Friday, July 11, 2008

Did Jesus have a sin nature?

No, Jesus did not have a sin nature. However, that has not stopped the Christadelphians from teaching He did. This is not surprising considering they deny the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Jesus. As with all non-Christian cults that deny the true doctrine of God, other doctrines necessarily become incorrect as well. In this case, their error is that Jesus has a sin nature.

"Therefore, we conclude that it is not only that Jesus was called a sinner at his trial by his enemies or that he was 'numbered with the transgressors' when he was crucified between two thieves, but more particularly that he shared the very nature which had made a sinner out of ever other man who had borne it. It is for this reason that the nature we bear is called "sinful flesh" or more briefly, 'sin' (Rom. 7:20 and 8:4)." (The Christadelphians: What They Believe and Preach, p. 74)

"And it was for that very reason -- being a member of a sinful race -- that the Lord Jesus himself needed salvation...But it is equally true that, being 'made sin for us' (2 Cor. 5:21), he himself required a sin offering; in other words, he sacrificed himself, for himself, that he might save us. Or, in other words, he saved himself in order to save us...That Christ needed salvation is seen from Psalm xci.16." (Christadelphian Answers, p. 24)

One of the main verses they use to support their erroneous doctrine is Rom. 8:3-4 which says, "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh." They teach that the "likeness of sinful flesh" means that Jesus had a sinful nature. But it doesn't. The key to understanding this verse is the word "likeness." If this word were omitted then the text would say "...sending His own Son in sinful flesh..." If that is what the verse said then the Christadelphians would have a valid argument. But the text says that Jesus came in the "likeness" of sinful flesh, not that He came in sinful flesh. In other words, men are sinners. Jesus appeared as a man. Therefore, Jesus appeared in the likeness of a sinner, though He was not a sinner.

Another verse they use is Heb. 2:14 which says, "Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." This verse can easily be explained in the same manner as Rom. 8:3-4 above. Jesus partook of flesh and blood. But it does not here say that He had a sin nature.

To have a sin nature means that Jesus had a fallen, defiled, and unholy nature. I fail to see how an unholy person can offer a holy sacrifice sufficient to please an infinitely holy God. Of course, the Christadelphians say this is possible because, even though Jesus had a sin nature, He never committed a sin and He kept the Law therefore satisfying God. But that still doesn't answer the objection: If Jesus had a sinful and unholy nature, how is it possible for Him to provide a sinless and holy sacrifice especially since Eph. 2:3 states that we are by nature children of wrath? This means that the natural state of the fallen is judgment.

The problem with the Christadelphian position is that the Bible teaches us the sacrifice to God must be without blemish. Deut. 17:1 says, "You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God." (See also Ezekiel 43:22-23, 25; 45:18, 23 for the same theme.). Of course, Jesus is not an animal, but it is clear that the pattern for the sacrifice was that it have no defect at all. Why? Because God is holy and God doesn't accept imperfect sacrifices! To have a sinful nature is definitely to have a defect. Contrary to Christadelphian teaching, we can see from the Bible that Jesus has no defect, no blemish: "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14). This verse states that Jesus is without blemish. How can He be without blemish if He has a fallen and sinful nature?

For the Christadelphians to maintain that Jesus had a sinful nature is the same as saying that the offering He made had a defect. We can see that this is a problem because the High Priests of the Old Testament were fallen and had, themselves to be cleansed in order to offer the sacrifice to God. It wasn't simply that they were sinners. They were fallen by nature and were unholy.

Because the Christadelphians teach that Jesus had a fallen and sinful nature, there faith is in a defiled and imperfect sacrifice. It is, therefore, is insufficient. They are lost.

What does it mean to have a sin nature?

When we speak of the nature of something, we speak of its essence, character, and quality. The essence of God, for example, is holiness, purity, sinlessness, etc. The essence of people, on the other hand, is sinful. In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus discloses to us the very nature of our hearts when He said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." This is why it says in Eph. 2:3 that we are by nature children of the wrath; our hearts are sinful by nature which is the source of the sins listed by Jesus. This is also why Paul said in Rom. 7:18 that nothing good dwelt in him, that is, in his flesh. Paul knew his nature was sinful and because it was He was lost and without hope (except for his faith in Jesus and His unblemished sacrifice).

