Impeccable, Immutable, or NOT?
Posted Oct 16, 2011 by Bobby B in General
It surprises me how many professedly SDA Trinitarians still argue for the mutability (capable of change), and peccability (capable of sin), of the incarnated Son of God. Don't they know these positions are anti-Trinitarian by definition? Although these two beliefs are "remnants" of early SDA's non-Trinitarianism, it has still NOT been formally acknowledged as such. Therefore, those still espousing such opinions are unknowingly promoting ant-Trinitarian sentiments. How long before they find out?
Just ran across this Baptist article about "impeccability" and thought it might be helpful education in an Adventist context. It's a little wordy, but does emphasize the major points from a Trinitarian perspective. Again, those who argue the mutability, and peccability of Christ; are (unknowingly?) promoting aniti-Trinitarian sentiments promoted by Unitarians for hundreds of years. Notice how the author describes EGW's "The Desire of Ages" as "cultic"; while all SDA scholars describe the same as pro-Trinitarian. Ha, that's irony! Firstly, the following SDA quotation in example of the (unknowingly) promotion of both the mutability and peccability of Christ.
"Jesus empties Himself. Most of the time, though, the Gospels depict Jesus not as the second member of the Trinity, but as incarnated into a human being. The Son set aside His divine attributes (see Phil. 2:5-8) to become one with us that He might take up where Adam had failed. That is why the Bible often describes Him in ways that make Him seem less than the Father…From Scripture we can see that Jesus was a member of the Godhead. He had a right to the attributes and prerogatives of the God of Israel even though He had emptied Himself of them during His life on earth….had driven Him [Christ] to take the infinite risk of failure to save us. He could have failed. He put the universe in jeopardy by coming as a human being and dying for us. But the divine love of the Trinity was determined to risk everything to save us. (God organized for our salvation, by Joel Sarli and Gerald Wheeler, Ministry, July-August, 1995).
THE IMPECCABILITY OF CHRIST
Dr. John W. McCormick
July 19, 1922 – June 3, 1995
Used by permission to Fundamental Baptist Institute.
One of the oldest of the many doctrinal controversies is that which concerns the perfection - sometimes called “the integrity”- of our Lord’s human nature. While it can be said that all fundamental believers and some who are not so fundamental - agree that Jesus did not sin, they sharply differ as to whether or not He could have sinned.
One rather significant fact is to be seen in the attitude of the average new convert with regard to this matter. When one is first saved he almost “automatically” accepts the view that Jesus could not have sinned. But one day the new believer runs full tilt into a “Bible- student”, and from that time onward he is beset with doubts and uncertainties as to the Impeccability of Christ.
Another fact should be soberly considered in discussing this rather moot question, namely, that every major cult which is active today takes the open position that Jesus was entirely capable of committing sin - although in all fairness it must be pointed out that most of them will say that He did not sin. For example, Ellen G. White, great high-priestess of the Seventh Day Adventist cult, in her book The Desire Of Ages, actually teaches that the entire earthly ministry of Christ was marked by a constant struggle on His part to avoid sinning’ Moreover, she teaches that His refusal to commit sin was due to the enabling grace of God, rather than to the Impeccability of His Person. To this most other cults, and even some groups who are considered fundamental in theology, would voice a hearty “Amen!”.
But in order to avoid sounding unduly harsh toward those who do believe that Jesus could have sinned, let it be said quickly that this writer feels quite strongly that such a view not only does gross dishonor to our matchless Lord, it also ignores certain Biblical facts which are too clear and too emphatic to be lightly shoved aside. As fairly and as carefully as possible, therefore, we propose here to set forth both views, and to examine God’s Word as our only source of authority with regard to settling on the correct position.
