The Saviour of Mankind 
 by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira 

7 – Objections Considered

Those who teach that Christ took a sinless human nature at His Incarnation, the spiritual nature of Adam before the Fall, object to the truth that Christ assumed our sinful nature, the post-Fall nature of Adam with its bent to sin, out of a sincere concern to preserve the perfect sinlessness of our Saviour.  Their main arguments are:

  1. If Christ took our sinful nature, as we know it, He would have been tainted with sin, and, therefore, could not be the spotless Lamb of God, but would Himself be a sinner in need of redemption.

  2. While Christ did assume our humanity and was like us physically, the Scripture refers to Him as “that holy thing,” “without sin,” “separate from sinners.”

    Luke 1:35:
    The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

    Hebrews 4:15; 7:26:
    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.  ...Such a high priest truly meets our need — one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

    Therefore, His spiritual nature was like Adam before the Fall.

  3. Christ could not have resisted temptation had His human nature been sinful in all respects as is ours.

  4. Christ is the second Adam; therefore, He took the sinless spiritual nature of the first Adam.

Since a correct view of Christ’s humanity is essential to a true understanding of salvation — both in terms of justification as well as sanctification and glorification — these objections, which come from sincere men of God, cannot be ignored.  Let us, therefore, consider them in the spirit of truth, unity, and the clarity of the gospel, so that the divine purpose of enlightening this dark world with His glory may soon become a living reality.

l. The argument that Christ would have been tainted with sin and could not be the spotless Lamb of God if He took our sinful nature derives from the doctrine of “ original sin.”  This doctrine, as we saw earlier, teaches that, because of the Fall, sinful human nature stands condemned because of indwelling sin.

Romans 5:18-19; 7:20, 23:
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  ...But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

Hence, it is thought, if Christ assumed this sinful nature, He would automatically become a condemned sinner like all men are from their birth.

While it is true that Paul refers to our sinful humanity as “the body of sin...”

Romans 6:6:
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin....

...because it is indwelt by “the law of sin and death...”

Romans 7:1 8ff:
Do you not know, brothers and sisters — for I am speaking to those who know the law — that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives?  ...But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting.  For apart from the law, sin was dead.  Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.  I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.  For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.  So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

Did that which is good, then, become death to me?  By no means!  Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work:  Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

...the problem of original sin cannot be applied to Christ.  This is because of the dual nature or unipersonality of our Saviour.  At the Incarnation, Christ’s divinity was mysteriously united to our corporate humanity that needed redeeming, so that Christ was both God and man at the same time.  However, it is most important that we keep these two natures distinct, a distinction the 16th century Reformers, unfortunately, failed to preserve.

In the Incarnation, Christ took upon His own sinless divine nature our sinful human nature.  For this reason, wherever the Bible refers to Christ’s humanity, it uses the word “made.”  He was “made flesh...”

John 1:14:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

...“made to be sin...”

2 Corinthians 5:21:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

...“made of a woman...”

Galatians 4:4:
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law....

...“made a curse...”

Galatians 3:13:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

...and “made of the seed of David.”

Romans 1:3:
...regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David....

The word “made,” as we saw earlier, means that Christ became what He was not by nature.

Hence, while Christ did really and truly assume our sinful nature, which is under the curse of the law and, therefore, condemned to death, this did not constitute Christ Himself as being a sinner, or a blemished sacrifice; since that human nature was not His by native right, but He assumed it in order to redeem fallen mankind.  Had Christ, even by a thought, yielded to the sinful desires of the flesh, He would have become a guilty sinner like us.  But as long as He did not unite his will or mind to our sinful nature which He assumed, He cannot be considered a sinner.

Yes, scripture tells us that He was tempted in all points like as we are (i.e., through the flesh), but He never sinned — even though He took upon Himself our sinful nature at the incarnation, which nature He cleansed on the cross.

James 1:14:
...But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

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.

For this reason, Paul is very careful to use the word “likeness” when he says that God sent His Son in “sinful flesh” to condemn \“sin in the flesh.”

Romans 8:3:
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh....

While Scripture, on the one hand, identifies Christ with our total sinful situation, apart from actually sinning, in order that He might truly redeem us...

