The Impeccability of Jesus Christ

Willmington's Guide to the Bible

This subject deals with sinlessness. Here two facts should be stated:

A. Christ did not sin. We are informed that:

1. He knew no sin.

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21).

2. He did no sin.

"Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Pet. 2:22).

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).

3. He had no sin.

"And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin" (1 Jn. 3:5).

"Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me" (Jn. 14:30).

B. These facts concerning the sinlessness of Christ while upon the earth are attested by many individuals, some of which were his enemies:

1. Pilate.

"Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him" (Jn. 19:4).

2. Pilate’s wife.

"When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Mt. 27:19).

3. Judas.

"Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that" (Mt. 27:4).

4. The dying thief.

"And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss" (Lk. 23:41).

5. The Roman centurion.

"Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man" (Lk. 23:47).

C. Christ could not sin. There is no question concerning the fact that Jesus did not sin while on this earth, but could he have done so? Author W. E. Best writes:

"The point of view that Christ could sin is designated by the idea of peccability, and the fact that He could not sin is expressed by the term impeccability. To suggest the capability or possibility of sinning would disqualify Christ as Saviour, for a peccable Christ would mean a peccable God. Holiness is far more than the absence of sin; it is positive virtue. The advocates of peccability say, ‘Christ could have sinned, but He did not.’ To say that He could have sinned is to deny positive holiness. To deny positive holiness, therefore, is to deny the holy character of God. Holiness is positive virtue which has neither room for nor interest in sin. The Lord Jesus could not sin because the days of His flesh meant only addition of experience, not variation of character. Holy humanity was united to Deity in one indivisible person, the impeccable Christ. Jesus Christ cannot have more holiness because He is perfectly holy; He cannot have less holiness because He is unchangingly holy." (Studies in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, p. 3)

The question is asked, however: If Christ could not have sinned, then what was the purpose of the temptations in the wilderness? Here it should be observed that these trials were not to see if Christ would sin, but to prove he would not.

Taken from: Willmington's Guide to the Bible  1981, 1984 by H. L. Willmington.