Are we to conclude from Christadelphian thinking that Jesus' fallen, unholy, and sinful nature produced a pure and perfect sacrifice without defect? How is that possible? How is it possible for someone unholy to offer a holy sacrifice? How is it possible for someone that is sinful by nature, to offer a sinless sacrifice? Just because Jesus never sinned doesn't mean that He was perfect. If He had a sin nature, He was not perfect. He was flawed. His sacrifice would be useless.

However, to the Christadelphians, the issue is not so much Jesus' sinful and fallen nature, as it is His ability to keep the Law. Therefore, in Christadelphianism we have a man, Jesus, with a sinful nature being able to perfectly keep all of God's law. Contrast this with Adam who was made sinless and yet to was not able to keep the law of God. How can Jesus have a sinful and unholy nature and yet be sinless and holy as a perfect, unblemished sacrifice? He cannot. The Christadelphians are wrong.

Jesus was tempted

One of the reasons the Christadelphians believe Jesus had a sinful nature is their claim that in order for Jesus to be tempted, He had to have a sin nature. But, this does not logically follow. Adam did not have a sinful nature and he was tempted successfully. He fell. Jesus did not have a sinful nature. He was tempted unsuccessfully. He did not fall. So, Jesus not having a sin nature does not mean He cannot be tempted.

Of course, the Christadelphians deny that Jesus is both God and man, even though this is what Col. 2:9 says: "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form."2 In their quest to support their view, they sometimes quote James 1:13 which states that God cannot be tempted by evil. They ask, if Jesus is God, then how could He be tempted with evil? This is a fair question and, to be honest, a bit difficult to answer because the Scriptures do not explicitly explain it. Therefore, we have to work from what we do know using reason.

If Jesus' human nature existed by itself, apart from the divine nature, it would have been a normal human nature and capable of sin. But, Jesus' human nature is not separate from His divine nature which is morally pure and incapable of sin. It would then seem that Jesus was able to be tempted in His human nature but not in His divine. In the one person of Christ, there dwells two natures: God and man (Col. 2:9). As God, Jesus could stand without the danger of sinning. As man, He could be tempted. Exactly how these two natures relate to each other in one person is not clarified in scripture. But, as you can see, it is possible that Jesus be divine and be tempted at the same time because He was both God and man. To say that Jesus had to have a sin nature in order to be tempted is incorrect. Rather, in order to be tempted, Jesus had to be human.

Jesus was under the Law

Another Christadelphian argument that Jesus had a sin nature is that since Jesus was under the Law, and that a person is only under the Law if he is capable of sin, therefore Jesus had to have a sin nature. As I've already demonstrated above, Adam did not have a sin nature and he was tempted. But more importantly here, Adam was under the law of God even though he had a sinless nature -- though he was capable of sinning. God gave a Law to Adam when He said, "...From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die," (Gen. 2:16-17). The phrase "you shall not" should remind us of the Ten Commandments with the "you shall" and "you shall not's." Adam was under Law and because He broke that Law, he sinned. Rom. 3:20 says, "...through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." And, "sin is not imputed when there is no law," (Rom. 5:13).

The reason Jesus was under the Law was so that He could become a sacrifice for us and redeem those who are under the Law (Gal. 4:4). He had to be made like His bretheren in order to satisfy the Law requirements of being a sacrifice. He had to be a man to atone for men. He had to be God in order to offer a sufficiently valuable atoning work.

Sin entered the world through Adam

There is debate in the theological circles concerning whether or not the sinful nature is passed down through the father or not. The scripture is not specific about this issue, so I present this argument as food for thought because it could shed some light on whether or not Jesus had a fallen nature.

Even though Eve was the first person to sin, sin entered the world through Adam and not through Eve. Rom. 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world..." The theory is that Adam was the representative of mankind in the garden. When he fell, we fell because we were "in" him. This concept of representation one person representing others is found in Heb. 7:9-10.

