Though it is clearly stated that Jesus did not sin in any respect, could He have sinned? In their zeal to make something of His humanity that it was not, some have insisted not only that Jesus could have sinned, but God put His entire plan of redemption on the line for thirty years. It has been said that God gambled on whether Jesus would or would not sin and perhaps by sinning, destroy all the plans the Godhead had made. So, it was just blind chance, dumb luck, that Jesus did not sin!
That contention is a pitiful perversion of truth and a degradation of the person of God, making Him to be a liar as well as an incompetent. It is strange to hear those who claim to be proclaimers of the Divine Creator do everything they seemingly can to bring God down from His lofty place to be transformed into an exact sameness of man.
The mistake that many people make on this subject is to confuse ability with possibility. The question should be worded, "Did Jesus have the ability to choose between right and wrong?" The answer to that is yes. However, in that sense the same thing can be said for God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Any sentient being has the ability to make choices between right or wrong. II Peter 2:4 says,
"For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." II Peter 2:4.
"And angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." Jude 6.
Angels are spirit beings, a little above humans, Hebrews 2:7. Not having flesh and blood as we have, their sins could not have been the lusts of the flesh as we know them. Angels are sexless; there is no marriage among them, Matthew 22:30, so there would be no fornication or adultery involved, no drugs, alcohol, murder or anything to steal. Yet, they sinned. We are not told what their sin was except they stepped out of their place and exceeded their authority. So, choosing to sin or not sin is not limited to the human condition.
The Father has the ability to choose between right and wrong but is it possible for God to sin? Shall we indict the Father for putting everything on the line throughout eternity because He might decide to do something contrary to His own will. That puts our eternity at question; there may or may not be eternal life for us; God might change His mind.
Jesus' was the image of the Father, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." Jesus had the same character as the Father. From one point of view, Jesus had the ability to sin. But, from another point of view, there was no way that He could.
God Cannot Lie
The basis of our confidence in God is that we can put absolute trust in whatever He tells us. Without that faith, we are cast adrift. That is exactly what Hebrews 6:13-20 assures us,
"For when God made promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men swear by the greater: and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. Wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; that by two immutable things, in which is is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: which we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and stedfast and entering into that which is within the veil; whither as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
The two immutable things mentioned here were God's counsel and His oath. The word "immutable" means unchangeable. Both in God's counsels and His oaths, the facts are set and will not be changed. Those who make oaths swear by someone or something greater than themselves. Seeing there is nothing greater than God, He swore by Himself. To emphasize the immutability of God's counsel and oath there is added the statement that "it is impossible for God to lie." On these facts, we base our hope of eternal life. If it can be shown that it is possible for God to lie, then He has already lied to us and we cannot trust anything He says. If that is so, then He cannot be God.
The writer of Hebrews is speaking of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 22:16-18. The promise there includes not only the multiplication of his posterity but also of a seed through whom all nations of the earth would be blessed, vs. 18. Paul refers to this in Galatians 3:15-18. Paul says that a covenant once confirmed cannot be made void nor added thereto. The seed promise to Abraham, in which it was impossible for God to lie, a counsel and oath unchangeable, referred to the seed singular, the coming and accom-plishments of the Christ. What God said concerning the coming Christ was certain and could not be changed. The Christ would come to save mankind from sin and His coming carried no possibility of failure.
Paul said that the coming of the Law could not change the promise. The entire system of the Law was but a shadow of the future reality. The tabernacle, the sacrificial system, sin offerings, the unblemished sacrifice for sins, and all else, were but shadows of the substance we find fully revealed in the coming of Jesus and what He accomplished for us, Hebrews 8:5, 10:1. These things were but models, patterns, of the heavenly things, Hebrews 8:5, 9:23. We can say that the existence of the Law of Moses, the sacrificial system, the existence of the nation of Israel all testify to the promise of God in Christ. Every promise made by God back to the garden of Eden testifies to the sinless Saviour who would restore man's communion with God. In reality, was all of that based on no more than just a dumb luck chance that Jesus would not commit a single act of sin in His thirty-three years and destroy every promise that was made from the beginning?
Every faithful person before the coming of Jesus who trusted in God, based his eternal welfare on that promise to Abraham being absolute truth. Hebrews 11 tells of the faith of Old Testament worthies. They placed complete confidence in God.
"And what shall I more say? For the time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jeph-thah; of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens. Women received their dead by a resurrection: and others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword: they went about in sheepskins, in goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves, and the holes of the earth. And these all, having had witness borne to them through their faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect," Hebrews 11:32-40.
These people based their faith on the promises of God, promises that included a "better country," a resurrection from the dead, a city prepared by God for them and many other promises. However, this was only possible in the sacrifice of Jesus for their sins, Hebrews 9:15. Romans 3:21-26 says,
"But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."
