Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Sinlessness of Christ

Leslie Basham: As a Bible teacher for women, Nancy Leigh DeMoss often spends hours alone studying. Doesn't that sound like a safe environment to get away from the world and avoid sin?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: But God knows the heart. He knows the thoughts. He knows the attitudes. He knows the impatience. He knows the critical thoughts.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, March 9, 2015.

We've been preparing our hearts for the Easter season by studying along with Nancy in a series called "The Incomparable Christ."

Nancy: I want to talk today about another obvious way that Christ is incomparable. If you are following along with us in Oswald Sanders' book, we're in chapter 13 which is called the “Sinlessness of Christ.” I believe that's a word. Although every time I do it on my computer, it shows that it is not correctly spelled. I think that is a word we're not very familiar with—sinlessness. That is part of what makes Christ unique and makes Him incomparable.

As I was preparing for this series and I got to this chapter, I thought, Surely everybody who is listening to this program would agree that Jesus was sinless, so do we really need a whole program on the sinlessness of Christ? But it turns out as I did some studying that it's not necessarily true that everybody agrees that Jesus was sinless.

In fact, I discovered some astounding statistics in this Barna Research poll that says there's almost an equal split in opinions among American adults on this subject: 42% of Americans polled believe that Jesus sinned; only 40% believe that He did not. You think you go out into the American public and a lot of people don't believe in Christ and excuse it.

Then they did a survey of denominations, what people who attend different denominations believe. I'll give you the best denomination on this count was the Baptists. Listen to this before you “amen” so quickly. Only 55% of Baptists strongly disagree that Jesus sinned while He was here on earth—and they were at the top of the pack on this survey.

That means that nearly half of Baptists surveyed think that Jesus might have or did sin! As someone said to me as I was discussing this with them the other day, they said, “That's pretty bad if Christ is our righteousness to think that He might have sinned!”

Let's talk about this whole issue of sin, where it came from, and the concept of original sin. That's a doctrinal concept that is an important one. In Genesis 3—you know the story—how Adam and Eve, created without a sin nature, disobeyed God’s law. They went their own independent way, and they sinned.

Since that time, every human being born has come into this race with a sinful nature, except one. That is what's called the doctrine of inherited or original sin. Adam represented all of us. We were in him, and in him we are all born into this world as sinners.

Now, that doesn't mean that little babies are doing sinful things, necessarily. But we sin because we are sinners. We have inherited that sinful nature. We got it from our fathers, who got it from their fathers (and mothers as well).

We read in Romans 5 for example, "By the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners" (v. 19). "Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (v. 12).

Scripture is very clear on this. There is “none is righteous, no, not one . . . All have turned aside . . . no one does good, not even one" (Rom. 3:10–12). "All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

That is the human condition—fallen, sinful. It's true of you, me, your children, your grandchildren—sweet as they may be—they are sinners in need of a savior. They are separated from God. With one exception, and that's Jesus who lived a sinless life. He did what the first Adam failed to do. He perfectly fulfilled the law of God. Scripture is so clear on this. “He knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). “He was tempted yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Now the question is how was He born without a sinful nature like every other human has had in the history of the world since Adam and Eve? Human life begins at the point of conception. The moment the DNA of man and woman combine. But not so with Jesus. Remember? We talked earlier in this series that He existed before the creation of the world. He didn’t come into existence the night He was born in Bethlehem. He had existed for all of eternity past.

The physical body of Jesus that was born in Bethlehem was a special creation of God, placed in the womb of a teenage girl named Mary. That's what we call the miracle of the virgin birth.

If you're familiar with the Scriptures, Matthew 1:18,

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Don’t ask me to explain it. I can't—it’s supernatural—but it’s true. Luke 1 tells it this way, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” You're going to have a son, but His Father is going to be God. “And Mary said to the angel [understandable question here], 'How will this be, since I am a virgin?'"

I can't get pregnant. I can't have a child. I've never known a man. The angels answer is really important. “And the angel answered her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God'" (Luke 1:31–35). 

Jesus was not the product of the physical union of a man and a woman, but He was supernaturally conceived in Mary’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s never happened before; it’s never happened since. God specifically did this in that moment in time in history to send Jesus Christ as a man into this world.

This is a plot none of us could have devised. We couldn't have designed it. We couldn't have thought of it. And if we could have thought of it, we couldn't have made it happen. Only God could do this. As a result of the life of Christ being placed into Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit, no sin was transmitted from Mary or Joseph. The virgin birth—that's what we're talking about here—is vital. It makes it possible for Christ to share our humanity—we've seen how important that is—to be born of a woman, at the same time without sharing our sinful nature, because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

So we learn in the Scripture that He was absolutely pure and without any taint of sin—from the day He was born, till the day he died. The sinlessness of Christ.

Then the question rises, “But if He didn’t sin, was He really fully human?” I want to remind you that a sinful nature was not part of our original humanity. Adam and Eve were truly human before they sinned. Sin was and is a perversion of our true humanity. Christ came—this sinless God/man—to restore our full, sinless humanity.

