|Messages By Ovid Need|
The Impeccability of Christ - Heb. 4:15
We had a discussion a few weeks ago on the two-fold nature of Christ. Did He actually feel an urge to sin as we do, or were the infirmities referred to in Hebrews just the feeling of weakness as we have? The feeling of hunger, thirst, weakness and all the rest of the infirmities of the flesh.
This has been one of the hottest debates in the history of the Church. Now that I have had a chance to look at it, I want to give what I feel the word of God teaches on this.
The term for this is IMPECCABILITY. An impeccable will is one that is so mighty in its self-determination toward good that it cannot be conquered by any temptation to evil, however great that temptation might be. Webster (1828) defined this word, impeccable--exempt from the possibility of sinning.
The first Adam was capable of being overcome by sin, and was. The Second Adam, by reason of His impeccability, was not only able to overcome temptation, but He was unable to be overcome by temptation.
The original holy angels were not impeccable, or infallible. Not only could they be overcome with sin, many were. Why? Because they were not omnipotent, all powerful, as is the Lord. The indication from Scriptures is that once the decision to sin or not to sin, was made on their part, the ones who did not sin are now impeccable. They are kept sinless by the power of God, not their own power. They are not now divinely sinless.
The Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, not only was able to resist temptation, but His infallibility made it certain that He would. His holy energy was not only capable of overcoming sin, but was so strong that He could not be overcome by sin.
We could say it like this: We have a fallen nature. This fallen nature is drawn like a magnet to anything that is fallen away from the will of God. By the power of the Holy Spirit, this fallen nature can and must be kept in check.
On the other hand, by this fallen nature being absent from the Lord Jesus, there was nothing in Him which would or could be attracted to anything which was contrary to the will of God. Sin not only found no place in the Holy Son of God, He had nothing in Him which even desired to sin.
Now for some references. We have seven points here.
1. Heb. 13:8 IMMUTABILITY of God, or of Christ, Mat. 1:23. His holiness, which is impossible to change, is one of the most important factors of His character. The Holy Jehovah God of the OT was the Jesus Christ of the New. The hatred of sin by the God of the OT was present in the Christ of the New.
There was nothing about sin that had the slightest attraction to God in the OT, therefore, there was nothing about sin which held any attraction to God with us in the New.
Ps. 40:8 His delight was in doing the will of the Father. Anything contrary to that will held for Him the opposite of delight. Whereas, because of our fallen nature, we delight in disobeying the Father.
Christ was impeccable because He was the unchangeable Holy God in the flesh of a man.
2. Isa. 9:6; Jn. 10:17, 18; 17:2 (power over life and death). This doctrine is called the OMNIPOTENCE of God, or Christ.
Ja. 1:13, 14 we see that God can tempt no man. Therefore all temptation must emanate from a created being;
C. evil power.
Heb. 1:12, 13 Christ was the Creator of all beings, in heaven and earth. Therefore, it would be impossible for a created, finite power to overcome an infinite power, Christ.
3. Jn. 1:7, 8 Christ was the Light of God. 1 Jn. 1:5 Christ was impeccable because He is the Light, unable to even entertain darkness. Darkness could find no place in Him. John 14:13
4. Jn. 14:6 Christ is THE TRUTH. He didn't come representing the truth, or telling the truth. He was and is the TRUTH!
Q. All sin is based in what? 1 Tim. 2:14.
Deception. Therefore, Christ was Impeccable because deception held no appeal for Him. Because of our fallen nature which we received from Adam, we have the desire to believe the Deceiver. That desire is kept under control by the Spirit of God.
Any offer to Him to act contrary to the will of the Father had to be based in deception, therefore, would hold no appeal to Him at all, rather would be the opposite.
5. He. 12:2 Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. He was and is the fountain-head of all faithful obedience to the will of the Father.
James 3:11, 12 tells us that it is impossible for a fountain to put forth both bitter and sweet water. Therefore, Christ could entertain nothing contrary to faithful obedience to the Heavenly Father.
