A Storm in a Keg: Could Christ Have Sinned?


In his book, "Tough Topics", Sam Storms addresses the question of Christ's impeccability ("Could Jesus Sin?"). He writes:


"For many years I strongly advocated the impeccability of Christ, insisting that because he was God incarnate, he was incapable of sinning. Now, make no mistake, he was and forever is God incarnate. But I'm not so sure about his impeccability, and here's why. I believe Jesus lived and ministered as a human, dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit. Because he was human, the possibility existed that he could have sinned, but by virtue of his unceasing reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit he did not sin. Like the first Adam, Jesus could have sinned. But as the second Adam, he chose not to" (p. 70).


I find his chapter on this hugely important topic rather shallow, and somewhat disturbing. Denying Christ's impeccability without providing a robust refutation of the strongest arguments in favour of Christ's impeccability seems to me to be a little cavalier, even careless.


Could Christ have sinned? In the words of that over-hyped theologian from Switzerland, Nein!


There are two principle reasons why Jesus could not sin.


First, if Christ could sin then a problem emerges regarding the relationship between Christ's human will and his divine will. The definition of faith from the Sixth Ecumenical Council says: "And these two natural wills are not contrary the one to the other (God forbid!) as the impious heretics assert, but his human will follows and that not as resisting and reluctant, but rather as subject to his divine and omnipotent will..." The human will cannot be contrary to the divine will in Christ, but only subject to it. You can't have conflicting wills in the one person. Christ's has two wills, but the wills could never be in opposition to one another.


Second, because of the unity of the person, Christ could not sin without implicating God. Christ's human nature may be "peccable" (able to sin); but since in his constitution he is the God-man, he is therefore an impeccable person. As W.G.T. Shedd says, "When the Logos goes into union with a human nature, so as to constitute it a single person with it, he becomes responsible for all that this person does through the instrumentality of this nature...Should Jesus Christ sin, incarnate God would sin."


Because of the unity of the person, I really don't think we want to say it was possible for God to sin.  


Pastor Mark Jones hopes he will continue to strongly advocate the impeccability of Christ, even after drinking out of a keg on his birthday tomorrow.