They could place absolute confidence in what God had promised them; nothing would fail! That promise was witnessed by the law and the prophets. When God promises a thing will be done, it will be done.
"For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, A father of many nations have I made thee) before him whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were." Romans 4:16-17.
Note what Jesus, as God the Word, said in the Old Testament,
"For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. I have not spoken in se-cret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right." Isaiah 45:18-19.
"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." Isaiah 46:9-11.
"I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past." Ecclesiastes 3:14-15.
Perhaps the clearest statements of prophecy and assurance concerning the coming Christ is found in Isaiah 42:1-9. I will quote here only the first four verses, but the other verses are also important.
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law."
This is a prophecy of the coming Christ. The promise of God is that He will not fail in His mission. Are we going to believe that? There are many such passages in the Old Testament that speak of God's faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.
Peter told the people in Jerusalem that "the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled," Acts 3:18. When God promises a thing, He fulfills it!
When the mob came to take Jesus for trial and crucifixion, Peter drew his sword to defend Him. Jesus rebuked Peter and said,
"Or thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? Are ye come out as against a robber with swords and staves to seize me? I sat daily in the temple teaching, and ye took me not. But all this is come to pass, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Matthew 26:53-55.
God was in control; everything happened just as God had planned it.
Jesus’ Sinlessness Was Promised and Prophesied
Isaiah 11:1-5 tells us several things about the rod of Jesse, the Messiah. That section closes with,
"And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins."
Righteousness and faithfulness would be in His very character and makes no allowance for His being anything other than perfect. Isaiah 9:6-7 says,
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
God said he would perform this, and He did. Look at the kind of character described by these titles of Jesus. In addition to being called The Mighty God and Everlasting Father, it says righteousness and faithfulness were His very character, He would be just and wise in His judgements.
Isaiah 53 also said that Jesus would do no violence nor would deceit be found in His mouth, that He would be righteous. His judgments would be according to righteousness, not human wisdom nor human experience.
The image of the sinless Jesus in promise and prophecy is found in His being the Pass-over Lamb as well as a Lamb offered in sacrifice for sin. Paul refers to His being the Passover Lamb in I Corinthians 5:7. Exodus 12:3-14 contains this Passover instruction. The Passover Lamb was to be without blemish, that is, perfect. Such a lamb had to be closely examined to make sure of its perfection. The lamb was not made perfect as a result of the examination; the examining and testing was only to establish that it was without blemish when it was chosen.
A like figure to the Passover lamb is that Jesus was the Lamb of sacrifice for sins. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," John 1:29. Revelation 13:8 says that He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." I Peter 1:18-20 says that we are redeemed, not with corruptible things,
"but with precious blood, as a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ: who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of the times for your sake."
To qualify as a sacrifice for sins, the offering lamb had to be absolutely spotless. God said that Jesus would be spotless. The testing by Satan in the wilderness trials was the examination of the Lamb to demonstrate that He was spotless. There was no unrighteousness of any kind to be found in Jesus, John 7:18; Satan found nothing in Him that would respond to the temptations. John 14:30 says, "The prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me." The examination by Satan proved that Jesus was the spotless Lamb. The examination by Satan did not make Jesus perfect. Rather, He was already perfect. Every temptation He experienced following the wilderness temptations by Satan, only demonstrated more and more the spotless quality of this lamb of God.
Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus, saying, "And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins," Matthew 1:20-23. This was a positive guarantee to all of us that Jesus would not fail in His mission. There was nothing in Gabriel's statement that even hinted that "probably he shall save his people from their sins." That introduces a doubt as to the outcome; there never was any doubt. Recall all of the passages where Jesus, or another, declares the purpose of the coming of Jesus; He came to save man from sin, He came to die on the cross, He came as the light of the world to bring man out of darkness, etc.
Jesus said in John 6:35-40, that He was the bread of life, sent from heaven for our benefit. Verses 39-40 say,
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that of all that which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
There was nothing in what was promised about Jesus or what He, Himself, said that leaves us to think maybe, perhaps, He would fail. But, there is more.
In John 8:21-59, Jesus confronts the Pharisees, who end the confrontation by taking up stones to stone Him. Jesus tells them that He is the light of the world. He then declares the oneness between Himself and the Father. He said that He was going away and they could not come where He was going but rather, they would die in their sins. In declaring His relationship with the father, He said that He was from above while the Pharisees father was the devil and they were of this world.
"Ye do the works of your father. They said unto him, We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I came forth and am come from God; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof. But because I say the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convicteth me of sin? If I say truth, why do ye not believe me?" John 8:41-46.