THE PECCABILITY VIEW
As already stated this view holds to the idea that it was entirely within the range of possibility that the Lord Jesus Christ could have succumbed to temptation, and thus could have stepped outside the will of His Father at any time between His birth and His death on the cross. This means that during the whole earthly ministry of our Lord the eternal purpose of God was “up for grabs,” and that the redemptive plan hung in the balance while Jesus faced the tempter in the wilderness. This view further represents the earthly sojourn of Christ as having been one long, constant struggle on His part to avoid yielding to the enticements of Satan. It pictures the matchless Son of God as being on a constant alert in order to escape being tricked by Satan into departing from the perfect will of His Father.
The question naturally arises as to just what Scriptural proof - if any - can be cited by the proponents of this view. In order to give a strictly fair and impartial answer to this question, this writer attempted to do some research into their writings. But there seems to be very little material in print concerning this position. It is as though its advocates are mildly embarrassed for holding this ground - or at least would prefer not to stress their views in print
However, those who believe in the Peccability. of Christ have often given expression to the idea while speaking or writing about other things concerning the Person of Christ. On the basis of these statements therefore, we can establish the main foundations upon which they think to stand.
At the outset, it is not only interesting but highly significant that the postulates of this position depend largely upon so-called logical argument, rather than upon clear and acceptable exposition of Scripture. Moreover, their “Scriptural proof” is almost exclusively confined to one verse of Scripture, namely. Hebrews 4:15 (which will be expounded later in this paper). In pointing to this verse, they always give particular emphasis to the sentence: “He was tempted in all points like as we are.” They then argue that to deny the possibility of sinning on the part of Jesus is “to deny the clear teaching of this verse.” From this initial statement—which is by no means irrefutable— they further argue that “if Jesus could not have sinned, then His temptation was a farce, and hence, it served no purpose.”
In answering these two arguments, we point out first that this verse does not “clearly teach” the possibility of sinning on the part of Jesus, as we shall see when we develop the verse more fully. Secondly, with regard to whether or not any purpose could have been served by temptation in which the tempted One could not yield, we will also see that a great three-fold purpose was served.
It has often been said that the best way to refute error is by setting forth the truth. Since we heartily endorse this idea, we now turn our thoughts to the second view which we believe to be the Scriptural position:
THE IMPECCABILITY VIEW
A. The Proposition — as a working proposition we lay down the following claim: Jesus Christ, in His Incarnate state, was free both from hereditary depravity and from personal acts of transgression. Now this proposition must not be understood as merely stating that Jesus began His earthly life with a “clean-sheet nature,” which He “managed” to keep spotless by a constant struggle against enticements to sin, and by a never-ending vigilance lest He be “tricked” into violating His Father’s will. Rather, it should be understood as asserting that Jesus was possessed of a holy nature, which not only could not be tempted to transgress His Father’s will, but which violently opposed all such suggestions.
We insist upon the validity of this proposition in view of the fact that there is absolutely no indication in a single line of Scripture that the union of the Divine nature with human nature produced any change in the Divine nature. Nor is there even a remote hint in the Bible that there was one iota of conflict between the Divine nature and the human nature of Christ.
B. The Proofs — are so numerous and so emphatic that it is strange indeed that any believer could honestly ignore them.
1. The Proof Of His Conception - Every Fundamentalist the world over will insist that Jesus Christ was miraculously conceived by the direct agency of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin. This position is based upon sound, Scriptural evidence which cannot be rejected, except by denying the authority and the validity of the entire Bible - which, of course, the Liberal theologians and “scholars” (?) do not hesitate to do.
The reader is urged to consider prayerfully the following passages:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, SHE WAS FOUND WITH CHILD OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Capitals mine). Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: FOR THAT WHICH IS CONCEIVED IN HER IS OF THE HOLY GHOST.”
