We have dedicated the month of January, and at least part of February to explore some questions ask during the past year. As almost always happens, the process of finding the answers generates other questions. That is a byproduct of healthy Bible Study. As those new questions come up in your study, note them, write them down and continue to search the Scriptures. As you continue to compare Scriptures with all Scripture in your personal Bible study, you will find information that applies to your new questions.

Jot down the information that seems to apply to your new questions. As your study continues, reorganize that information in a categorical manner. Through this process you will find the Biblical answer, and in the process will gain a great deal of other Biblical information, as well as gaining spiritual strength and stature. The spiritual strength and stature will be far more important than any answer to a question, unless you are more interested in your academic pride of knowing information, than in spiritual development and growth.

You must keep in mind that the answers to some question will take a life-time, and possibly on into eternity.

However, don't wait until you have all the answers before you live what you already know!  
Philippians 3:16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

The purpose of Bible study is not the simple acquisition of Biblical knowledge. Simply knowing Biblical facts and being able to impress others with our knowledge is of little spiritual benefit in and of itself. Biblical study should have as its purpose, learning how we should live and acquiring the strength to live that life from God's divine nature through the precious promises.

2 Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

If you have the mental abilities, there is no limit to how many Biblical facts you can acquire. To go beyond the facts to the spiritual truth of those facts, requires obedience to the facts we already know.

John 7:16 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. 19 "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?"

Through this month we'll be looking at:

A follow-up to the first question. Already, one very prominent proponent of the end of the world through Y2K is writing another book called something like the The Last Great World Wide Storm. In a TV interview, he was ask if he didn't feel a bit like Chicken Little who cried the "sky is falling", because of the collapse of his former predictions concerning the end of the world, and now the last great world wide storm?

His answer was to the effect that it was because of his cries of catastrophe that the world prepared properly for, and prevented the crisis. This fellow is a talk-show host, therefore I guess he's paid to, and has an obligation to lie. To the best of my understanding, he is anything but a Christian in his beliefs and actions. However, some, who do claimed to be ministers of the Word of God, have not only perpetrated this non-Biblical hoax, but are now engaged in a cover-up that makes Watergate look small.

If, for the sake of argument, we allow these alarmists (either Biblical or non-Biblical) to claim that they averted the coming doom by their warnings, would not lessen the spiritual crime of pawning off their declaration of: Y2K as the Biblical fulfillment of prophecy concerning the end of the age.

If we were to follow the Biblical instructions of dealing with false prophets by stoning them when their prediction did not come to pass, there would be a lot of empty pulpits, and a lot of radio and TV programs canceled for lack of performers.

I cannot have Biblical confidence in any who have jumped on this bandwagon of falsehoods. What is needed from these, is not a cover-up, but a confession of sin and true repentance. As long as that does not happen, there is no way I can have confidence in any of their Biblical teachings, no matter how well known they may be. God tells us that if we twist some of the Scripture, we will twist all of the Scripture.

2 Peter 3:14-18 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation-- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

It would be a shame not to learn, or re-learn from this spiritual tragedy that we must stick with the Word of God, plus nothing!

What kind of nature did Christ have as a human, and could He have sinned while on earth?

The human mind knows that to be godly or spiritual, there is a need for God to come to humanity in human form. This is seen in the many heathen religions that have gods of human or animal form. It is also evidenced in many cults and New Age movements that approach this need from the opposite aspect, by saying that humans can become gods by following their prescribed process. Even if God would come in human form by either of these processes, neither process could provide redemption or a redeemer for mankind.

The Redeemer had to be true humanity without a single spot of personal or inherited sin in order to meet the requirements of God's own law. One of the major roadblocks to accepting and understanding the incarnation of Christ into the body of human form, is the fact that any human we know or have read about has sinned.

To even a casual observer, the evidence of the sin nature is seen early in the life of an infant. To that fact the Bible agrees, and the Biblical evidence is abundantly clear.

Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

It is true, that at the moment of conception every human is in sin. It is equally true, that at the moment of birth that newborn is in iniquity. Psalms 51:15 is not a condemnation of the birthing or conception process, it is a simple statement of fact.