Hebrews 2:14-18:
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

...on the other hand, it makes very clear that He was not altogether like us, a sinner; “this can never be.”

According to The International Critical Commentary (Romans, Vol. 1; 1982 edition), Paul used the word “likeness” in Romans 8:3 to emphasize the fact that “the Son of God was not, in being sent by His Father, changed into a man, but rather assumed human nature while still remaining Himself.”

Romans 8:3:
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh....

In view of this, the commentary concludes “Paul’s thought to be that the Son of God assumed the selfsame fallen human nature that is ours, but that in His case that fallen human nature was never the whole of Him — He never ceased to be the eternal Son of God.”

We may explain it this way:  Every born-again Christian has become a “partaker of the divine nature” through the experience of the new birth.

2 Peter 1:4:
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

While this divine nature is sinless, this in no way makes the believer himself innately sinless, even though Scripture declares such a person a child of God.

Romans 8:16:
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

1 John 3:1-2:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

This is because this divine nature does not belong to the believer by native right.  Likewise, partaking of our sinful nature did not make Christ a sinner, since that human nature was not His by native right.  He assumed it in order to redeem it.  And this He accomplished in His doing and dying.  Therefore, as long as Christ Himself did not consent to sin, or yield in any way to temptation, He remained spotless.

Again, those who insist that by taking our sinful nature Christ would disqualify Himself from being the spotless Lamb of God have failed to see the true significance of the sanctuary symbolism with reference to Christ’s redeeming work.  Because of the Fall, all humanity stands condemned and under the curse of the law.

Romans 5:18:
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

Galatians 3:10:
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

For the fallen race to be redeemed from this condemnation and curse, plus to have their status changed to justification unto life, two requirements are demanded of God’s law:  (a) The law requires perfect obedience in order to qualify for life.  This was accomplished by Christ’s 33 years of active obedience to God’s law in our humanity which He assumed.  However, this obedience, even though it was absolutely perfect, or spotless, could not cleanse our humanity from the curse and condemnation of the law.  Only death could set us legally free from sin.

Romans 6:7:
...Because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

And until Christ took this condemned humanity to the cross and surrendered it to the full wages of sin, He could not qualify to be our righteousness.

Romans 4:25:
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

So, (b) Christ satisfied the further demand of the law, its justice, by dying for us on the cross.  Thus, by both, His doing which satisfied the positive demands of the law, and by His dying which met the justice of the law, Christ obtained eternal redemption for mankind and forever became the world’s Redeemer.

Hebrews 9:12:
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

John 5:24:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.“

Only in the light of this truth can we understand the Old Testament symbolism.  By His perfect active obedience to the law Christ fulfilled the symbolism of the spotless lamb, and it was this that qualified Him to meet the justice of the law on our behalf.  Nowhere in Scripture do we find it hinted that the spotless lamb represented the sinless human nature of Christ.  This is only an assumption that cannot be proven explicitly from the Word of God.

What that spotless lamb represented had to do with our salvation, and that is the perfect obedience of Christ which the law demands of us in order to qualify us for life.  When the spotless lamb was slain, it represented the blood or death of Christ which cleanses us from sin.

Hebrews 9:22-28:
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Both requirements were necessary for man’s justification.  This is obviously what the writer of Hebrews had in mind.

Hebrews 10:5-10, 14:
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:  “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.  Then I said, ‘Here I am — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, my God.’”  First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” — though they were offered in accordance with the law.  Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.”  He sets aside the first to establish the second.  And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  ...For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Had Christ taken Adam’s sinless nature as our representative and substitute, the law would only have required of Him positive obedience, as it did from Adam.  But since Christ came to redeem fallen man and not sinless man, our sins which proceed from the flesh had to be condemned at its source, the flesh, and this Christ did by assuming that same sinful flesh and submitting it to death on His cross. Thus He “condemned sin [singular] in the flesh.”

Romans 8:3:
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh....

Again, there are those who say that if Christ assumed our sinful nature as we know it, His perfect obedience would have been polluted because of the corrupt channel through which it was performed.  This again cannot be substantiated by Scripture.