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also THAT HOLY THING WHICH SHALL BE BORN OF THEE SHALL BE CALLED THE SON OF GOD.” Luke 1:35
It should be quite obvious that if one accepts the fact of the miraculous conception of Christ in the womb of the Virgin, and yet insists that the Son of God was capable of sinning, he thus advocates the incongruous idea that the Holy Spirit was responsible for producing something capable of corruption. To this writer, such an idea borders on outright blasphemy. The Holy Spirit stands in violent opposition to all that is corruptible and unholy. His very indwelling Presence in the believer is for the express purpose of producing in that believer the holiness of life which God demands of him. How then could He have been the source of anything capable of corruption?
Furthermore, such a view blindly and obstinately ignores the indisputable fact that our Lord did not merely live a holy life, HE WAS BORN HOLY! He was not merely holy in behaviour, He was holy as to His very nature. Who would be so bold as to deny this? The blazing star that appeared in the eastern skies the night He was born, the heralding voice of the angelic hosts, the awe struck Judaean shepherds, the wondering Virgin Mother, and the heaven born dreams of Joseph all testify to the eternal fact that He Who was born of Mary was the holy, spotless, sinless Messiah before Whom “every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to the glory of God the Father”.
Having raised the point of the holiness of the very nature of Christ, it would be well to carry it a step further and relate it to the vital doctrine of the Atonement. Even those Fundamentalists who believe that Jesus could have sinned insist that His atoning work was sufficient to put away all sin. Even they will freely admit that whatever value was associated with the death of Christ upon the Cross, it had its source in the majesty and dignity of the One Who suffered there. To put it another way, the benefits of a vicarious work extend no further than the character and position of the one exercising the vicarious (substitutionary) function. Thus the sufferings of Christ upon the Cross had infinite value only because the One Who experienced them was an Infinite Person.
But perhaps the reader is not clear as to the meaning of “infinite". The word simply means “not capable of being limited”. Please notice: it means more than being unlimited; it means that an infinite person cannot be limited. In this connection then it should not require a superior intelligence to understand that sin limits, which brings us to the inescapable conclusion that if Christ was capable of sinning, then He was also capable of being limited. Therefore, He was not infinite.
In summing up this part of our discussion, let it be firmly established that if Christ was not Infinite, then His atoning work on the Cross was of no value whatever. It might be conceivably possible for one finite (limited) person to suffer sufficiently so as to put away the sins of one other finite person; but it would be a manifest impossibility for one finite person to pay a sufficient price to win deliverance for a multitude of sinners. Thus the Peccability view even poses a threat to the Doctrine of The Atonement.
But we turn our attention now to another proof -
2.The Proof Of His Character –
No other subject in all the field of Theology has aroused more controversy or fostered more discussion than that which is involved in seeking to arrive at an understanding of the real nature of Christ Incarnate. But this is not so strange when one considers the fact that even while our Lord was present in the flesh, men were sharply divided as to whether He was God manifest in the flesh, or merely a man of unusual holiness and superior insight into spiritual truth (see: John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19). Thus the earliest heresies introduced into the body of Christian doctrine and teaching were those which sought to deny or pervert some aspect of the dual nature of Christ. Some of those early heresies openly denied the reality of His human nature, some raised questions concerning the reality of His divine nature, and others attempted to deny the reality of the union of the two natures (the human and the divine) in the one Person Jesus Christ.
Any attempt to discuss these many heresies would become too involved for our purpose here with the exception of one particular idea which directly concerns our theme in this paper. One prominent, and very dangerous teaching, held to the queer position of denying that Christ possessed all the divine attributes. Generally speaking, this view taught that when the Logos became Incarnate, He laid aside some (or all) of His attributes of Deity, thus voluntarily limiting Himself to such a degree that while He was here on the earth He possessed no more supernatural power than any other human. This view attempted to explain the miracles which Jesus performed as being executed only by the power of the Holy Spirit which came upon Him at His baptism. It denied that those miracles were performed through the exercise of any of the divine attributes.
