Was It Possible for Jesus to Sin?
A question from Emmanuel:
Hi Pastor David. I am from Dallas, I wanted to ask what exactly was Jesus’s ability to sin while He was on earth? Could He literally not sin, did He have a sin nature, or was He like Adam pre-fall?
Our two “guardrails” are: (1) The truth that Jesus was completely sinless. (2) The truth that Jesus was truly tempted.
Jesus was completely sinless:
Hebrews 4:15: yet without sin
2 Corinthians 5:21: Him who knew no sin
1 Peter 2:22: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth
1 John 3:5: He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin
1 Peter 1:19: without blemish and without spot
John 8:46: Which of you convicts Me of sin?
Jesus was truly tempted:
Luke 4:1-2: Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil.
Hebrews 2:18: For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Hebrews 4:15: For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
A third factor: Jesus was (and is) God, and it is impossible for God to sin. So, if in His deity Jesus could not sin, then how were His temptations real?
I don’t know that we have a good answer to this from the Bible, because the Bible does tell us that Jesus was really, truly God – and He was really, truly man. He was one person with two natures, a divine nature and a human nature. The temptations of Jesus obviously dealt with His humanity, not His deity. But we can’t explain much more than that.
Go back to Hebrews 2:18: For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Sometimes we think that because Jesus is God, He could never know temptation the way we do.
In part, this is true: Jesus faced temptation much more severely than we ever have or ever will. The Sinless One knows temptation in ways we don’t, because only the one who never gives into temptation knows the full strength of temptation.
What Emmanuel said in his question was good: “Could He literally not sin, did He have a sin nature, or was He like Adam pre-fall?” In this sense Jesus, in His humanity, was like Adam before the fall. He had no sin nature that drew Him to sin.
It is true that Jesus never faced temptation in an inner sense the way we do, because there was never a sinful nature pulling Him to sin from the inside. But He knew the strength and fury of external temptation in a way and to a degree that we can never know. He knows what we go through, and He has faced worse.
That’s why Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted. Jesus can sympathize with our weakness and our temptation, but He cannot sympathize with our sin – because Jesus never sinned.
We should not think that this makes Jesus less sympathetic to us, and that He could understand us better if He had sinned Himself. I like what Charles Spurgeon said about this: that sin is always of a hardening nature. A Jesus who had sinned would not only be unable to save, but He would also be, in some way, harder to and more distant from His people. As Spurgeon said, “He would have lost the perfection of His sympathetic nature.”
During the Millennium, Satan will be bound for 1000 years. Where will all the demons be during that time?
We are not told specifically where demons or unclean spirits are during those 1000 years. The Bible does tell us plainly that it is within God’s power to imprison or restrict demonic spirits. He does it with Satan. We’re told very plainly in the book of Revelation that there’s a period of time where Satan is bound for 1000 years. We are also told in another place in Jude that God has imprisoned or restricted demonic spirits. There’s some controversy about that passage, where demonic spirits are connected back with the disaster in the days of Noah, but God has imprisoned or restricted those demonic spirits as well.
While we aren’t told specifically what happens with lesser demonic spirits, I think we can just take it on principle that because God imprisons their leader, Satan himself, by putting him in the bottomless pit for 1000 years, God also will imprison those demonic spirits so that they cannot do their thing.
For me, this is a powerful evidence for the fact that we are not in the millennial reign of Jesus right now. The millennial reign of Jesus is not to be thought of as a purely figurative thing that we are in right now. We know that right now Satan is not imprisoned. Peter tells us that he walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The New Testament tells us that Satan is active and present now, doing his dastardly work.
So, knowing that, we can say that demonic spirits are not bound in the present day. That teaches us that we are not in the millennium, or in some figurative form of the millennium right now. I do believe there’s a very real sense in which the kingdom of God is here right now. But as is often said, the kingdom of God is “already and not yet.” It’s not fully realized at all, and certainly not in the ways we’ve just discussed.
Is believing in the Trinity essential for salvation?
