The Sinlessness of the Lord Jesus

From a Letter

When we speak of a person not being able to sin we do not mean that the person is so weak that he is unable to do the act which would be a departure from right, but that his nature is such that it would be impossible for the notion of that which is sinful ever to rise in his heart or mind; and that, when presented to him by way of temptation from without, it causes infinite loathing and unspeakable agony, so that death is preferred to the act, no matter in what shape that death might present itself.

The reasoning of the writer of the letter you send reveals the fact that he has not seized the truth as to the Person of our Lord. He seems to have two persons in his mind, one who could sin, and one who could not. He says: “In Jesus’ sinlessness is a necessary part of His Divinity; that Jesus could sin is an equally necessary part of His humanity.” Have we then here the absurd anomaly of a Person who can sin and yet cannot? He has forgotten that what our Lord was as a man was begotten of God, and that no taint of the fallen creature entered into that “Holy Thing.”

But he adds: “Wherein otherwise would lie the virtue of His sinlessness?” May I not ask another question: If God cannot lie, wherein lies the virtue of His truthfulness? I have said before, and I say again, If Jesus can sin I have no Saviour that I can trust; for He may yet sin, and then, like the fallen race of Adam, His race is doomed to death and destruction. Neither can the blessed Lord sin, nor any of His saints viewed as begotten of God (1 John 3:9).

Your correspondent tells us that “A Christ who is sinless because He could not sin can never command the allegiance of sinners in search of a Saviour.” I can only say in answer to this that the fact that He cannot sin is one great reason why He commands the allegiance of my heart. If it were possible for Him to sin, I would never have a moment’s peace of mind, for I would not know when I might have to face the report of His overthrow and mine also. Everyone who entered His presence when here felt what sinners they were; but He could demand of them “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” (John 8:46). Even the demons had to confess Him to be “The Holy One of God.”

It is sometimes said that Adam was without sin in his nature, and he fell, and therefore the fact of a person being sinless does not of necessity guarantee that he shall not fall. That is so, for God has never yet made an imperfect being. But, nevertheless, as far as I see from Scripture, every being that has been set on the footing of responsibility has fallen. The devil fell, demons are fallen beings, angels also have fallen, and yet all were made perfect. Adam fell, and he was made perfect. Every being must be maintained by the power of God, and where one has to keep himself in the position in which God has been pleased to set him, and that by his faithfulness, is sure to fail, as all such have fallen. Christ alone could stand under the most trying temptations, and under the most dreadful circumstances, even when forsaken by God; yet He glorified God perfectly, and finished to His satisfaction the work that was given Him to do. But no other has ever done that.

Let us never fear. We have a perfect and all-powerful Saviour: One who never has failed, and who never can fail. Blessed be His holy Name forever!