Along with this is 1 Cor. 15:45, unlike Adam, Christ is a Quickening Spirit. He is life and the source of life. He is the source of all power to overcome sin.
Which brings up the two-fold nature of Christ (which we will not go much into here). He was the God-man, not the man-God.
The base for Christ's person and personality was His divine nature, not His human nature. Christ's personality as a member of the Holy Trinity was established in the beginning. The human nature was brought into the Divine through the miraculous conception, not the Divine into the human. The Divine Logos (Word of God) existed as a Person and Personality before His incarnation. He did not obtain personality by taking on the body of a human.
This has been a source of false teaching since the time He was here. Christ was humanized Deity, not deified humanity. God took on flesh, flesh did not take on God, as many false teachers would have us believe. If He had been deified humanity, that would mean that man could obtain to what Christ was and now is. The devil was trying to deceive God when he confronted Christ, and we have already seen that God cannot be tempted.
Christ's ability to maintain holiness must been viewed from His God-nature, not from His human nature.
When talking about the Impeccability or Peccability of Christ (the ability to sin or not), we must keep the nature of God foremost in our mind. Clearly, His human nature was peaceable, but it was overwhelmed by the impeccable nature of God. His sinless character was established before the worlds were created. That character did not change when it absorbed the human nature.
We get a hint of this in the exchange with the woman at the well in Jn. 4:31-35. His human frailties were overcome by the Divine nature which desired to do the will of the Father. We also get a hint of this in His 40 day fast in the wilderness.
We might ask, "How can the man Christ Jesus be finite, when the God, Christ Jesus is infinite? Or the Divine Jesus Omnipresent, and the human Jesus, was not? If we have this seemingly contradiction, why cannot we say that Christ was both peaceable and impeccable?"
The reason is that when the Divine nature of God (Logos, or the Divine Word of God) went into union with the human nature, the Divine Logos became responsible for all that the human nature did. If allowed to sin, the Divine Logos would have been a partaker in that sin.
This same principle holds with our spirit. Even though the flesh is overcome with sin, our spirit (inner being) will be accountable for that sin. The spirit is responsible for keeping the sinful flesh under control. Christ's spirit was the Spirit of God Himself, while His flesh was human, minus the fallen nature and desire to sin.
This is also the basis of redemption. It is because of this principle that God was able to suffer for the sins of His people. If Jesus had sinned, the incarnate God would have sinned, just as when Jesus suffered, the incarnate God suffered.
The Divine nature of God could, and did, leave the human nature alone in every area, except temptation and sin. Christ, the man suffered hunger, pain, sorrow, limitations of knowledge (did not know when the end was), death and physical limitations like as we do.
But the Divine could never desert the human in the temptations of sin. The infinite could not yield the finite. As we saw in the Psalms, Christ's pleasure was to do the will of the Father.
There was nothing in the Saviour which could cry out with Paul in Gal. 5:17, because that war was not there.
Then we might say; "A person who cannot sin, cannot be tempted to sin."
To which we would say; "The strength of an army does not keep it from being attacked and having to defend itself against a far smaller force."
Seeing as how impeccability depends upon the will or character (which in Christ's case, was the Will of God with us), Christ would have experienced every temptation which we do, except those which stem from lust, or the corrupt nature.
We will look at some illustrations in the next point.
7. Last point. Gen. 3:5, what is at the bottom of all sin? The desire to be as gods. Man is tempted to believe that he can obtain to something that he is not; that he can obtain to something that he has no chance of ever becoming.
Mat. 1:23 is the passage which we have referred to many times already. Here we see that Christ was/is already God. Therefore, what temptation would satan's offer have to Him? "Christ, You can be as gods." This would be like offering a Donnelley employee an opportunity to be like a Donnelley employee.
As we already saw, James 1:13, God cannot be tempted. What temptation does the offer to be as god offer to Him?
