Truth Matters Newsletter – November 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 11 – Jesus Could Have Sinned! (According to Kenneth Copeland) By Robert S. Liichow
As I was waiting to take our daughter to school on Wednesday morning (10-26-05), I was surfing around the television dial and happened to stop briefly at Kenneth Copeland’s morning broadcast. He was speaking at one of his “Believer’s Conventions” and I heard him emphatically state that although Jesus was perfect and sinless, He could have sinned. After all, Adam was created perfect and he sinned, thus it was a real possibility that Jesus, God the Son, could have sinned and ended up in need of redemption Himself. Copeland held forth the basic belief of many Arminian preachers who posit that in order for the temptations to be real temptations Christ had to have had the option of sinning. Theologically this view is called “peccability.
Orthodox evangelical Christianity does not uphold this view and we hold to the theological position of “impeccability,” or that Jesus Christ could not have sinned. I like the manner in which our view is stated by brother Roy L. Howdyshell:
The purpose of the temptation was not to see if Christ could sin, but to show that He could not sin. The temptation came at a critical time: the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. The temptation was designed to show the nation what a unique Savior she had: the impeccable Son of God. It is also noteworthy that it was not Satan who initiated the temptation but the Holy Spirit (Matt 4:1). If Christ could have sinned, then the Holy Spirit solicited Christ to sin, but that is something God does not do. (James 1:3). Christ’s peccability could relate only to His human nature; His divine nature was impeccable. Although Christ had two natures, He was nonetheless, one Person and could not divorce Himself of His deity. Wherever He went, the divine nature was present. If the two natures could be separated then it could be said that He could sin in His humanity, but because the human and divine natures cannot be separated from the Person of Christ, and since the divine nature cannot sin, it must be affirmed that Christ could not have sinned.
The theologian William Shedd makes the following seven statements regarding the impeccability of Christ and I believe they will prove an invaluable aid when this topic comes up (as it has a way of doing among Christians and cultists alike).
(1) The immutability of Christ (Heb. 13:8). Christ is unchangeable and therefore could not sin. If Christ could have sinned while on earth, then He could sin now because of His immutability. If He could have sinned on earth, what assurance is there that He will not sin now?
(2) The omnipotence of Christ (Matt 28:18). Christ was omnipotent and therefore could not sin. Weakness is implied where sin is possible, yet there was no weakness of any kind in Christ. How could He be omnipotent and still be able to sin?
(3) The omniscience of Christ (John 2:25). Christ was omniscient and therefore could not sin. Sin depends on ignorance in order that the sinner may be deceived, but Christ could not be deceived because He knows all things, including the hypothetical (Matt. 11:21). If Christ could have sinned then He really did not know what would happen if He would sin.
(4) The deity of Christ. Christ is not only man but also God. If He were only a man then He could have sinned, but God cannot sin and in a union of the two natures, the human nature admits to the divine nature (otherwise the finite is stronger than the infinite). United in the one Person of Christ are the two natures, humanity and deity; because Christ is also deity He could not sin.
(5) The nature of temptation (James 1:14-15). The temptation that came to Christ was from without. However, for sin to take place, there must be an inner response to the outward temptation. Since Jesus did not possess a sin nature, there was nothing within Him to respond to the temptation. People sin because there is an inner response to the outer temptation.
(6) The will of Christ. In moral decisions, Christ could have only one will: to do the will of His Father; in moral decisions the human will was subservient to the divine will. If Christ could have sinned then His human will would have been stronger than the divine will.
(7) The authority of Christ (John 10:18). In His deity, Christ had complete authority over His humanity. For example, no one could take the life of Christ except He would lay it down willingly (John 10:18). If Christ had authority over life and death, He certainly had authority over sin; if He could withhold death at will, He could also withhold sin at will.
Mr. Copeland is simply parroting the very heresy that got Rev. Edward Iving (1792-1834) excommunicated from the Scottish Presbyterian Church in 1833. Irving was one of the early fathers of Pentecostalism and he was one of the earliest Pentecostals to believe God was restoring both prophets and apostles back to the New Testament Church, which naturally , he started. ♦
Copyright © 2005 Robert S. Liichow