Was Jesus Tempted Like We Are?

“Tempted Like As We Are”

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15).

The Liberty Bible Commentary gives the following interpretation to Hebrews 4:15b, which says, …tempted like as we are, yet without sin: Christ is able to understand our weaknesses and miseries, for He Himself has experienced these very things. To imagine that since Jesus could not sin, he could not suffer is to miss the point of the passage. First, this passage explicitly states that He did not sin, not that He could not. Second, temptation can be, and is, a reality apart from sin.

God cannot be tempted (Greek apeirastos) with evil (James 1:13), yet God is tempted (Greek peirazo) by men (3:9; Acts 15:10); Christ was tempted; He did not sin; He can understand and intercede. Yet, beyond the explicit statements of this passage, He who is God was made like sinful man (Romans 8:3). But He could not sin (impeccable); and, indeed, He need not sin to be human.

Before Sin

Before he sinned, Adam was human, and probably more human than after his fall; for that was not how God had created him. One need not sin to be human, nor does one even need to possess the potential to sin. The glorified saint will never again be able to sin, yet he remains human. Christ’s temptation was real [Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-131, for temptation exists apart from yielding to it through sin. Indeed, the temptation is greater in duration and intensity when one does not take the easy way out by sinning.

If man’s temptation is greater when he endures it, surely Christ’s was great since He had no alternative but to endure it. He has suffered, or endured, the temptation (Hebrews 2:18). (Liberty Bible Commentary, Volume 11, p. 679).

Dr. H. L. Willmington states:

Christ could not sin. There is no question concerning the fact that Jesus did not sin while on this earth, but could He have done so?

Author W. E. Best writes:

“The point of view that Christ could sin is designated by the idea of peccability, and the fact that He could not sin is expressed by the term impeccability. To suggest the capability or possibility of sinning would disqualify Christ as Savior, for a peccable Christ would mean a peccable God [see Hebrews 13:8]. Holiness is far more than the absence of sin; it is positive virtue. The advocates of peccability say, ‘Christ could have sinned, but He did not.’ To say that he could have sinned is to deny positive holiness.

To deny positive holiness, therefore, is to deny the holy character of God. Holiness is positive virtue which has neither room for nor interest in sin. The Lord Jesus could not sin because the days of His flesh meant only addition of experience, not variation of character. Holy humanity was united to Deity in one indivisible person, the impeccable Christ. Jesus Christ cannot have more holiness because he is perfectly holy; He cannot have less holiness because He is unchangingly holy” (STUDIES IN THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST, p. 3).

The question is asked, however: If Christ could not have sinned, then what was the purpose of the temptations in the wilderness? Here it should be observed that these trials were not to see if Christ would sin, but to prove He would not (WILLMINGTON’S GUIDE TO THE BIBLE, pp. 618-619).

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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