The modern theology and its representatives deny the impeccability of Jesus. Says Emerson, in “Unitarian Thought,” p. 165 (ital. added), “Tempted in all points, as we are, and not without sin would he the logical result from the doctrine of the complete humanity of Jesus. From this conclusion the Unitarian does not shrink. He is ready to admit with the utmost frankness that in all probability Jesus had his moments of opposition to the divine will which constitutes the attitude of sin.” But even if it were true that the perfect sinlessness of Jesus cannot be proved, where are the witnesses to Jesus’ moments of opposition to the divine will? Certainly not in himself, for He said, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). Nor in either the prince of this world (John 14:30), or among the Jews who opposed Him (John 8:46)! To the contrary, many witnesses testify that He was “holy,” (Luke 1:35), that “He knew no sin” (Paul in II Cor. 5:21); “who did no sin” (Peter in I Pet. 2:22), that “in, Him is no sin” (John in I John 3:5), that He is “without sin,” and “without spot,” also “holy, guiltless, undefiled, separated from sinners (ASV, Heb. 4:15, 9:14, 7:26)”; that never was He guilty of nor caught in any lie or unfaithfulness (John in Rev. 3:14); that “this Man hath done nothing amiss (the penitent thief)”; that “truly, this was a righteous Man! (the centurion)!” Compare also the witness of Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19), to which Pilate himself added his testimony (v. 24). Then Judas confessed Him to be innocent (v. 4), which proves that the testimony of His enemies, tacit and told, stands in His favor. From them we obtain one fact which dispels all doubt as to the absolute impeccability of Jesus. Let the modern liberal deniers of it consider this fact: He was completely free of self-accusation. He never had a sense of guilt. No one could justly charge Him, “Physician, heal thyself!” He taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us,” but He never prayed such a petition. He called on men to repent, yet there is not the slightest expression of His repentance. John the Baptizer, in his day, called upon men to turn from sin, to confess their sins and to repent—he called on all men everywhere to repent, except the, one man without sin, his Lord the Christ. John assumed that all men, including himself (Matt. 3:14), were sinners, with but the one exception he made in Jesus! The latter himself testified to His sinlessness. He also, as John, taught that all men are totally depraved sinners. He said to His disciples, “If ye, then, being evil,” but He never said, “If we, then, being evil.” He concluded all men under sin, but did not include himself under that verdict. What a think for any other teacher to say to his disciples, “If ye, then, being evil!” How intolerable, coming from any other but Jesus!
Two problems face us here. One is the temptability of Jesus; the other, His peccability. Could He be tempted, and, could He sin? Temptability seems to involve imperfection. Absolute goodness is immunity to sin, such as God always has and the inhabitants of heaven now possess. It is true that God cannot be tempted to sin, and therefore, as to His divine nature, neither temptability nor peccability can apply to Christ. Yet God can be objectively tempted. Temptation of itself does not necessarily imply the presence of sin. Then it does not follow that since Jesus had a true human nature, therefore He could be tempted to sin. For the fact remains, that whether in regard to His divine nature or His human nature, He could be, and was, objectively tempted, but could not be subjectively solicited to sin. It is no sin to be tempted. Even from the point of view of His human nature He could not sin. Human nature in heaven is incapable of sinning. Therefore, Jesus not only avoided sinning, but it was impossible for Him to sin. Sure “the Son of Man” is not only the ideally, but also the absolutely perfect Man.
So then, the Last Adam was not only sinless, but impeccable. He was not only without sin; but incapable of sin. The first Adam was created sinless, but not impeccable. He was created posse non peccare but not non posse peccare. But the Last Adam was not only able to overcome temptation, He was also unable to be overcome by it. The Almighty cannot be overcome (Rev. 1:8)! He is Master and Lord as He claimed (John 13:13), and as Peter and Paul testified (Acts 10:36, 17:24). He controlled wind, waves, demons, men, diseases and death, so clearly demonstrating that nothing could master Him.
Another attribute of Christ, His immutability, proves His impeccability. He is “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).” His immutability guarantees His impeccability. Sinless angels were not immutable; they fell. Adam was created sinless; but mutable. They were creatures. Creaturehood and mutability go hand in hand. The manhood of Christ was created, but that immutably, from the moment it was, and since it was, united with His Godhood.
