XCI. The Absolute Sinlessness of Christ.

JOHN viii. 46. “Which of you convinceth Me of sin.”

IT has sometimes been inferred from the context of these
words, that “sin” here means intellectual rather than moral
failure. But the word here translated “sin” means moral
failure throughout the New Testament, and our Lord is
arguing from the absence of moral evil in Him generally,
to the absence of a specific form of moral evil, namely,
falsehood. Neither does this question challenge the detec-
tive power of our Lord’s Jewish opponents and not declare
our Lord’s absolute sinlessness.
I. Is sinlessness abstractly possible? To be human is
to be sinful. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” But
this general experience is not really at variance with the
existence of an exception to it. That God should have
given man the capacities for improvement which he
possesses, points to a purpose in the Divine mind of which
we should expect to see some typical realization. Now,
all that we know about our Lord goes to show that He
was sinless. This impression was produced most strongly
on those most in contact with Him.
II. The sinlessness of Jesus has been said to be
compromised by the conditions of the development of His
life as man. Sometimes by acts and by sayings recorded
of Him. He “learned obedience,” which implies a time
when He was morally imperfect. But a progress from
a less perfection to a greater is not to be confounded with
a progress from sin to holiness.
It is argued that the temptation of the Lord implies
a minimum of sympathy with evil incompatible with per-
fect sinlessness.
But so long as the will is not an accomplice the temp-
tation does not touch the moral being itself.
III. The sinless Christ satisfies a deep want of the soul
of man—the want of an ideal. Christ is also the true
Reconciler between God and man. And thus as our ideal
and Redeemer from sin and death, Christ is the heart and
focus of the life of Christendom.
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.

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