See also John 12:20-50. A clear distinction is drawn between where Jesus was from, the Father that He served, and the world where Satan dwelt who was the father of these Pharisees. Satan and His followers lied, but Jesus spoke only the truth. He could do nothing else but speak truth. The sameness of character of both Jesus and the Father is clearly stated in these passages. Jesus affirms that His mission would not fail, that He came to save the world. That being the truth, its not being possible for Him to lie, then it was not possible for Him to fail. We may well ask people even today, seeing Jesus could only speak the truth, "Why do you not believe Him?" Matthew 5:17-18 says,
"Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished."
This was said during His first public sermon. To this we add Luke 16:16-17,
"The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fall."
If it was not possible for one jot or one tittle of the law and the prophets to fail and considering that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the prophets, then it was not possible for one jot or tittle of the Lord's life and work to fail. Look at Luke 24:44,
"And he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me."
Not one of the things said in the Old Testament concerning Jesus could fail. Jesus had told them that while He was with them so they would have an unwavering faith.
Before The Foundation of the World
Paul sets the subject for us in Titus 1:1-2,
"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal."
Whatever blessings from God that we have now were plan-ned by God before the foundation of the world. God promised these things to us and He does not lie. Our faith in what He promised is based on that assurance.
Jesus, while praying to the Father in John 17:24, said, "for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world." Luke 11:50-51 says, "that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zachariah."
The foundation of the world is identified as the time of the beginning in Genesis. Before the foundation of the world would be before the beginning. What we see now is the result of a plan God had in mind before the world was formed. We are not given enough information on what that is all about to make any judgments about it. It was not a Calvinist predestination that planned every movement and every act of every person who would ever live on this earth, but it was still a plan of God in regard to man. I Peter 1:18-20 says,
"knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ: who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of the times for your sake."
The one who was foreknown, Christ, before the foundation of the world was also sent according to a plan that was formulated before the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 1:1-14 presents an extensive discussion of our place as people of God according to God's purpose and will. Verses 3-4 says,
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love."
In this plan of God, He determined that there would be people who would serve Him. This is the same thought as in Romans 8:29-30. Again, this is not a Calvinist predestination of specific individuals being chosen for salvation but rather those who would hear and obey the Lord, a class of people.
Matthew 13:35 tells us of Jesus' speaking in parables that it might fulfill what the prophet said in Psalm 78:2, "I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world." In Mathew 25:34, Jesus will tell the righteous, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Hebrews 4:3 says,
"For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said, As I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world."
These passages tell us that the plan of God that we see fulfilled in all that Jesus did, the blessings we receive as a result, the heavenly home that awaits, all are according to a plan that goes back to the beginning. Hebrews 4:3 said that the works were finished from the foundation of the world which means that the plan was set back at that time and would not be changed!
The Faithfulness of God
Man has shown his lack of faith in God in every way imaginable. Though man may be faithless, God never is. He does what he says He will do. This is said of God in Romans 3:3-4,
"For what if some were without faith? Shall their want of faith make of none effect the faithfulness of God? God forbid: yea let God be found true, but every man a liar."
It is also said of Jesus in II Timothy 2:11-13.
"Faithful is the saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him: if we endure, we shall also reign with him: if we shall deny him, he also will deny us: if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself."
Neither the Father nor Jesus can deny themselves. They are who they are, their character does not change. God will fulfill His promises and prophecies regardless of who accepts them or not. The Jews well understood this. Gamaliel said of the disciples,
"but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God," Acts 5:39.
"Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it," Isaiah 28:16-18.
There can be no doubt that this prophesy applies to Jesus. I Peter 2:3-10 rests our existence as the people of God on the fulfillment of this prophesy. Jesus was the elect stone, laid in Zion. The prophesy said it was a "tried" stone and a "sure foundation." That stone could not fail in its function. The people of God would be established and judgment would come upon God's enemies. The truthfulness and faithfulness of God stood behind that prophesy; God does not lie!
Jesus may have had the ability to choose to sin, like He could have asked for twelve legions of angels to save Him from the mob, but the scriptures "must be fulfilled." If He had sinned, it would have destroyed His own plans, gone contrary to His own character, made God a liar, destroyed the faith of all who have believed in Him, made His centuries long plans and actions but a sham, dashed the hopes of those worthies of the Old Testa-ment who placed their faith in Him, kept us all in sin and made Himself as bad as the rest of us. Man would never trust God again.
But, God is faithful, fulfills what He promises, cannot lie, told us that Jesus would not sin, would not fail and that is the basis of our trust in Him. Was it just by dumb luck, blind chance, that it came out the way God planned it? Of course not!
Based on these facts, Jesus could not have sinned any more than the Father could have sinned! All who deny that, deny God!