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I understand that some people believe that Jesus actually had the capacity to sin, that is, to give in to the temptations that He suffered. This seems to suggest that God has the power tos in.

In a sense, then, the redemption of mankind hung in the balance, so to speak, during the temptations of Christ.

What are the theological arguments in support of this position?

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3 Answers

The debate uses the terms peccable/impeccable. On the one side, people who argue for the peccability of Christ hold that Jesus wasn't really tempted or fully human unless he could have failed. On the other side, those who argue for the impeccability of Christ argue that Jesus being God could not sin. Then there are a few heretics (technical term) in between these positions and argue that Jesus could sin in his humanity but not in his divinity. The technical term for this heresy is Nestorianism (note that there is some debate whether the Nestorians actually taught the heresy named after them). By far, the majority position favors the impeccability of Christ.

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I commented briefly on your other copy of this about how answers on this site should be specific to questions. I wanted to expland on that a little here. This answer covers some of the basic positions possible on this issue in an overview sort of way. The question asked here was asking for the BASIS for one specific side of the argument. As such this doesn't really answer the question. It's not bad content, it just doesn't get to the meat of the issue or resolve what was posed. Does that make sense? –  Caleb Mar 8 '13 at 21:50
I would encourage you to keep the gist of this content in summarizing how the positions relate to each other, but make it only a side note in a larger answer that covers the basis for the specific view posed in this question. –  Caleb Mar 8 '13 at 21:51
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The argument comes both from the fact that Jesus was fully human, and from the Hebrews 4:15, which says (in the King James)

For we have not an 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.

This outlines the fact that even though Jesus is fully God, He was also fully human. He felt all our infirmities and weaknesses, and yet, as God overcame them.

A complete theological statement would be "because Jesus was fully Human, He had the capacity to sin, but because of His perfect nature, also being fully God and therefore perfectly good, He could not sin."

Both are true, but people have a hard time wrapping their head around that, choose half the truth, and fall into error.

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Are you saying that by virtue of becoming human, Jesus gained a capacity that He did not have before? –  Alypius Mar 9 '13 at 22:13
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We believe in One God, three persons. For God the son to be one, that is unified, He cannot sin. He has to be perfectly loving and perfectly just, both of which are inconsistant with sin.

So I prove the opposite here.

But he did give in to sin and testing in the only way that was perfectly loving and just: in perfect obedience to God the Father, he allowed sin to work its destruction upon His own body, so as to have a righteousness (that of perfect obedience even unto an unjust death], that was not essential to his nature, one which He could and would share, one with which to clothe His children.

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Obedience was perhaps the most fundamental quality of the human nature of Christ. The idea that Jesus "gained" a righteousness that He "did not have" before through His death is suggestive of the heresy of Arianism. Are you sure you mean to say that? –  Alypius Mar 9 '13 at 19:17
That might make for an interesting question if you can phrase it constructively, but I don't think I could answer adequately in comments. –  David Stratton Mar 9 '13 at 22:37
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