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We have many scriptures about Jesus' humanity. Several specific verses about his total dependence on the Father, his God, for all his needs, his words and his ability to perform miracles etc.

Jesus was a fleshly man - "made like us in every way" Heb 2:17 Not some or most ways, but every way.

As he was indeed tempted - again - 'as we are', then it follows that he could have sinned - as we do.

we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin Heb 4:15

The very point of temptation - and his need to resist every and all temptations to become the Lamb of God, is pointless if sin was not a possibility. The fact that he did not sin has nothing to do with his inherent ability as a man, like us, to be able to sin, should he have chosen to do so or faltered before severe and prolonged temptation.

As Heb 4:15 "yet, he did not sin", implies, at the very least, that the potential was there but he was able to resist and remain victorious over evil.

What kind of victory has he achieved over evil and death if failure was never remotely possible or even feasible?

What evidence does the bible provide to support this premise of Jesus' potential for committing a sin?

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    This question is fundamentally flawed; knowledge of good and evil proved deadly for our ancestors, but not for God, whose infinite knowledge is beyond doubt. Likewise, power corrupts (fallen humans), yet God, whose almightiness is never in question, is never corrupted by the limitless power He exerts over everyone and everything.
    – Lucian
    Jul 23 '21 at 3:23
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    We are asking about Jesus, not God.
    – steveowen
    Jul 23 '21 at 3:41
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    Perhaps the only false assumption is what you bring to bear on the text..
    – steveowen
    Jul 23 '21 at 5:01
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    The comments indicate that the OP does not wish a Trinitarian response. I think that should have been explicit in the question.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 23 '21 at 6:36
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    The comments were to clarify ambiguous statements made in answers. The Q seeks to not exclude any answer, so long as it remains biblical. If that somehow rules out a trintarian response, that's ok.
    – steveowen
    Jul 23 '21 at 6:44
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Scriptural Support

The Gospels have at least 3 passages which show that Jesus could have sinned, from how Jesus exerted great effort to resist the temptations that He faced as a man (not as God, since James 1:13 says that "God cannot be tempted by evil."):

  1. The Devil tempted Jesus 3 times when Jesus was in a weakened state after 40 day of fasting (Matt 4:1-11):

    ¹ Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. ² And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. ³ ...

    The 3 challenges that the Devil gave to Jesus were specifically formulated for Jesus to break his mission to bring about the kingdom of God according to the Father's will, not according to his own (human) will. From Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, Jr's sermon part 1, part 2, and part 3:

    The first of the tests was designed to probe the Messiah’s submission to the word of God. Satan evidently hoped that Jesus would follow his lead and seek to acquire the messianic promises apart from the way of the cross. Our Lord’s reply, “Men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds through the mouth of God,” makes it clear that he relies upon the path of implicit obedience in the acquiring of the messianic kingdom.

    ...

    The second test in which Satan asked our Lord to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem, adding to it as if he had learned it from Jesus, a citation from Scripture was one in which our Lord was enticed to abandon God’s providential care of him. He sought to cause our Lord to be guilty of presumption. That is, to obtain the promises of Scripture at his own will and in his own time rather than at God’s time and in God’s will. ...

    ...

    [In the final test] Luke adds that the devil showed him all the kingdom’s in a moment of time, Luke 4:5, suggesting perhaps a rapid sweeping glance at the magnificence of worldly empire. That the view was of the outward glory of the kingdoms is indicated by the words and the glory of them. Of course, this is the only kind of kingdom that the devil could conceivably offer our Lord. He certainly couldn’t offer him one that glowed with the beauty of holy submission to God. The devil’s kingdom, and he is the God of this age, is one like the present kingdoms of earth. Kingdom’s filled with the corruption of rebellion against God in heaven. Hoping our Lord would not recognize this fatal weakness, Satan wished to dazzle Christ by the prospects of world empire; its power, its influence, its pageantry and wealth. And the devil wished to sweep Jesus off his feet by this sudden offer to give it all to him.