It is true that Christ’s perfect obedience in itself could not justify the fallen race, because of the corrupt channel that stood condemned.  Hence, both were required, the doing as well as the dying of Christ, in order to justify sinful man.  But in no way was our Saviour’s perfect performance marred by the sinful human nature He assumed.  According to Scripture, Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

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.

James defines our temptations in this way:

James 1:14:
...But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

But while we have yielded to temptation, never for a moment did Christ consent to temptation, so that not even by a thought did sin rest in His mind.  According to the Greek New Testament scholar K. West, “The words ‘without sin’ [Hebrews 4:15, just above] mean that, in our Lord’s case, temptation never resulted in sin” (Hebrews in the Greek New Testament, p. 95).

Thus, Christ produced a perfectly sinless character in our corporate sinful nature that He assumed.  In doing so, He fully satisfied the positive requirements of the law as our substitute.  This qualified Him to be the spotless Lamb of God.

Yet, on the cross, this same Christ, as the Lamb of God, took away the sin of the world.

John 1:29:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

How could Christ take away “the sin” (note the singular) of the world if it was not there in the flesh which He assumed?  Or, in other words, how could Christ condemn “sin in the flesh” in a sinless flesh?

Romans 8:3 [again, note the singular]:
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh....

But Christ did take away our sin, by condemning it on the cross.  He could do this because He assumed our flesh which has sin dwelling in it.

Romans 7:17, 20:
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  ...Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

In Hebrews 9:26 we read that Christ appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Hebrews 9:26:
Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

According to Wuest, the putting away of sin denotes both the sinful nature as well as sinful acts:

“The verb (thetos) means ‘to do away with something laid down, prescribed, established.’ Sin had established itself in the human race through the disobedience of Adam, a sinful nature and sinful acts” (ibid., p. 40, emphasis mine).

Because Christ partook of and overcame our sinful human nature, He is able today, as our High Priest, to do both — understand when we’re tempted, as well as help us when we are.

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.

Hebrews 2:18:
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

The word “infirmities” [used in Hebrews 4:15 in the King James Version of the Bible] must not be limited to physical weakness such as fatigue or aging, as some teach.  Again, according to Wuest [if you’re using that translation of the Bible]:  “The word ‘infirmities’ is astheneia, ‘moral weakness which makes men capable of sinning,’ in other words, the totally depraved nature.”  Interpreting the expression “He Himself (Christ) also is compassed with infirmity,” Wuest continues:  “The high priest has infirmity, sinful tendencies, lying around him.  That is, he is completely encircled by sin since he has a sinful nature which if unrepressed, will control his entire being” (ibid., p. 98).

In this connection it is interesting to note Karl Barth’s observation:

“Those who believe that it was fallen human nature which was assumed have even more cause than had the authors of the Heidelberg Catechism to see the whole of Christ’s life on earth as having redemptive significance; for, on this view, Christ’s life before His actual ministry and death was not just a standing where unfallen Adam had stood without yielding to the temptation to which Adam succumbed, but a matter of starting from where we start, subjected to all the evil pressures which we inherit, and using the altogether unpromising and unsuitable material of our corrupt nature to work out a perfect, sinless obedience.”  (quoted in The International Critical Commentary, on Romans 8:3, 1982 ed.).

Thus we may be assured through this truth that our redemption in Christ’s holy history was both perfect and complete.  Not only do we believers have in Christ’s righteousness “justification unto life,” but in Him, we can likewise claim liberation from our bondage to sin, so that we may now “live unto God.”

Romans 5:18:
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

Romans 6:7-13:
...Because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

This is the basis of true justification as well as sanctification, both of which are to be received by faith alone.

2. Do the following statements of Scripture propose that Christ’s human nature was sinless:  “the holy one;” [or “that holy thing” in the KJV]; “without sin;” “separate from sinners”?

Luke 1:35:
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

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.

Hebrews 7:26:
Such a high priest truly meets our need — one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

In order to understand these statements correctly, we must take into account other texts which identify Christ with our sinful human condition.  There must be no contradiction.  God “hath made Him to be sin for us.”

2 Corinthians 5:21:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God sent Him “in the likeness of sinful flesh.”

Romans 8:3:
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh....

And “in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren.”

Hebrews 2:17:
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Christ “Himself took our infirmities,” etc.

