For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:15 ASV
Far from feeling that our great high priest, so far removed above the heavens, is, from so vast a separation, incapable of proper sympathy for suffering and tempted Christians, the believer is invited to see that Jesus the Son of God knows all about human problems, even temptation, and that he is thereby qualified to provide the utmost sympathy and understanding for human weakness.
COULD CHRIST HAVE SINNED?
Regarding the temptation of Christ, the question inevitably appears as to the possibility, even, that Jesus could have sinned; but there seems to be no satisfactory explanation of how any person, even the Son of God, could be tempted to do anything impossible for him to do.
Without the possibility of yielding to sin, how can there, in fact, be any such thing as temptation?
To be sure, this is an old theological battleground. Irving was expelled from the Presbyterian communion as heretical, because he held to the theoretic peccability of Christ.
A defense of the position that it was impossible for Jesus to have sinned is as follows:
That Christ in His original human nature, partook of all the affections of humanity – hope, fear, desire, joy, grief, indignation, shrinking from suffering, and the like – is apparent, not only from his life, but also from the fact that his assumption of our humanity would otherwise have been incomplete.
Such affections are not in themselves sinful; they only are so, when, under temptation, any of them become inordinate, and serve as motives for transgression of duty.
St. John says of one “born of God” that he “doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).
What is thus said of one “born of God” may be said much more, and without any qualification, of the Son of God, without denying that he too experienced the power of temptation, though altogether proof against it.
In advocating the view that Jesus could have sinned, there is no intention to reflect in any way against the purity and holiness of the Master.
No inclination to evil ever defiled his pure spirit.
The LUST OF THE FLESH, the LUST OF THE EYE, and the PRIDE OF LIFE had NO place in his affections.
And hence, though tempted by the devil through all the avenues and natural desires of the human heart, he was still “without” sin.
However, it should be remembered that Christ had taken upon himself the handicap of human flesh, even the blood of harlots and Gentiles; and, as a man, Christ certainly had the capability of doing wrong if he had elected to do so.
Absolutely no logical refutation appears in any of the writings seen on this subject that can explain how any person can be tempted to do that which it is impossible for him to do.
That just such a temptation did occur is seen in Christ’s mention of the twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26:53).
Only his great eternal love for people enabled our Lord to forego such a termination of his heavenly mission.
This whole field of thought is clouded with the veil through which we see “darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12); dogmatism is certainly out of place, and none is intended here.
People may exclaim, “How could Christ be tempted in all points, since he had no child, did not grow old, never married, was not in business, etc., and therefore did not pass through every situation that produces temptation in men?”
Such a question overlooks the fact that the basic elements of temptation are actually very few in number; and, just as all of the melodies ever written can be broken down into a few notes of the musical scales, all human temptation resolves into three basic principles:
These basic three weapons were deployed in the Garden of Eden, temptations presented by SATAN that lead to the fall of man.
Christ, of course, being thoroughly tempted and tested in all of these areas was yet without sin.