COULD JESUS SIN?
A Short Essay by R.g. Wallace
This controversy has been alive since the first century
and it certainly won't be conclusively resolved in this life.
However, perhaps this little essay will help many of you get
a better handle on what is involved with the subject.
That Jesus BECAME a man is unquestionable.
That he LIVED as a man is clearly demonstrable.
That he had human limitations is likewise non
It is the extent of those limitations that is so often
the object of theological speculation and reasoning.
This issue has not been resolved in 2000 years; we
will not resolve it here. But perhaps the following
will provide fodder for thought.
We are told so often that Jesus was sinless.
He knew no sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21
In him there is no sin. 1 John 3:5
He always did the things that were pleasing to the
Father. John 8:29
He challenged others to convict him of sin. John 8:46
He is called the Holy and Righteous one. Acts 3:14;
He was without sin. Heb. 4:15
He was holy, without evil, undefiled, separated from
sinners. Heb. 7:26
He committed no sin and no deceit came from his lips.
1 Peter 2:22
BUT nowhere does it tell us that the HUMAN Messiah
COULD NOT sin.
We tend to shy away from that idea, knowing that it
was indeed VERY GOD (The Word, who WAS God) who became
flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14).
But Jesus was limited as a human. He was limited in
his knowledge, for IN HIS HUMANITY, while knowing
fully about human nature so that it could be written
that “he knew all men . . .and knew what was in man”
(John 2:24-25), he did not know specific details about
the eschatological plan of the Godhead (knowing
neither the day or the hour of HIS OWN return, Mat.
He experienced hunger and thirst and pain and ALL the
KINDS of temptations that all men have ever
encountered (Heb. 4:15). And yet, through it all, was
Jesus ONLY temptable, but unable to sin?
Is there REALLY a sting in the temptation if it is
impossible to sin?
For one to SYMPATHIZE with the reality of temptation;
the ATTRACTION; the promised pleasure; the egotistical
satisfaction; the pull of selfishness and
self-protection, does not those factors have to be a
POSSIBLE course of action for the one who sympathizes?
But Jesus, is able to do just that (Heb. 2:15) and
furthermore, actually comes to the aid of those of us
who are similarly tempted (Heb. 2:18).
In His EXAMPLE of obedience (Heb. 5:8) and worship of
the Father (Heb. 5:7), He SHOWS us how to be faithful
and endure the pressures of this life.
During his GROWING years Jesus had to INCREASE in
wisdom, as a very young child (Luke 1:80) and as an
adolescent (Luke 2:52). It was only through his
KNOWLEDGE of the character and plan of the Godhead;
the things that the Father taught Him (John 8:28;
12:49), that the humanity of Jesus was able to meet
His destiny head on and NOT FAIL. As He began His
public ministry, He used His knowledge of God’s word
to ward off the very attractive temptations of the
devil, proclaiming at every point, “It is written”
Just before facing the greatest challenge of His
entire earthly life, the vulnerability of his humanity
was more evident than ever before. Jesus KNEW what it
would be like to experience spiritual separation from
the Father, as He was about to taste SPIRITUAL death
for every person (Heb. 2:9). He knew what it would be
like to encounter the excruciating physical pain of
crucifixion (Psalm 22:14-17; John 12:32-33). These two
factors played upon the soul of Jesus to such an
extent that he was exceedingly TEMPTED (in the DAYS
before [John 12:27] and the HOURS before [Mat. 26:37]
the cross) to give in to the FEAR and WORRY (Mat.
26:37-38; John 12:27a) and to seek SELF PRESERVATION
(Mat. 26:39, “not MY will”).