For the most part this heretical teaching was the result of either an erroneous interpretation or a deliberate perversion of the great “kenosis passage” as found in Philippians 2:5-8:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery (Literally, “did not think it a thing to be grasped and held at all cost”) to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
The controversy has centered particularly around the phrase “made Himself of no reputation” (vs. 7). This whole phrase is translated from the Greek work “kenoo,” which means “to empty”. Thus Paul is saying that in becoming man, Christ “emptied” Himself. Now the question which has been so sharply debated here concerns the nature of the self-emptying of Christ. There are four schools of thought with regard to the self-limitation which our Lord assumed in becoming man:
a. The first school of thought states that He surrendered only His Incommunicable Attributes. This refers to, such attributes as His Self-Existence, Immutability, Infinity, and Simplicity. But this position must be quickly rejected in view of the fact that every one of these attributes of Deity are ascribed to our Lord in His Incarnate state (See: John 5:25, 26; Hebrews 13:8; John 1:1-4; John 10:30).
b. The second school of thought holds that in becoming man, Jesus Christ surrendered only His Communicable or Relative attributes, such as Knowledge (Omniscience), Wisdom (Omni sapience), Goodness, Love, Mercy, Righteousness, Veracity, etc. Here again, this view must be rejected as quickly as the first view, since all of the so-called Communicable attributes of Deity are ascribed to Christ (See: Matt. 9:4; 12:25; Mark 2:8; Matt. 9:36; 14:14; Luke 4:23, etc.)
c. The third school of thought teaches that when Jesus Christ became incarnate in human flesh He surrendered all of His Divine attributes. This view must be rejected for the same reasons that we reject the other two positions. This queer idea could actually suggest that God could “un-god” Himself. How absurd! How ludicrous! In the Incarnate act, Jesus Christ became man, but He did not “change Himself into man”. The Incarnation of Christ in human flesh was accomplished without effecting any change in the Trinity. The Bible teaches the great fact of both the Unity and the Tri-Unity of God. Now, if God is unchangeable in His Unity, He must of necessity be unchangeable in His Tri-Unity. To argue otherwise is to make words devoid of meaning and thus to destroy all foundation for arriving at truth.
d. The fourth school of thought teaches that when the Logos took unto Himself human nature, He did not surrender a single one of His Divine attributes; rather, He surrendered the independent exercise of the Divine attributes. To put it another way, He simply chose to refrain from exercising the Divine attributes by Himself, but depended upon the Holy Spirit Who came upon Him at His baptism for the manifestation of those Divine attributes. Let it be said quickly that He did not depend upon the Holy Spirit for the possession of those Divine characteristics, He depended upon the Holy Spirit for the manifestation of them. This means that the knowledge and wisdom which our Lord demonstrated was not imparted to Him by the Holy Spirit, He simply depended upon the Holy Spirit for the exercise or manifestation of it. This would also be true of all the other Divine attributes which He undoubtedly possessed. It would also explain why He did not perform any miracles prior to His baptism, at which time He was anointed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This view is the only one of the four that is substantiated by the entire New Testament.
We therefore take a bold stand upon the facts set forth in the Bible, namely, that in the Incarnation of Christ, no change was effected in the trinity as such, and that He Who was born of the Virgin was no less God as to His nature than the other members of the Godhead. Therefore, to even suggest that He could have sinned is to fly into the face of every truth set forth in the Word of God with regard to the absolute Impeccability of the Divine nature.
But we turn our attention now to another phase of our discussion. To a certain degree, this has already been touched upon, but it is our purpose here to enlarge and further specify some of the facts concerning the Divine nature of Christ.
At the outset of this particular aspect of our consideration it is assumed that each reader accepts the fact that Jesus Christ in His Incarnate state possessed all the attributes of Deity. To deny this is to become involved in two dangerous activities, namely, the heretical practice of “explaining away” many verses which explicitly state that Christ was God manifest in the flesh, or a flat and open denial of the integrity of the Bible itself.