Matthew 8:17:
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

Those who try to reconcile these two apparently opposite views by teaching that Christ took our sinful nature only as far as the physical make-up is concerned, so that He was prone to fatigue, aging, etc., while insisting that morally or spiritually He took the sinless nature of Adam before the Fall, are going beyond Scripture.  Such an interpretation cannot be supported by an honest exegesis of these texts.  Furthermore, in Scripture, our physical and spiritual natures are related so that, if the one is sinful, so is the other.  Hence, “this corruptible” is identified with “mortal,” and “incorruption” with “immortality.”

1 Corinthians 15:53:
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

Similarly, “the body of sin” is identified with “the body of this death.”

Romans 6:6:
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin....

Romans 7:24:
What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

As this writer sees it, a true harmony of these two groups of texts, which on the surface seem to contradict each other, is possible only when we take into consideration two important facts.

First, Christ was both God and man, so that He had two distinct natures united in one person.  His own divine nature, which was sinless, and our corporate sinful human nature, which He assumed.  Thus Christ was a paradox.  On the one hand, He could be called “the holy one” and, on the other hand, He was “made to be sin.”

Secondly, while Christ took upon Himself our sinful nature, this must not be identified with our sinning nature.  Our sinful nature has sinned and sins, but His human nature did no sin, so that in performance His humanity can be called sinless.  According to Scripture, Christ understands our weakness since He took our sinful nature that is dominated by the “law of sin.”  Nevertheless, His mind never for a moment consented to sin, so that His flesh was totally deprived of sin.

1 Peter 4:1:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.

Once we come to grips with these two important facts, the sinlessness of Christ’s divinity and the perfect sinlessness of character, produced in His humanity, the problem of reconciling these two sets of apparently contradictory texts ceases.  Clearly, the texts referring to Christ’s sinlessness are either dealing with His sinless divine nature or His sinless performance or character, while the texts that identify Christ with our sinful condition are referring to His equipment, our sinful human nature which He assumed, and which is “sold under sin.”

Romans 7:14:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

With this in mind, let us examine the key texts referring to the sinlessness of Christ and see how they either refer to His sinless divine nature or His sinless life or performance produced in our sinful flesh.

Luke 1:35:
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

This phrase is used in connection with Christ being “called the Son of God.”  Therefore, it was His divinity the angel was referring to, which was holy and sinless, and which constituted His true being.

John 8:46:
Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?  If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?

Jesus made this statement when talking to the Jews who were incapable of reading into His divine nature, or appreciating His perfect character.  He was referring to His performance, which was without sin.

John 14:30:
I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming.  He has no hold over me...

It was ever Satan’s purpose to thwart the plan of salvation by enticing Christ to sin.  The temptations in the wilderness are a good example.  But all his attempts failed, as Hebrews 4:15 confirms.

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.

It was to this victory that Christ was referring.  Jesus Himself explains this passage in the next verse.

John 14:31:
...But he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

This was perfect righteousness!

Hebrews 7:26:
Such a high priest truly meets our need — one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

The phrase “set apart from sinners” is preceded by the words, “holy, blameless, pure,” all of which suggest Christ’s perfect performance, His righteousness.  It is in His sinless living and not in the nature which He took that Christ was unlike or separate from the sinful human race He came to redeem.

Hebrews 1:9:
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.

This character is His righteousness!

2 Corinthians 5:21:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This statement is made in the context of Christ being our sin-bearer.  Christ knew no sin with reference to both His divine nature and His character or performance.  Yet He “bore our sins in His own body.”

1 Peter 2:24:
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

He did this by bearing our sinful humanity from birth all the way to death.  In this way, Paul tells us, God “made him who had no sin to be sin for us.”

1 John 3:5:
But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.  And in him is no sin.

Hebrews 9:14:
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

This expression of “offering himself unblemished to God,” as well as to “cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death” which follows, both suggest performance rather than nature.  He was “without sin,” although tempted as we are.

1 Peter 1:19:
...But with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Hebrews 5:8-9:
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him....

Thus, none of these texts refers to Christ’s human nature itself, and they cannot be used as proof that His human nature was sinless as was that of Adam before the Fall.  When correctly harmonized, Scripture teaches that Christ’s sinlessness was in character or performance, produced in a human nature exactly like that He came to save.  He “condemned sin” in the nature which is dominated by the principle of sin, or love of self.

