For many this idea that Jesus was sinless is very unbelievable.
How can a God-man be sinless? How can He claim this? What allowed Him to claim this? After all, He was a man!
Here is the Scripture that causes all the doubt and confusion for the unbeliever: Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.”
The High Priest of course is The Messiah, Jesus.
“Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe Me?” Jesus says that in John 8: 46 in the context of speaking to His followers and His critics, the Pharisees.
Unbelievers who emphasize that Jesus was a man are right. He was a man.
Was He tempted as men are? Yes He was.
Elmer Towns, Christian leader, author and speaker on the principles of church growth, church leadership, and Christian education writes in his book Bible Answers for Almost All Your Questions that “Jesus was tempted in all parts of His being, but that does not mean that He fell to the evil of temptation.
James 1:13 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man”.
What is going on here? The Divine aspect of Jesus [the fact that He is God incarnate] makes Him have power over sin.
Mr. Towns calls that temptability.
Jesus’ strongest battles with temptation occurred after He was baptized by John the Baptist. After that event Jesus went to the desert where He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. There He was tempted by Satan who told Him to turn stones to bread. Was Jesus hungry? Of course He was; but was He going to prove His Divinity by performing this act before Satan? The answer of course is no.
Satan took Jesus to the highest point of the temple and tempted Him again. He asked Jesus to prove His divinity by throwing Himself down so His Angels could save Him. Did He perform this test for Satan? Of course He didn’t. Instead He said “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Lastly, Satan took Jesus to the high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth and said basically, if You worship me, I will give all of this to You. Jesus said “Away from Me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’”.
How could Jesus be so strong? Because Satan thought he was messing with a man but he was messing with God.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, He showed himself able to resist temptation. When crowds got unruly and wanted to crown Him king, He withdrew to the mountain to get away from them. Many times, Jesus healed a person and instead of telling them to go and tell others, He told them the opposite—don’t speak of it to anyone.
What is going on here with this man?
John Stott clearly states that He is modelling selfless service, the standard that God holds up for all of us on this earth. Instead of giving in to our base desires for food and drink and more complex desires for power and control, Jesus puts others first.
“The utter disregard of self in the service of God and man is what the Bible calls love. There is no self-interest in love. The essence of love is self-sacrifice. The worst of men is adorned by an occasional flash of such nobility, but the life of Jesus irradiated with a never-ending incandescent glow. Jesus was sinless because He was selfless. Such selflessness is love and God is love.”
Earlier I used a word from Elmer Towns, temptability. Now would be a good time to use a second word he uses in regard to a sinless Jesus—impeccability. That means that Jesus could not have sinned because He was God.
Phillip Schaff states: “The better and holier a man is, the more he feels his need of pardon, and how he falls short of his own imperfect standard of excellence. But Jesus, with the same nature as ours and tempted as we are, never yielded to temptation; never had cause for regretting any thought, word or action; He never needed pardon, or conversion, or reform; He never fell out of harmony with His heavenly Father. His whole life was one unbroken act of self-consecration to the glory of God and the eternal welfare of His fellow-man” [Schaff; History of the Christian Church].
Unbelievers emphasis the human nature of Jesus but just because Jesus had a human nature does not mean that we neglect His Divine nature.
In short, unbelievers think they are talking about a man when they have doubts about Jesus as a sinless human. The problem is they think they are just “messing with a man” but they are not.
They are “messing with God”.