I without doubt believe in the Trinity, but was wondering is this an essential belief for salvation? Primarily in comparison with the “modalist” view on the Godhead? And if so, why?
I’ll give you my perspective on it. This is a question to which, if you were to ask several different pastors or people who are interested in theology, you might get different answers. But you’re asking me, so I’m going to give you my answer to this.
First of all, it is not essential to have a finely tuned understanding of the theology of the Trinity in order to be saved. We can praise the Lord for that. We are not saved by our theological precision of doctrines, especially not doctrines that are more difficult to understand, such as the Trinity.
Is it possible for people to have things wrong about the Trinity and still be saved? Yes, it’s possible. However, there is a huge exception. Nobody can knowingly reject the truth of the Trinity, and still be saved. When you knowingly reject the truth of who God is, as He is revealed in the Bible, you are rejecting the God of the Bible. What we’re talking about is not a contest for theological precision. What we’re talking about is simply this: there is a God revealed to us in the Scriptures. If I knowingly reject the God that’s presented to me in the Scriptures, then I’m not saved. I’m not dealing with the God who actually is. A make-believe, pretend God can’t save me, and doesn’t exist. You see the distinction I’m making.
Getting to heaven is not like passing a theology test, where we have to get every answer correct, or even 90% of the answers correct. No, that’s not it at all. But for someone to knowingly reject what the Bible says about God is grievous error, and somebody is not going to make it to heaven that way.
We have to make a distinction between wrong theology that’s born out of ignorance, which God may choose to overlook in His mercy, and wrong theology that is chosen and embraced by a sinful heart. That is a different thing entirely. And let’s be honest, it’s not always possible for us from the outside to judge that with absolute precision and righteousness. Of course, God knows. If somebody believes wrong things about God — and by the way, if they reject the Trinity, they’re believing wrong things about God – He understands whether they’re doing that out of ignorance, or if they’re doing it out of rebellion and unbelief. God knows, and He will judge righteously along those lines.
Modalists believe that God does not and has never existed as one God in three persons. The modalist believes in a very mechanical way that God was once the Father then became the Son, and then became the Holy Spirit. They don’t believe that as a matter of emphasis, or a matter of God’s dealings with man. There’s some leeway there for discussion about how God at one phase mostly dealt with man in the personal representation of the Father, then mostly dealt with man on the way of the Son, and now mostly deals with man in and through the Holy Spirit. But we’re not talking about matters of emphasis. They’re talking about matters of modes.
Here’s the biblical truth. God is one God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. For someone to reject that knowledge, and say, “No, there’s one God, and He was the Father, then became the Son, and is now the Holy Spirit; He was never three in one,” they are rejecting what the Bible says about God. I fear for that person’s soul. Ultimately, God alone knows. But we do fear for that person’s soul, knowing that they are rejecting the Biblical truth about God.
What does the Bible say about restitution?
What can I do with some small value items I stole from some people before I had a relationship with the Lord? I can’t find the people again; I can’t return the items or apologize; should I donate them?
In this particular case, we’re not given clear, Biblical guidelines, but restitution is a Biblical guideline. We do have a guideline from the Old Testament. There were times in the Old Testament when the actual doing of the thing was either impossible, or not desired by God. Here’s an example.
God said, “Separate all the firstborn of Israel to Me.” That meant all the firstborn of the flock, all the firstborn sheep, all the firstborn of the herd, all the firstborn calves and steers and such, and the firstborn of your families, all the firstborn sons. When it came to sheep and cattle, God wanted you to actually sacrifice the firstborn to Him. But when it came to the firstborn sons, God didn’t want human sacrifice. God established way back in the days of Abraham that He did not want human sacrifice. So, what did God do? God established a monetary value to that son and told them to give that money to the tabernacle or the temple, in replacement of actually sacrificing that child. God said they could make a gift to the temple of the tabernacle.
If the Holy Spirit should so lead you, I think it is acceptable for you to take either the item or the monetary value of the item, and donate it, because it would be impossible for you to make restitution, as it is now being so many years later, and so many circumstances removed. I hope that’s helpful for you as a principal guiding you along the way.
