Nature Of Christ
Original Sin—The Problem
misunderstanding of Original Sin in the early church has triggered a litany of
doctrinal errors among the churches over the years.
These errors have come in the related subjects of righteousness
by faith, the incarnation of Jesus, and victory over sin.
misunderstanding in the beginning was that the human family all share Adam’s
guilt. There is an important
difference between the inclination to sin and the guilt of sin.
The bible very clearly says, "The
son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the
iniquity of the son." Ezekiel 18:20. So
the bible does not teach that we are born guilty of our parent’s sins.
To be subject to or inclined to sin does not mean that you are guilty of
it. Jesus was tempted in the same
way we are, yet He never once yielded to or entertained sin. He never developed
any propensities toward sin by giving way to it.
This belief that
every son actually bears the guilt of his ancestor’s sins led to the practice
of Infant Baptism in the Catholic church. Also,
assuming Jesus had the nature of Adam before he fell because He was sinless they
had to come up with a way to excuse Him from the guilt of Original Sin—hence
the doctrine of The Immaculate Conception. Additionally, if Jesus did not
share our fallen nature and inclination to sin—if He did not dwell in our
fallen flesh, then the ladder had not been let down from heaven to earth. The
gulf still had not been bridged between a holy God and fallen humanity.
This consequently brought on an illegitimate
continuation of the human priesthood, mediation of dead saints and the
intercessory status of angels and Mary.
other Christian churches took a different approach to take care of this problem.
Although they rejected the Catholic tradition
of the Immaculate Conception and the system of intercessors, they invented a
doctrine which is equally unscriptural and which removes Christ totally from the
fallen family of Adam.
view declared that Jesus was incarnated in a special manner that preserved Him
from partaking of the nature of Adam's descendants. Instead, He was born in the
nature of Adam before he fell and lived His holy life in the uncorrupted state
of sinless humanity. He did come in
human nature, they say, but it had to be in Adam's unfallen nature in order to
protect Him from the pollution of original sin.
belief that Jesus came in the pre-fall nature of Adam has resulted in two
extremes in thought. One is that it
is possible for us to live a sinless life
in the nature of unfallen Adam. Assuming,
correctly, that His victorious experience in the flesh can be imparted to every
Christian through faith, why can’t we attain that very same untainted life of
sinless Adam? This fanatical view has led some to believe that they could
reproduce the absolute holiness and perfection of unfallen Adam.
other extremity to which men are led by accepting the error of Christ's pre-fall
nature is exactly the opposite of the "holy flesh" theory. They simply
assert that since Jesus overcame in Adam's sinless nature, we cannot possibly
hope to share His victory while still in bodies of sinful flesh. Christ could
only impart what He had to give, and since He had no victory over sin in our
fallen nature, He could not share it with us. Therefore, it is impossible to
overcome as Christ overcame.
Christ Was Like Us!
main problem with this teaching is that it is diametrically opposed to the clear
teaching of the Bible. In the first
place Jesus depended on His Father for His power.
Before he fell, Adam had no battles to fight against hereditary
tendencies. He had the power in himself to choose always not to sin.
But Jesus never had that kind of power as a man. He said, "I do
nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."
John 8:28. Repeatedly, Christ spoke of being dependent on His Father for
everything He said and what He did.
again and again the bible assures us that Jesus had a human nature exactly like
ours. In Hebrews 2:11 it says, "For both he that sanctifieth and they who
are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them
brethren." Brothers are of one flesh and family nature. Christ is the one
who sanctifies, and we are being sanctified; and we are all of one flesh so that
He can call us His brothers. This establishes the point beyond any question.
verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of
Abraham." Hebrews 2:16. And Paul also declared that Jesus "was made of the seed
of David according to the flesh." Romans 1:3. How could He partake of Abraham's seed and David’s seed if
He took on Him the nature of unfallen Adam? The emphasis here is that He did not
take on some exotic, sinless nature such as angels or holy Adam might have had
but the same nature that Abraham's children possessed. They had sin-weakened
bodies and minds. So did He.
what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending
his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in
the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who
walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
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." Hebrews 2:17. Do the
words "in all things" really mean "in all things"?
once more, just to hammer it home, we read, "Forasmuch then as the children
are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the
same." Hebrews 2:14. Notice how the inspired writer emphasized the
sameness of the body of Christ with man. HE - ALSO - HIMSELF - LIKEWISE. These
four words are used consecutively even though they are repetitive and redundant.
