For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin .
Was Christ Peccable?
Theologians call this debate about this doctrine The Impeccability of Christ. Peccability means capable of sin; impeccability means incapable of sin. God is incapable of sin; humanity is capable of sin. And Jesus was both God and man. So, could He have sinned? Great question!
High View or Low View
This question is related to whether a believer has a high view of Christ or a low view. The terms high view and low view are not used the way someone might think when you first look at them.
A person with a high view of Christ would say that Christ could not have sinned.
A person with a low view of Christ would say that Christ could have sinned, but He didn’t.
An Example of Reluctance
The three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) all tell us that Jesus faced temptation from Satan in the wilderness for forty days. Neither Matthew nor Luke imply any reluctance on Jesus’ part, but Mark does:
“(After Jesus was baptized) Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him (Mark 1:12-13).”
Another way to interpret the word translated impelled in this passage is drove. Mark implies that Jesus was reluctant to face Satan’s temptations, but the Spirit drove Him out (to ensure He went). The usual response of any human is to avoid a dangerous situation. Implying that Jesus was reluctant is having a low view of Jesus. A high view of Jesus is if Jesus had no misgivings about facing Satan’s temptations.
Having a high view doesn’t mean that a person who holds that view has the best or even more honoring understanding. Mark’s low view emphasizes Jesus’ humanity because Mark is using Jesus’ victory over Satan’s temptations as an example for his readers to follow when they face temptation. So, even though reluctance is normal, that doesn’t mean you should give in to temptation–instead, stay faithful while enduring it.
It’s challenging to resolve the peccability debate because Jesus is both God (unable to sin) and man (vulnerable to sin).
When Jesus walked the earth, He was vulnerable to Satan and his temptations. But Jesus received a resurrection body when He rose from the dead and was no longer susceptible to sin. As believers in Jesus, we will be like Him when He comes for us, and then we will never again be vulnerable to sin.
Jesus Won the Victory over Sin
Jesus didn’t sin, and all orthodox Christians agree on that. But, could He have sinned? Because Jesus is fully God (among other reasons), He wouldn’t and couldn’t sin. As a human, was He vulnerable to temptation? Yes, and because He was, He can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:14-16).
God Knew the End from the Beginning
Because of God’s omniscience, He knows the beginning from the end. We also know that Jesus didn’t sin because the story has played out.
“I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure (Isaiah 46:10).”
So, God made the plan of the ages and knew the end from the beginning. He knew Jesus wouldn’t sin and knew everything that happened on the way. We can trust in our omnipotent, omniscient God and our impeccable Savior.