Could Jesus Christ have sinned?

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In a sense, this is a strictly hypothetical question, since the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). However, theologians have discussed it at length. In technical terms, “impeccability” is the doctrine that Christ could not sin, though he could be (and was) tempted.

Christian churches generally agree that:

  1. Jesus never sinned, but he was tempted.

    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 (Heb. 4:15 NASB).

  2. Any temptations he faced were directed at His human nature, rather than His divine nature.

    Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt any one (James 1:13 NASB).

Some theologians, such as Charles Hodge, have argued that Christ could have sinned. Their main argument is that temptation is not real unless there is a possibility of yielding to it.

Others (with whom I agree) make the following case for the idea that Jesus could not have sinned.

Christ’s divine attributes would make it impossible for him to sin:

  1. Immutability - His basic nature never changes (Hebrews 1:12; 13:8). He was holy in eternity past, and He would remain holy now.

  2. Omnipotence - Falling to temptation shows moral weakness or lack of power and ability. Christ had infinite power, and was therefore not susceptible to sin.

  3. Omniscience - Satan tempts us by attempting to deceive us. Jesus had infinite knowledge, so he could not be deceived.

Author: Dr. John Bechtle


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