WHY? In order to impress us that Jesus really did enter into the SAME nature man
possessed. Just like children partake of the same flesh and blood, HE ALSO
HIMSELF LIKEWISE took the SAME! How
can this unambiguous language confuse anyone?
was the crux of the battle between Jeus and satan in the wilderness. If satan could have succeeded in causing Jesus to use His
power as God , he could have used the facts to sustain
his charges that God required an obedience that no man in the flesh could
produce. If Jesus had failed to overcome the tempter in the same nature we have
and by the same means available to us, the devil would have proven that
obedience is indeed an impossible requirement.
What a sweet victory it would have been for him.
Does This Help Me?
beyond proving that it was possible for men to overcome sin in the flesh, His
ultimate purpose was to help us to actually do it!
What I need to know is that I can overcome sin, my nature being what it
is. If He had not been born in the
same flesh and nature as I, how could He understand my weaknesses and
inclinations toward sin, and be a merciful High Priest for me?
obvious truth of the nature of Jesus brings us to one of the great problems in
holding to the pre-fall human nature of Christ.
If His victory over Satan, in the flesh, was for the purpose of enabling
me to fulfill the requirements of the law, how could His victory help me at all
if it was obtained in some other flesh than mine? Here is where this false
doctrine strikes at the beautiful principle of righteousness by faith.
by faith is the imputing and imparting of the results of His sinless life and
atoning death. It includes both justification and sanctification. Through His
sacrifice He imputes, or credits, to us the merits of His sinless experience and
gives us a new birth that forgives our past sins and delivers us from their
penalty. This is justification. To deliver us from the power of
sin, He does not merely reckon us as righteous, but as our High Priest He actually
imparts the strength to overcome sin and live right in the present and future. In
either case, He can only bestow upon us what He attained through His own
incarnate experience as the Saviour of the world.
purpose of the incarnation was to redeem fallen man—not sinless
man. To do so He had to "condemn sin in the flesh." Romans 8:3. Our
sins, which proceed from the flesh, had to be condemned by Him, and the only way
this could be done was to conquer that sinful flesh and submit it to the
death of the cross.
came to take away the sin of the world, as John declared. How could He take away
sin that was not even there in the flesh He assumed? To be more precise,
how could he "condemn sin in the flesh" in a sinless flesh?
said, "I am crucified with Christ." Galatians 2:20. Why does he
further state that we "were baptized into his death"? Romans 6:3.
Every sinner must pass, by faith, through the crucifixion and resurrection
experience with Christ. In order to pass from death to life, every one of us
must identify with the One who represented us as the second Adam. Our sins were
in Him. When He died, we died; and the penalty against our sins was satisfied
had to carry our own fallen nature to that cross in order to make it possible
for our sinful nature to be put to death. Anything
less would have failed to satisfy the justice of God. Christ had to surrender condemned humanity to the full wages
of sin on that cross in order to make atonement possible for us. Otherwise, we
could not identify with Him or be crucified with Him. I can’t see it any other way.
Redemption requires that Jesus live and die with the nature of fallen man
in order to provide the vital link of our justification and sanctification.
Did He Overcome in Sinful Flesh?
guess I have wondered why, if Jesus actually inherited the compromised nature of
Adam, He didn't sin like the rest of Adam's descendants. But I think the answer is that He was filled with the Holy
Spirit, possessing a fully surrendered will and sanctified human nature from
the womb. We are born again
from our decision to follow Jesus (baptism) and not from birth like Jesus.