Hence, God’s righteousness manifested in sinful flesh can be truly called “the mystery of godliness”:

1 Timothy 3:16:
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:  He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

3. Could Christ have resisted temptation if His human nature, which He assumed, had been of the same inheritance as ours, that is, dominated by the “law of sin”?

In Romans 2 and 3, Paul demonstrates that “all are under the power of sin” so that “there is no one righteous, not even one.”  Therefore, so far as sinful human nature is concerned, “there is no one who does good.”

Romans 3:9-12:
What shall we conclude then?  Do we have any advantage?  Not at all!  For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.  As it is written:  “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Yet the same apostle also informs us that what sinful man cannot do, in and of himself, and what the law could not do because of weakened human nature, God did!

Romans 7:14-24:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  So I find this law at work:  Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

Romans 8:3:
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh....

He did it in Christ’s humanity which was “in the likeness of” our sinful flesh.  And he did this so that the righteous demands of the law might be fulfilled in us, who, like Christ, choose to walk in the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4:
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Christ’s sinless living did not prove that sinful man in and of himself can resist temptation and live above sin.  What His life demonstrated proved that sinful man indwelt and controlled by God’s Spirit can overcome all the powers of the devil that he masters through the sinful flesh.  This is the teaching of the New Testament.  Speaking of Himself as a man, Christ made it clear that He could do nothing of Himself...

John 5:19, 30:
Jesus gave them this answer:  “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  ...By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

...that He lived “by the Father.”

John 6:57:
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.

Even His works all proceeded from the Father.

John 14:10-11:
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?  The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.  Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

Luke, after relating the temptations of Christ in the wilderness, concludes:

Luke 4:14:
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.

Speaking of His death, the writer of Hebrews says: “By the grace of God” Christ “tasted death for every man”:

Hebrews 2:9:
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

It is only in this context that Christ could resist all temptations, and thus make it possible for the born-again believer to live above sin.

2 Peter 1:4:
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises [i.e., in Christ], so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

While Paul makes it clear that man in and of himself cannot resist temptation, he nonetheless makes it equally clear that what is impossible with man is possible with God:

Galatians 5:16:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Romans 13:14:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

If, in the light of this truth, any dare to say that sinful humanity cannot resist temptation or live above sin if they walk in the Spirit, they are elevating the power of the devil and sin above the power of God.

Romans 8:2:
...Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:11:
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

This is the glorious truth of the gospel which must give all believers everlasting hope in this world of sin.

4. Since Christ is the “second Adam,” does this not mean that He took the sinless nature of the first Adam before the Fall?

Such a conclusion is unscriptural.  While it is true that Christ is the “last Adam,’’ it qualifies in what sense Christ is like Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:45:
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

To go beyond this qualification is to take liberty not warranted by the Word of God.  In Romans 5:12-21, Adam and Christ are compared and contrasted:

Romans 5:12-21:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned — To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.  Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin:  The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In reading this passage, it becomes clear in what sense Christ resembles Adam.  It is not in nature, but in representation.  Just as all men were present in the first Adam, when by his representative sin he ruined his posterity, so God united all men to Christ, qualifying Him to be the second or “last Adam.”

1 Corinthians 1:30:
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Ephesians 1:3:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Thus, by His obedience, all men were legally justified unto life in Him.

Romans 5:18:
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

It is only in this sense that Scripture makes a comparison between Adam and Christ.  Just as what Adam did affected the whole human race, similarly what Christ did affected all mankind (Romans 5:15, 18).

Romans 5:15, 18:
But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  ...Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

To go beyond this comparison and identify Christ’s human nature with Adam’s sinless nature, before his fall, is to add to Scripture.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find Christ in any way compared with Adam in terms of nature.  On the contrary, Christ, as the “son of man” is called the Son of David and of Abraham...

Matthew 1:1:
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham....

...both of whom had sinful flesh; or He is referred to as being “made in the likeness of men.”

Philippians 2:7:
...Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Hebrews 2:16-17:
For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Clearly then, we cannot say that Christ took Adam’s sinless nature in the incarnation on the basis that He was called the second Adam.

