The Unique Nature of Christ
by Jaymark Molo
How could Jesus be the best example if He didn’t have the propensity of sin?
This question in nature is debatable; I am glad though that you asked it! Humility and prayer are must in dealing on this kind of contentious question. There are so many issues needed to be discussed, but let me begin on assessing these two Christological views:
1. Jesus’ Human Nature: Fallen Or Unfallen? The fundamental argument for the “Fallen Nature” position is that Jesus somehow assumed fallen sinful flesh ‘without’ being a sinner; that is to subscribe that Jesus took the ‘post-fall’ nature of Adam, and yet did not sin. On the contrary, the “Un-fallen Nature” position fundamentally argues from the sinful/fallen nature of man as a sin; that is to subscribe that Jesus did not take the fallen/sinful nature of man because He did not sin. Thus, they believe that Jesus Christ took the ‘pre-fall’ nature of Adam. Two basic contentions may be asked of the regarding the two discussed position: First, is it biblically accurate to argue that ‘sinful flesh’ cannot be equated with sin? Second, is it correct to say that Jesus in his humanity was exactly like us during post-fall or pre-fall?
2. Points of Departure. Answering these two basic questions should enable us to unveil the truth regarding to this Christological issue. Regarding to the first question: Is it biblically accurate to argue that ‘sinful flesh’ cannot be equated with sin? My short answer is an unambiguous NO! The Biblical fact that sin is passed on from Adam to each baby born (not Adam’s guilt, but death, the result of his sin) means that sin cannot be defined merely as “act,” it also includes “nature.” (cf. Romans 5:12). Men were born sinners, if not, then we would not need a Saviour until our first act or thought of sin. David in Psalm 51 expresses the thought that he was born a sinner, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Not that his mother did anything wrong in connection with his conception or birth, she was an honorable woman, but he recognizes that he was born with a sinful nature. He desires to be washed and cleansed from sin (vss. 2, 7) and asks God to create in him a clean heart (vs.10). The same thought is expressed in Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Israel is called “a transgressor from the womb” (Isa48:8). And “from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness (not a sound spot NEB) in it”, says God in Isaiah 1:6. Now regarding to the second question above: Is it correct to say that Jesus in his humanity was exactly like us during post-fall? My short answer: NO.
Here is the QOD (Question on Doctrine) answer’s chart:
ADAM ON PRE FALL: w/o infirmities & w/o evil propensities
ADAM ON POST FALL: w/ infirmities & w/ evil propensities
CHRIST ON EARTH: w/ infirmities & w/o evil propensities
Christ’s Nature is unique! He did not take man’s evil propensities (since evil propensity & sinful nature are sin), but took man’s infirmities (Christ experience to be hungry and weary). He took “Un-Fallen Nature”, in the sense that He did not take evil propensities. On the other hand, He also took Fallen Nature, in the sense that He took man’s infirmities.
3. Ellen White & Evil Propensities. Now that we have firmly established this issue in the Bible; we will briefly investigate now the writings of Ellen White regarding this matter. Does the Spirit of Prophecy shed any light on this subject matter?
Here are the writings of EGW that are noteworthy to be considered:
A. “The incarnation of Christ has ever been, and will ever remain a mystery. That which is revealed, is for us and for our children, but let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as ourselves; for it cannot be.” (5BC 1129, emphasis added)
B. “He is a brother in our infirmities, but not possessing human passions. As the sinless One, His nature recoiled from evil.” (2T 202, emphasis added)
C. “Because of sin his [Adam’s] posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience. But Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God. He took upon Himself human nature, and was tempted in all points as human nature is tempted. He could have sinned; He could have fallen, but not for one moment was there in him an evil propensity.” (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1128, emphasis added)
D. “He was a mighty petitioner, not possessing the passions of our human, fallen natures, but compassed with like infirmities, tempted in all points even as we are. Jesus endured agony which required help and support from His Father.” (2T 508, emphasis added)
Quite clearly, E. G. White did not see Christ’s human nature to be exactly as ours. Now the Testimonies for the Church (vol. 5, 665) was apropos to this issue: “The written Testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed… The testimonies are not to be little the Word of God, but to exalt it and attract minds to it, that the beautiful simplicity of truth may impress all.”
Therefore, whatever interpretation we give on the doctrine of perfection must be in harmony with the Word of God or else it is false. To conclude this matter, let us now deal with the intent of the question: “How could Jesus be the best example if He didn’t have the propensity of sin?” Here is my answer: Christianity is not just to be like Him. Christianity is life in Him. We are righteous only in Christ, never in ourselves. The good news is more than “Copy my example.” It is always first and foremost “Cling to me,” “Abide in me” (John 15:4), “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), and “You are accepted in the Beloved”(see Eph. 1:6). “For the Son of Man did not primarily come to set an example but “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luk. 19:10), that determines why Jesus came here on earth!