"You shall call his name Jesus." Why? "Because he will save his people from" what? "their sins" (Matt. 1:21). This is God's amazing plan. There is nothing like it in all the history of the universe. He sent Jesus to this world—the sinless God/man—conceived by the Holy Spirit, placed in the womb of the virgin Mary. Why? So that there could just be a virgin birth? What was the point of that? The point is that He came to restore our full, sinless humanity, to rescue us from our sins.

The sinlessness of Christ was well-attested. It was attested by His friends. The disciples had lived with Him for three years, day in and day out. You wouldn’t have to live with me for three days to know I’m a sinner. Probably a lot less time than that. For three years these men lived and walked and talked with Christ. They saw Him in all kinds of circumstances. Two of the disciples that were closest to Jesus later wrote letters that talked about His sinlessness.

John says, “In him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5).

Peter says, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:21).

Just think about it. Jesus never, ever sinned—from birth to the day He died. He never sinned in word, deed, attitude. He was never impatient, arrogant, rude, selfish, unkind. He never disobeyed His Father, never chose His own way rather than God’s. Not only was there this negative sinlessness, but He was also positive holiness. He said and did everything the Father told Him to do. He loved God and others perfectly every moment of His life.

I think about my own life when I sit in my study for hours on end, not committing any outward sins as far as anybody would know. There's not even anybody in the room. You could say, “She's not sinning. She's there studying her Bible for Revive Our Hearts.” But God knows the heart. He knows the thoughts. He knows the attitudes. He knows the impatience. He knows the critical thoughts.

Then, the positive active holiness. That's what pleased the Father. Jesus, both in Psalm 40:8, and then repeated again in Hebrews 10:5–7, “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” 

He not only didn’t break the law of God once, but He perfectly fulfilled it every moment of every day of His life! I think about that passage in Micah 6:8 that we often hear quoted. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

Whoever has fulfilled that? They said that's all God's required of you? Who can do it? Jesus. He perfectly fulfilled that mandate.

Not only did His friends testified to His sinlessness, but his enemies gave testimony to His sinlessness.

Pilate said, “I find no guilt in this man” when he tried Him multiple times (Luke 23:4). This man has not sinned or done anything wrong.

Judas said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matt. 27:4).

The thief on the cross said, “We are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41).

Even the demons, when He exorcised them, said, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34). His enemies testified to His sinlessness.

Jesus’ own testimony was that He was sinless. Now, anybody could say they were sinless, but you'd have to be arrogant to say that unless it is true. But in Jesus case, it is true.

Listen to these verses from the Gospel of John. Jesus said, “I do always the things that are pleasing to [my Father]” (John 8:29). Any of us who could say that? He asked, “Which one of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46). Pause, look around, wait. I want to say, I would not ask that question in any room of people. In Jesus' case, there were plenty of people who wanted to bring Him down, but there was never a charge of sinfulness that was brought or could be brought against Him.

By the way, that question remains unanswered still today. No one has ever convicted Jesus of sin. Jesus said, “I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

So you say, “Why are you belaboring this?” Jesus had to be sinless in order to be a satisfactory sacrifice for our sins. Let me take you back to the Old Testament system of sacrifices for a moment here. In the Old Testament, worshipers who wanted to be right with God, who knew that they had sinned, would go to the tabernacle or temple, they'd go to the priest, and they would bring a lamb. Or, if they were poor, they would bring a less expensive but some kind of animal that would be sacrificed to atone for their sins.

Now the animal couldn't atone for their sins. But the animal would be killed and its blood would be shed. The animal was dying as a substitute in place of the sinner. Of course, those animals were just a type pointing to Christ who was yet to come.

Those lambs—you read this phrase many times in the Old Testament—had to be “without blemish.” You couldn't take to God the runt of the litter. You couldn't take to God these lambs that nobody else wanted. It had to be a lamb without blemish.

Then once a year on the Passover, every family wold take a lamb. Exodus says, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old” (Ex. 12:4). They would kill the lamb, put the blood on the doorposts and lintel, and God would see that blood and would pass over. His judgment would not fall on that house.

For hundreds of years, day after day, the Jewish worshipers brought these sacrifices. Lambs were killed—bleeding lambs, dying lambs, blood spilt everywhere. Being a priest was a bloody business in those days. And year after year, the Passover would be observed, the lambs would be killed and their blood would be shed day after day, year after year for hundreds of years—lambs dying, lambs dying, lambs dying.

Imagine when Jesus approached the Jordan River where John was baptizing, and people heard John say, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Peter says it this way, “You were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19). You see "the wages of sin is death"—that's what God's word says (Rom. 6:23). But Jesus had not sinned, so He did not deserve to die. He died a death that we deserved. He was innocent. He was falsely accused. We, on the other hand, are guilty. We are rightly accused.

An old hymn writer put it this way,

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He.
1

He was the perfect sacrifice—the only sacrifice—that could permanently, once for all atone, make payment for our sin. Because of His substitutionary death in our place for our sin, we can be declared righteous, sinless, justified, right with God because He died in our place.

