The Impeccability of Christ

The apostle Peter experienced sin and failure in his life, but he knew a perfect Man, the Lord Jesus. And when he took up his pen to write his first epistle, he included two portraits of this sinless One: first as a Lamb (1Pe 1:18-21) and then as a Shepherd (2:21-25). We want to see how they reveal His impeccability and its importance to the gospel message and our salvation.

His Holy Nature

“A Lamb without blemish and without spot” (1:19).[1] God sent His Son as a spotless, perfect Lamb into a world full of “sheep going astray” (2:25). He came from eternity into time to redeem us (1:20). He was holy and born of a virgin (Luk 1:35), sent to live among an entire race conceived in sin (Psa 51:5). And for the first time, the longing of Exodus 13:2 was fully met: Here was a perfectly holy firstborn Son.

His Perfect Path

“His steps” (2:21). Right from the start, His pathway reflected His holy character. It wasn’t just that He didn’t sin, but that He “loved righteousness” (Heb 1:9). He delighted in doing what was right. He loved His Father’s will.

Our first glimpse of Him comes at twelve years of age – an age when many children push back against authority. But He was no rebel; He was a submissive Son, focused on His Father’s will. The teachers in Jerusalem were astonished at His knowledge, but Mary and Joseph didn’t understand Him. Still, He honored them by returning to Nazareth and submitting to them (Luk 2:46-51).

For thirty years, He lived a spotless life in obscurity, growing in favor with God and men (2:52). Every single step He took was right. And God’s verdict over those hidden years was the same as over His public ministry, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mat 3:17; 17:5).

His Sinless Actions

“Who did no sin” (2:22). The standard of God’s law was already unattainably high for mankind. So what did Christ do? He raised our understanding of it to even greater heights (Mat 5:17-48). Not only was murder condemned but also uncontrolled anger, not only adultery but also lust. Not only must we love our neighbors but also our enemies, and so on. In a world that constantly seeks to lower God’s standards, He exalted them, and then met them fully.

His enemies eagerly looked for faults in Him, but when He claimed to always please God and challenged them to convict Him of sin, they had no response. They could only resort to slander (Joh 8:29,46,48).

Even His mightiest foe couldn’t stumble Him. Satan knew that if he could make the Son of God sin just once, then everything would be ruined. But even though the Lord was alone in the wilderness and painfully hungry, still He couldn’t be enticed to make even one loaf of bread apart from His Father’s will (Mat 4:3-4). He withstood every temptation.

The testimony to His holy character was comprehensive: both angels and demons (Luk 1:35; 4:34), both His betrayer and His judge (Mat 27:4; Joh 18:38), both His executioner and the criminal executed with Him (Luk 23:41,47) – all of them declared His righteousness.

Those who knew Him best, His apostles, were united in their testimony about Him: “No sin!” (2Co 5:21); “No sin!” (1Pe 2:22); “No sin!” (1Jn 3:5).

His Guileless Words

“Neither was guile found in His mouth” (2:22). For Peter, Christ’s sinlessness was especially evident in His words: no guile, no reviling and no threats. We sin so easily with our unruly tongues; it only takes a moment’s carelessness to lie, exaggerate, threaten or boast. We’ve all regretted and apologized for things we said, but He never needed to. He was impeccable!

He taught that our words reflect our hearts (Mat 12:34). He said this to people whose words revealed their wickedness, but His own words revealed His inward purity. He was so “full of grace and truth” (Joh 1:14) that people marvelled at His “gracious words” (Luk 4:22). And when the chief priests sent guards to arrest Him, they came back empty-handed, saying, “Never man spake like this man” (Joh 7:46).

His Gentle Character

“When he suffered, he threatened not” (2:23). Sadly, our worst behaviour often comes when we’re under stress. We let things slip that normally we wouldn’t say. Our Lord was treated terribly and undeservedly so. But when they reviled Him, He didn’t revile in return. When He suffered under their abuse, He didn’t threaten. His response to their cruelty was this: “Father, forgive them” (Luk 23:34).

His Unwavering Trust

“He … committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (2:23). One of mankind’s most basic sins is unbelief, but the Lord Jesus’ trust in God never wavered, even right to the end. He lived His life in complete dependence on the Father. He trusted and obeyed Him fully – all the way to the cross (Php 2:7-8).

His Spotless Sacrifice

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (2:24). If He had sinned even once in His life, then He couldn’t have been our Substitute. But as the Sinless One, He was made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2Co 5:21).

Prior to Calvary He had never known anything but God’s delight and smile. But there on the cross, He felt, for the very first time, God’s anger and wrath against sin. He bore it in our place, laid down His life, and then rose again triumphant over death. The grave could lay no claim on the sinless One.

His Present Aid

“That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (2:24). As saints we now have a lofty calling – to live unto righteousness – but we also have a great support: a Shepherd to guide us (2:25) and a holy High Priest to sustain us (Heb 7:26). He sits at God’s right hand as a glorified, perfect Man.

When the pressure of temptation feels crushing, we can turn for help to the One who was tempted Himself as we are, yet without sin (4:15). He withstood temptation’s relentless assault without ever yielding an inch. He alone, of all men, bore its full weight without flinching or giving in for a moment. Because of this, He can give us grace to help in time of need (4:16). And if we fail, then He draws alongside as “Jesus Christ the righteous” to restore us (1Jn 2:1). Thank God for our sinless Savior!

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV.