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Could Jesus Christ have sinned?

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Some infer that Jesus could have sinned from Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For 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, yet without sin.
American King James Version×
: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” However, the English word “tempted” can be misleading, as it might give the impression that a desire, to some degree, to sin was resisted. The Greek for “tempted,” peirazo, can be defined as “to try whether a thing can be done” (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon). The Literal Translation of the Holy Bible renders the following, “…One having been tried in all respects according to our likeness, apart from sin.”

Jesus Christ had freedom of choice, therefore He could have chosen to sin, as Satan tried to get Him to do. But “tempted” might give the impression of Satan having a measure of success, though the action didn't occur. This is explained in The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains:

“'…he stayed for forty days in the desert and Satan tried to make him sin' Mk 1.13. In translating expressions involving tempting or trying, it is necessary in a number of languages to indicate clearly whether or not the temptations succeeded. Therefore, it may not be sufficient in Mk 1.13 to simply say 'Satan tempted him'; in fact, in some instances it may be necessary to make the failure of the temptation quite specific, for example, 'Satan tried to make Jesus sin, but was not successful'” (J.P. Louw, 1989).

“God cannot be tempted [peirazo] by evil” (James 1:13 James 1:13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man:
American King James Version×
). Jesus was tested but lustful desires were never stirred in His mind and heart, since “each one is tempted [peirazo] when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” Satan is the “tempter” in that his motive is to cause us to sin. But God's motive is for us to make the right choice: “…the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test [peirazo] those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10 Revelation 3:10Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come on all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth.
American King James Version×

Being human, theoretically Jesus could have chosen to sin. However, He was never tempted to sin, because He had the mind of God that cannot be tempted by sin. However, He did face the trials and tests common to mankind. Paul writes that Christ was tested “as we are” as an encouraging model for Christians facing trials and tests.

Romans 8:3 Romans 8:3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
American King James Version×
says of Christ, “He condemned sin in the flesh.” We can know that God condemns sin simply by reading the Old Testament Scriptures. Christ did not have to become a physical being for us to learn that fact. So what does this mean? Obviously, it's not talking about His sacrifice for sin, but rather what He accomplished by His physical life—“in the flesh.” In the context, Paul writes of the natural failings of human beings. What is it about Christ's life as a physical being that “condemned sin”? He condemned sin by resisting its pulls in His everyday life. He showed, as well as told, Christians how to succeed. Paul goes on to tell us that we have the power to resist sin through the indwelling of the Spirit of God.

Asking and answering another question helps reinforce the truth on this point. Did Christ come in the flesh only to lay down His life as a perfect sacrifice? This Scripture plainly says otherwise. He became a physical being to walk the walk that we have to walk and to remain faithful to God in the face of trials and tests of human life. Romans 8:1-14 Romans 8:1-14 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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speaks of those who “walk according to the flesh” and stresses that God will give eternal life to those who “walk according to the Spirit.”

Christ's life in the flesh offers an example of how to live by the laws of God. He also made possible grace and forgiveness for sin, but not a do-it-yourself method for achieving a sinless life. The Bible clearly states that no human being has led a sinless life as Jesus did (1 John 1:7-8 1 John 1:7-8 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
American King James Version×
). The Holy Spirit does indeed offer the nature of God to be imparted, to provide spiritual understanding and motivation to obey God (Hebrews 8:10 Hebrews 8:10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
American King James Version×
; 10:16); but we are all still human and still sin out of ignorance and weakness.

Christ came to model the way of life His followers have to live. Not only is Christ our Savior, but He is also our Brother. Far more important than whether or not He could have sinned is the fact that He never did sin. Rather, He lived a sin-free life as an example for us to follow, and died to pay the price for our sins.

For more information, please read our booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story .