Is David Guzik a cessationist or a continuationist?
I consider myself to be a continuationist. I believe that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today, with one exception. There’s one gift of the Holy Spirit that I do not believe is for today, and that is the gift of hearing God perfectly. I believe that’s the gift that God gave to those who wrote Scripture; that’s the gift God gave to His inspired apostles and prophets of the first century. God gave them a gift to hear Him perfectly. It’s unbelievable! Does anybody have that gift today? That’s why we have to be very humble about such things today. We should never put anything that comes from a person today, even if it is by gift of the Holy Spirit, on the same par as Scripture, which was given to us perfectly.
But in general, apart from that exception, I would say yes, I believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for today. I know this puts me at odds, at least on this particular point, with cessationist brothers and sisters who believe that the gifts of the Spirit or at least some of the gifts of the Spirit, are no longer for today. Those are what they commonly describe as the “sign” gifts or miraculous gifts.
Let me just point something out very quickly. When you look at the New Testament, you never see the apostles and writers of Scripture putting gifts into different categories, as if there is a divine categorization of gifts which makes them completely unique. But that’s another point altogether.
My dear cessationist brothers and sisters do not believe that all the gifts of the Spirit are offered today. They believe the sign gifts or miraculous gifts that are not for today. Though I disagree with them, and I would disagree with them very strongly and firmly on the point, I respect what I believe are their primary reasons for the rejection. I can’t speak to everybody’s reason for being a cessationist. As I read what the cessationists read, and as I listen to what they say, I see two dominant themes.
Number one: they are greatly offended at all the foolishness and fakery that goes on in the name of the Holy Spirit, among many of those who believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for today. And to that I say, Amen. There is a lot of foolishness and fakery out there. And I don’t blame people for being offended at it. I can respect that.
Number two: I respect their zeal for preserving the integrity and the sufficiency of the Scriptures. I just simply don’t agree that a belief in the present-day gifts of the Spirit contradicts that. I could get into all the reasons why; maybe we’ll do that another time. But I respect the impulse to say we must guard the sufficiency and the integrity of the Scriptures. I feel the same way. I just don’t express it in the same manner.
So, yes, I am a continuationist. I believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today. I respect the two main reasons that I perceive among my cessationist brothers and sisters for their rejection of the gifts of the Spirit today. Even though I don’t agree with them, I understand and respect them.
What is the idea of sorcery mentioned in Revelation 18:23?
Revelation 18:23 says that the nations will be deceived by the sorcery of Babylon. How will this sorcery be manifested– as drugs, as magic?
Revelation 18:23- “The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.”
The sorceries that Babylon uses to deceive people is a broad category. The most mentioned city in the Bible is the city of Jerusalem. The second most mentioned city in the Bible is Babylon. Babylon was not only a literal city, and the capital of a literal empire in the Bible; it has a heavy symbolic or metaphorical meaning as well. But the literal and the symbolic stand side by side. You don’t have to choose between one or the other. The metaphor or the symbol associated with Babylon is the world, the world system, the fact of humanity united together in its sin and rebellion against God.
Revelation 17-18 speaks of Babylon in both a commercial sense and a religious sense. It’s really talking about worldly religion, worldly commerce, and materialism, and everything that’s involved with that. Those things set a spell over humanity, in a broad sense. Is it drugs? Is it magic? I would pretty much say all of the above. It’s the sorcery or the spell that materialism puts upon people. If you don’t think greed and materialism puts a spell on people, just look at people. Look at them with their possessions, look at them with their lives; there is something of a spell or a sorcery over people, in their materialism, in their deception, in all sorts of fields. We can consider this concept in Revelation 18:23, about the sorcery of Babylon, in a very broad definition, not a narrow one.
Is it possible that Judas Iscariot was demon-possessed?
I understand that a believer cannot be possessed by Satan or demons. But what can we say about Judas Iscariot? In Luke 22:3, could Satan enter Judas because he was living in sin? Or how do we explain it?
