BY DR. JOE ALLOTTA:
You must be a thought-filled person. (Not thoughtful thought-filled) For you to click on a blog with this title proves you are smarter than at least half the people you know, so congrats on that. I tend to put theologies in 3 categories the Rock-Solids, the Lean This Ways, and the No Ideas. The Rock-Solids are things like the Deity of Christ, that God created the world, or that all human beings are sinners. The Lean this Ways are things like there is going to be a literal 1,000-year Reign of Christ after His Second Coming, that the Leviathan and the Behemoth were Dinosaurs, or that Melchizedek was not a pre-incarnate Christ. The No Ideas are on whether or not the soul or spirit are the same or different, how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden, or how televangelists justify buying private planes.
There have been some theologies that have moved up or down in those categories over the years, but none so much as the Impeccability vs. Peccability of Christ. I suppose Bible Study me believed in the Peccability of Christ meaning that Jesus could have sinned if He wanted to, but just chose not to. Then some evidence was pointed out to Bible College me. The first is that Jesus is God and because God cant sin, thus Jesus cant sin. That makes sense, but I thought to myself that Jesus was also human. Isnt an aspect of the human condition the ability to choose, and Jesus wouldnt have actually had free-will if hecouldnt sin, right? The second evidence was that in all three accounts of Jesus Temptation it says that the Spirit led Jesus up to the mountain to be tempted. Thats an important detail because it shows that God wanted Jesus to prove he couldnt sin through being tempted and yet overcoming. So then I sat in the No Idea stage for a while, until I started finding more and more scholars I liked and respected andBible College Graduate me soon stood firmly in the Lean this Way camp of Christs Impeccability that Jesus couldnt sin because He was God. But then a new me had to emerge Bible College Professor me. Now I had to explain this to others, and as I began to teach it, I began to notice that my terminology left the safe confines of Lean this Way land and into the much harsher territory of Rock-Solid. So today, the Bible Blogger me is as sure of the Impeccability of Christ as I am the Divinity of Christ.
Why am I so sure? Why is the Impeccability of Christ such a big deal? Because if Jesus could evenhypothetically sin, then these 4 terrible statements would be true. Not hypothetically true actually true.
It Would Dictate that God is a Gambler
If God sent His one and only Son to the Earth without being 100% sure of His success, then He was a Gambler. Our Creator spent thousands of years preparing the Messiah on a Gamble that Jesus wouldnt sin and destine everyone to Hell (and destroy the universe but well get there later.) Even if God is 99% sure that it was unlikely that Jesus would choose to sin, there was still a 1-in-100 chance that the plan would have failed. Thats a really stupid plan that the all-knowing designer of the Universe came up with if Jesus isnt a guarantee to victory. God could have won that Powerball if He wanted, not because Hes a good guesser, but because He knows everything. (And God didnt want you to win the Powerball, chew on that!)
It Would Deny Jesus Nature
Most people in the Peccability camp are obsessed with Jesus human nature. They believe that being human necessitates the capability of sinning. Why? So theres something less about Jesus humanity because Hes incapable of doing something? It would be like saying because someone was born without the ability to walk and since humans can walk thus disabled people arent human. Nonsense. Actually, its more like saying that if a child was born impervious to diseases and since humans get sick all the time that the super-immune system kid wasnt human. That kid would get studied his whole life so that the rest of us could live sickness-free like him. (The same is true spiritually with Jesus.) The whole free-will argument isnt very good either. I cant Fly even if I really, really want to. I cant turn Invisible if I want to. I cant even have a dumb super-power like fireworks coming out of my fingertips (poor Jubilee.) Just because I want to have super-powers doesnt mean I can have them. My free-will has natural limitations. Jesus cant sin. Its not in His nature to be able to sin. Gods nature is sinless perfection. He likewise had a sinless human nature (remember, no human father to pass down the sin-nature.) Jesus cant sin for the same reason I cant fly.
It Would Denote Jesus was Created
God doesnt choose to do Right or Wrong. He doesnt choose whether or not He is going to do Good or Evil. God IS Right. God IS Good. What He does is correct, and everything else is incorrect. Light and Heat are good illustrations. Darkness isnt the opposite of Light, its the absence of light. Moving away from the light source lessens the amount of light making it darker until there is no light at all. Cold is not the opposite but equal reaction to Heat, Cold doesnt exist, it is merely the absence of Heat. The farther you move away from the Sun the colder it gets. You start at about 10 Million Degrees at its surface, and eventually hit 0Kelvin when the suns radiation doesnt touch you at all. Gods the same way. The closer I am to Him, the more right Ill be. The farther away I am, the more wrong Ill be. We creatures of the Creator can either choose to follow God or ignore/reject Him. (I personally believe we always do the latter but thats for a different blog.) We either choose to line-up with Him, or move away from Him. Jesus doesnt choose to follow God or not. HE IS GOD! Jesus isnt creation, Hes the Creator.
It Would Demand that the Universe Cease to Exist
Ok, this isnt 101 stuff. Fortunately, you are the smarter half of your friends. This is advanced Epistemological Philosophy. My brain cant fully get there, but Ill do my best with my limited vocabulary gleaned from Sesame Street and Mr. Rodgers (my mom is going to yell at me for that one.) God not only knows everything that does happen, but everything that could happen. Some philosophers like William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga label this Middle-Knowledge. For instance, God can hypothesize a universe if Adam and Eve did not sin. He can postulate all the things that would be different today if that choice went differently. In fact, God can imagine an entire universe over every choice ever. Some people like to propose how God navigates that, but I dont like doing that because it opens up more questions than answers. What I will put forth though is that if there is even a potentially possible universe where Jesus sins, then the universe would cease to exist. Hows that? Here you go. If Jesus hypothetically sinned in even just one of the billion+ potential scenarios, then that would make God a liar in whichever universe Jesus sinned in; and if God is a liar, then He is not truly God; and if He is not truly God in everyuniverse; then He is not truly God in any universe; thus the universe wouldnt exist. However, seeing that the universe does exist, it means God does exist, that He cant lie or do anything against His nature, and thus Jesus cant even hypothetically sin. Boom. Philosophized.
Well I know that none of you believe in any of those conclusions. There still may be a certain number of you that believe for Jesus to truly be tempted in all ways as we were, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), that Jesus needs to experience temptation in the exact same way we experience it. We dont all experience the same temptations in the same way though. For instance, if theres a line of coke on a coffee table somewhere, I experience that temptation differently from an ex-drug attic. For me, who has only accidentally drunk alcohol when it was mistakenly put in my virgin fruity drink, is obviously not tempted by the effects of cocaine. Likewise, if a shirtless dude with his glistening abs and chiseled features approaches me head-on, my only reaction might be to tell him to go back to Abercrombie where he belongs. Im not tempted to lust after him even a little bit. However, I know there are those out there who would struggle with lust in that situation. Now all you have to do is switch the gender of that model and suddenly I would experience that temptation a whole lot differently. Jesus faced all the different temptations we might face, and after a lifetime, He never once sinned. He never has sinned, and He never will sin.
Dr. Joe Allotta holds the Church Ministries chair at Trinity College of Florida and is also the senior pastor of Crossroads Church in New Port Richey. Dr. Allotta graduated from Trinity College in 2006 and went on to earn his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees through Liberty University. Read more from Dr. Allotta at joeallotta.com