Could Jesus Have Sinned?

John Kronwald / February 17, 2015
gospel of mark, q & a

“Could Jesus have sinned?”  Perhaps you’ve been asked that question, or have curiously pondered that yourself.  Good question.  Let’s take a look.

Jesus Christ was fully human.  He was born just like all human babies are born, developed just like other kids develop, and grew to be an adult man.  As a man, Jesus experienced all the same emotions, pains, and physical limitations as anyone else.  He fought through hardships and faced temptations to sin on a regular basis just like you and I (Luke 4:2).  The one difference is that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26).

See, Jesus was also fully divine.  He was God incarnate -the Lord himself in human flesh (John 10:30-33).  An infinitely holy and righteous God is not capable of sinning.  It would be against his divine nature, his God-ness, to sin.  He would no longer be God.  So it would not have been possible for Jesus Christ to sin.

If Christ’s human nature were somehow separate from his divine nature then, theoretically, he may have been capable of sinning –just as Adam and Eve’s sinless human natures were capable of sinning.  But Christ’s humanity never existed apart from his divinity. Jesus was always completely man and completely God united in one person.  So even though he was tempted in every way as a man, he never gave in to sin because of his divinity.

This leads us to another question.  If Jesus was never really capable of sinning, can we honestly say that he experienced temptation to sin in the same way we experience it?  The author of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15).  Even though Christ was not capable of sinning because of his divinity, he experienced real temptations in his humanity to the fullest extent.  See, when you or I experience temptation, we only feel the pressure of that temptation until we eventually surrender to it.  By giving in to temptation we experience temporary relief from the heaviness of it.  Jesus never experienced that relief.  He never gave in to temptation and never felt that pressure subside.  So not only did Jesus experience the same temptations we face, but he experienced the full weight of those temptations.

Jesus succeeded where we fail.  He alone lived a perfectly holy life without sin.  For that we should rejoice.  His perfect righteousness can now be ours if we put our trust in him.  At the cross, Christ’s record is credited to us as though we had never sinned.  This is good news indeed!