In similar manner, when a person is redeemed, they are born again and are in Christ. Through the natural birth we are in sin and iniquity, and all that sin and iniquity is, we are! (Romans 3) Through the new birth, we are in Christ, and all that Christ is, we are.

It's quite natural for human logic to suppose that sin is an integral and inseparable part of humanity. The human mind sees that sin and humanity seem to be one and the same, therefore they conclude that the two are equal parts of the other.

Using only human logic, mankind would conclude that there is no way a baby could be born into this world without sin. Even those who believe in the virgin birth, often struggle with how Mary could carry and give birth to a baby boy, Who was without sin and without a sin nature. Theologians have, over the years, tied themselves in religious knots trying to make this sinless conception and birth logical by human thinking.

Some theologians have become so desperate in this pursuit as to conclude that Mary, herself, must have been born without sin, if she were to bear a Boy without sin. Of course, if it were true that Mary had to be sinless in order bear a sinless Son, then Mary's mother would had to be sinless in order to bear a sinless daughter called Mary and so-on back to Noah's wife and beyond. We need not be involved in such ridiculous religious cartwheels. All we need to do is study the Bible to see what it says, rather than to study the Bible to prove something we have already said.

logic (Webster)
a science that deals with cannons and criteria of validity in thought and demonstration and that traditionally comprises the principles of definition and classification and correct use of terms and principles of correct predication and the principles of reasoning and demonstration.

That was perfectly clear and logical, wasn't it? Boiled down, that definition says that logic is an orderly processing of facts based on established rules while using information previously defined by the same or similar process. In other words, human logic has trouble reaching beyond thoughts that have not been established by other humans before them. Human logic is at a loss when it enters the arena of spiritual thought and information. That is why we must have the Holy Spirit to teach us the deep things of God.

The major problem of explaining the virgin birth comes because theologians have limited themselves to human logic, even in the arena of spiritual thought and information. Spiritual thought and information will not be illogical to human thinking when that spiritual information is known and understood through the mind of Christ.

So, let's get some of the spiritual information needed, and see if it makes sense. Please, put aside your religious hang-ups that have been passed to you through time, and let's not try to prove our point, but instead, let's discover what the Bible says on the subject. This Biblical subject is vast, so we will limit our information search to just a couple of areas, but even with that small amount of information, I think it will make sense.

To jog your thinking. We saw in the last lesson that the human body is not sinful in and of itself. The body becomes sinful through procreation when the old sin nature is passed to the body at conception by the father. Adam, as created fresh from the hand of God, had no sin. Likewise, Christ in His divinity and flesh had no sin, because His conception was not generated by a descendant of Adam, but by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Christ, in his physical life, came into this world in a similar condition as Adam - without sin. Those descending from Adam through natural birth share in his sin and nature.

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

Therefore, in Adam all die, both physically and spiritually. Christ came in similar manner as Adam, in that He did not have a nature of sin, nor did He have any personal sin.

Adam is the head of a race by natural birth. That natural race are all sinners and condemned to eternal death. Christ is the head of a race by spiritual birth. That spiritual race are all Sons of God and have the gift of God which is eternal life. Therefore, Christ is called the Last Adam, or sometimes referred to as the Second Adam.

The sinfulness of mankind was not an integrated aspect of the human life as created by God. Sin came into human life as an intrusion through the invitation of Adam through disobedience. That nature of sin has been passed down to all the descendants of Adam through procreation since that day.

There are several distinctions in the manner in which these two Adams became human. The first Adam entered the arena of humanity as a result of the direct creative act of God, therefore without sin. The first Adam sinned by a choice of his own volition.

Deity of Christ

The Second or Last Adam entered this human arena through birth. The Last Adam remained sinless through His own choice by always doing those things that pleased the Father. Hang in there, now. You will need to follow this closely, or you will get lost on one of the turns and wander around in some other subdivision for the rest of this lesson.

