Have you ever heard something so shocking that it made you doubt your senses?
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.
Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God. (John 8:44-47)
A Spiritual “Law of Gravity”
There is no more foundational doctrine in the Scriptures than the sinless perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The holiness of God, and the deity of the God-man Jesus Christ, is the spiritual equivalent of the law of gravity.
Think of what would happen if the physical law of gravity were suspended, even for a few moments. The air that we breath would dissipate until we would not have enough oxygen to survive. Anything that was not anchored down, and even things that were, would go flying out into space with nothing to hold them back. Without the law of gravity, we would all very quickly die.
The doctrine of the sinlessness of Jesus Christ could be called a spiritual law of gravity. It anchors all of our doctrine. It holds everything together.
That is why the doctrine of the deity of Christ, and in particular His sinless perfection, is the one for which Satan exhibits the greatest hatred. We have evidence of that in Satan’s attempt to exalt himself above the throne of God in eternity past, above the pre-incarnate Christ. He made repeated attempts to cause Jesus to sin during His temptation in the wilderness. And throughout the history of the church the Devil has attacked this doctrine more than any other. Heresy after heresy has involved a denial of the sinless perfection of Christ. It is still the same today.
The Heresy of Jesus’ “Spiritual Death”
On television and the Internet you will hear any number of charismatic or word-of-faith preachers tell you that when Jesus went to the Cross, He “died spiritually.” By this they mean that Jesus took on the nature of Satan, became a sinner Himself, and was punished under the dominion of Satan in Hell until the Holy Spirit rescued Jesus, and Jesus was “born again.” Yes, they teach that Jesus became a sinner who needed to be born again.
One of their false teachers has written this:
Jesus was a man just like you and me…
Jesus was not an Adam before the fall, but an Adam after the fall with a sinful nature with a propensity to sin just like you and me.1
I personally encountered this kind of horrific teaching in a most unexpected place.
Jesus “Did The Unthinkable”?
One Sunday morning about fifteen years ago, my wife and I were visiting a church not far from our home. The pastor was preaching on Romans 8:1 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He said that his focus would be on explaining the way in which salvation was made possible.
As he continued, I could not believe my ears. He said the reason salvation was possible was because Jesus “did the unthinkable” – “Jesus Christ committed sin.” He claimed that Jesus deliberately broke a commandment of the Mosaic law, and thus became guilty of the whole law Himself. He said that Jesus thus “entered into the nature of sinful man.”
This, the pastor asserted, made salvation possible. He argued that “we could accuse God the Father of a sin” if He had punished someone who was truly innocent in our place. But because of Jesus’ alleged transgression, “God then could freely, without any criticism, bring down His hammer of wrath and judgment on His own sinful Son.” He also said that the Apostles’ Creed’s statement that “He descended into Hell” meant that Jesus suffered further judgment in Hell after the cross, “because He had sinned against His Father.”
The service my wife and I were attending was not in a liberal mainline church or some fringe group or cult. This was the worship service of a reputedly conservative church in a reputedly conservative Reformed denomination. The words were spoken by a trusted pastor of over 40 years’ experience. Nearly 200 people were present that morning, including, of course, the elders of the church.
Waiting For the Roof to Fall In
Have you ever had a time when you heard something so shocking that you wondered if you were really hearing it? That was how I felt that morning. I was stunned. Frankly, I was waiting for the roof to fall in. But as the pastor continued to speak of Jesus’ committing sin, there was no sign of objection among the congregation. No one spoke out. No one walked out. There was no uneasy stirring.
I thought that perhaps other people were just as stunned as I was, or perhaps I had dreamed all this, or my ears had deceived me. When the service ended, people broke into their normal little clusters of conversation, and chatted amiably with the pastor in the foyer as they departed.
The sermon was tape recorded, so I obtained a copy before I left the church that day. Listening to the tape at home that afternoon confirmed that I had indeed heard all these incredible, blasphemous statements about the person, work and holiness of Jesus Christ.
I made an appointment to visit the pastor to confirm firsthand that he had meant what he said. He not only stood firm in his false teaching, but was also supported by the leadership of his congregation and denomination. No one in the church leadership was willing to confront him, so even though I was not a member of the church I felt obligated to provide the tape recording and a transcript to the governing body of his denomination. His denomination took no disciplinary action against him, only suggesting that he might “reconsider his position.” He ignored even that mild, totally inadequate admonishment, and continued to teach the same blasphemous view of Christ for many more years.2
“It Is Written”
But all men who teach such things will face the Lord, the Righteous Judge. Jesus’ words still stand today: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” Satan still seeks to try to convince men that they can. And so he ever asks, as in Eden, “Has God indeed said…?” Some men fall into Satan’s trap. But the answer of the true believer must ever be, as was Jesus’ answer to Satan, “It is written…”
And so, as we continue, we shall begin to examine what the Lord Himself says about His name, “The Holy One,” in His inerrant written Word.
Next: The Old and New Testament Titles of Christ
Dennis A. Beard, Behold the Real Jesus (Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2007), pages 37 and 38.
The pastor was Rev. C. Biddle Foster of Kirkridge Presbyterian Church in Manchester, Maryland, a congregation of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod. The date was August 22, 1999.
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