Calvary Road Baptist Church

“1 In 3 ‘Christians’ Say ‘Jesus Sinned’”

 

Many things compete for our attention in the news these days. Almost unnoticed amidst all the inauguration buildup was an exclusive article in last Saturday’s WorldNetDaily that cannot be allowed to pass by without addressing both the error and the implications.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the article:

 

Half of Americans who call themselves “Christian” don’t believe Satan exists and fully one-third are confident that Jesus sinned while on Earth, according to a new Barna Group poll.

 

Another 40 percent say they do not have a responsibility to share their Christian faith with others, and 25 percent “dismiss the idea that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches,” the organization reports.

 

Pollster George Barna said the results have huge implications.

 

“Americans are increasingly comfortable picking and choosing what they deem to be helpful and accurate theological views and have become comfortable discarding the rest of the teachings in the Bible,” he said.

 

“Growing numbers of people now serve as their own theologian-in-residence,” he continued. “One consequence is that Americans are embracing an unpredictable and contradictory body of beliefs.”

 

The results are a dramatic departure from the nation’s foundings, when leaders held prayer meetings in the halls of Congress and attributed to Almighty God the victory in the Revolutionary War.

 

Barna noted the millions of people who describe themselves as Christian and believe Jesus sinned, or those who say they will experience eternal salvation because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior, “but also believe that a person can do enough good works to earn eternal salvation.”

 

Barna’s private, non-partisan, for-profit research group in Ventura, Calif., has been studying cultural trends since 1984. For this study, the organization randomly sampled 1,004 adults across the continental U.S. The study has a margin of error of 3.2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.[1]

 

To recap for you, Barna’s scientific poll found five trends surfacing with the increased tendency among professing Christians in the United States of America to pick and choose what they believe, acting as Barna describes them, “their own theologian-in-residence,” and “embracing an unpredictable and contradictory set of beliefs.”

Here are the five trends that emerged in his poll: One-half of all professing Christians polled do not believe Satan exists. One-third are confident Jesus sinned while on Earth. Forty percent say they do not have a responsibility to share their Christian faith with others. Twenty-five percent “dismiss the idea that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches.” The fifth trend, the idea “that a person can do enough good works to earn eternal salvation,” is not really a new trend, but is the old soul-damning notion known as salvation by works. Of course, the first three trends, having to do with not believing Satan exists, believing Jesus sinned while on Earth, and denying any personal responsibility to witness to the lost, are the direct result of the fourth trend, dismissing the idea that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches.

God’s Word is foundational to all Christian doctrine, and our understanding of things supernatural, our grasp of truth that is beyond the reach of science and the five senses, is totally dependent upon the reliability and trustworthiness of this Book. However, we already spend a great deal of time in this ministry responding to the challenges of the ignorant who doubt the veracity of scripture. Whether it is a consideration of archaeological discoveries that prove the Bible has not been tampered with and edited over these past two thousand years, or an examination of things scientific to challenge the philosophical presuppositions and blatantly unscientific notions of the closed-minded, we are quite willing to take on all comers who question the authority and reliability of God’s Word, the Bible.

All we ask is that respectful dialog take place, and that we discuss issues on the basis of Isaiah 1.18, where the LORD said, “Come now, and let us reason together.” That said, this morning’s message will not focus on the truthfulness of scripture, but will tackle this notion held by those professing Christians who were polled that Jesus sinned while on Earth.

I propose to address this issue in two ways: First, we will come to an agreement concerning sin. Some say Jesus sinned while on Earth. I want us to define our terms so we can agree about what sin really is. Then, we will consider the important factors related to the charge that Jesus sinned, such as His nature, such as His experiences here on Earth, such as the mission that brought Him to Earth, and concluding with His success in achieving the goal for which He both came to Earth and then left the Earth. When we have concluded, it will be seen to be most reasonable to believe that Jesus did not sin while on Earth (or anywhere else), and that to think He did sin while on Earth is unreasonable. Keep in mind along the way, we are discussing the personal reputation of a real person, someone who cares about His reputation. Therefore, let us give Him the same consideration that we would want ourselves.

 

First, WHAT IS SIN?

 

The claim is that Jesus sinned. However, unless we understand what sin is we cannot carry on an intelligent discussion about the matter. Therefore, reflect, with me, on what the Bible says about sin, understanding that time constraints limit us to the very basics of the topic:

Both the Hebrew and the Greek language rely on single words to convey the concept of our English word sin. The Hebrew concept of sin has to do with violations of law or wrongdoing against someone, the associated guilt, and the appropriate punishment.[2] However, the root seems to be to miss the mark.[3] Interestingly, the Greek word for sin, at its root, means the same thing.[4]

Throughout the Bible, then, sin means missing the mark, failing to live up a standard. The question then arises, what is the mark, or whose standard is missed? If you will open your Bible to a series of passages, I think you will see that the answers to these questions are self-evident.