And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

Levi was a distant descendant of Abraham. Abraham was long dead when Levi was born. But the text says that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek. How is this possible? It seems the answer lies in the idea that one person represented his descendants. This would explain why Levi is said to have paid tithes to Melchizedek because his distant father Abraham did so and because Levi was "in" the loins of his distant father Abraham. Likewise, sin entered the world through Adam and not Eve because Adam was the representative head of mankind. If this is so, then Jesus would not have received a sin nature from His father Joseph since Joseph had no biological paternity in relation to Jesus. Therefore, his sin nature would not have been passed down to Jesus. But since he had a human mother, He had human nature. We can see He was both God and man because He is called both the son of God and the son of man. If it is true, then we can see that Jesus had a divine nature received from God and a human nature, but not a sinful one, from His mother Mary.

Whether or not the preceding concept is legitimate is still up for debate. But I offer it has yet another possible reason why Jesus did not have a sinful nature.

Jesus is God in flesh

The primary biblical reason that Jesus does not have a sinful nature is because Jesus is both God and man in one person. Of course the Christadelphians do not accepted this since they deny the Trinity. Nevertheless, their denial of the deity of Christ does not negate its truth. The Bible says that Jesus is God in flesh.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God....14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth," (John 1:1-2, 14).

"but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior," (Titus 1:3).

For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form," (Col. 2:9).

But of the Son He says, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever..." (Heb. 1:8).

"looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus," (Titus 2:13).



the above info is from:
http://www.carm.org/christadelphian/Jesus_nature.htm

14 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

The primary biblical reason that in Jesus does not have a sinful nature is because Jesus is both God and man in one person.

Agreed, Jeff. This is another indication that a human being can be significantly free without the ability/option to do evil via nature and resulting choice. Perhaps there is more freedom in very greatly understanding and experiencing evil and rejecting it, as Jesus the man did, and as we shall do in the culminated Kingdom.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Russ.

I have wondered what will keep us from sinning when we get to Heaven. You might say that it will be because we won't have a sin nature, yet Lucifer didn't have a sin nature, and he fell to sin. However, Lucifer never experienced redemption and forgiveness, nor did anyone die for his sins; in contrast, we should be eternally grateful for having been chosen, redeemed, regenerated, sanctified and glorified. And we will already know what sin is like, so we should not want to go back. My former Pastor said that Jesus retains the nail scars in His glorified body (which, I assume, means that He is no longer omnipresent as the Father and the Spirit are, and as He the Son was from eternity past, until His Incarnation), as a reminder for all eternity of what He did for us.

I removed the word "in," in my article, from the section you quoted. Even though I copied and pasted that from another website, I usually like to fix up spelling errors and incorrect grammar...unless I am quoting someone else's comment; then I will leave the spelling errors, because I want to quote them exactly.

thekingpin68 said...

You might say that it will be because we won't have a sin nature, yet Lucifer didn't have a sin nature, and he fell to sin. However, Lucifer never experienced redemption and forgiveness, nor did anyone die for his sins; in contrast...

Yes, and Lucifer and his cohorts also existed in a spiritual realm with God that we have not yet existed in. This spiritual existence with God may make restoration of these fallen beings displeasing to God.

Jeff said...

Yes, and Lucifer and his cohorts also existed in a spiritual realm with God that we have not yet existed in. This spiritual existence with God may make restoration of these fallen beings displeasing to God.

Oooo, very good point!

jeleasure said...

Hey Jeff,
I will agree with this statement made by the Christadelphians. But, notice, I left the last few words off.

"shared the very nature which had made a sinner out of ever other man who had borne it. It is for this reason that the nature we bear is called "sinful flesh"

Jesus had to have the potential to sin. Otherwise, He could not have atoned for us had he not defeated a temptation to sin.

The Christadelphians are really confused if they think that Jesus offered sinful flesh as an atoning element.

In my writing on this subject, I say, as Hebrews states, that Jesus had to "Perfect Himself through his sufferings". He had to undergo temptation and defeat its attempts to clutch at Him.

I also say that He performed ceremonial cleansings as a requirement of the Law. Had He not, He would not have fulfilled the Law and could not have been perfect when He took His last breath. Because it is by the Standard of God, That God determins Perfection. And the Law was set down to show us our sin. If we kept the Law, we had no sin.
(my understanding may not be stated the way you prefer). Careful in being quick to criticise. That is getting old. Especially when I can see I agree with you. Then you come back with an argument.

Jeff said...