Thus, satan's offer in Mat. 4:9 to give Him the glories of the kingdoms of this world, was a lie. The kingdoms and all the glory of them belongs to God to give to whomsoever He will. They already belonged to Him. The temptation would have been to His human nature. The first 6 chapters of Daniel are clear.
Probably the best illustration would be Mt. 4:3. We cannot imagine the physical need which the man Christ Jesus experienced after 40 days of fasting. The suggested temptation was to use His divine nature to meet this hunger. The temptation was to allow His human nature to rule His divine nature. The call of that human nature would have been beyond anything that we know of.
Heb. 2:14-18 tells us that one of the reasons for His assumption of human nature was that He might be tempted in such a manner. The Divine Logos, before the incarnation, never felt any such temptation as the weaknesses of the flesh desiring to rule the spirit. While the incarnate Logos, the Divine Word of God, dwelt among us, there was no way that the desires of the flesh could overcome His spirit.
Another illustration. Let's suppose we have two very poor families. One father is a godly man, the other ungodly. They are both tempted to lie and steal to obtain food. The character, or will of the godly will make it much more difficult for him to steal to feed his family, than the ungodly.
Christ felt the sorrow of a lost loved one, Lazarus. He experienced the agony of separation from the Father. He felt the pain of suffering for the will of God. No matter what circumstance arose to tempt Him to depart from God's will, Christ's character was the character of God. Therefore, there was not enough pressure that His flesh could place upon Him to make Him depart from that Divine character.
Luke 22:28, 29 tells us that the Apostles were with Him in His temptation. They suffered all of these things with Him.
Mt. 26:41 The Lord warns them that even though their spirit desires to please the Father, the flesh will overpower them if they are not prayerful. (Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..)
We know from experience that the stronger a person's character, the stronger the attack by the tempter. We also know that according to 1 Cor. 10:13, that temptation can only operate within God-ordained boundaries, so any temptation which we feel is limited by God within the boundaries of our ability to withstand them.
The conclusion of this would be that Christ, who had the character of God, would have faced the strongest temptations which Satan could bring to bare. Satan would have had been unlimited in what he could have offered Christ. We read a little of this conflict in the account of Christ in the garden just before He was taken to be crucified, Lk. 22:42. His human nature was tempted to not carry through the will of the Father, to the death of the cross. The Divine was determined to. There was a battle there as we cannot even imagine.
Heb. 5:7-9, Christ fought temptation to the death.
Heb. 12: 4 His people are to do the same.
We need to point out the difference between the temptations which Christ experienced and the ones we experience. James 1:14 points out that our main source of temptation is our own sinful lusts, the desire to steal, to commit immorality, murder, desire for the praise of man rather than the praise of God; more commonly called pride. The sin of gluttony, eating for the sensual pleasure, is quit different from hunger that a person who has been stranded at sea for 40 days would experience. But both would confront the overwhelming desire of the flesh to eat. Thus, Christ's fast of 40 days, then the temptation to obey this terrible hunger of the flesh would be the same as the lustful flesh's desire for gluttony. He experienced the overwhelming desire to eat and drink apart from the glory of God. He face the same basic temptation of an overwhelming desire of the flesh, yet this desire was not based in lust. Therefore, when we face the lustful desires of anger, wrath, pride, revenge, or whatever else, it might be this is lust of the flesh. The desire of the flesh to control the spirit is common to man, and Christ faced this desire also, yet without sin. No lust involved.
Heb. 4:15 The temptation of Christ was without sin. He never experienced pride, desire to kill, hatred, lust, or any of these other sinful feelings. His temptations would have been like the hunger or the prospect of terrible pain which tempted Him to violate the will of the Father.
In order to sympathize with a person it is not necessary to have been in their exact situation. It is only necessary to have been afflicted to sympathize with the afflicted. Christ was afflicted more than we can imagine, Isa. 53:4.
Isa. 63:1, therefore, He is mighty to save all who will come to Him in their own weakness.
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