In concluding this section on objections, it is important to remember that any attempt to preserve the perfect sinlessness of Christ at the expense of the full significance and power of the gospel is to undermine the truth of the gospel.  Those who teach that Christ assumed only the pre-Fall nature of Adam must, of necessity, teach that He did not have to contend with the power or law of sin dwelling in sinful flesh, but such teaching destroys a vital truth of the gospel.  The gospel offers sinful man not only legal justification, but also God’s power unto salvation from sin.

Matthew 1:21:
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Romans 1:16:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 24:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  ...But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

To appreciate this salvation, sin must be understood in the light of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.  At the heart of this controversy lies the issue between God’s law founded on the principle of selfless love (agape), which “seeketh not her own...”

1 Corinthians 13:5:
It [Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

...and the law of sin founded on the principle of the love of self.

Isaiah 53:6:
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Philippians 2:21:
For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

These two opposite principles met and fought each other in the humanity of Christ.  On the one hand, Satan, working through Christ’s flesh, desperately tried to entice the mind of Christ to consent to self-will, while on the other hand, the Holy Spirit working through the mind of Christ never yielded.  Thus, every attempt on Satan’s part failed, for Christ’s response was always, “Not My (self) will, but Thine be done.”

John 4:34:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

John 5:30:
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Matthew 26:39:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

This battle, which began the moment Christ was old enough to choose for Himself, ended at the cross when Satan, using the full driving force of temptations arising from sinful flesh, tempted Christ to come down from the cross and save Himself.

Luke 23:35-37:
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him.  They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”  The soldiers also came up and mocked him.  They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

But when Christ refused to yield and was obedient “even unto death,” Satan’s kingdom along with his principle of the love of self was totally defeated forever.

Philippians 2:8:
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

John 12:31:
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

Romans 8:2-3:
...Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh....

This victory is a vital part of the good news of the gospel:

John 16:33:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Here is John’s definition of “world”:

1 John 2:16; 5:4:
For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.  ...for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Now there may be some, among those who hold to the sinless theory of the nature of Christ, who will say that Christ did not need to take our sinful nature in order to be tempted.  While this is true, for Adam had already proven that sinless human nature can be tempted and sin, this is not the issue involved in Christ’s temptations.  It is a mistake to identify and equate Adam’s temptation and fall with our temptations and failures.  When Adam sinned in Eden, he committed an unnatural act, for his sin was a contradiction to his sinless nature.  In other words, his act of disobedience, or saying “No” to God was inexcusable and, therefore, unexplainable.  On the contrary, when fallen sinful man yields to temptation and sins, he is doing something perfectly natural to his sinful nature.

Those who teach that a person need not have a sinful nature in order to be tempted, and, therefore, Christ’s supposedly sinless nature was tempted and subject to the possibility of falling, may be making a correct statement in and of itself.  But the fact is that Scripture clearly states that Christ was “in all points tempted like as we are.”

Hebrews 4:15 (emphasis mine):
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.

This means that Christ had to be tempted through His flesh even as we are, since temptation to fallen sinful man is defined as being “drawn away of his own lust and enticed.”

James 1:14:
...But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

The real issue in Christ’s earthly life was not that He could be tempted or that He was subject to the possibility of falling as Adam did; the issue was, could Christ resist Satan and defeat temptation, the principle of self-seeking, in sinful human nature?  Man’s real problem is not only that he is born with certain sinful tendencies, but (as Christ Himself declared) sinful man is in bondage or slavery to sin and the devil.

John 8:34:
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

Romans 3:9:
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage?  Not at all!  For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.

Romans 6:16:
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 7:14:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

Acts 8:23:
For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.

2 Peter 2:19:
They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity — for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

1 John 3:6-8:
No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.  Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.  The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

This was not true of Adam or his nature before the Fall.  Hence, Adam’s temptation in Eden and his fall must never be identified with our temptations and failures.  The sinless Adam had no “self” that needed constantly to be denied or crucified.  But Christ had to bear a cross all His life, on which self had to be crucified.

