How Christ resisted temptation

Sunday Leftovers

The New Testament is clear that our Savior did not sin (cf. Mt. 5:17-18; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 2 Cor. 5:21).  However, the question is how did He not sin?  Did He rely on His deity and use His divine power to keep from sinning?  If so, it is hard to conceive that such obedience can serve as an encouragement to help keep us from sinning (for we are not divine and cannot appeal to such power).

Or did Christ use some other power to keep from sinning?  Bruce Ware [The Man Christ Jesus, 83-84] offers an excellent explanation of how Christ resisted temptation to sin — not by appealing to His divine power, but by using the resources that are available to every believer:

Although Christ was fully God, and as fully God he could not sin, he deliberately did not appeal, as it were, to his divine nature in fighting the temptations that came to him.  As a human, he not only could be tempted but was tempted in the greatest ways any human has been tempted in all of history.  Yet for every temptation he faced, he fought and resisted fully and totally apart from any use of or appeal to his intrinsic divine nature.

As one considers again the temptations of Christ, it seems that one should rightly hold that the theanthropic Jesus could not sin because he was God.  But this does not necessarily answer the question of why he did not sin.  And in fact, the answer Scripture suggests to us is this:  Jesus did not sin, not because he relied on the supernatural power of his divine nature, keeping him from sinning, but because he utilized all of the resources given to him in his humanity.  He loved and meditated on God’s Word (consider again the significance here of Psalm 1 being the first and opening psalm, pointing obviously to Christ); he prayed to his Father; he trusted in the wisdom and righteousness of his Father’s will and Word; and, very significantly, he relied on the supernatural power of the Spirit to strengthen him to do all that he was called upon to do.  Jesus lived his life in reliance on the Spirit so that his resistance to temptation and his obedience to the will of the Father took place through, not apart from, the empowerment provided him as the second Adam, the seed of Abraham, the son of David.  Recall again Peter’s claim that God anointed Jesus ‘with the Holy Spirit and with power,’ and that he went about doing good (the moral life and obedience of Christ) as well as healing all who are oppressed by the Devil (the miracles he performed), ‘for God was with him’ (Acts 10:38).  Although he was God, and although he was impeccable as the God-man, he resisted temptation and obeyed the Father not by his divine nature but by the power of the Spirit who indwelt him.

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