The questions I’ve raised above are not ivory tower speculations. I believe these questions are important to answer if we are to understand fully the implications Christ’s temptation as well as his victory over temptation for you and me. Consider the following three points of practical application:
That’s pretty relevant, wouldn’t you say? Is that not the logic of Hebrews 5:8-9?
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Heb 5:8-9).
In order to become “the source of eternal salvation,” Jesus had to be “made perfect.” And in order to be “made perfect,” Jesus had to “learn obedience through what he suffered.” In other words, He had to become like Adam. But where the First Adam failed, the Second Adam had to succeed. That is precisely what He did: “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:19).
Read Part 1.
In other words, should we refer to Christ during his state of humiliation as impeccable or peccable? The terms “impeccable” and “peccable” do not, in this context, refer to the commission of sin but simply to the ability or susceptibility to sin. Thus, the question is not whether Jesus was born with a sinful nature. Nor is the question whether or not Jesus ever committed any actual sin. The Scriptures in no uncertain terms affirm the purity and sinlessness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1 John 3:5). The question is, rather, was the human nature of Christ able or susceptible to sin during Jesus’ earthly ministry?
I believe the correct answer is both “no” and (a qualified) “yes.” Let me explain.
The greatest battle ever waged on earth’s soil took place two thousand years ago in the desert of Palestine. There met the champions of evil and righteousness. Satan, the most intelligent and powerful creature ever made and who’d become the archenemy of God, stood toe-to-toe with the Promised Descendant of Eve, Jesus of Nazareth, the long-awaited Messiah and the Son of God. It was a conflict of cosmic proportions. And the final outcome of his battle determined the destiny of men.
Each of the three synoptic Gospels refer to an event at the beginning of Christ’s ministry that’s commonly known as “the temptation of Christ.” Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days where he was tempted by Satan (Matt 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).
Some question whether we should refer to this ordeal as the temptation of Christ. After all, Jesus is fully God. According to James 1:13, God cannot be tempted. Moreover, the Greek verb πειράζω, commonly translated “to tempt,” can signify to examine or reveal the nature or character of something or someone by submitting it to a test. Hence, it is often translated “to test” or “to examine” (e.g.s., Gen 22:1 [LXX]; Exod 20:20 [LXX]; John 6:6; 2 Cor 13:5; Heb 11:17; Rev 2:2).1 Accordingly, scholars like Birger Gerhardsson prefer to view this ordeal as “The Testing of God’s Son.”2
"Despite being in the Apostle’s Creed, this doctrine is not universally believed. First, as the Catholic Church begin to drift more and more into sacerdotalism, the descent to the dead gradually morphed into a descent into hell. By the time of the reformation, Calvin rejected the doctrine as a Catholic hangover, assuming it was connected to the unbiblical concept of Purgatory, and today many evangelicals follow Calvin’s lead, and ditch the descent." - Jesse Johnson
A sermon delivered on Good Friday morning, March 29, 1861, by the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
“Christ Jesus whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood” (Romans 3:25).
We commenced the services in this place by the declaration that here Christ shall be preached. Our Brother who followed us expressed his joy that Christ was preached herein. He did rejoice, yes, and would rejoice, and our friends must have observed, how, throughout the other services there has been a most blessed admixture not only of the true spirit of Christ, but of pointed and admirable reference to the glories and beauties of His Person. This morning, which is the beginning of our more regular and constant ministry, we come again to the same noble theme. Christ Jesus is today to be set forth! You will not charge me for repeating myself—you will not look up to the pulpit, and say, “Pulpits are places of tautology.” You will not reply that you have heard this story so often that you have grown weary of it, for well I know that with you, the Person, the Character, and the work of Christ are always fresh themes for wonder!
We do a theology class for our congregation twice per month. We meet in the evenings for 90 minutes and discuss a few questions from the assigned reading. We use Grudem’s systematic theology. I’d prefer Erickson, but Grudem’s format is more user-friendly. This coming week, we’re discussing this question:
These are my preliminary reflections as I prepare for the class. They are not fully formed, but they point where I’m headed. To answer this question coherently, you need to competently pull together several strands of orthodox Christology. In short, this is a tough question.
We must understand two things up-front:
But, if Jesus didn’t sin, can He really understand us? And if Jesus couldn’t have sinned, then isn’t the incarnation a farce?
The second Person of the triune God added a human nature to His divine nature a little more than 2,000 years ago. This stupendous and miraculous event was revealed to God’s people from the beginning of the world. God announced to Satan not long after the creation of Adam and Eve (which occurred “at the beginning,” Matt. 19:4): “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed [the unbelieving community of mankind] and her seed [all true believers represented by their Savior]; [He] shall bruise thy head [a fatal, judicial blow delivered to Satan at the cross—John 12:31], and thou shalt bruise His heel [the crucifixion of Christ]” (KJV, Gen. 3:15).
Especially noteworthy is the emphasis on “the woman” (rather than “the man” or even “the man and the woman”). If Adam was the responsible head of that family unit (“by one man sin entered into the world,” Rom. 5:12; and “by man came death,” 1 Cor. 15:21), what function was Eve to have in the light of this prophetic announcement? Adam perceived that his wife, though instrumental in the fall (1 Tim. 2:14), would, by the amazing grace of God, be instrumental in bringing their Savior into the world. Therefore he named her Eve (i.e., “life” or “living”) “because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20).