The Generating Agent of the humanity of Christ was none other than the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did not have a sexual relationship with Mary! There was no need for this type of action, because this was not procreation in any sense of the word. The Holy Spirit did not beget the deity of Christ, only His humanity. We will come back to the deity aspect later.

The Holy Spirit was not so much the progenerator of the physical life of Christ, as He was the Creator of that life. This Greek word for overshadow is used 5 time in the New Testament:

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"
Acts 5:15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.

This overshadowing has to do with God's power alone. That is easy to see in the account of the transfiguration. Peter makes that fact clear in regards to his healing power. Peter declares that this was the healing power of God alone.

Acts 3:12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?

Another time in the Old Testament, we see a similar reference to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Some assert the Christ received His human body from His human parent, Mary, and His deity for His Divine Parent, the Holy Spirit. That just isn't so! Christ's deity did not begin with the conception by the Holy Spirit. John 1 and many other passages clearly present that this One called The Christ had always existed with the Father before time began. The only aspect of Christ's life that began at the conception was his humanity. Christ's deity did not begin with the conception!

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

This is the Second Person of the Trinity, referred to here as the Word.

John 1:14-15 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' "

Christ's deity was not generated by another. He was Himself deity! He had always been deity. Through the incarnation, that which He always was joined in everlasting union with His humanity.

The God of all gods, who created all things caused the virgin Mary to conceive and bear a Son. Even though she gave birth to this One, and legitimately He was her Son, it was made clear by the angel that this One born to Mary was the possession of God. He was the only Begotten Son of God.

Luke 1:30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

The next passage we will look at has a great deal in it. As a matter of fact, it is chocked full of spiritual truth. However, for this study, we want to see just a couple of features that apply directly to our subject.

1 Corinthians 15:45-47 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.

Notice, some very distinct differences as the Holy Spirit through Paul compares the first with the Second Adam.

The first Adam was a living being. The Greek word for living being is psuche meaning breath. It is from the Greek root that we get psyche or soul.

The first Adam had a soul. This soul was given by God and was in the likeness or image of God. Even though given by God, that first soul was not divine. It was similar to the divine nature, but it was only a shadow image. This soul was without sin, as given to Adam. The first Adam was of the earth. There is much more in this statement, but for now, I want us to see that (internally) his soul, and (externally), his body were only of this sphere or of the earth. Both, as given by God, were without sin, but they were in no way connected to the spiritual or divine.

Contrary to that fact, Christ, the Second Adam, was not only connected with another sphere, the spiritual, He was all that divinity was. He was the Lord from heaven. There were differences, yet many similarities. Some we'll have to save for later study.

The humanity of Christ and His divinity are indissolubly joined together, just as the soul of a person is joined to the body. Christ's humanity was not elevated to a higher plane by His divinity. Nor was His divinity made any less because of his humanity.

Infinite Capacity

To hold such a view would only be warmed over and refined paganism. Divinity could not of itself provide redemption. Even if a human were without sin, that sinless person could only redeem one other sinner through his sacrificial death. Therefore, the need for a sinless human with infinite capacity. Only deity is infinite. Therefore, the need of the hypostatic union of sinless humanity and omnipotent divinity in one personality, Who would become the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Hypostatic union is truly a phrase of theology, and is applicable only to Christ.

the mode in which a substance, thought or nature has separate and independent existence and distinct individuality.

The hypostatic union would be the uniting of two distinct and dissimilar natures, with each retaining its own characteristics and existence. That being the case, how could Christ experience true humanity as you and I must experience it?

Temptation of Christ

Luke 4:2 (Christ) being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

Christ was tempted by the Devil for forty days, and then we have the account of the last few super temptations. If there was no way Christ could have yielded to those offers by Satan, would those offers really have been temptations? The answer is obvious. If there is no ability to yield, the things offered would not be tempting.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Notice again, the clear teaching in the passage. In all things, He (Christ) was made like his brethren. The "all things" would include His ability to be tempted, as we see in the context v.18. Christ suffered, and the suffering referred to in this passage was temptation. His brethren had all been tempted. Now Christ can come to their aid because He was tempted in like or similar manner as His brethren. Would it be a temptation "like His brethren" if there were no possibility of yielding to that temptation?

