The Person of Christ - 16 - The Impeccability of Christ

Chapter 16 - The Impeccability of Christ
Doctrinal Implications
Norman Crawford

 

When we say that the Lord Jesus was impeccable we are saying that He was incapable of sinning. All who profess to believe the Word of God must agree that He “did no sin” (I Pet. 2:22). However, impeccability is much more than the absence of sin in His life. In Him there was the presence of perfect righteousness and absolute holiness. This holiness could not be sullied by sin. Sin and the Person of Christ are absolute opposites.

 

This article attempts to answer the question: What are the implications of peccability? If Christ could have sinned, what is involved, what would be lost? The very nature of the enquiry compels us to state at this point that we believe not only in a sinless Christ, but in a Christ Who could not sin. In fact the implications of peccability are so awesome and the subject so solemn and serious, that we hesitate to write about it. Only faithfulness to the Word of God compels us to face the issue, for there are those who claim to honour Christ as Lord, and believe that He did not sin, but who nevertheless believe that He could have sinned. They have humanly reasoned that He could never have known true temptation, had there been no possibility of a fall. The first man fell and brought the curse and ruin on the creation. What would the results have been had there been any possibility of the fall of the “Second Man - the Lord from Heaven”? (I Cor. 15:47).

 

To fairly state the case of those who believe in a peccable Christ, we should be clear that they profess that it is more honouring to Christ to say, “He was able not to sin,” than by saying, “He was not able to sin.” Because they believe in His Deity, some go on to say that His Divine nature would not allow His human nature to sin; but this is a compounding of the error. He took human nature in wondrous grace, but it was not fallen nature, or even flawed nature. As the Seed of the woman, miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit, He was completely “separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). His humanity was not only innocent but holy (Luke 1:35). Adam was created in innocence, he was tempted and he fell. We have heard of the innocent babe on Mary’s breast, but let us never bring holiness down to the level of mere innocence. Innocence can be destroyed and was destroyed in Eden, holiness is the essential nature of our Saviour and cannot be marred.

The truth of Christ’s impeccability is so far-reaching that it touches on many of the major truths of Scripture.

 

THE DEITY OF CHRIST

 

Previous articles in this series have dealt with the subject of the absolute Deity of the Son of God. He is God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In taking manhood He did not cease to be God. Although He became what He never was before, yet His essential nature is unchanged and unchangeable. If He had a nature capable of sinning, then God is capable of sinning. In comparison to such a monstrous thought, the sun burning out in the heavens would be a minor catastrophe. Surely those who say He could have sinned have never followed their reasoning to its ultimate conclusion.

 

CHRIST’S PRESENT MANHOOD

 

When the Lord Jesus ascended He took His glorified Manhood to the Throne of His Father. Bless God, there is a real Man in Heaven. His resurrection in a glorified body and His ascension surely have not morally changed our blessed Saviour. Scripture links the exaltation of the Lord Jesus with His moral perfections as a Man. (Heb. 7:23-28). If there was a possibility of the Lord Jesus sinning as a Man on earth, then is there the possibility of His sinning as a Man in Heaven? Perhaps the reader can now understand our hesitation in dealing with such a subject. Surely no one is suggesting Christ could sin in Heaven, but then according to the believer in a peccable Christ, His humanity now must be a different humanity than when He was on earth. This is impossible. He is the same (Heb. 13:8).

 

CHRIST’S VOLUNTARY SACRIFICE

 

It was sin that brought disease, decay and death into the world. One writer who teaches that Christ could have sinned actually goes so far as to apply the words of Psalm 41:8 to the Lord Jesus. It is true that the Lord applies the words of v.9 to Judas, but let us be clear that this Psalm describes David’s own experience at the time of the treachery of Ahithophel (II Sam. 16:20). We are astonished to think that anyone would apply to Christ the words, “An evil disease, say they, cleaveth unto him,” (yet it is true that if He could have sinned then He could have become diseased). How different is the language of the heart that exclaims, “Yea, He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved and this is my friend” (S. of S. 5:16). The Lord Jesus was unspotted, for no defilement from an evil world could touch Him. He was also unblemished, for from within His holy Person no flaw could mar Him (I Pet. 1:19).

 

If in any way our blessed Lord could have been subject to sin, then it follows that He could also have been subject to disease and death. He was the one Man Who walked this earth upon Whom death had no claim whatever. His death was an act of His own will (John 10:17-18). He had power over death; death had no authority over Him. Only an impeccable Christ untouchable by death could voluntarily submit to death on our account.

 

THE SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH OF CHRIST

 

It now follows that if peccability would affect His relationship to death, then a Christ Who could have sinned could never be our Saviour. One innocent man might die for one guilty man, but only the Holy Son of God, Who could not sin, could take our place and bear the condemnation which should have been ours. “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him” (Psalm 49:7). Unquestionably no believer would want to rob the death of Christ of its infinite value; yet in teaching that Christ could have sinned they are doing just this. Satan must be delighted at this attack which strikes at the very foundations of Divine revelation.

 

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH

 

In His propitiatory sacrifice the Lord Jesus has given satisfaction to offended justice. Flowing out from the value of His cross work is every blessing that is mine as a believer in Christ. I am redeemed, lam reconciled to God, I am justified in God’s sight because of the value of that one sacrifice forever. My acceptance depends on His acceptance (Eph. 1:6). John tells us that because of this, “We have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is so are we in this world” (I John 4:17). Is it not clear that to touch the impeccability of the Lord Jesus means our acceptance in Him is conditional, there can be no eternal security, and justification has no true righteous basis?

 

We thank God from our hearts for an impeccable Christ. Satan’s attacks not only proved that He could not sin. It was to prove to us that Christ could not sin, and as is stated in an accompanying article “He suffered being tempted” not because He could fall but because of His holiness. Christ was not sinless only because He did not sin, but He did not sin because He is holy.

“Thou wouldst like sinful man be made In everything but sin, That we as like Thee might become, As we unlike have been.”