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You can read previous articles from this excellent theological series ‘The Doctrine of God’ from Dr Paul Elliott of Teaching the Word Ministries here:

Part 1    Part 2   Part 3   Part 4


The Holy One In the Gospels: Double Imputation Secured

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott


In the Gospels we find declarations of Christ as the Holy One of Israel by Spirit-inspired men, by angels, and even by demons. We have the record of the Holy One living the perfect life no mere man can live, and dying the death we deserve to die, so that our sins might be placed on Him, and His robe of righteousness placed on us.

Thus far in this series we have seen that Scripture clearly displays the pre-incarnate Christ, as the Hoy Spirit spoke through Moses, David, and the later prophets, by the name “The Holy One of Israel” – the Creator, the sovereign Lawgiver, the One offended in all of man’s sin, and the coming Redeemer.

Thus, in God’s grand plan of salvation, the stage was now set for the revelation of the Incarnation of Christ at the beginning of the New Testament.

“The Holy One Who Is To Be Born”

As we come to the four Gospels, the Spirit immediately confronts us with the evidence of Christ’s sinless perfection. In the inspired accounts we find declarations of this tremendous fact by both human and supernatural agents. Matthew (in chapter 1) and Luke (in chapter 3) both set forth genealogies identifying “the seed of the woman” as prophesied in Genesis chapter 3.

Then we come to the first of the supernatural announcements of the Incarnation. The angel Gabriel, after telling the virgin Mary of the supernatural manner of the Lord’s conception, concludes by saying, “Therefore also [because His conception will be supernatural], that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). [The old King James Bible has the unfortunate mistranslation, “that holy thing,” which completely obscures the prophetic significance of one of the most significant of Christ’s names.]

Here the word hagios, which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew qadosh, is used for the first time in the New Testament. Qadosh signifies one who is sacred, holy, and set apart for a holy purpose; hagios carries the same meaning. Gabriel, speaking to Mary in the Hebrew language she would have understood, would have used the word qadosh, but in the New Testament we are given the Greek equivalent. Thus we have the linkage between these Old Testament and New Testament identifiers of Christ clearly stated.

A Demon Testifies

We next find a declaration of Jesus’ holiness early in His public ministry, and from an unexpected source – an unclean demon. In the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus was confronted by a man who was possessed, and the demon within him cried out, “Let us alone! What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34, also recorded in Mark 1:24).

As the Apostle James tells us, “Even the demons believe – and tremble!” (James 2:19).

“To Whom Shall We Go?”

A most striking declaration of Christ’s sinlessness appears in the Gospel of John, but is somewhat obscured in most English translations. In John 6:66-69 we read that many of Jesus’ disciples, offended by His sayings,

went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

A literal rendering of the original Greek of verse 69 echoes Christ’s prophetic title: “We have trusted and have known that You are the Holy One – the hagios – of God.” Peter is saying, “We have come to know that You are the One of whom Moses, David and the prophets spoke – the promised Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”

“Which of You Convicts Me of Sin?”

Furthermore, as we have seen previously, in the Gospels Jesus declared Himself to be the Holy One. His words to the unbelieving Jews in John 8 recall the eternal antagonism between the seed of the serpent and the Seed of the woman, spoken of by God in Genesis 3:

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?” (John 8:44-46)

Here Jesus took His hearers, religious leaders of the Jews, right back to Genesis 3:15 – the enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, between the one who is deceiver, the father of lies, and a murderer from the beginning, and the One who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). The unbelieving Jews would not come to the light of the truth of Christ’s holiness, just as He said to Nicodemus:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:19-21)

The same is true of false teachers who deny the sinlessness of Christ in our day.

Double Imputation Secured

We see the holiness of Christ further demonstrated and amplified throughout the Gospel accounts. And then each comes to its conclusion: The Holy One, having lived the perfect life that no mere man could live, went to the Cross and died the perfect death that only He could die, as Peter describes it in his first epistle: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). As Paul puts it, God the Father “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

As Isaiah declared prophetically, the Holy One of Israel

had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12)

Thus the Holy One of Israel, proved His perfect deity; by His perfect keeping of the law He earned a complete righteousness that could be imputed to vile, guilty sinners; and then He offered up His own body and blood as the perfect and full atonement for their sins, to which no unholy man can add anything.

Indeed, as Peter asked Jesus, “To whom shall we go?” To Christ alone may guilty sinners go to have their sins blotted out and remembered against them no more, and to receive a perfect righteousness that is not their own. Self-righteousness is filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). But by the way of the Cross men can have, as Paul declared, “not my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God [i.e., has the Holy One as its source] by faith” (Philippians 3:9).

Today false teachers deny the doctrine of double imputation. They say that men must have a righteousness of their own. But Scripture clearly and repeatedly puts the lie to that assertion. As we shall see next, this message – the redemption accomplished by the Holy One of Israel, perfect and complete in every respect – is the great theme of the preaching of the early church.

Next: The Holy One Declared by the Early Church

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