  2. When Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from suffering for the sake of his mission (Matt 16:21-23). The force of his reply to Peter should indicate the strength of that temptation:

    ²¹ From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. ²² And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” ²³ But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

  3. When Jesus prayed at Gethsemane against temptation not to let himself be arrested to be crucified (Luke 22:39-46). Being in agony until sweating like drops of blood should indicate great effort:

    ... ⁴⁰ And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” ⁴¹ And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, ⁴² saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” ⁴³ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. ⁴⁴ And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

How Jesus was tempted as a man

From the 2012 Southern Baptist Journal of Theology article Jesus Christ's Temptation by John E. McKinley:

What was Temptation for Jesus (as compared with us)?

Jesus was tempted as a man, in his human nature. The humanness of his temptation experiences warrants the truth of Hebrews 4:15 and the similarity to our temptations. This is in contrast to the false notion that he was tempted as God, according to his deity, since, as James 1:13 affirms, God cannot be tempted by evil. This divine immunity to temptation follows from God’s transcendence, omnipotence, and omniscience (among other attributes) by which God cannot be threatened with harm (he cannot be harmed), lured to obtain something that he lacks (he owns everything), or deceived by evil as a means to accomplishing some good (he knows the truth). For Jesus, then, temptation must come through his humanity. The Chalcedonian definition helps here to remind us that the divine and human natures are not mixed with each other (“inconfusedly, unchangeably”), and the properties of each nature are preserved in their union to the person, God the Word. This distinction and conservation of each nature means that his human nature is not divinized in any sense. As a man, the Son became fully vulnerable to the pains and strains of human life, including temptation to sin. Thus, Jesus was tempted as a man, that is, he could not be tempted apart from the Incarnation, and he was tempted for us as an example and true model of the ideal human life. The many exhortations that Jesus is the pattern for us to imitate only make sense if his experience corresponds closely to ours.

...

The article has more details on:

  • what was temptation for Jesus (as compared with us),
  • the role of Jesus's knowledge,
  • the meaning of Jesus being tempted in "all ways",
  • Jesus being tempted as a man (not as God), and
  • how Jesus could succeed against temptation
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    Thx. What do you mean, "that He faced as a man, not as God..." Does he have a switch, can he be one and not the other, based on that premise?
    – steveowen
    Jul 23 '21 at 4:21
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    @user47952 That comment is for Christians who believe in the dual nature of Jesus. I added quote from McKinely's article for more details on how Jesus faced temptation as a man. Whether Jesus has a "switch" or how his consciousness works, I believe this is a mystery, but there are 4 patristic models on the interplay between this dual nature and his impeccability/temptation, described in another article by John E. McKinley: Four Patristic Models of Jesus Christ’s Impeccability and Temptation. Jul 23 '21 at 4:37
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    @user47952 The dual nature of Jesus Christ is such that Deity and humanity meet in one Person. The natures neither mingle, nor merge, nor 'switch'. They are two distinct things. They meet only in the Person of Jesus Christ. This is a mystery, as GratefulDisciple indicates : it is a matter of faith, not carnal understanding, for the carnal mind cannot receive or process such a mystery.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 23 '21 at 8:13
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    @user47952, by "God would have died" I mean that the being that became the human Jesus would would have ceased to exist. If that weren't so, what would be the point of the whole thing? If he was guaranteed not to sin and guaranteed to survive, it would have been only a symbolic gesture. Jul 24 '21 at 3:03
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    Exactly, but what is the human Jesus you speak of that could ‘cease to exist’? Is there still a son of God? If yes, then God did not give/offer His only son, but just a facsimile. Easy come, easy go.
    – steveowen
    Jul 24 '21 at 3:11
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Jesus was a (hu)man. At a minimum he was a man. 100% a man, not 50% man. He had everything every man has, an earthly biological body, that housed his soul and spirit. This is what makes a man a man.

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:40‬ ‭

Jesus did not have a heavenly body after incarnation. He would end up with a heavenly body but only after resurrecting.

