Does Jesus have His own Independent Will?

Q. Does Jesus have His own will independent of the Father before the incarnation? Isn’t “Three in One” always be of the same will and mind? Can Jesus choose to disobey the will of the Father if He chooses to? Or is it incarnation as a human brought the choice of free will to disobey God?

A. This is an interesting question debated by theologians. Let me answer it by going back to the meaning of words. We say that Jesus is the second person in the Trinity. What is a person? According to “The Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms”, a person is an individual being with attributes, capacities, and activities constituting personhood. Philosophers differ in their views about what these attributes & capacities consist of, but the common denominator is that “personality” or personhood is marked by two characteristics: (a) self-consciousness; (b) self-determination. According to Dictionary of Theological Terms, self-determination is freedom to act according to the inclination, bias, or disposition of the will. Since Jesus is a person, by definition He has free will & can act independently.

Having said that, “independently” does not necessarily mean they will disagree. Can Jesus choose to disobey the Father? Some say yes because otherwise how can His will be independent? Others say no because Scripture teaches that the Father, Son & Holy Spirit are always in agreement, because they cannot deny themselves (2 Tim 2:13) i.e. act contrary to their nature. Since their nature or essence is God, and God never changes, they always agree. I side with the latter.

This is similar to asking “Can Jesus sin?” Some believe yes because Jesus is also human, & humans can sin. These acknowledge that Jesus did not sin because He is “able not to sin“, as He is also God. In theology we call this peccability. Others believe no, Jesus is “not able to sin” because His sinless human nature always submits to His divine nature, and God cannot be tempted by evil (Jas 1:13). This is the impeccability view, which I hold. If He could sin while He was on earth, He could sin now because He retained His human nature after His death & resurrection, & that is an impossibility because by His nature God cannot sin.

Can Jesus Sin? (2 of 2)

impeccability 1

(Continued from yesterday)

There is another argument from His attributes – His immutability i.e. He never changes:
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Now if Jesus could sin while He was on earth two thousand years ago, that means He could sin now even though He is in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father. For that matter, He could sin even in the future, after the consummation of all things, since He is the same forever. That is a totally preposterous proposition! So reductio as absurdum argues that Jesus could not sin. It is impossible for Him to do so.

Answering Objections
What about the peccable side’s argument? I think they can be easily answered. His temptations were real, even though He was not capable of succumbing to them. Again let me use an illustration. Roll back the calendar half a century. Let’s assume I challenged Bruce Lee the kung fu master in his prime to a duel. Although he will beat the daylight out of me and there is no chance at all for me to win, it does not mean that my duel was not real. It’s real alright, just that my opponent will not lose for sure.

The same is true for Satan tempting God the Son. He can tempt all he want, but there is absolutely no chance of a finite creature, no matter how powerful he may be in human terms, tempting his infinite Creator to sin and win. Jesus’ humanity always submitting to His deity guarantees that He cannot sin, period.

What about Jesus’ death proving that His humanity could be divorced from His deity, because God can’t die? And if His humanity is not inseparable from His deity, then isn’t He susceptible to be tempted to sin? I think this is a flawed argument.

Death is not inherent in human nature as God designed it. Death entered the world because of sin:
Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
All men die because all sinned. But Jesus the Perfect Man did not have a sin nature and never sinned, so it is not inevitable that He must die.

His death is not out of necessity, but voluntary – He chose to die for the sheep:
John 10:15, 17-18 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. … For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.
• Php 2:8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Rather than prove that He is vulnerable in His human frailty, it proved the exact opposite, that as Perfect Man He is obedient to the Father and in full control every step of the way. Jesus had absolute resolve to love the Father and save the world; He could not have sinned because He never had any desire to.

Do not try to reason from the human to the divine. Think from the divine, the biblical revelation, to the human and you won’t go wrong.

Can Jesus Sin? (1 of 2)

impeccability 2

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 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:

1. Logic
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.

2. Attributes
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)