The Person of Christ - 18 - Impeccability in the Epistles

 

Chapter 18 - The Impeccability of Christ

In The Epistles

John Stubbs

 

We shall consider four verses in the New Testament epistles that clearly set forth the lovely and vital theme of the sinless perfection of Christ.

 
  1. ?For He bath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin? (II Cor. 5:21).
 

Paul is the man of deep and mature knowledge and therefore we are not surprised that he speaks of the pure mind of Christ. The Greek word translated knew should be noted - it means that fully and completely He knew no sin. He thought no sin. He was personally conscious of no sin. Had there existed, however faintly, in the Lord?s mind a consciousness of sin, then it would have affected the Saviour?s demeanor, and the disciples would have observed the signs of a bad conscience. If this had been detected it would have certainly modified their estimate of Christ which would have been noticeable in the epistles. However, nowhere in the epistles do we find the hint of a doubt as to our Lord?s sinlessness, but rather a clear setting forth of the belief in the Lord?s sinless life.

 

In this verse, we have the sinlessness of Christ asserted in its vital bearing on the substitutionary character of Christ?s death. If Christ was not personally free from sin, then He could not take my place as a sinner. The second half of the verse goes on to show that as a consequence of Christ?s atoning death and His sinless character, which gave value to His sacrifice, the believer finds a present acceptance in Christ. Take away the fact of Christ?s absolute moral perfection and we have no acceptance before God. The believer?s standing would be seriously upset, and indeed our case would be hopeless.

 

2. ?For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without (apart from) sin? (Heb. 4:15).

 

The sinlessness of Christ which is emphasized here, means that none of His trials originated in sin, nor did they result in sin. Our Lord Jesus was neither tempted by sin nor tempted to sin. The word ?tempted? means ?tested? or ?tried,? and certainly does not mean enticement to sin. According to James? definition of temptation (James 1:13-14): ?Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.? This is altogether inapplicable to the blessed person of the Lord Jesus, because there was no fallen, sinful nature in Him, and therefore He never responded to temptation. Our temptation comes not only from without, it comes also from within, and very often we fail and the result is sin. The Lord Jesus, however, never yielded. Because He never yielded, unlike us, He knew how trying the strain can be. Only the Lord Jesus felt the full force of testings. This is why He is able to sympathize with us as our great High Priest. One has said, ?It is His sinlessness which perfects His sympathy.? If He had yielded in the least, it would have destroyed His power of sympathy.

 

3. ?Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth? (I Pet. 2:22).

 

The Spirit of God causes Peter the man of action to write, ?Who did no sin.? In the previous verse we are bidden to follow His steps. Christ is presented to the believer as the perfect Example. He was physically like all men that have lived true man! He was morally unlike all men that have lived - unique man! He is unique in virtue of His sinlessness. He it is whose unspotted life was lived among a sinful, fallen race. Someone has said rather nicely, ?His life was like a river of silver in a world of soot.? There was no inclination in Him to evil. There was no weakness in Him due to previous transgressions. He had no shortcomings to acknowledge. It is everything to know that the Lord Jesus has been in this world and triumphed over sin, and while that sinless manhood seems to remove Him from us, yet we find comfort and help in following His example. Are we following Him? J.G. Bellett said, ?I have heard of one who observing His bright and blessed ways in the four Gospels, was filled with tears and affection and cried out, ?0 that I were with Him.? ?Is this our attitude?

 

4.         ?In Him is no sin? (I John 3:5).

 

John, the man of contemplation, gives us this statement of Christ?s sinlessness. Scholars tell us that the emphasis is on the word ?sin?, so that it reads, ?Sin in Him, there is none.? The Sin bearer is Himself personally free from sin. Notice in John?s First Epistle, that Christ is holy (2:20), pure (3:3), sinless (3:5), and righteous (3:7). It is interesting to refer to the words, ?Even as He is pure? (3:3). This means that not only was the Lord Jesus pure in His sojourn on earth (for John does not say He was pure, but He is pure), but that His purity continues in His resurrection and exalted state. He is still pure today! Perhaps at this point we should say, that while the Bible does not state specifically that Jesus could not sin, the true believer should be fully satisfied that it was morally impossible for Him to do so. In this same epistle, the Saviour is referred to as ?Begotten of God? (5:18, R.V.), and ?Whatsoever is begotten of God cannot sin? (3:9). Putting these verses together, shall we not come to the inevitable conclusion, that He could not sin?

 

In summing up the doctrinal implications of these four key verses, we would reaffirm that Christ is sinless and that upon His sinlessness depends:

 

1.         The blessing of our present acceptance before God (II Cor. 5:21).

2.         The power of His sympathy as our High Priest (Heb. 4:15)

3.         The reality of His perfect example (I Pet. 2:22).

4.         The value of His atoning work at Calvary (I John 3:5).

 

?Because the sinless Saviour died,

My sinful soul is counted free,

And God the Just is satisfied,

 To look on Him and pardon me.?