His attribute of omnipotence, proves His impeccability. He certainly was “the Almighty (Rev. 1:8).” He had the same omnipotence as the Father. “What things soever He (the Father) doeth, these also doeth the. Son likewise. . .For as, the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will (John 5:19, 21).” An almighty person cannot yield to sin. The idea is contradictory. Temptation to sin proceeds through a creature; is a creaturely, finite power; but a finite power cannot overcome omnipotent infinity!
The union of the two natures in Christ proves His impeccability. The human and the divine natures were united in the one person of the Son of God. He is himself God (Rom. 9:5), and “God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13),” nor is it possible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). Christ was “God manifest in the flesh,” and Immanuel, God with us. Therefore His personality was not centered in His humanity. His divine person took a human nature which was inherently holy, and, united as it was with the divine, it was impossible for Him to sin. The older theologians taught that impeccability belonged to God by nature; that it belonged to Christ, as true man, by the union of the human nature to the divine nature and person. As to His human nature He was of Adam, but as to His divine person, He was not considered in Adam. He was a human being without being a human person. He was, is, a divine person. Sin and guilt cannot be imputed to a divine person. Adam’s sin could not, therefore, pass on to Him. He had no original guilt, human depravity or actual sin. He was not able to sin.
Useless and profane speculation it is to imagine what the human nature of Jesus might have done, conceived of separately from the divine nature and divine person. It was never so separated. It is not possible either to mix His natures or to divide His person. We cannot make of Him a deified man, or a humanized god, or some monstrous demi-god. He is one Person, yet true man and true God—Emmanuel, God with us, in our nature, flesh, blood, bone, mind, heart, soul, intellect and will. This nature was sinless from its conception. Nor did He receive His sinless impeccable nature from a virgin of sinless perfection, herself immaculately conceived—she was a self-confessed sinner (Luke 1:47)—but from a nature created and conceived by the Holy Spirit.
It is useless, even frivolous, to object to this doctrine of Christ’s impeccability on the supposition that it is inconsistent with temptability. It is thought that one incapable of sin is incapable of being tempted. We could say there have been armies which could not be defeated, but that is not the same as saying they could not be attacked. Why would ‘God ordain His Son to temptations? Would not one reason be, to demonstrate His impeccability? The devil tempting a mere man is like the throwing of a lighted match into a barrel of gunpowder. But the devil tempting Jesus is like the throwing of a lighted match into a barrel of water. Another reason for His temptation was that so God would manifest and prove the power of perfect holiness. A further reason was to reveal the worth of our redemption. Merely because the Lord Jesus Christ himself is almighty (Rev. 1:8), it does not follow that His victory over temptation was accomplished with ease. His conquering cost Him sweat, tears, blood and death. It cost travail of soul. It cost the cry; “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” An army may be invincible, but that does not make its victories cheap.
It is sometimes objected that if the divine nature of Christ so sustained the human nature that it was divinely empowered to be incapable of sinning, why was it not equally sustained against hunger, thirst, weariness, suffering and death? Further, since Christ did actually suffer all these weaknesses, why then was it so impossible for His human nature to yield to temptation? This thinking overlooks the fact that Christ was ordained to die, but not ordained to sin, and that He was ordained to die in order to save us from sin. A sinner does not qualify as Savior. Christ does so qualify. It is normal for human nature to be finite, limited and weak. But sin is not a necessary part of human nature. It is one of the abnormalities He came to destroy.
Since the Son of God became Emmanuel, God with us, we would conclude rightly, if we inferred that He must therefore be “mighty to save, traveling in the greatness of His strength (Is. 63:1).” The “mighty God” surely has power to overcome all temptation and sin, not only when it attacks Him, but when it also assaults His people. He is able to help them that are tempted! There is no power or weapon formed that can stand against Him. Mr. Ready-to-halt and Mr. Much-afraid may therefore turn to Him in absolute confidence and receive His gracious aid. Because He was victor over sin and death, we too shall be saved from our constant and our last enemy!