 

Romans 3.20: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

 

Romans 3.23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

 

Romans 5.12:    “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

 

James 2.10:   “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

 

First John 3.4: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

 

From these five, concise declarations, we clearly see what is also taught in the Hebrew Scriptures. First, sin occurs when someone misses the mark or violates a standard of behavior established by God that reflects His glory. More specifically, sin is committed when God’s Law is broken. Even if you do not feel bad about breaking God’s Law, violation of His Law is sin. Thus, obedience to God and sinning against God are not compatible patterns of conduct. Next, sin is universal throughout the human race. Sin is the universal human condition passed on by means of natural reproduction, thereby making us heirs of the first sinner, Adam. Third, God’s Law can be considered much like a chain, in that a single sin is tantamount to violating the whole Law, just as when a single broken link in a chain causes the entire chain to fail.

Thus, a sin is disobedience to God, falling short of His glory, transgressing His law, bringing with it guilt and deserved punishment for breaking God’s Law. That understood, did Jesus disobey God? Did Jesus fall short of God’s glory? Did Jesus transgress God’s Law? Was Jesus guilty of wrongdoing? Did He deserve the punishment that was due every lawbreaker? Valid questions.

 

Answers To These Questions Will Become Obvious When We Consider WHY THE NOTION THAT JESUS SINNED IS NONSENSE

 

First, consider His nature. We know that Jesus was a man. He was born. He grew up. He hungered and tired and slept. At times, He angered and wept. The question, however, is did He sin? To answer that question, we need think about what it is to be a man. Though sin is shown in the Bible to be the universal condition of mankind, meaning that normally all men sin, was Jesus an exception? Keep in mind that in the beginning Adam and Eve were created by God without sin. Therefore, though all men presently sin, being sinful is not identical to being human. I claim that the Lord Jesus Christ’s nature precluded Him from sinning. How so? By virtue of the fact that although He was a man, He was not only a man, being without a man for His father. He was also God, and God is His Father. Isaiah 7.14 predicts this very thing: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, and Immanuel does mean “God with us.”[5] As well, when Jesus prayed, He prayed to His heavenly Father, John 17.1. Add to this another passage from the Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah 9.6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Hello? Who would this be? In the New Testament, Hebrews 1.8 refers back to Psalm 45.6-7. Turn to Hebrews 1.8, and read with me how it is shown that the Psalmist is recording God’s identification of His Son, Jesus, as God! “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” God identified His Son Jesus to be God. There are many more passages, but time presses. The point that I seek to make is that since Jesus is not only man, but He is also God, He possesses the very nature of God. The nature of God is holy.[6] Therefore, unless you deny that God is holy, the very nature of Jesus prohibited Him from sinning here on Earth . . . or anywhere else.

Next, consider His experiences. In Matthew 3.17, when He was baptized by John the Baptist, His heavenly Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” No argument can persuade a reasonable man that a holy God would approve of His Son had He to this point during His earthly sojourn committed any sins. So, no sins during the first thirty years on Earth. Matthew chapter four records forty days in the wilderness, during which time Jesus was weakened by fasting and was then sorely tempted by the devil.[7] However, that was not the only time He was tempted. The question that needs to be asked is whether successfully tempting Jesus is even possible, since He is God. James 1.13 declares that “God cannot be tempted with evil.” In other words, the devil tried to tempt Jesus, but failed. Others tried and also failed. Why so? To successfully tempt someone to commit sin there has to be a sinful inclination present to successfully grab hold of. James 1.14: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Therefore, since Jesus was good, something He asserts in John 10.11 and 14, and since He was holy, He had no lust for any temptations to gain a foothold with Him. Look at His life’s experiences in the gospel accounts. Where will you find a single selfish act, a single wrong comment or deed, the slightest exhibition of malice or violation of God’s Law? Even the strongest opponents of Christianity admit that Jesus was a good man. Consider, then, what C. S. Lewis wrote about Him in Mere Christianity:

 

...that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

 

C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963), from Mere Christianity[8]

 

Referring to God, Jesus Himself said these words, in John 8.29: “I do always those things that please him.” Thus, by His own mouth He claimed to never have done wrong. Even after He left this Earth, it was said about Him that He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” insofar as any taint of moral defilement from wrongdoing was concerned.[9] Therefore, in response to the persuasion held by some that Jesus sinned while on Earth, I ask, “Show me. Point out a sin. If you have a charge to level at Him then make the accusation, for to conclude that He sinned without any evidence of His sinning to point to is contemptible and illogical.”

