Was Jesus Really Sinless?
Traditionally, one of the pillars of sound belief in the world of Christendom is that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was without sin. Many would not question this central tenet of Christian faith. It is a truth thoroughly taught through the New Testament.
On the other hand, along with the gradual decay of faith in the Bible in the country, we find that vast numbers of people in general refuse to believe that the Lord Jesus did not sin. Further, an amazing number of professing Christians also doubt that Jesus could or did live a sinless life.
Barna Research conducted a survey to discover what Americans believe about the Lords sinless life. The results were interesting, revealing, and dismaying. Notice this statement:
Perhaps reflective of their questions about Jesus divinity, Americans are conflicted on whether Jesus committed sins during his earthly life. About half of Americans agree, either strongly or somewhat, that while he lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and committed sins like other people (52%). Just less than half disagree, either strongly or somewhat, that Jesus committed sins while on earth (46%), and 2 percent arent sure. (barna.org/barna- update/culture/714- what-do-americans- believe-about-jesus-5- popular-beliefs#. Via8ssso6vc).
This shows that 52 percent of Americans in general think that the Lord Jesus sinned like every other person on earth, while 46 percent would deny that He sinned (either strongly deny or somewhat deny). Does this shock you? As for the younger generation, the Millennials, this is what Barna discovered:
Similar to other trends in perceptions of Jesus, Millennials are more likely to believe Jesus committed sins while he was on earth56% of Millennials believe so. Gen-Xers, Boomers and Elders are all similar to the national average when it comes to beliefs about Jesus fallibilitythey are almost evenly split on whether Jesus sinned while he lived on earth. (Ibid.)
Whereas 52 percent of Americans in general would believe that Jesus sinned, 56 percent of the Millennials believe this. To be more precise, Millennials were asked whether they agreed with this statement: When He lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and committed sins, like other people. Here is the result:
21 percent strongly agreed
35 percent somewhat agreed
17 percent somewhat disagreed
24 percent strongly disagreed
3 percent didnt know
This would say that about 24 percent of young men and women, about 20-years-of age believe that the Lord Jesus was sinless while on the earth.
But what does the Word of God say? A variety of verses affirm the Lords sinlessness:
· He [God] make Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
· . . . One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
· It was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26).
· . . . who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22).
· You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin (1 John 3:5).
· He is righteous (1 John 3:7).
When Jesus spoke to the unbelieving Jews of His day, He asked, Which one of you convicts Me of sin? (John 8:46a). He knew that there was no one who could rightfully point out any sin in His lifefor He had none at all.
Consider now why this is so utterly important. It is not merely an academic matter, but it is vital to the nature of Christ and our salvation.
First, since Jesus is, by nature, God (deity; cf. John 1:1-3, 18; 20:28), we know that He could not sin for God cannot sin (cf. Hebrews 6:18). God is absolutely holy and righteous and cannot sin. Thus Jesus could never have sinned. If He had sinned, this would indicate that He was not deity. Paul writes, In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).
Second, Jesus had to be sinless in order to offer to God an atoning sacrifice through His death on the cross. Just as the lamb under Moses had to be perfect and without flaw in order to qualify as a sacrifice acceptable to God, similarly Jesus was the lamb of God (John 1:29) who offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice on the cross. Peter says:
You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Jesus was the perfect, flawless, and sinless Lamb who could be offered to bear our sins in His own body on the cross (Colossians 1:19-22). Notice how Jesus is described in relation to His death:
How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14).
Christ was a perfect and sinless sacrifice, without blemish, and this was acceptable to God.
Third, Scripture teaches that everyone on earth has sinned. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Christ never once fell short of Gods glory. God, who said, Light shall shine out of darkness, is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). We read of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (v. 4). Instead of partaking of sin (in word, thought, deed, or attitude), Jesus was the very glory of God for He was God in nature.
There would be many more reasons why Jesus did not and could not sin, but these are sufficient to establish the truth of His absolute and complete sinless nature. Because He was sinless and offered Himself as a sinless sacrifice to God, He was able to take all of our sins on Himself and shed His blood for our own sins. He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25). Instead of dealing with His own sins, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Because He was and is sinless, He is able to offer us salvation from sin and the Holy Spirit who enables us to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
Thus we affirm, confidently and openly, that the Lord Jesus Christ was absolutely sinless in thought, word, and deed.