Could Jesus have sinned?
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus lived without sin: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). So, we know that Jesus never sinned. The question is whether Jesus could have sinned if He had chosen to. What does the Bible indicate?
Subscribe to our Compelling Mail Newsletter:
First, the Bible portrays Jesus as being tempted to sin. Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4 record the account of Jesus in the wilderness where Satan tempted Him with three specific tests. We are told Jesus was tempted, and He resisted the temptation using quotations from Scripture. Then Satan left Him. He was clearly able to be tempted, yet did not sin.
Second, if Jesus is God (John 1:1) and all the fullness of the deity dwells in Him (Colossians 2:9), Jesus could never sin because God is perfect.
Logically, this presents a problem to many. If Jesus is human, He should be able to sin; yet, if He is God, He could not sin. Which is it?
Scripture does not solve this apparent dilemma. Instead, Jesus is both fully human and fully God. He is tempted, yet does not sin. He is perfect, yet faces temptation. He does sympathize with our human weaknesses because He did experience temptation and other human emotions, yet showed Himself perfect despite living within the confines of a human body.
Theologians sometimes speak of this issue in terms of the peccability (ability to sin) or impeccability (inability to sin) of Christ. Those who believe in peccability argue that temptation is not real unless someone could actually give in to the temptation. Those who believe in impeccability argue that the temptation was directed toward Christ's human nature, and His overcoming of it proves His deity.
There is a bit of mystery here, as we speak of Jesus, one who is fully divine and fully human. An important similarity is the death of Jesus on the cross. His body died, yet He remained fully divine. Likewise, in His temptation, His human nature was tempted, yet He never lost full divinity.
In the end, what is clear is that Jesus is fully divine, yet He experienced the full range of temptations and emotions as all humans do. As a result, He can sympathize with us in a unique way and has expressed His love in the fullest possible degree.
Was Jesus sinless?
Is Jesus Christ God?
What is the meaning of substitutionary atonement?
Why did Jesus have to die?
Who is Jesus Christ?
Truth about Jesus Christ