Q: #124. Could Jesus have sinned while on the Earth as a man?
A: I do not believe He could have. Let me explain why. First off, we know that Jesus was FULLY God and FULLY man (called “the hypostatic union“). Although He became a man, He never stopped being God. God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13), therefore, Jesus could not have been tempted to sin, because He was still God.
Let’s explain this a little more fully. Clearly, we know that Jesus WAS tempted (Heb 2:18)(Heb 4:15). We get a picture of this in (Mt 4:1-11) when Satan (the tempter) tempts Jesus in the wilderness. Satan tempted Jesus in each of the three areas that (1 Jn 2:16) says all men are tempted in: the lust of the flesh (Mt 4:1-4), the pride of life (Mt 4:5-7), and the lust of the eyes (Mt 4:8-11). Jesus did not give into these temptations, but rather, used scripture (from the book of Deuteronomy) saying “It is written” to overcome the tempter.
Since we know Jesus was tempted, but yet was sinless while on this Earth (2 Cor 5:21)(1 Pet 2:22)(1 Jn 3:5), we know that being tempted is not a sin. Jesus was tempted in His humanity from outward things just like we are. However, temptations become sin when we give “birth” to them (James 1:14-15). In other words, when we take those outward temptations and internalize them, they turn to sin. Because Jesus was God, He could not have “given birth” to these outward temptations.
Here is kind of a crude example that I think helps makes this a little easier to understand. We all know that different people are tempted by different things, right? Using an extreme example, if there is a scantily clad woman in a bikini, and another woman sees her, is that woman tempted in any way by what she sees? No… there is absolutely nothing inside of her that is tempted to think sinful things about that woman (unless maybe she struggles with homosexuality). However, if a man sees that same woman, the chances are very high that he WILL struggle with temptation, and may give birth to lustful thoughts. The same thing could apply in many areas. A smoker might be tempted by seeing cigarettes or smelling cigarette smoke, while it holds no appeal at all to the non-smoker. Drugs or alcohol might appeal to some while not at all to others.
In Jesus’ case, there was not ONE SINGLE THING that appealed to Him. So, yes, the temptations did come at Jesus, but they simply held no appeal to Him. He was dead inside to them. Satan had no power at all over Jesus (Jn 14:30). Jesus’ ONLY desire was to please the Father and do His will (Mt 26:39)(Lk 22:42)(Jn 4:34)(Jn 5:30)(Jn 6:38)(Jn 8:29). If we have this same desire, we will not “give birth” to sin either.