However, this fully surrendered will and sanctified human nature is
available to us in real time in the same way that it was available to Him so
that we can overcome sin in the same way that He overcame it.
Jesus, in living His life of victory over sin, did not utilize His
divinity but confined Himself to the same power available to us through
conversion and sanctification.
is not a mere crediting or accounting. It is the imparting of something to us.
Just as He imputes justification to deliver us from the guilt of sin,
He now imparts sanctification to deliver us from the power of sin.
What is the sanctification He imparts? It is our actual participation in the
victory of Christ over sin. By faith we enter into and appropriate the strength
of the victory He experienced in the flesh. In other words, He is able and
willing to live out in us the same overcoming life that He lived as a man on
this earth. He will reproduce in us His own sinless experience. This is
Jesus came into the world with Adam's unfallen nature in order to manifest a
sinless life, how could that unfallen nature be reproduced in me? Fallen men are
not sanctified by participating in Adam's unfallen experience. They are
sanctified by overcoming sin in their fallen nature through the same power Jesus
used in overcoming sin. There is no way for us to participate in the unfallen
experience of Adam. If that is the means by which Jesus overcame Satan, there is
no way for Him to impart it to me. But if Jesus gained the victory over Satan in
the fallen nature of Adam's descendants, then I can participate in it with Him.
That kind of victory can be superimposed upon my own life, because it was gained
in the same nature I possess.
sinless experience lived in some alien, unfallen nature could not be credited to
me, nor could it ever be possessed by me. Fallen nature can never, in this life,
be restored to the state of unfallen man. But we may receive the victory over
sin which Jesus gained in the flesh as one of us.
Bible answer is clear that even in the weakness of our flesh we can cast down every
thing in our lives that is evil and bring into captivity every
thought to the obedience of Christ: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do
not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but
mighty through God)... Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that
exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every
thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
Word of God assures us that we may partake of the divine nature of Jesus and
have the "mind of Christ." His sinless experience in the flesh is a
guarantee that any of us may have the same victory if we will depend upon the
Father as He did. This means that
in overcoming sin He had no advantage over us. He fought the enemy in the same
nature and with the same spiritual weapons that are available to us.
doesn’t mean we can equal the perfect pattern of Jesus' sinless life. All of
us have degraded human nature further by giving way to the flesh—making
ourselves more vulnerable to Satan by cooperating with him. Jesus never
responded to a single sinful stimulus and Satan could find nothing in Him. He
lived all His life with the surrendered mind and will of the fully sanctified.
He committed no sins to be atoned for.
even though we cannot equal the pattern, we should seek earnestly to reflect
that holy life of Jesus as fully as possible. By the grace of God, we may put
away every known sin and be perfect in our sphere with no consciousness of
cherished wrong doing.
that mean we will be boasting about living without sin? On the contrary, the
closer we come to Christ, the more we will sense our unworthiness. Those who
attain the standard of Christ will be the last ever to recognize it, much less
boast of it.
Obedience Possible? Final
stepping down into a fallen human body and overcoming everything satan could
hurl at Him, Jesus vindicated Himself and proved satan wrong.
Everyone can see that it is possible, in fallen flesh, to be obedient
through dependence on the Father. But God’s final vindication will take place
when the character of Christ has been reproduced in a persecuted little remnant
who remain faithful through the firestorm of Armageddon and beyond. Long after
Satan's knee has bowed to acknowledge the righteousness of God and eons after he
and his followers have tasted the eternal consequences of their sin, the 144,000
will still be bearing witness to the honor and integrity of God's government.
It is easy to understand why that little group who sing the song of Moses and the Lamb will be so signally honored as they stand nearest to God's throne. It is through their experience that God's character will be vindicated at last.
In summary, we can see that the ancient error of Adam's imputed guilt has led to a chain of related deceptions. The most significant truths of salvation have been cleverly counterfeited. The humanity of Jesus has been denied, the imparted righteousness of Christ has been challenged, and the possibility of victory over sin has been ridiculed. It is only as we recognize the basic falsehood that we can avoid the perversions that follow.