If, then, our Lord was very God of very God, the possibility of His being overcome by temptation is a contradiction of every Divine attribute which He possessed. And yet, many men who insist that they are Fundamentalists and therefore sound in the faith, do not hesitate to charge that our Lord not only possessed the ability to sin, but that He often struggled with the desire to transgress His Father’s will. For example, in the Southern Baptist Convention’s Sunday School Quarterly for “SUNDAY SCHOOL YOUNG PEOPLE”, January-March, 1965, Dr. Roger Crook had this to say about the Temptation of Jesus:
“Every suggestion Satan made was appealing to Jesus, and opened up to him real possibilities. Since He was fully human, he could have made the wrong choice.”
How can men who are possessed with any intelligence ignore the fact that while it is true that Jesus Christ was “fully human”, it is equally true that He was “God manifest in the flesh”? Therefore, if Jesus could have sinned then God can also sin. Such a degrading suggestion causes one to shiver.
Moreover, in accepting the fact that Jesus Christ in His Incarnate state was possessed of two natures - a divine and a human - at the same time we acknowledge that He was possessed of only one will. When these two natures were united in the one Person,- as they were in the incarnation, the divine nature (which is unchangeable) determined and controlled the human nature, not the human the divine. Jesus Christ was “the God-Man!” not “the Man-God..! Therefore, His Divine nature was, the basis of His Incarnate Person, not His human nature.
Those who believe He could have sinned are often heard giving expression to an “argument” which they think is valid, but which is beset with fallacies, namely, the argument in which it is stated, “Jesus could have sinned as to His human nature, but not as to His divine”. Now, this statement breaks down in two vital areas. First, it ignores the obvious fact of the Indivisibility of the two natures in Jesus. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ in His Incarnate state is a single, undivided personality in whom the Divine nature and the human nature are vitally and inseparably united. Christ Himself uniformly speaks of Himself - and is spoken of - as a single Person. He never uses the plural number in referring to Himself. Jesus Christ was not so much God and man, but He was God in, and through, and as man. Therefore, by attempting to view the divine nature of Christ side by side with the human nature, instead of discerning the divine nature within the human Person of Christ, we miss the significance of them both. There was never any separation of the divine nature from the human nature in Christ, or vice versa. All His words were spoken, and all His deeds were performed by One Person - the God-man. Moreover, the attributes and powers of both the Divine and the human nature are attributed to the One Person, Christ. (See: Rom. 1:3; I Tim. 2:5; Heb. 1:2, 3; I Peter 3:18). From these Scriptures (and many more) we can say that The Christ existed before Abraham, yet was born of the Virgin during the reign of Augustus Caesar. He wept, He was weary, He suffered, He died; yet He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). On the one hand our Divine Saviour redeemed us on the cross; on the other hand our human Christ is present with His people even unto the end of the age (Mat.
28:20; Eph. 1:23; 4:10).
Secondly, the argument that Christ could have sinned as to His human nature but not as to His divine nature, implies that there was a constant conflict between the two natures of Christ. Such a thing is unthinkable because it is not even hinted in Scripture.
Where is there a single line or phrase in the Bible that would infer or imply that the two natures in Christ were ever in conflict for a single moment? Moreover, where is there any Biblical hint which would even remotely suggest that the Divine nature of Christ stood idly by and allowed the human nature to struggle against temptation to sin? Shedd rightly points out that:
The divine nature cannot innocently and righteously leave the human nature to its own finiteness without any support from the divine. . . When the Logos goes into union with a human nature, so as to constitute a single person with it, he becomes responsible for all that this person does through the instrumentality of this nature. The glory or the shame, the merit or the blame, as the case may be, is attributable to this one person of the God-man. If, therefore, the Logos should make no resistance to the temptation with which Satan assailed the human nature in the wilderness, and should permit the humanity to yield to it and commit sin, he would be implicated in the apostasy and sin. The guilt would not be confined to the human nature. It would attach to the whole person. And since the Logos is the root and base of the person, it would attach to him in an eminent manner. Should Jesus Christ sin, incarnate God would sin; as incarnate God suffered, when Jesus Christ suffered.." 
