Christ Alone Is Without Sin

Article 15 of the 39 Articles of the Church of England says: "Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world, and sin, as Saint John saith, was not in him. But all we the rest, although baptized, and born again in Christ,yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."A modernized version says, "Christ, who truly took our human nature, was made like us in every respect except that of sin." I do not think most Christians I know actually believe this point. Or at least most do not act like they believe it. It seems that what they believe is that Christ, being divine in nature, was not really "like us in every respect."

I hear it often said: "I cannot be expected to do that. Jesus was God and I am not God so how can I be expected to conform to his will or resist such a profound temptation?" The problem with this response is that it is wrong. He was God but he was, as this creed says so simply, "like us in every respect."

But, I hear it also said, Jesus did not inherit original sin. Yes, this is true so far as it goes. But he was fiercely tempted in every way and completely and faithfully resisted sin by the power of the same Holy Spirit that he has now given to you and me as Christians. Jesus faced more temptation, real temptation not the play acting sort, than you and I will ever face. It is pointless to argue about whether or not he "could have sinned." I find that debate not only useless but one conducted by people with too much time on their hands. The very question is wrong but even if you grant the question there is no obvious biblical answer except by a strange sort of inferential logic. We simply do not know and should say we know something like this. Leave mystery as mystery. The point is clear: He did not sin and he was truly and consistently tempted to sin.

Paul says that when we are tempted God will provide a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). He provided such a way for Jesus and he always took it by the Spirit's power. We should do the same. Some say this makes this model less than ideal. I find this also silly. Who would you rather follow, a person who faced real trial and stood strong, or a person who faced real trial and failed? Maybe the reason we make such silly statements is because we have forgotten what Article 15 really says.