Third, consider His mission. Jesus, Himself, said that He had come “to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19.10. That makes sense, since that is exactly the same mission announced by the angel who spoke to the man who would marry His mother, Joseph. Matthew 1.20-21 records the angel’s words: “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Thus, His mission, the reason He left heaven’s glory to come to Earth, was to be the Savior of sinful men’s souls. That is a good thing, since “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”[10] To fulfill His mission, He had to provide a substitute who would pay the penalty demanded by God for the punishment of each sinner’s sins. How did He do that? He did that simultaneously in two ways: On one hand, He offered Himself to be the sacrifice for sins. That explains the significance of John 1.29: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The Lamb of God offered Himself a sacrifice for sin. On the other hand, He is referred to as our Great High Priest no less than fourteen times in the letter written to the Hebrews. Let me read but one of those verses, Hebrews 2.17: “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” The Lord Jesus Christ performed His mission to save sinners from their sins by functioning as both the offering for our sins, and also the high priest who offered the sacrifice for our sins. However, for a sacrifice to be acceptable, it must be without spot or blemish. Thus, to fulfill His mission of saving sinners, He must needs be a sinless sacrifice for sins. Thus, not only does His nature ensure that He was sinless on Earth, and His experiences show Him to be sinless on Earth, but the very nature of His mission demanded that He be sinless, since no flawed or imperfect sacrifice could be offered as an acceptable substitute for sinners. In Job 14.4, the question is asked, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” So you see, to accomplish His mission, Jesus could not have committed even a single sin.

Fourth, and finally, consider His success. In other words, how did He do? He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Did He succeed? Was He successful? Was God pleased with His Son’s offering for sins? Are sinners saved from their sins, truly saved from their sins, as a result of what Jesus did? There are two sides to the answer to our questions about Jesus Christ’s success: First, examine Christ’s success from God’s perspective. Jesus suffered and died on a cruel cross, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.[11] Did God accept His efforts? Did Jesus succeed with God? Consider this before you answer: Thirty-two times in the New Testament we are told that Jesus was raised from the dead by God the Father. Thirty-two times! In addition, in First Corinthians chapter 15, the resurrection is described much like the triumphal procession of a victorious army parading their victory. First Corinthians 15.57 shows the success of Christ’s mission from God’s perspective: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, yes, Christ’s mission was a success from God’s perspective. However, is Christ’s mission a success from the sinner’s perspective? If the victory is given to us, as Paul indicates, then the answer must be yes. If our sins are washed clean away in Christ’s blood, as First John 1.7 indicates, then the answer must be yes. And if our destiny will be glory with Christ, as Romans 8.29-39 indicates, the answer must be yes again. However, could Jesus have succeeded on His mission to cleanse away sins and deliver us from our sins, would God have been satisfied and would Christians be rescued, if Jesus Himself had sinned? No. Only the sinless can wash away sins. Only the clean can address a matter of uncleanness. If Jesus was successful, He had to be sinless, for if He had sinned there would be no salvation from sins.

 

How, then, can we explain God’s declaration that “their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more,” in Hebrews 8.12? Then again, in Hebrews 10.17? “. . . their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Simple. Jesus committed no sins on Earth, or anywhere else, and God accepted His sacrifice for our sins.

What does it mean, then, that there are so many professing Christians who believe Jesus sinned while here on Earth? I think it means a number of things: First, it means that a great many people have no understanding of what the Bible actually teaches, or do not really care what the Bible teaches. Watch them. Consider their behavior. They will show themselves soon enough. Second, it means that a great many people who claim to be Christians could not possibly be Christians, since no genuinely born again; Christian could believe his Savior was Himself a sinner. It takes more than saying you are a Christian to actually be a Christian.

To be a real Christian you have to have a real Savior. The real Savior, the One the Bible speaks of, the eternal Son of the living God, Who died on the cross and shed His blood for your sins, and Who then conquered sin and death when He rose from the dead, is a sinless Savior.

If you do not know the sinless Savior, the One the Bible speaks of, then I urge you to come and talk to me after the service is dismissed.



[2] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 308.

[3] Ibid., page 306.

[4] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 50-51.

[5] Matthew 1.23

[6] Isaiah 6.3

[7] Matthew 4.1-10

[9] Hebrews 7.26

[10] Hebrews 10.31

[11] 1 Peter 3.18



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org