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This is a very strong passage showing the possibility of sinning because of temptation. Note well. Christ was in all points tempted as we are. Once again, we have a comparison and the conclusion of that comparison is obvious. Then the Holy Spirit makes this very plain by the next phrase, "yet without sin." These were temptations to sin, or there would be no need to say "yet without sin". Christ was fully human, and like the first Adam, without personal sin or a sin nature.

Problem: God cannot be tempted

James 1:12-14 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

We were doing so good, until James had to put in his two cents worth. Now we have a problem of colossal proportions. If Christ is God, and He is, He can't be tempted with evil. Yet, we just read several portions that clearly state that He was tempted. This is truly one of the great demonstrations of God's love to us in the matter of redemption.

Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
made Himself of no reputation (Greek)
to make empty; to abuse; to neutralize; to falsify.

The phrase "made Himself of no reputation" is all one word in the Greek. The Greek structure of that word will just send a religious thrill up and down your spine. That word phrase is aorist imperative active. That thrilled you, didn't? With all that said and done, it means that Christ, Himself, gave the command for this action to take place. But what was the action that Christ ordered of Himself?

The NKJV translates it as made Himself of "no reputation". The NIV translates it as "made Himself nothing". The NASB says "He emptied" Himself. The Amplified says He "stripped" Himself. Living Bible says He "laid aside" His mighty power. The list could on and on as the different translators struggle to find an English word or words to describe what Christ did. For the most part, all of these are good translations from the Greek. The problem stems from the fact that this is one of those passages that must be translated from the Greek, plus the context, plus the use of this Greek word in other passages, plus the general theology of the person of Christ.

We certainly will not attempt to follow all of those trails in this lesson. However, with the information already given, I believe you can pretty well think through this to a proper conclusion. As we look at the Greek definition of that phrase, along with what we know of the theology of Christ, I would have to reject the possible meaning of to make empty as the best translation. Christ did not loose or drain out any of His divinity when He took on humanity. Obviously, Christ did not abuse Himself. Nor did He falsify any aspect of His being or character. That leaves us with the possible Greek definition of to neutralize. There were other possible English words given in the lexicon for this Greek word, but they all had the about same or similar meanings as ones I placed in the definition list.

Think with me through what we know of Christ's life, and the doctrine of Christ. We know that Christ could not cease to be God. He couldn't really empty out his Godness or even His reputation as God.

He is the only person in history that had His reputation declared before He came. If there were no other declarations of that reputation, the angels declared Who he was even before He was born. Most people's reputations follow them, but Christ's proceeded Him.

Christ did not deny or conceal His reputation as God. At age 12 He asked, don't you know I must be about My Father's business. John the Baptist declared Who He was before His public ministry. The use of the word empty certainly would not be a false translation, but based on what else we know, I feel that a better translation would be.,

Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He neutralized His divinity and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Christ lived His earthly life by the power and strength of God the Father and the Holy Spirit only. Christ did not draw on His personal divinity to overcome temptation or for strength to get through the day. He says over and over again that He came only to do the Father's will and not His own. Christ said that what He taught was directed by the Father.

While on earth, Christ said that He did not know when He would return, only the Father knew. He did not reach into His own divinity or His all knowingness to find out when He was coming back. He also relied only on the Father's strength in the garden, and the list could go on and on. Christ did not empty out his divinity from His life, He simply laid it aside or put it in a neutral state, and did not use His personal divinity for strength of living or to overcome temptation.

He didn't use the power of His divinity to raise Himself from the dead. This, too, was the Power of the Father and the Holy Spirit. If you take the time to think through the life of Christ, you will see many other times when Christ did not use His own divinity, but relied only on the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Now the question: Could Christ have sinned while on earth?

Well, with the information at hand, how would you answer that question? I'll give my opinion at the beginning of the next lesson. In the meantime, work on the answer this week on your own.

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2000