At this point, it would be well to cite the statement from James 1:13, which says clearly and simply: “God cannot be tempted with evil”. Thus to say that His human nature could have sinned but not His divine nature is foolish and senseless quibbling. Jesus Christ was one person with two natures, but not two personalities’ Therefore, we make bold to say that if God be tempted with evil, then had Jesus sinned He would have proven that He was not God.
Before we leave the fact of the Character of our Lord, it would be well to turn our attention to a more specific discussion of His Incarnate nature. We shall cite and discuss four attributes of Deity which our Lord possessed along with their relationship to His Impeccability.
A. His Attribute Of Holiness - which is established by such passages as
Psalms 45:6-8: “Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God hath annointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
Acts 3:14: “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just. .“
Mark 1:24: “... I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.”
Luke 4:34: “.. . I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.”
Hebrews 7:26, 27: “For such an high priest became us (was exactly suited to our need), who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once when he offered up himself.”
It should not require any laboring of the point to show that all of these passages, and many others besides, speak of the holiness of Christ as being a holiness of nature, not of attainment or behavior. Jesus Christ was not merely “unsinful”, He was SIN LESS. We might put it another way and say that He was not holy because He refused to sin; rather, He refused to sin because He was holy. Moreover, Divine holiness is more than being free from all moral or ethical defilement. It is not just a passive freedom from iniquity, it is an active attribute which not only refuses to participate in sinful acts, but must take retributive action against sin in all its forms. Holiness did not merely reside in the Son of God, He was (and is) the source of holiness. Because of this, we shall never fully know how His holy soul must have resented all solicitations to evil which were presented to Him. Thus to even suggest that He could have sinned is to rob Him of the majestic attribute of holiness.
B. His Attribute Of Immutability - which is emphatically stated in Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” As we have stated earlier in this paper, an immutable Person is not merely one who does not change, but one who cannot change. With regard to change, it can only move in four directions. First, change can move from one good to another good. God (and Christ was God) cannot change in this direction since all good eternally resides in Him. Second, change can move from good to better. God cannot change in this direction since eternal perfection resides in Him. In God alone there is no room for improvement. Third, change can move from good to bad. God cannot change in this direction because of His attribute of eternal Holiness. Finally, change can move from bad to good. God cannot change in this direction because He is eternally and totally free from all moral or spiritual defilement.
In the light of this one attribute alone, how can it even be suggested that our Immutable Lord could have sinned?
C. His Attribute Of Omnipotence - which is established by such passages as:
Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
Matthew 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
But, lest the reader fail to understand what we mean by the attribute of Omnipotence, we offer here a definition of the term. Omnipotence is an English word derived from two Latin words omnis meaning “all”, and potens meaning “power”.
Hence, the Omnipotence of God is His unhindered and unlimited power to do all that He chooses to do. God’s power is unconditioned and unlimited by any one or any thing outside Himself. God can bring to pass anything which He wills.
In thinking of this attribute, it should never be forgotten that the will of God can move in all directions, hence God can will to do all He pleases to do, and He can also will not to do anything which He does not please to do! His will was not only sufficiently strong to overcome temptation, but it was so additionally strong that it could not be overcome. To hold that Christ could have sinned, therefore, is to teach the preposterous idea that a finite power is capable of overcoming an infinite power.
D. His Attribute Of Omniscience which is most definitely established by the following passages:
Matthew 9:4: “And Jesus, KNOWING THEIR THOUGHTS said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?”
Matthew 12:25: “And Jesus KNEW THEIR THOUGHTS ..
Mark 2:6.8: “But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately WHEN JESUS PERCEIVED IN HIS SPIRIT THAT THEY SO REASONED WITHIN THEMSELVES, He said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?”
