I know and firmly believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that He is both God and man. My question is, “Could He have sinned? ”
This is a historic question that many have asked down through the years. There are several passages in the Bible that might imply to some that Jesus could have sinned. Yet, other passages seem to imply that He could not have sinned.
Jesus Was Tempted
Every human understands temptation. We jokingly talk about being tempted to eat something we should not eat and we joke about yielding to that temptation. Now eating some food is not necessarily sin. But if you are tempted to not tell the truth or lie and then you go ahead and lie, you have sinned. The temptation is not sin, but yielding to temptation is sin. Hebrews 2:18 says that Jesus was tempted.
For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:18 (NASB)
Jesus was tempted. Some people have wanted to “adjust” the meaning of the passage. But the Greek word for “tempted” is peirazo. It has the idea of being tested. This means Jesus was tested to the ultimate limit as He was suffering on the cross.
Hebrews 5:7 adds,
In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Hebrews 5:7 (NASB)
Jesus suffered before He was nailed to the cross and while He hung on the cross before dying. Matthew 26:36-46 says that Jesus had asked the Father if He could avoid going to the cross. He was suffering emotionally! Hebrews says Jesus was loudly crying, praying and pleading, but He still submitted to the will of God the Father. Jesus suffered. John 10:18 tells us that Jesus said He had total control of His death. He chose to die. It was His decision.
In all that occurred He was fully tested or tempted, yet he did not sin.
. . . but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 (NASB)
That sounds as if Jesus could have chosen to sin.
God Cannot Sin
Then we are told that God cannot lie. He keeps His promises. His “yes” is “yes” and His “no” is “no.” He is not like us. He does not lie.
God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Numbers 23:19 (NASB)
. . . it is impossible for God to lie Hebrews 6:18 (NASB)
God cannot lie because He is holy. There is no shadow of evil in Him. There is no darkness.
. . . coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. James 1:17 (NASB)
. . . because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1 Peter 1:16 (NASB)
And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5 (NASB)
And God cannot be tempted either.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil . . . James 1:13 (NASB)
He cannot be tempted because He is infinitely holy. God is an infinite being. Everything about Him is infinite. How can an infinitely holy God respond to evil? He cannot possibly sin!
Combination of Humanity and Deity
Now we must ask, “How could Jesus be tempted if God cannot be tempted to sin?” The answer is that Jesus in His humanity or as a man was tempted; but Jesus as God could not be tempted. Jesus’ humanity was greatly tested; but He could not sin because He was divine. His divinity could not yield to sin. Jesus was both man and God. Imagine being tempted to sin and never giving in. Jesus struggled but never sinned!
God has given us the key to victory over sin in our life. It is called walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23) or repeatedly and constantly being filled with His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-18). When we walk in the Spirit, we have victory over sin as we confess our sins, spend time in His Word, pray, and submit to God.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:16-21 (NASB)
Notice that we will not be carrying out the desire of the flesh as we walk in the Spirit. The desires of the flesh are listed. They are our sins. Do you desire victory over sin? Here is the key!
Dwight L. Moody illustrated this truth to his audience one day. “Tell me, he said, “How can I get the air out this glass?” One man answered, “Suck it out with a pump.” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After many suggestions, Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass with water. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but rather by being filled with the Spirit.
– As recounted by Mrs. Ruby Miller