Q. I know Jesus did not sin, but can He? If not, how is His temptation real? If you say He couldn’t sin because He is also God, wouldn’t that be the same logic as saying He couldn’t die because God can’t die? But Jesus did die.
A. In theology the question you posed is called the “peccability” (can sin) or “impeccability” (cannot sin) of Jesus. Both sides agree that Jesus did not sin:
• 2 Co 5:41 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
• Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
• 1 Pet 2:22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
• 1 Jn 3:5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
But could He? Those who think He can sin feel that for His temptation to be real, He must be capable of falling under the temptation; otherwise why bother? It’s just for show! They emphasized the true humanity of Jesus, and humans can fall.
Those who feel He is incapable of sinning emphasized His deity within His dual nature. God cannot sin, so Jesus can’t sin. I believe this side is correct, for the following reasons:
Jesus has two natures – He is fully divine (100% God) and fully human (100% man):
• John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
• John 1:14 And the Word (Jesus) became flesh (man), and dwelt among us,
• Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
Now which of these two natures submit to the other? Obviously the human nature submits to the divine nature, otherwise what kind of deity would it be? Can it even be deity if it submits to humanity? So if His deity always dominates and His humanity submits, He cannot sin.
People sin usually for two reasons:
a. they do not have the power to resist the temptation,
b. they were deceived – they do not have the knowledge.
But Jesus as God is omnipotent and has infinite power to overcome any temptation. He is also omniscient and has infinite knowledge so He can’t be deceived. So He cannot sin.
An objection could be raised that Jesus as man was not omnipotent and omniscient, so He could have failed. But the counter-argument is that even though He emptied Himself (Php 2:7) i.e. He laid down the independent use of His power and knowledge, His attributes are part and parcel of His nature and cannot be eradicated.
• Php 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
To give a trivial example, my car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 sec. Just because I pick up speed gradually and do not use all that power, it does not mean that the power is not there. Besides, as man Jesus always do the Father’s will and kept His commandments:
• John 14:31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.
• John 15:10 just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
• Heb 10:7 “THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’” (also v 9)
Therefore He cannot sin.
(To be continued)