John 1:47, 48: “Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathaniel saith unto Him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, BEFORE THAT PHILIP CALLED THEE, WHEN THOU WAST UNDER THE FIG TREE, I SAW THEE!” (Capitals all mine)
Once again we offer the definition of this attribute. Omniscience is an English word which is compounded from two Latin words, omnis meaning “all”, and sciens meaning “knowledge”. Hence it refers to the infinite intelligence of God, whereby He knows Himself and all other things whether actual or possible, present or future, in one Eternal simple act. To put it another way, it is God’s Infinite Awareness.
In relating this Divine attribute to the possibility of our Lord committing sin, it should be fairly easy to establish the fact that the success of a temptation depends in part upon deceiving the person being tempted. And in the matter of deception Satan is the Master Craftsman, for this is his stock in trade. Yet though we recognize the cunningness of the adversary, who could dare imagine that there was even the slightest possibility of the skill of Satan being greater than the perception of our Lord? As a matter of argument, since Omniscience is a Divine attribute, and since Christ was God, then it can be said that our Lord possessed perfect knowledge of every minute detail of the temptation He was to face from all Eternity. How could such Eternal Awareness be caught off guard, or in any degree taken by surprise? Please remember: God cannot “learn” - HE KNOWS!
But perhaps a simple chart would help to both condense and clarify all that has been here said with reference to this matter of temptation versus temptability. Without pressing the analogy too far, it can be said that for the most part there are six steps in the commission of a sin. We present them below:
2. Illumination __________________________
The first step is always the Presentation of the solicitation to sin. Of course this invitation to transgress is not always presented in exactly the same way. Herein the cunningness of Satan is manifested. But one thing is always standard in the Presentation, namely, it is never presented in its true character, but is always veiled in deceit so as to appear as being entirely different than it really is. The second step is that of Illumination on the part of the person being tempted. He realizes that he is being tempted to step across the lines, of a Divine precept. In so doing, he understands the true nature of the thing that is occurring, and recognizes the source of it - that it procedes from Satan. Then comes the third step of Debate. The person being tempted then begins to ponder as to whether or not to yield to the temptation. He will even begin to rationalize in such a way that he can “logically justify” himself in doing that which he knows to be wrong. Often times he is so successful in his rationalization that he even succeeds in persuading himself to believe that the proposed act is not a sin after all. At this point, the whole affair changes considerably, in that it now becomes an inward struggle, whereas, prior to this, it was an outward Presentation. Soon after the third step has been reached, the fourth step of Desire occurs. In full knowledge of the nature of what is happening, the tempted one now begins to weaken in the area of Debate, and aided by his fallen nature, which naturally gravitates toward that which is forbidden, and encouraged by the rationalistic arguments which he himself has formulated, he fervently longs for that which he knows in his heart to be wrong. Thus the sixth and final step is inevitable- he acts to perform the doing of something which is forbidden.
We call attention again to our chart. The reader will note a broken line immediately below the second step, because, without question, at no time during His earthly sojourn did our Lord enter into any of the steps beyond the second one. And to be strictly technical, it is even incorrect to view the first two steps as having occurred in the same order with reference to the temptation of our Lord. His attribute of Omniscience made Him perfectly and eternally aware of every detail of the temptation He was to receive. Thus in expressing the. nature of His temptation in chart form, it would appear as follows:
Illumination (from all eternity)
Presentation (in time)
How can it be suggested that when the temptation was presented to the Lord Jesus Christ He debated as to whether or not to yield? On the contrary, His holy nature was so insulted by the very implication of His temptation, that He violently rejected the solicitation with a zeal and an anger that can be found only in the Divine resentment which burns against all wickedness. Moreover, His eternal awareness saw every detail of the temptation with perfect cognizance. Therefore His very nature ruled out all possibility of His entering into one inch of forbidden ground.
But there is still another area of Proof to which we can turn to establish the fact of the Impeccability of Christ
3. The Proof Of His Own Claims -
Jesus Christ made at least two claims in the Gospel of John concerning His own sinlessness, which demands our careful examination. The first one is recorded in: John 8:46: “Which of you convinceth me of sin?”
