Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

Theology Corner


One of the core beliefs of Christianity is:


Every person since Adam and Eve, except Jesus Christ, was born with a sin nature and no person, except Jesus Christ, has lived a sinless life. (T)

  • Every person since Adam and Eve (Gen 3:6-19; Rom 7:14-25), except Jesus Christ (Luke 1:35), was born with a sin nature
  • and no person (Rom 3:23, 5:12-18, 6:23; 1 John 1:8-10), except Jesus Christ (John 8:46; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 1:18-19, 2:21-22; 1 John 2:1, 3:3), has lived a sinless life.

The spotless lamb, "without blemish," was required for the Passover (Ex 12:5) and the words, "without blemish," constantly recur in the descriptions of the sacrifices which pointed forward to the atonement accomplished by Christ.  The Scriptures are completely unanimous in declaring the perfect sinlessness of Christ under all circumstances. The sinlessness of Christ is not merely a personal attribute, characteristic of His human nature as well as His divine nature, but it is an attribute which is absolutely essential to the atonement. 


The great challenge for Jesus was to live a sinless life.  At stake in this challenge was the outcome of the struggle in heaven with the all-encompassing divine purpose in the balance.  At conception, Jesus, who was already divine, became fully human.  This constituted a great risk for God because humans are generally eager to embrace sin while only a sinless Jesus could accomplish the substitutionary atonement.

In contrast with the rest of the human race, Jesus was not conceived by a human father and was not born with a sin nature.  Consequently, when He reached the age of accountability, He did not ratify a sin nature as His own.  But He was fully human and was, therefore, fully capable of being tempted by sin (Heb 2:18, 4:15).  Chapter 4 of Luke describes three powerful temptations He endured during His forty days in the wilderness.  So even without a sin nature, Jesus could have succumbed to something called desire or evil impulse or lust.


Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.  But each one is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (Jam 1:13-15).


Jesus experienced all normal human motivations such as hunger, thirst, weariness, sexual desire and loneliness.  The one exception to human experience we find in Jesus is that He did not sin.  He experienced desire, but He did not seek to satisfy those desires by sin.


For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15).


But there is another view of Jesus Christ and his incarnation.  Some say God would never have risk His entire divine purpose on the lonely hope that the incarnate Jesus could live a human life without committing a single sin.  They say:


  • Christ was not able to sin.
  • If Jesus could sin, how could he be truly divine?
  • Tempt-ability does not imply susceptibility.
  • Christ’s divine nature kept His human nature under control.
  • Christ was tempted from without but not from within; external temptation are much easier to resist.
  • Christ did not have free will; he was not free to go against the will of the Father.


This view is, of course, a natural consequence of Reformed Theology: God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.  By this thinking God did not risk His entire divine purpose on the lonely hope that the incarnate Jesus could live a human life without committing a single sin.  By this view, the game was rigged from the outset.

Which manner of God is more powerful, praiseworthy, majestic, magnificent and sovereign – the God who took the incredible risk or the God who rigged the game?