Romans 5 says, “For as by the one man’s disobedience [Adam] the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience [Jesus] the many will be made righteous” (v. 19).

First Peter 3 says it this way, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (v. 18). He had to be sinless for redemption to be accomplished. Not only did Christ fulfill the type of the sacrificial lamb, but He’s also is a picture of the priest who offered the lamb.

Listen to what Hebrew 7 says, “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” Who is that talking about? Jesus. Then it goes on to say why that matters, why it is important. “He has no need, like those high priests [in the Old Testament], to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people” (vv. 26–27).

See, the priests in the Old Testament had to keep offering sacrifices, and when they did, they first had to offer for their own sins and then for the sins of the people. Then, because they sinned again, they had to offer more sacrifices. Hebrews 7 says that Jesus didn't have to keep doing this, since He did this once for all when He offered up Himself. He had no sins of His own to die for. So He could die once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.

I know some of you have been listening to this old, old story for many years, but to some of you, it may be new. Again, let me just say, "Ask God to give you fresh eyes, fresh ears, to know the wonder of this old, old story of Jesus and His love."

Just a reminder, His sacrifice as the sinless Lamb of God was for the purpose of cleansing us from our sins. Ephesians 5 says,

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (vv. 25–27).

He was holy and without blemish, but He died to make us holy and without blemish. So how can we thoughtlessly, carelessly, intentionally, willfully, having been cleansed then go and spit in the face of Christ—so to speak—and trample His blood underfoot by going out and sinning as if it didn’t matter. It does matter. He died to to cleanse us and make us holy.

Let me remind you that Jesus was sinless, not because He relied on the supernatural power of His own divine nature or because His divine nature overpowered His human nature to keep Him from sinning, but rather because He utilized all of the resources given to Him in His humanity. I've said that before in this series, but I think it's worth repeating. We need to remember this.

How did He do this? How did He remain sinless? He loved and meditated on God’s Word. He prayed to His Father. He trusted in the wisdom and rightness of His Father’s will and Word. He relied on the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen Him to do all that He was called upon to do.

So how can we be kept from sinning? By the power of Christ, the sinless one who lives within us. We are enabled to live holy lives, by the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. That's why the apostle Paul said its “no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). 

I love the song Twila Paris wrote a number of years ago. It just summarizes what we've been talking about.

You only Son, no sin to hide,
But You have sent Him from Your side
To walk upon this guilty sod
And to become the Lamb of God.

Your gift of love they crucified.
They laughed and scorned Him as He died.
The humble King they named a fraud
And sacrificed the Lamb of God.

I was so lost I should have died,
But You have brought me to Your side,
To be led by Your staff and rod,
And to be called a lamb of God.

Oh, Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God,
I love the holy Lamb of God.
Oh wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

Can you say that to Him? That He is your Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God? Have you been washed in His precious blood? 

I think there are many people in our churches today, different denominations and stripes, who know all this but they've never personally placed their trust in Jesus Christ to save them from their sin. They're religious, but they've never been made righteous. I wonder even among those listening today, there could be perhaps several here.

You say, “You know, I’ve heard this before. But God is making it real in my heart. Right now I want to place my faith in Christ, repent of my sin and going my own way, doing my own thing. I recognize that I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. But I lift my eyes and my faith up to Jesus Christ, the sinless, spotless lamb of God without blemish and receive the gift of what He did for me there on the cross as He died in my place for my sin.”

Scripture says at the point you place your faith in Him, there's an incredible transaction that takes place. Christ took on Himself all your sin. But the point at which you trust Him as your Savior, He imputes or credits to your account all the righteousness of Christ. His perfect obedient life becomes yours.

Maybe that's already true of you and you just needed it fresh today to worship and to thank Him for that. Or, maybe today for the first time you are trusting Him as your perfect sacrifice, your Savior. Then rejoice that He has made that transaction and has given to you His righteousness. Oh, thank you, thank you, Holy Lamb of God. We worship You; we love you. In Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: The sinlessness of Christ is crucial to your salvation. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing why. This important topic is especially meaningful as we near the Easter season. When you focus on Christ, you'll be changed. That's why we're bringing you Nancy's series "The Incomparable Christ" in these weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday.

I hope you'll spend some more time thinking about what Christ has done for you on the cross. Nancy has mentioned a lot of helpful resources throughout this series. You can find details on all of those at ReviveOurHearts.com.

We're also recommending a book by a good friend of Revive Our Hearts. Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick will give you a new appreciation of what Jesus did for you on Calvary. Elyse writes in a conversational, real style. You'll relate to the struggles and emotions she describes. Then she shows how the cross of Christ speaks to every part of life.

We'd like to send you Comforts from the Cross when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your support will help us stay on the radio in your area. The book is our way of saying “thanks.” Just make your donation of any size at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

Well, the Gospels tell of an incident on a mountain. The clothing of Jesus began to shine and His glory was revealed. Why was that moment so significant? The answer offers great hope and you'll hear it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture was taken from the English Standard Version.

1Philip P. Bliss. “Man of Sorrows.”

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