Jim,

Well, I can't really say how much I agree or disagree with you, because I'm not completely sure of what you're really saying. Instead, let me just state a few things. I suspect that you will at least be in agreement with most of this. Please realize that some of my comment here is not so much for your sake, but partially for the sake of clarification for others who may read this.

Eve, and then Adam, fell to sin, even though neither of them had a sin nature before doing so. Lucifer fell to sin, even though he had no sin nature before his rebellion.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was indeed tempted, yet He never fell to sin even once.
Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."

Jesus had an earthly mother, which made Him human, but He had no earthly father, and thereby the sin nature was not passed down to Him, which made Him able to die for our sins.

A sinner cannot fulfill the law because he is sinful (in the flesh). If Jesus had sinned, He would have been an offense to the Father, and therefore could not have provided a spotless sacrifice.

Jesus was always perfect morally, because He never sinned.

Jesus fulfilled God's Law perfectly.

Jesus was indeed born under the Law:
Gal. 4:5-6, "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."

"Being under the Law means that Jesus was subject to the Law. This is natural because He was a man, a good Jew who would properly be subject to the Torah, the Law. Also, since He is God in flesh, and since as God He authored the Law, He would naturally be subject to it. Let me clarify this. God spoke the Law. The Law is a reflection of the character of God. It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie. It is wrong to bear false witness because God cannot bear false witness. The Law reflects God's nature and character. God spoke it to us as a revelation of moral truth. Jesus said that we speak out of the abundance of our hearts (Matt. 12:34). Therefore, Jesus, as God in flesh, would naturally live and reflect that Law which God had given so long ago which God spoke out of the abundance of His own heart.
Under the Law
"In order for the Word (John 1:1) to be under the Law (Gal. 4:4), He would have to become a man, born of a woman. To be under the Law would mean that Jesus would have to be circumcised. This can only happen if He was a baby. He would then grow in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52). It means that He would be subject to His parents per Exodus 20:12. It means that He would have to wait until the appropriate time in His life to enter into the ministry to accomplish the will of the Father who sent Him. None of these things negates His divine nature.

Being under the Law necessitates that He be a man, that He behave as a man, and that being a man means that all the limitations and qualities of being a man are also His -- at least to the extent that the Divine allows itself to experience limitation while incarnated. Again, this does not mean that He does not possess a divine nature. It means that as He emptied Himself to become a man (Phil. 2:7) and that He cooperated with the limitations of being a man under the Law. Furthermore, Jesus did all His miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was baptized to enter into the Melchizedek Priesthood. This is very significant because it means that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and did all His miracles by the Power of the Holy Spirit -- because He was a man made completely under the Law.

Jesus was baptized because He had to fulfill the legal requirements for entering into the priesthood. He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Heb. 5:8-10; 6:20). Priests offered sacrifice to God on behalf of the people. Jesus became a sacrifice for our sin (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21) in His role as priest. To be consecrated as a priest, He had to be washed with water (Lev. 8:6; Exodus 29:4, Matt. 3:16); This was fulfilled in the water of baptism when Jesus was baptized. He had to be anointed with oil (Lev. 8:12; Exodus 29:7; Matt. 3:16), This is fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus as a dove. Both of these were bestowed upon Jesus at His baptism. Additionally, He may have needed to be 30 years old - (Num. 4:3).

Heb. 2:9 says that Jesus was made for a while lower than the angels. This means that Jesus was in a humbled position. The angels are far greater creatures than humans in power and mental abilities. Jesus was made lower than them. That is, He was made a man. He was not exercising His Lordship over all of creation. This further means that Jesus was operating, walking, talking, living, and acting as a man who was subject to the Law.

Because Jesus was made lower than the angels, as a man, there are certain ramifications to this humbled and emptied condition.
That Jesus was subject to the Law, (Gal. 4:4).
Jesus was subject to the Father who sent Him, (John 5:30).
Jesus would be circumcised, (Luke 1:59).
Jesus would grow in wisdom and stature, (Luke 2:52).
Jesus would not know all things (Mark 13:32).
etc.

The above facts do not negate the deity of Christ. God could easily become a man, humble Himself, join Himself to human nature and then be subject to the Law, to grow, to learn, etc. This would be a natural result of being a man, wouldn't it? And, it would not negate the deity of Christ at all. It only demonstrates that the Word made flesh was fully a man. Col. 2:9 says, "For in Him [Jesus] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form."