Luke 9:23:
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

It is true that the fundamental issue in every temptation is the same, for temptation to sin is simply being enticed to say “No” to God, and live independently of Him, following self-will instead of God’s will of love.  But while no fundamental difference may exist between Adam’s temptation and ours, a world of difference exists in the actual struggle or battle against the temptation itself.  For if sin is to say “No” to God or live independently of Him, then our basic definition of sinful nature must be a bent toward self-love or independence from God.  Paul clearly brings this out in describing mankind’s sin problem in Romans 1:18-23.

Romans 1:18-23:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

By very nature sinful man is self-seeking and self-dependent, and sinful tendencies are simply different manifestations of the principle of love of self.  This, in fact, is the primary meaning of the Hebrew word rendered “iniquity.”

Psalm 51:5:
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Isaiah 53:6:
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

This was not true of Adam as God created him.  Consequently, Adam was tempted to sin in a nature dominated by holiness, and hence his failure is inexcusable.  Satan tempts us in a nature that is dominated by “the law of sin” (love of self), a nature that naturally seeks its own way.  (See Isaiah 53:6, just above.)

Philippians 2:21:
For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

Adam’s sinless or holy flesh was subject to the law of God and, in fact, he delighted in it, while our carnal nature is “not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” in and of itself.

Romans 8:7:
The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

There was perfect harmony, unity, and agreement between Adam’s sinless nature and the Spirit of God who indwelt Him; but in the case of the born-again believer, the Spirit and the flesh are at war with each other.

Galatians 5:17:
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

For Adam to sin was unnatural and an extremely hard thing for him to do; but for sinful man, sin is enjoyable to the sinful nature, and the most natural thing (he feels) to do.

Romans 7:14-23:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  So I find this law at work:  Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

Adam could be justified by keeping the law; but in our case:

Romans 3:20, 28:
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.  ...For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Galatians 2:16:
...Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Adam’s sin cannot be explained for it is the “mystery of iniquity,” revealing the power of the devil; with us it is the opposite, for when the righteousness of God is manifested in sinful flesh, it reveals God’s power over sin and the devil, and is referred to as “the mystery of godliness” — which mystery was first manifested in Christ, and through Him made available to us by faith.

1 Timothy 3:16:
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:  He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

Colossians 1:27:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The great error of those who claim that Christ did not need to come in our fallen nature to be tempted and tried as we are, is the identification of Adam’s situation with ours.  Much more was involved in Christ’s victorious life over temptation and sin than would have been required for Adam’s success had he not fallen.  And it is this we must now consider if we are fully to appreciate Christ as our righteousness.  For when we discover the real difference between Adam’s temptation, in relation to his sinless nature, and our temptations, in relation to our sinful nature, we cannot but conclude that Christ could not possibly be tempted, as we are, if He had assumed the sinless spiritual nature of Adam before the Fall.  This in turn will open our eyes to appreciate how great a salvation Christ has wrought out for us.

To understand this we must consider the temptations of Christ in relation to that of Adam.  Since Christ was both God and man, and, therefore, possessed inherent divine power, it would seem that the temptation to use that divine power independently of His Father would be very great, and, therefore, we could conclude that His temptations were far greater and different from man’s, including Adam’s.  But while this may sound convincing, it must be realized that this could only be true in the context of sinful nature, and this is what we must come to grips with.

If Christ’s temptations were greater than ours in a sinless human nature because of the inherent divine power available to him without faith, then is it not true that we must also confess that Adam’s temptation was greater than ours, since his natural ability to do righteousness, inherent in his sinless nature, was greater than ours?  In which case, we must also admit that it was much easier for Adam to sin (be self-dependent) than it is for us, and certainly this would make his sin excusable, besides undermining God’s perfect creation.

Further, if it was extremely hard for Christ to be God-dependent because of His own inherent divine power, should not the very opposite be true of us because of our inherent weaknesses?  Should it not be very easy for us to be God-dependent?  Yet we must all confess that to live by faith (i.e., God-dependent) involves a constant fight, as well as self-denial and acceptance of the principle of the cross.

1 Timothy 6:12:
Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Luke 9:23:
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

It is true that in tempting Christ, Satan tried to persuade Him to take matters in His own hands and so act independently of His Father.  But the distinction that must be made is that if Christ had assumed a sinless human nature, Satan would be tempting Him to do an unnatural thing, since His human nature would then have been naturally unselfish.  He would not have needed to deny His own will as He told us He had to do.