“what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him (man) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭8:4-5‬ ‭

Humans are a little lower than those who possess heavenly bodies. And yet heavenly bodies beings are capable of sinning.

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;” ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭

So if heavenly beings could sin, Jesus being a man could likewise sin. The fact that he didn’t sin, doesn’t prove it was impossible to sin. This seems to be a correlative fallacy.

Take the text that says

“And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭

If he were not hungry there would be no temptation by offering him bread. Evidently satan offered Jesus bread in the most cunning way possible, as a trap. But it wasn’t a trap because he wasn’t hungry, rather precisely because he was hungry this was a temptation.

The text itself says he was tempted

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:15‬ ‭

A temptation by definition needs to be tempting. The whole angle seems fallacious, almost to say, ignoring what the Bible says, prove Jesus was capable of sinning. The Bible says he was tempted, that’s sufficient to suggest he was capable of sinning. If he could not sin, there would be no tempting either.

Additional remarks

The OP seems to be trying to find a way to prove Jesus was not God, for if Jesus could potentially sin and God does not sin (God will not sin) then Jesus must not be God.

So can God be in a man’s body?

What is God like?

”God is spirit” John 4:24

Does this mean God cannot inhabit a body? Of course He can. He could inhabit a cloud. The difference between Jesus and every other human was His spirit. BUT because He εκενωσεν-ed Himself Philippians 2:7 or in English because He voluntarily nullified (switched off/suppressed) His divine attributes and did not rely on them, He was identical to humans because His suppressed spirit had no additional attributes uncommon to human spirits. So no, that doesn’t mean He stopped being God. He CANNOT stop being God. He can stop being human, or a heavenly bodied being. Sure He can, but the ONLY way for Jesus who is a spirit to stop being God is to cease from existing

And considering that all Creation exists through Him

“‘In him we live and move and have our being” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:28‬ ‭

If Jesus ceases, so does the universe too with Him. It would be sooner that the universe would disappear than for God Jesus to cease. We can only exist if He exists. If He stops existing we no longer exist. If we stop existing He is unaffected.

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  • Thx. "Jesus did not have a heavenly body after incarnation" Does this mean he wasn't God at this time?
    – steveowen
    Jul 23 '21 at 4:31
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    It’s irrelevant @user47952 to the question. He was 100% human. And as a human he was subjected to temptations.
    – Autodidact
    Jul 23 '21 at 4:35
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Anyone reading the other answers here would/should note the doublespeak. Wanting an eternal, immortal Son who is God, but struggling with how to allow him to be tempted or sin as a man 'made like us in every way' Heb 2:17.

What is the Biblical basis that Jesus could sin?

  • to sin, Jesus must not God. God cannot sin, He is holy and has no need to sin, let alone desire or inability to refrain.
  • some propose Jesus has a switch allowing him to not be God for a while. This faulty reasoning is usually based on Phil 2

existing in the form of God, did not consider to be equal with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, having taken the form of a servant, having been made in the likeness of men. Phil 2:6-7

The error is in fudging Jesus to stop being in the form of God (at his alleged, unbiblical incarnation) and to then take the form of a servant while a man in the flesh. There is no need to read this in to the text. Jesus was always the image of God from birth, always the form of God, always the light of God, always the truth of God, always had the glory of God as he presented the Father to his disciples and everyone else fortunate to encounter him.

If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him. John 14:7

They don't get to know God, the Father, by seeing a servant alone, but a servant who was holy, truthful and glorious all in the same person - the son of God. How could Jesus stop being God and lose his 'form of God' and still represent the Father in all things? It's a read-in concept without merit and dismisses the simple explanation the text offers - needing no imaginative interpretation at all.

  • we have ample scripture that confirms he is a man and none that affirms he is God - just a few mis-read proof-texts. Sadly, they have been mis-read for so long, many are unable to read the plain meaning of John 1, John 20:28, Acts 20:28, Titus 2:13 and a few others.

Jesus overcame.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33

just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne. Rev 3:21

What are we to understand from this simple statement? If Jesus has 'overcome', then he has had to choose between sin and not sin. What could he possible overcome if he - as God, could not sin? He overcame because he was sorely tempted and chose, by the power of God in him - the Father's provision of the holy spirit, to do God's will and not his own.