Jesus did indeed come to fulfill the Law:
In Matthew 5, Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

Jesus is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9) and only God can satisfy the Law requirements of a perfect life and perfect sacrifice that cleanses us of our sins. Since we are stained by sin and cannot keep the Law of God, then the only One Who could do what we cannot is God Himself. That is why Jesus is God in flesh. He is both divine and human. He was made under the Law (Gal. 4:5-6) and He fulfilled it perfectly. Therefore, His sacrifice to God the Father on our behalf is of infinite value and is sufficient to cleanse all people from their sins and undo the offense to God.

Therefore, salvation is by grace through faith since it was not by our keeping the Law, but by Jesus, God in flesh, who fulfilled the Law and died in our place.
Eph. 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

Gal. 3:13, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."

Hebrews 5:9, "And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation."
As a man, Jesus was perfected though suffering. As a man, he was made perfect; that is, He was as a completed sacrifice by the finished work of propitiation. He fulfilled the Law as well as the Messianic prophecies. He also fulfilled the requirements for a High Priest. Heb. 10:14 says, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."

He cooperated with the limitations of being a man so that He could do what He had to do. He has two natures: God and man. He emptied Himself to become a man (Phil. 2:7) and He cooperated with the limitations of being a man under the Law."
http://www.carm.org/doctrine/humbled.htm

jeleasure said...

I have to agree that Jesus was 'sinless'. This is completely obvious. He fulfilled the Law, down to all of those things that are obscure to you and me.

I would have to disagree with comments that say Jesus did not have a sin nature. By virtue of Jesus' having His own will means that He had the potential to sin. As long as He was breathing and suffering in the flesh, even against His very own sexuality as much as He sufferred on the cross, he had the ability to make it all go away because He was the fullness of the God head in the body.

jeleasure said...

And if Jesus used His power to make His sufferings go away, this would have been outside of The Father's will. This would have been a sin.

Jeff said...

I would have to disagree with comments that say Jesus did not have a sin nature. By virtue of Jesus' having His own will means that He had the potential to sin. As long as He was breathing and suffering in the flesh, even against His very own sexuality as much as He sufferred on the cross, he had the ability to make it all go away because He was the fullness of the God head in the body.

As I pointed out, Adam, Eve, and Lucifer all sinned before having any sort of sin nature, so therefore, it must be possible to fall to sin without a sin nature.

Because Jesus had no earthly biological father, the sin nature was not passed down to Him.

Jeff said...

Jim,

And if Jesus used His power to make His sufferings go away, this would have been outside of The Father's will. This would have been a sin.

And if Jesus would have given in to Satan's temptations in the wilderness, it would have been sin. But the point is, He didn't. He never gave in. He never sinned.

If He gave in to sin, even once, He would not have been able to die for our sins, and we would all go to Hell. There would be no salvation.

jeleasure said...

Jeff,
Explain the difference in 'sin nature' and 'free will'.
I'd say they are one and the same.

Jeff said...

Jim,

A sin nature is a corrupt nature inherited from Adam.
"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5)

Free will is that ability to choose.

The holy angels (as opposed to the fallen angels) have free will (which is why the fallen angels were able to rebel against God), yet the holy angels have never sinned. Neither do they have a sin nature.

Therefore, 'sin nature' and 'free will' are different things.

However, free will, led only by a sin nature (i.e., a person who does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit), has a natural susceptibility and natural tendency to sin. It is as normal for such a person to rebel against God's authority as it is for a fish to swim. That's why Election was necessary. If God didn't choose some, none would come to Him of their own free will.

jeleasure said...

And Sin, Jeff, is also a choice. Not automaton.

Jeff said...

Jim,

Agreed. Sin is a choice.

And, of course, as Christians, I think you will agree that we now have the power to overcome sin, and to choose not to sin. We now have a desire for righteousness, and, when we do fall to sin as Christians, the Holy Spirit is grieved. And, according to I John 1:9, as soon as we repent of that sin, a right relationship with the Father can be restored. A non-Christian, as you already know, has no relationship with the Father, except one of receiving wrath, as an enemy.