You’re touching on a question that is important for Christians to consider. I believe that when you take what the Bible says about demons and the demonic, there are certainly some things that demons cannot do against believers. They cannot control believers in the sense of demonic possession. However, there certainly are ways that demonic spirits can harass; sometimes people use the term oppression. There are many and varied attacks that demonic spirits can make from the outside upon believers. There are things that we commonly don’t properly appreciate, or take into consideration, in whatever spiritual warfare that God gives us to do battle with.
Your specific question is: What about Judas? I would explain it this way. Judas was not born again. Judas was not saved. Judas was an example of somebody who can appear to be a disciple of Jesus, but was never born again, and was never truly a believer. He had an interest in Jesus. He had some sense of allegiance to Jesus, but he never had a saving trust. Jesus described Judas as the son of perdition, the son of destruction. He personified what destruction and judgment are all about. No, he was never saved to begin with.
Now, there’s a lot more I could say about when the disciples were specifically born again. I would contend that the disciples were not born again until after Judas actually died. But at least the other eleven disciples were true disciples of Jesus. Judas himself was a false disciple of Jesus. And let’s face it, there are false disciples of Jesus to this day, are there not?
Did Ananias go to heaven following his death in Acts 5?
In your series on the book of Acts, you said that there are chances Ananias might have made it to Heaven. How could he be in Heaven even though he sinned and never got any chance to repent?
That’s a great question. First of all, we should not think that if we die, having even one unrepented sin, then we’re automatically going to Hell. Let’s consider this. If you define sin in its broadest sense, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If you define sin in its broadest sense, we sin all the time. Honestly, we don’t have time in the day to specifically repent of every way that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I’m not trying to say that repentance is irrelevant for the believer; not at all. Whenever the Holy Spirit, or the Word of God itself, or the Holy Spirit working through the Word, convicts us of sin, we must repent of that sin. I’m not trying to shortchange that at all. But if we define sin in its fullest sense as falling short of the glory of God, there’s no way we can specifically repent of every occasion and every time we do that.
We should not think that if a person has one, or five, or ten unrepented sins, then that means they’re going to Hell. It’s important for us as believers to live in a continual state of repentance, declaring just as the Psalmist did, “Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” That’s the kind of attitude we need to live in before the Lord.
The sin of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, found in Acts 5, was no small sin. So how could I say, either in my teaching or in my commentary, that it’s possible that Ananias made it to Heaven, even though he was struck dead by the Lord?
In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about those who are being judged in the church at Corinth, because they had so disgraced the Lord’s Supper. “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” (1 Corinthians 11:30) In other words, the reason why some of the Corinthian believers were sick and had even died (which is what he means by sleep), is because they so disgraced the Lord by their disgraceful conduct at the Lord’s Supper. Apparently, some believers had died. Because of this, I would make an analogy between the corrective or judicial death of Ananias and the corrective or judicial death of these Corinthian believers. “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)
Notice that Paul assumes that when those particular Corinthian believers were judged with sickness, or in at least a few cases with death, it was so that they would not be judged with the world, but not because they were going to hell. Maybe that was the case with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. It does seem clearly to be the case here in 1 Corinthians 11, and I’m just suggesting that maybe it was also the case in Acts 5. I hope that makes sense to you. And again, I want to compliment you: that is a great question. Thank you for asking it.
Can you explain the five historical blunders you mentioned in your commentary on Daniel 1?
In my commentary on the book of Daniel, I mention that liberal critics of the book claim there are five main historical blunders in the Book of Daniel. Here is the excerpt from my commentary, found at https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/daniel-1/.
“The modern argument for late dating Daniel is based on supposed inevitable mistakes that a second century B.C. writer made when writing about a period 400 years before, in the sixth century B.C. In our own day, it would be as if someone wrote a story about the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock while mentioning speedboats and computers. We would know that it was a forgery. There are usually said to be five main historical blunders:
- The date for Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Judah.
- Using the word Chaldeansto describe a class of soothsayers.