The temptation was real; the possibility of choosing
“my will” was real, but as always, the love and
devotion to the Father within His HUMAN soul (Luke
2:49); and his faithful obedience to the Father’s plan
kept Him ever focused on the true purpose of the
incarnation (John 12:27b). Thus, no sooner had the
DESIRE for an alternative means of saving humanity
slipped through his lips, than He immediately knew the
impossibility of the idea and conceded that the
Father’s will was indeed, the only REAL choice. But so
great was the pressure upon Him that TWO MORE times He
wrestled with the same issues (Mat. 26:42-44), and
like before, each time “Your will be done” was the
chosen attitude and pathway.
When He was on the cross, he had the CHOICE to revile
His revilers and to threaten His torturers (1 Peter
2:23), but He chose instead to TRUST in the character
and plan of the Father as the one who was in control
and whose divine agenda must not be compromised. Thus,
He despised the shame and the stigma of persecution,
and JOYFULLY endured the physical torture of the cross
And from every pressure, crisis and temptation that
Jesus endured by USING Divine viewpoint (the
principles and promises of the essence and plan of the
Godhead), we have an example; the prime example of HOW
to do the very same thing. If it was not an issue that
Jesus MIGHT choose to NOT use the truths of God’s
word, then the EXAMPLE of what He did does not give us
the help we need. Yes, He was tempted in every way as
we are, yet without sin. That does not mean that He
COULD not sin, but simply that He DID NOT sin. And if
the temptations He encountered NEVER held a real
threat to Him, then He was NEVER tempted as we are.
You see, He endured the temptations BY TRUSTING God,
not because He was the God-man, and that gives us the
example we need. We too can endure any and every
temptation (This is God’s will, that you do not sin, 1
John 2:1) in the very same way; by TRUSTING God’s
character and plan as revealed through the written
Of course, the question remains; what if Jesus had
sinned? This issue can only be resolved by
understanding the details of the angelic conflict; the
conflict between God and the fallen angels. That is
what EVERYTHING revolves around. Satan is permitted to
exist outside of his divinely decreed destiny (the
lake of fire) ONLY because he thinks God is unfair and
unloving AND thinks he can prove it. God is allowing
this CONFLICT to go on according to His own wisdom and
timing in order to give Satan all the time and
opportunity he needs throughout human history to prove
God wrong. If he succeeds, he wins his reprieve from
the lake of fire and God will be subordinated to him.
As STRANGE as that may sound, Satan actually THINKS
that he can succeed. He cannot for God cannot be
defeated, but he is operating on the premise that He
can be defeated and everything he does on this earth
revolves around that agenda. Part of that agenda was
and is to defeat the promised Messiah. This was the
point of weakness in the plan of the Godhead, if one
can even IMAGINE such a concept. The vulnerability of
the Messiah had to be real in order for it to be a
valid center of conflict between Satan and the
Godhead. Part of the Godhead’s sacrifice was to make
the Divine Persona vulnerable, and lay EVERYTHING in
regard to the future of the universe, at the feet of a
The issue that was, and is lost to Satan, is the
omniscience of the Godhead. God KNEW that the Messiah
would succeed. This foreknowledge does not in anyway
minimize the vulnerability of Jesus, it is simply God
operating from a position of STRENGTH, which is why
Satan cannot ever succeed.
However, Jesus STILL had to personally succeed by
applying the principles of divine truth at every
juncture of His life, And THAT is why He can be our
example, showing us HOW it is done, and showing us
that IT CAN be done. “My little children, I write
these things to you so that you might not sin.” 1
“Your word I have stockpiled in my soul so that I
might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
"Everyone who abides in Him does not sin." 1 John 3:6
"If what you have heard from the beginning (the teaching about LOVE)
abides in you, you also will abide in the Son."
"Everyone who has been born of God does not do sin
because His SEED remains in him (the seed of God's word
IF it abides in him; that is IF he uses the word of God
that he has learned, which is the teaching about LOVE, then
he will not sin) and (the reason) he
is not able to sin (through this provision, is) because
he has been born of God." 1 John 3:9
(This resource to avoid sinning is
available because he is a believer;
it is only available
to believers; only believers can use the SEED of
to avoid sin.