John 5:30:
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

John 6:38:
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

On the other hand, if Christ took our sinful nature upon Himself, a nature naturally bent toward yielding to self-will, Satan would be tempting Him to do a perfectly desirable thing, desirable to self (for example, coming down from the cross).  It is this that makes a world of difference between being tempted as Adam was (in a sinless nature) and being tempted as we are (in a sinful nature).

We must realize that the principle of self-love is foreign to God’s nature, or for that matter, sinless human nature which He created.  The law of the love of self was originated by the devil, and with which he infected the human race at the Fall.

Isaiah 14:12-14:
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!  You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

If Christ had assumed a sinless human nature without the inclination to sin, He obviously did not have self-love as part of His very nature to contend with, and, therefore, Satan could not tempt Him through the flesh as he does us.

But our Lord declared that He came not to do His own will (i.e., self-will) but the will of the Father.  The fact that Christ, as a man, could speak of His own will in potential contradiction to His Father’s will clearly indicates that, in his humanity, He identified Himself with the temptations to self-will of sinful men He came to save.  He could only do this by assuming our sinful nature.  The Gospels show that the great battle in Christ’s life was against the principle of self-will, the stumbling block to holy living in the life of all sinful men.

Again, if Christ’s flesh was void of the “law of sin,” the law of self-love, then His flesh need not have suffered each time He refused to yield to temptation.  But we read that “he himself suffered when he was tempted”...

Hebrews 2:18:
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

...and that He was made “perfect through sufferings...”

Hebrews 2:10:
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.

...and that He learned “obedience by the things which He suffered.”

Hebrews 5:8:
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered....

Christ’s victory was attained in His mind, because it was surrendered to the control of the Spirit.  But this involved suffering in the flesh, since it was deprived of its own way, that is, sin.

This is how Peter expressed the conflict:

1 Peter 4:1:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.

What is true of Christ must be true of us, because the flesh He assumed was the likeness of our sinful flesh.  Had Adam successfully resisted the devil’s temptation, this would not have involved crucifying the flesh or human nature.  But for Christ, as it must be with the believer, victory over sin involves the principle of the cross.

Galatians 5:24:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Our Lord’s holy life, if produced in a sinless nature like that of Adam before the Fall, can bring no hope or encouragement to believers struggling with temptation.  By this lie that Christ came in sinless flesh, the devil has destroyed in the hearts of millions all belief that sinless living in sinful flesh is possible.  Thus the door to antinomianism is opened, and the power of the gospel is made null and void.  No wonder the apostle John condemns the denial of the true humanity of Christ as being antichrist.

1 John 4:1-3:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God:  Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

2 John 7:
I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

If Christ assumed Adam’s sinless nature, He becomes Adam’s example, but not fallen man’s.  In which case our only hope of holy living would be either through the eradication of our sinful nature (the heresy of “holy flesh” or perfectionism), or waiting until the second coming when this corruptible puts on incorruption.  If this is true, all admonition in the Bible to holy living becomes futile.

But if the gospel is to be vindicated before the end comes, the last generation of believers must restore the truth as it is in Christ, so that the world may be enlightened with His glory.  This was God’s purpose in the 1888 message.

Revelation 18:1:
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven.  He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.

Colossians 1:27:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Much more than what Adam failed to do was accomplished by our Saviour, for He produced the perfect righteousness of God in the likeness of sinful flesh.  And herein lies the true sinlessness of Christ and the fullness and power of His gospel.  God did the “impossible” by producing perfect righteousness in our sinful flesh in Christ Jesus.  And if only we by faith will obey this truth and allow the Holy Spirit to indwell and dominate us, then also He will reveal His power in the “body” of Christ, the church.

2 Corinthians 2:16:
To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.  And who is equal to such a task?

1 John 5:4:
...For everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

This, too, is righteousness by faith.

It is, therefore, the knowledge of this truth, Christ’s righteousness produced in our sinful flesh, that gives every believer the hope of glory.  Let us, therefore, abide in Him, and, thus, make ourselves totally available to Him so that we may walk “even as He walked.”

1 John 2:6:
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.


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