- The account of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness.
- King Belshazzar and his relationship to Nabonidus.
- The figure of Darius the Mede.
I deal with these topics throughout my commentary. If you read through the rest of my commentary on Daniel 1-6, and you don’t find the answer to those blunders, let me know. Maybe we’ll talk about it here on a Thursday.
How could God save a person who wants to go to hell?
How can God save a non-believing coworker who wants to go to hell? Their actions and mindset are of this world. They claim they want to go to hell when asked.
How can God save such a person? The only way God can save such a person is by changing their heart. Friends, if a person dies wanting to go to Hell, they will go to Hell. It’s that simple. God is not going to force people into Heaven against their will. If somebody wants to go to Hell, God will give them the privilege of going to Hell. It’s a terrible thought to consider, but it’s true. If someone is determined to go to hell, God will allow it.
How can God save people like that? It happens when God changes hearts. I don’t know if I’m speaking to anybody who’s in that situation right now. There are many people who now love Jesus and long for heaven, but at one time in their life, they wanted to go to Hell. But God worked in their heart and changed their heart.
Here is your part in this. You need to pray. You need to pray that God would change that person’s heart. I know sometimes these are hard and frustrating prayers to pray. Sometimes we wonder how we could pray like this, because if a person doesn’t want their heart to change, it’s not going to be changed. Listen, I’ll tell you what the Bible says. The Bible says that God holds the heart of a king in His hand, and He can guide it wherever He wishes. If God can do that with a king, let me tell you, He can do it with anybody at any time.
We can rest in the assurance that God is able to change somebody’s heart. Keep praying for this coworker who doesn’t believe. Pray that God would change their heart, from being someone who says that they want to go to Hell, into somebody who actually wants to go to Heaven.
One final thought: If somebody actually says that they want to go to Hell, we can be confident that they don’t understand what Hell is at all. If anybody had a conception of Hell that was true or accurate, they would never, ever, ever want to go there or be there.
Was Goliath’s death too brutal?
Why did the Lord make Goliath’s death so brutal?
Many questions like this are ultimately unanswerable. We can’t say with confidence if the Bible doesn’t tell us something, but I will say this. It was important to show that Goliath was utterly defeated. He didn’t just have a headache from getting hit in the head with a stone. He was utterly defeated. There’s probably no better way to show that somebody is utterly and completely defeated, than to cut off their head. There’s no coming back from that.
I think this was to display to all onlookers that Goliath was truly dead. God chose to display this for Israel, whose army was fearful and unbelieving, for Saul, who didn’t want to step forth into the battle, and for the Philistines themselves: Goliath was truly dead, and there was no coming back for this champion of the Philistines.
By the way, it shows us something very picturesque, doesn’t it? We could make an illustration out of this, and say that David represents Jesus Christ, the Son of David. We can say that Jesus’ defeat of sin was so complete that its head was cut off. That is our salvation, is it not?
If someone doesn’t believe in the gifts of the Spirit, are they denying the work of the Holy Spirit?
That’s a very interesting question. I don’t believe that it’s denying the gifts of the Holy Spirit. At least, that’s not how the people who don’t believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit think of it themselves. Instead, in their mind, they believe that many of the gifts of the Spirit are for today, but they just simply don’t have all the gifts of the Spirit for today. I have never heard a cessation, someone who believes that not all the gifts of the Spirit are for today, say they don’t believe in the work of the Holy Spirit. No, they would never say that. They believe that the work of the Holy Spirit is around and active for today. They just don’t believe that all the gifts of the Spirit offered today.
What does Leviticus 17:11 mean?
Leviticus 17:11- ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
Leviticus 17:11 is simply describing the phenomenon that life is in the blood. Therefore, God gives it as a sacred thing. God says that we are not to eat blood in a sacrificial sense. God also says that the life of the animal is represented by blood. That’s why the outpouring of the blood of Jesus Christ is used as a figure of His own death, not a figure of His actual death there. You can check out my commentary on Leviticus 17 for more information: https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/leviticus-17/