The Greek word which is here translated as “convinceth” is a word meaning “to bring to one’s conscience”. It means much more than merely being accused of sin. Many had accused Him of sin, but none had ever brought sin to His conscience. It should also be noted here that the word “sin” is a noun in the original Greek, not a verb. Now what is the significance of this? Answer, Jesus Christ was not here stating the fact that none had ever been able to convince Him that He had committed sin, but that none had ever succeeded in convincing Him that there was even a slight degree of sinful tendency in His nature. To put it another way: He was not saying “Which of you convinceth me of sinning?” He was boldly challenging them to convince Him that He possessed even one iota of sin or corruption in His nature.
In the exegesis and exposition of John 8:46 it seems strange indeed that so many have overlooked the context in which the statement appears. The bold challenge which our Lord threw out here was the result of a rather heated discussion with the Jews concerning their own human nature. In verse 33 of this same chapter they had boastfully reminded Jesus that they were “Abraham’s seed”. In verse 37 Jesus acknowledges the truth of their assertion by saying “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed”. But in verse 39 He skillfully points out that to be “Abraham’s seed” is not necessarily the same thing as being “Abraham’s children”. He simply and indisputably proved that while they might boast of their natural descent from Abraham, they manifested nothing of Abraham’s faith. Thus He rejected their claim of Abraham as their Father (which they made in verse 39), by saying (vs. 41) “Ye do the deeds of your Father”. Then they understood Him to be saying that their “father” was not Abraham but Satan. This charge so infuriated them that they angrily hurled the insulting words “We be not born of fornication!” (vs. 41) by which they were accusing Him of being born out of wedlock. To these slurring words they added the assertion “We have one father, even God”.
To this our Lord quietly replied:
“... If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God (an assertion of His Virgin Birth); neither came I of myself, but He sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your Father ye will do. . .“ (John 8:42-44a)
It was in this context that the challenge of our Lord was uttered: and the whole context is primarily concerned with nature, and only secondarily concerned with acts. Therefore both the Greek construction of verse 46 and the context in which the words appear demand that our Lord’s challenge be understood as asserting the impeccability of His nature, not merely His unimpeachable behavior.
The second passage in which our Lord lays claim to His own Impeccability is found in John 14:30:
“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”
There can be no question as to the identity of “the prince of this world”. This descriptive phrase is used elsewhere in the New Testament, and speaks always of Satan. But our interest here is focused upon the last phrase of the above verse, in which our Lord asserts that Satan “hath nothing in me”. In order to shorten our discussion (which has already grown far beyond its original scope), let it be said that the Greek scholars are unanimous in saying that these words should be understood as making the bold assertion “ the prince of this world cometh, and shall not find the slightest evil inclination upon which his temptations can lay hold”.
Now if that is not a claim of Impeccability of Person, it is impossible to say what it is. 0! That men would somehow recapture the holy fear and reverence for the sinless Son of God which was held by their forefathers. May the Spirit of holiness move them to boldly and fearlessly proclaim a whole Christ to a world of sneering and snickering unbelievers. And may that same Spirit guard them against “helping the ungodly” by suggesting that the Impeccable Christ could have disgraced Heaven by falling into sin.
We turn now to still another Biblical proof of the Impeccability of Christ:
4. The Proof Of His Condescension – the fact that in taking upon Himself human flesh our Lord manifested an amazing condescension is acknowledged by all. But there is a danger involved in seeking to understand the extent of his condescension. That danger consists of the tendency to go too far in formulating a definition of the nature of His condescending act. The real truth is that, an exegesis (rather than eisigesis) of those passages which speak of His humiliation will prove His impeccability beyond all question.
The first passage to be considered in this connection is II Corinthians 5:21:
"For he (God) hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who (Christ) kn