The Person of Christ (17): His Untainted Impeccability (3)

Last month, we looked together at what we believe to be conclusive evidence for the impeccability of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the contrast between Him and Adam (the Lord Jesus Christ alone being “holy”), and from the fact of His deity (God cannot be tempted with evil). This month, we will look at some passages where His impeccability is explicitly stated.

The Lord spoke of His impeccability in John 14:30: “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” The “prince of this world” is undoubtedly Satan, and we can be sure that he was coming to attack. For such an assault to be successful, the devil would need to find something in the Lord upon which he could work. But there was nothing in the Lord Jesus that could accord with Satan’s desires in any way; nothing that His foe could use to stumble Him, to turn Him aside from His pathway. This statement, from the lips of the Savior Himself, goes beyond stating that He had not sinned, and would not sin. It shows that there was nothing in Him that could even respond to the temptation to sin.

Two months ago, we considered the words of two apostles, Paul and Peter, who wrote, respectively, that He “knew no sin” and “did no sin.” There is a parallel statement by the apostle John: “In Him is no sin” (1John 3:5). All three statements are very precious, but it is John’s which shows unequivocally the impeccability of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not just that He never thought a sinful thought, and that He never committed a sinful act. It is much more, as there is nothing whatsoever of sin in Him. As Robertson renders it: “And sin (the sinful principle) in Him is not.” We note too, that it is not “In Him was no sin,” but, “In Him is no sin.”

John is stating a timeless truth: whenever we look at Him, past, present, future, eternally: “in Him is no sin.” Other statements by John elsewhere in this chapter point to the same conclusion: “He is pure” (v3) and “He is righteous” (v7). It is highly appropriate that all this comes from the pen of John, the one who “leaned on His breast” (John 21:20) and who was as close to the heart of the Lord as it was possible to be. He thus wrote from intimate personal experience.

The writer to the Hebrews, speaking of the suitability of the Lord Jesus Christ to be our Great High Priest says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). He can sympathize with us in the trials that we face in this life, for He has experienced them: poverty, hunger, thirst, weariness, pain, sorrow, bereavement, being hated, misunderstood and rejected, and so much more. He knows what it is like to be tempted. However, there is a crucial difference between His experience and ours, as indicated by the words “without sin” or “sin apart” (JND). These words do not merely mean that He emerged from His temptations without sinning (though that is true). No, they show something deeper. He was not even susceptible to the seductiveness of sin. The kinds of temptation we face are the same ones that He faced, with this notable exception – sin. It could not be a temptation to Him. Satan did come to Him to try to make Him sin, but, unlike us, there was no possibility of His yielding to Satan’s efforts. We, and all others who have ever lived, have been tempted by sin; He has not. His experience accords with ours in so many ways, but not in this. Here we have the great truth of His impeccability.

In Romans 8:3, Paul gives a beautiful description of His coming to deal with sin. “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” The phrase “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” encapsulates the fact that He came as a real man, yet distinct from other men, in that He is sinless. Paul does not say that He came “in the likeness of flesh.” Such a phrase would be a denial of the reality of His manhood, nor does he say that He came “in sinful flesh.”That would mean He came in the way we did, with a sinful nature. Perish the thought! Paul avoids the suggestion of either of these erroneous ideas in this delightful phrase, “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” His humanity is real. He was every bit as much a man as we are, and when people saw Him, no one could have doubted the fact that He had come “in the flesh.” Yet the correspondence to us was not complete. Unlike us, He did not come in “the flesh of sin.” We are born sinners; He was not. We can, and do, sin. He could not, and did not. He was, is, and always will be, impeccable.

Regrettably, some people deny this truth. For the most part, the case that they make centers on His temptations – what their purpose was, the extent to which they were meaningful, and how helpful they are to us. It is with pain that we turn to consider their views, believing, as we do, that it is dishonoring to this Blessed, Holy One to even suggest that He had the potential to sin. Nevertheless, believers will face their arguments, and it is necessary for us to examine them. We will seek to do this next month, in His will.