Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Lord Jesus Christ Could Not Have Been Tempted

Temptation has no power over a perfect Person, but it does over a depraved person. 

Jesus Christ, during His days in the flesh, was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26). To suggest that He had a nature subject to sin is nothing short of blasphemy. 

On the other hand, depraved men are capable of sin because each one has a mind that is ready to receive an evil suggestion. Man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust (James 1:14). The Greek word for “lust” is epithumia. It means lust, desire, craving, or longing. A person is tempted when he is enticed by his own craving for that which is forbidden or unlawful. 

No one who understands the Biblical teaching concerning the Person of Jesus Christ could entertain a thought that He could desire the unlawful or forbidden. That is why James said, “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13).

Evil that is in man is his own. Within man’s heart are evil desires. They are there by nature. The Devil does not introduce them. All Satan does is find out where man is most vulnerable and bombard him with things he craves. The evil suggestion admitted into one’s mind will grow in strength because of the evil desire already resident in man unless it is resisted by grace.

This is the question: Did Satan ever find a weak spot in Jesus Christ? Since there was no weakness in Him, He could never be solicited to do anything contrary to His holy character. Therefore, Jesus Christ could not be tempted with evil (James 1:13). It must be understood that evil exists in man before it comes forth from him in action. On the other hand, there was no evil in Christ. He could not be tempted by any suggestion or solicitation from without.

To say that Christ could have sinned as to His human nature but not as to His Divine nature forces one to conclude that there was a conflict between His two natures. This was impossible because His human nature was united to His Divine Person. Thus, there was never any conflict in Christ as there is in the Christian (Rom. 7:15-25).

There are several things to consider in the solicitation to sin. First, there is the attraction by the suggestion of something that is desirable. That which is desired is forbidden. In order for the tempted to have what has been suggested, he must ignore a Biblical precept.

One cannot deny that the Devil made some offers to Christ in the wilderness. Neither can one deny that the eternal Son was eternally aware of every detail of the offers made by the Devil. But it is nothing short of blasphemy to entertain the thought that the Son of God wanted anything offered by the Devil. Some religious leaders are so full of iniquity that they maintain that the human nature of Jesus Christ was as fallen and rebellious as their own. The Bible teaches that the human nature is corrupt from head to foot (Is. 1:6), but it is a sign of spiritual blindness to imagine that Christ’s human nature was tainted with depravity. Christ’s human nature is called “that holy thing” (Luke 1:35).

Christ’s “flesh” (human nature) was not a phantom—an appearance without material substance. Christ was not a ghost walking among the sons of men for more than thirty years. His birth, development, hunger, thirst, and death were not ghostly appearances or apparitions. John spoke not only of seeing but handling the Word of life (I John 1:1). Christ was seen as the Word in His oneness with the eternal Father. He was not only seen but handled in His human form as the revealer of the Father (John 1:18).

Christ’s human nature was in the “likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3) because the form of a servant which He assumed “was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). The Greek word for “likeness” in both verses is homoioma, which means likeness or resemblance. This noun is used in other Scriptures (Rom. 1:23; 5:14; 6:5; 8:3; Phil. 2:7; Rev. 9:7). Does this word mean that Christ’s human nature was exactly like man’s fallen human nature, or did it have the resemblance of fallen human nature? Opponents to Christ’s impeccability argue that if His human nature was only similar, it was not a true human nature. One might as well argue that fallen man is not truly man since the fall because fallen human nature is not exactly what it was before that fall. Human nature does not have to be fallen to be real. Furthermore, Christ’s human nature, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin, was real even though it was not brought into existence the same way as that of Adam.

Jesus Christ shared the flesh and blood of human nature in the incarnation, but He did not share human nature’s depravity. Christ’s sharing nature’s “flesh” was that He might be “put to death in the flesh” (I Pet. 3:18). His sharing nature’s “blood” was for the purpose of redemption (Rom. 3:24-26; 5:9; Heb. 9:22; 10:10-14; Rev. 1:5). On the other hand, if Christ had shared nature’s depravity, He would have been disqualified as the redeemer of the elect. There is a great difference between the descendants of Adam coming into the world “in sinful flesh” and the eternal Son of God coming into the world “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” One must know the difference between words with the prefixes homo (same) and homoi (like). This reminds us of the truth proclaimed by Athanasius and the heresy by Arius.

Opponents to the impeccability of Christ can get no comfort from quoting Hebrews 4:15 — “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are....” The Greek word for “tempted” is a perfect passive participle of the verb peiradzo, which means to test, try, or tempt. Since Jesus Christ cannot be tempted, because the word has an evil connotation, the perfect passive participle can be translated “having been tested or tried.” The word that must not be overlooked is the Greek word homoiotes, which means “likeness.” Hence, Christ was tested in the “likeness” (in a similar manner) but not in exactly the same way we are. Proof of this is seen in the fact that we have been “planted together in the likeness [homoioma]” of Christ’s death. This means that our death “to” sin is not identical with Christ’s death “for” sin. Furthermore, the statement that it was necessary for Christ “to be made like [homoioo] unto his brethren” of Hebrews 2:17 does not mean that He was made exactly like His brethren.

Those who believe Christ was susceptible to sin teach that He was “made like unto His brethren” when it comes to a nature capable of sinning. Furthermore, they say He was tempted in the same way that fallen men are tempted. To say Jesus Christ was made a sinner like depraved men is blasphemy. Furthermore, to say that Christ could not sympathize with us unless He was tempted as we are is also blasphemy.

~Excerpts, E.W. Best, Christ Could Not Be Tempted

Another way of stating this: Jesus Christ the Lord was not some hypothetical sinner. That is blasphemous. Moreover it would necessitate God having a plan B in cause Jesus did sin. That too, is blasphemous.

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