we read, "And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin." The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world with Golgotha before Him. The cross was always the end point of His life of service in this world, for there the work was done that laid the righteous basis for our salvation. Without the cross there could be no blessing. The second part of the verse stresses again that Christ went to the cross for others and not for Himself. There was nothing in Him that was of sin or of the fallen nature which mankind has inherited due to Adam's failure. In the three previous scriptures we have the fact that Christ had no knowledge of sin, that there was nothing in Him to respond to temptation and bring about sin, and that He did not sin. Thus we have a complete picture as to Christ's impeccability. It is this same glorious person who imparts to us a new nature suitable for heaven, and, by the power of the Spirit of God, gives the ability to live a Christ-like life in this world. Let us therefore hold fast to the truth of the impeccable Christ and seek to appreciate and enjoy that which we have through His great work.