Did Jesus Have Tendencies to Sin?
The evidence appears to more than suggest that Jesus indeed have such tendencies. But never did He ever follow them or permitted them to develop into actual sin. He ever remains our sinless Saviour!
“Coming as He did, as a man, to meet and be subjected to, with all the evil tendencies to which man is heir, working in every conceivable manner to destroy His faith, He made it possible for Himself to be buffeted by human agencies inspired by Satan.” Letter K-303, 1903, quoted in Adventist Review 17 February 1994
“Though He had all the strength of passion of humanity, never did He yield to temptation to do one single act which was not pure and elevating and ennobling.” IHP 155
“He was made like unto His brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” RH 10 February 1885
“Even doubts assailed the dying Son of God.” 2T 209
“He blessed children that were possessed of passions like His own.” ST 9 April 1896
“The Son of God in His humanity wrestled with the very same fierce, apparently overwhelming temptations that assail men–temptations to indulgence of appetite, to presumptuous venturing where God has not led them, and to the worship of the god of this world, to sacrifice an eternity of bliss for the fascinating pleasures of this life.” 1 SM 95
“He knows how strong are the inclinations of the natural heart.” 5T 177
“He knows by experience what are the weaknesses of humanity, what are our wants, and where lies the strength of our temptations.” MH 71
“In Gethsemane ‘His depression and discouragement left Him.” DA 694
“Christ did in reality unite the offending nature of man with His own sinless nature.” RH 17 July 1900
“He had not taken on Him even the nature of angels, but humanity, perfectly identical with our own nature, except without the taint of sin. . . . He had reason, conscience, memory, will, and affections of the human soul which was united with His divine nature.” 16 MR 181. (Compare to 3SM 130, ‘We have reason, conscience, memory, will, affections–all the attributes a human being can possess.’)
In addition to those, I want to add a couple of more that have helped me. One is Confrontation, p. 78:
“He [Satan] put forth his strongest efforts to overcome Christ on the point of appetite, who endured the keenest pangs of hunger. The victory gained was designed, not only to set an example to those who have fallen under the power of appetite but to qualify the Redeemer for His special work of reaching to the very depths of human woe. By experiencing in Himself the strength of Satan’s temptation, and of human sufferings and infirmities, He would know how to succor those who should put forth efforts to help themselves.”
Here we see that through experiencing temptation–a spiritual category–Christ gained a victory designed “to qualify the Redeemer for His special work of reaching to the very depths of human woe.” He experienced “in Himself” the “strength of Satan’s temptation.”
If Christ could not be tempted,
We would have to ask why did Satan even tempt at this or any other point of human weakness?
We would have to ask is or is not temptation a spiritual matter? Is a temptation which has no pulling power a meaningful temptation?
The example was for beings with fallen natures. Unless there is likeness, how can the life of Christ be meaningful as an example?
Was or was not Christ’s experience of feeling “in Himself” the strength of Satan’s temptations a necessary part of heaven’s plan?
We note that this portion of Christ’s experience is identified as His “special work of reaching to the very depths” of human woe.
Remember Great Controversy’s statement that Satan cannot force us to sin–he must gain our consent (GC 510), and that “. . . the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God” (AH 127). There must be a willful choice to disobey for any response to the sinful nature to become sin for which we are considered guilty.
Why did Satan attack Christ so carefully and so powerfully upon particular points? “Satan showed his knowledge of the weak points of the human heart, and put forth his utmost power to take advantage of the humanity which Christ had assumed in order to overcome his temptations on man’s account” (RH 1 April 1875). Satan demonstrated his knowledge of the “weak points of the human heart” when he attacked Christ. He had had four thousand years to hone his temptational skills, and he did not fail to exert himself to “take advantage of the humanity” which Christ had assumed for the purpose of overcoming for us. Thus, the humanity which Christ had assumed had exploitable weak points; He could indeed be tempted. This makes all the sense in the world. It makes clear why “we need not place the obedience of Christ by itself as something for which He was particularly adapted, by His particular divine nature, for He stood before God as man’s representative and tempted as man’s substitute and surety. If Christ had a special power which it is not the privilege of man to have, Satan would have made capitol of this matter.” 3SM 139. It is “when we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan” that we “destroy the completeness of His humanity.” 3SM 139. “He [Jesus] came not to our world to give the obedience of a lessor God to a greater, but as a man to obey God’s Holy Law, and in this way He is our example.” 3SM 140.
These are among the evidences that lead many to the conclusion that Jesus had tendencies to sin; that He volunteered to enter humanity with no exemptions. Its broken package of woe was not only ours, but His. Yet never did His will–a will coming impacted by the same fallen nature as you and I are born with–respond to the tendency. Never did He sin. Never was He self-tainted. Therefore never was He condemned. When He struggled in the garden of Gethsemane, battling between what He knew was His Father’s will, and the human pull “in Himself” to avoid the cross, the conflict was not in an exempted nature. It was not a mock battle; it was not a fiction. The weak points of His human heart seemed to compel Him, no special power unique to Himself aided Him; and there was none to help. He overcame in that fateful hour when the very outcome of the great controversy trembled in His hand, by calling upon His Father through faith for help. He bore the sinful nature, yet He was sinless, for sin is choice and He never chose to sin.
Persons hold differing views because
–The historic position within the church has been largely overturned by the continuous propaganda against it. For decades we have been persistently exposed to the modified view, while during the same period the pioneer position has been subsumed.
–Whole theological systems have been imported into Adventism from outside and the very core–atonement theory–has been replaced by a modified structure. If one holds a biblical definition of sin, one cannot reconcile with the new philosophically based views.
–Many sincere persons have never really considered the issue with sufficient depth to reach sound conclusions for themselves.
Thus by and large we are not talking so much about a work of willful destruction of Adventism’s core, but heavily misguided retuning by persons generally sincere. Yet this theological realignment has caused an almost unparalleled crisis in the church. The issues are crucial and need to be discussed. If we do not reconsider our direction, the vast body of the church will finish its work of jettisoning the ebbing interest in Bible prophecy that remains; Daniel and Revelation will become embarrassments from this movement’s “unsavory” apocalyptic womb, this body will dissolve and God will needs give His vineyard out to other husbandmen.
In the alpha of apostasy, Satan tried to introduce a philosophical system that would destroy the sanctuary teaching. Ellen White was shown the tremendous danger and pointed it out. Had the alpha been accepted, Adventism would then have been destroyed, for we would have completely lost sight of our mission–the finishing of sin and the great controversy. Even the alpha did not impact our theological structure and specifically issues of sin, righteousness, and atonement, like the present adjusted theology does. The structure of belief has been greatly impacted, and much more thoroughly. The alpha had its run, but with EGW alive to warn, successfully we steered clear. Article after article in the Review at that time warned against the danger. But in our time and with this pseudo-Adventism introduced in the 1950’s, we are not hearing Ellen White. What she has written is largely unexplored on these points. The Review has actively inculcated the new teaching. The danger is fantastic. We are standing upon the edge of the abyss. In spite of these challenges, let us go through to victory, seeking to avoid the shame of the curse of Meroz. Consider carefully these matters. These are the most momentous times for the church we love. We must redeem the time.
One last item. “But,” it is sometimes asked, “Didn’t Jesus have a different spiritual nature than we can have?” The following passage suggests a wonderful answer:
“In His humanity, Christ lived a perfect life, thus elevating humanity in the scale of moral worth with God. With His human arm, Christ lays hold of man, while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite. Thus He imbues man with His own spiritual nature, and lifts him to His side, to be cherished and loved as the Father loves the Son.” ST 26 August 1897