According to Jesus He Lived a Sinless Life
According to Jesus, He lived a sinless life while on earth; and this belief is central to the gospel.
In John 8:46 Jesus asked the crowd, “Can any of you accuse me of sin? If you cannot, why won’t you have faith in me? After all, I am telling you the truth” (CEV).
The Testimony of His Apostles and Followers
What did His apostles and followers understand this bold declaration to mean? Listen to Peter, John, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews, who all said that Jesus was sinless:
- He who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth. (1 Peter 2:22)
- You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. (1 John 3:5)
- He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Despite these indisputable, clear-as-day confirmations from multiple New Testament writers—including Peter, one of Jesus’ best friends—that Jesus lived a sinless life, research from the Barna Group reveals that 43 percent of the current Western population believe that Jesus Christ sinned while on earth.
Misconceptions and Rejection
On the one hand, some people may be totally ignorant. I was not raised as a Christian, so I can see how, if I had been surveyed on this topic during this time in my life, I might have unthinkingly said, “Well, I suppose Jesus sinned. No one is perfect.”
But I would have made this comment because at the time I thought of Jesus like Ghandi. No one had ever quoted the above scriptures to me, so I never gave it much thought.
After I became a believer in Jesus Christ, and I read these verses, they made perfect sense to me.
In fact, when I learned that Jesus Christ had gone to the cross to die for my sins, subconsciously I believed then that He was the perfect sacrifice. Instinctively, I believed that He was the unique Son of God and therefore was without sin. It didn’t enter my mind at that moment to think He had to be a sinner since no one is perfect.
As a believer, Hebrews 7:26 made logical sense to me: “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”
To contend that Jesus Christ sinned, one must downplay scriptures such as this.
Hebrews 12:4 says, “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” The writer had Jesus in mind when he penned this, for we read in the Gospels,
“And being in agony, He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Expanding on this, the author of Hebrews also said about Jesus, “In the days of His humanity, He offered up both prayers and pleas with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His devout behavior. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7–8).
Profound Rejection of Jesus
For anyone raised in the church who has heard these scriptures about Jesus and His sinlessness, yet still claim consciously and willfully that Jesus Christ was a sinner like them, I must come to this conclusion: Such people reject Jesus Christ as being sinless because they reject Him as the incarnate Son of God. Their claims that Jesus was not, in fact, sinless serve as foundational proof that they do not believe in Him and do not have any intention of following Him as the Lord of lords and King of kings.
In their eyes, He was not perfectly holy.
We need to take this seriously. Jesus said in Mark 3:29–30, “‘But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’”
Whether we say Jesus was demon possessed, or that in His spirit He was an unclean sinner, we are making a declaration that could not be more somber. It is a rejection of the heart of the gospel. Peter, John, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews would be profoundly grieved over the decision to reject a central testimony about who Jesus Christ is.
Attitudes Towards Jesus' Testimony
What adds confusion to all of this is that some of these folks would also say they are the true and intelligent believers. “I believe that God loves us. Love wins. I believe that God forgives all of us. I do not believe that many of the things the Bible says are sinful are wrong in the eyes of God at all.”
For instance, in reading Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code, they would hear that Jesus Christ had children with Mary Magdalene, leading them to say, “I don’t believe that God would ever say to me that my sexual activities are wrong, because after all Jesus had sex with Mary Magdalene. Sex is normal.”
Why do people believe this? Because they want to. Put another way, we could say that people like Dan Brown mislead the masses because the masses want to be misled.
Jesus and the apostles referred to these deceivers and their deceived as “the world.” The world rejects Jesus Christ. We could say that Brown creates a narrative that unbelievers can use to rationalize their rejection of the Bible’s testimony. “Since Jesus is a sinner, I’m okay.” It’s been said that God created us in His image and we’ve been trying to return the favor ever since.
If Jesus is a sinful deceiver, then I’m not such a bad person after all.
Ironically, a lawsuit against Dan Brown filed by his now ex-wife in June 2020 accuses him of the following:
"Dan has lived a proverbial life of lies for at least the past six years, seeming to be the epitome of a world-famous novelist leading a simple life in his home state of New Hampshire, while in reality he was something quite different. . . . For years, Dan has secretly removed substantial funds from his and Blythe’s hard-earned marital assets to conduct sordid, extra-marital affairs with women—one half his age—and to pursue a clandestine life."
One of the things I’ve learned after decades in the ministry, is that the mouth truly does speak out of that which fills the heart, as Jesus declared in Matthew 12:34. Given that the accusations against Dan Brown are valid, then it would be natural for him to make Jesus into his own image. Brown’s words about Jesus are nothing more than a representation of Brown’s heart. If Jesus was a deceptive liar who fooled humanity, then surely Dan Brown is not all that bad if he, too, deceives his wife and lies about other women. He has needs. After all, Jesus had needs, but held back this information.
I feel badly for Brown, as well as for those who wish to make the same claim that he does about Jesus. A humble and logical person would have to acknowledge that if the New Testament’s testimony about Jesus remaining sinless is true, then there is no greater declaration of disbelief than to claim that the perfectly holy Jesus Christ was shacking up on the side. But the actual truth is, many claim that Jesus shacked up and deceived others simply because it makes them feel better about their own sinful actions.
My heart is sad over what I perceive to be an extremely cavalier attitude toward the testimony of Jesus sweating blood in order to resist sin. And, even if they say that this moment in Gethsemane is true, it was only for a point in time, not something He had to do every moment of every day. In addition, according to many deceived thinkers, when Jesus asked, “Can any of you accuse me of sin?” He restricted his question to a specific item. He was not claiming to be sinless; only the apostles made that claim. Thus, they find it quite easy to claim Jesus Christ sinned. All you have to do is say it. That makes it so. Dan Brown’s book is fiction, but who cares? It’s what we want to believe. It is what we choose to believe. Or more accurately, it shows what we have chosen to display.
I can fully understand how anyone could have difficulty comprehending that Jesus Christ was perfect. After all, I sin every day. How is it that He was sinless for a lifetime? Furthermore, how could someone walk on water? How could someone bring sight to the blind? How is it possible to raise someone from the dead? With that said, just because we cannot fully grasp how something is possible, does that mean we default to the conclusion that Jesus must not have done these things, since to us they are impossible to do and fall more in line with mythological fairy tales? Do we draw the same conclusions when we cannot comprehend how rocket thrust launches a space shuttle toward the moon, or how the internet sends information instantaneously from Des Moines to Delhi?
A Rejection of Something Central about Jesus
A thinking person who wishes to be honest should at least acknowledge that, given the rejected testimony about Jesus Christ as sinless could possibly be true, then this rejection is at its core a rejection of something central about Jesus. It is not a marginal matter. They are not merely rejecting the idea that Jesus lived a sinless life; they are rejecting Jesus Himself.
Questions to Consider
- Why is it central to the gospel that Jesus lived a sinless life while on earth? Why was that necessary?
- Concerning those who claim to have read the Scriptures yet do not believe Jesus lived a sinless life, Emerson wrote, “Such people reject Jesus Christ as being sinless because they reject Him as the incarnate Son of God.” Do you agree or disagree? Explain your answer.
- What does it mean to “make Jesus into our own image”? Why would one do that?
- In what ways have you seen others, specifically those who claim to be Christians or at least know the Scriptures, attempt to make Jesus into their own image?