Some reject that Jesus had an opposing will to God. Well, they must if Jesus is God, because God cannot be divided. But this idea is not scriptural. Jesus did have his own will which did differ form God's. It doesn't matter that Jesus always (eventually) submitted to God and did God's will - this is essentially what overcoming means! He chooses one of two options - his or God's - and he does so correctly and repeatedly until it is finished.

If we deny his overcoming, we deny his complete purpose for being our saviour. He overcomes in our stead! He defeats sin for us! He resists evil for us! To say this was a forgone conclusion because he could not fail is to deny his humanity - being made like us in every respect. A 6 year old could understand, being a God/man is nothing like us, making Heb 2:17 and all the other verses speaking of Jesus, as a man, a lie.

Jesus did not have a heavenly body after incarnation. (Autodidact)

the divine and human natures are not mixed with each other

The natures neither mingle, nor merge, nor 'switch'. They are two distinct things. They meet only in the Person of Jesus Christ. This is a mystery. (Nigel)

What verse supports any of this fancy theology? There are none. Just the imaginations of men who misled the sheep with new ideas not part of the early church Jesus founded with his Apostles. There is no mystery - only the created one which hides the true Jesus, born of Mary as the Gospels express.

…it seemed fitting to me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in an orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught Luke 1:3

the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus Luke 1:30

What mystery?

The Jesus who sweated like drops of blood, who cried out with tears to his God to save him "all the days of his flesh" Heb 5:7 who pleaded for God to take the cup from him - this is not a God/man who cannot fail unless it is all a grand cosmic charade. By fabricating our own God and another Jesus, we make our own charade with wordy and complex explanations that no one can understand - except by faith! Jesus came to reveal the Father - perfectly! He called Him his God, still does! Rev 3

If Jesus could be tempted - and he was all his life(!), then unless the whole thing was a joke, he must have been able to sin. We have no record of Jesus losing his Godness, his eternal life, his Godly knowledge of ALL things. We have record of him now knowing some things that God hadn't told him yet. We have no record of a God the Son who always existed - he is not even hinted at in the OT or the NT.

The biblical basis for Jesus being able to sin:

  • we are not told he is God,
  • he is one of us - made like us "in every respect".
  • if we can sin, so could Jesus, it's that simple.
  • he had to learn obedience through suffering. He has real choices to sin or not sin, to obey or not, to suffer for what is right and good or not.
  • he was 'mastered by death'. Rom 6:9 shows that Jesus could have lost his future eternal life if he had sinned. If he could not sin, he would not be mastered by death. Traditional theology had no understanding about this verse.
  • But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the Law Gal 4:4 Simple - just accept the persistent 'Jesus is a man only' as we are told over and over, 'made like us'.

------------- the Temptation------------

If the devil knew Jesus was really God, he wouldn't be so stupid to play along to 'tempt' this Eternal Son who somehow made himself a man.

Devil: "oh c'mon Jesus, this is ridiculous - you're God the Son, you are not going to let me trick you, can we just stop this nonsense?"

Jesus: "Just read your lines and stick to the script"

Devil: Really, do we have to go up to the temple, this is stupid!"

Jesus: "Shut up and finish this so my Dad is happy!"

From heaven: (This is My Son - listen to him!)

Devil: "oh alright, let's get it over with!"

How does God the Son stop being God the Son and become a man? We can make all kinds of stories because the bible never mentions this. We've even invented a God the Son!

No wonder there is a mystery? None of it makes sense. The bible makes sense, but so few are able to believe it.

Restitutio Brief Paraphrase #420

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I was told that how Jesus conducted himself in the temple in Jerusalem could have been considered sinful meaning that not only Jesus could sin, but did sin. However it is debatable that driving out those in the temple is sinful for although he was clearly angry and perhaps even hateful towards those in the temple, it was to stop their own sinful practices so may ultimately be good.

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