Could Jesus have sinned?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Jesus Sin

Q: Did Jesus in His humanity have the option to sin?

Hank Hanegraaff: The temptation that came to Christ was from without, but for sin to take place there always has to be an inner response to the outer suggestion to sin. Since Jesus was divine, He could not respond to temptation. In fact, if Jesus Christ had mulled over a temptation to sin for even a moment, He would have been tainted by sin. So we have to say, “No, Jesus Christ could not have sinned, and therefore, Jesus Christ could not have responded.” Now the temptation was real, but for sin to take place there has to be an inner response to the outer suggestion to sin.

We can, in some sense, relate to that. We who are born into sin can identify with being tempted to do something that we are utterly disinclined to do. I’ll give you an example. A mother would never consider killing her child, even if she was offered a life free from suffering. Nonetheless, the natural desire to avoid suffering would render such a temptation genuine. The temptation would come, it’s a genuine temptation, but the mother would be completely disinclined to yield to that temptation because she couldn’t imagine killing a child. That gives a bit of an earthly perspective on how this could happen.

Now, Jesus did not have a sin nature. To have a genuinely human nature does not require a sin nature. In saying that “God cannot be tempted by evil” in the Epistle of James (2:13, NIV), there’s a focus on God as the self-sufficient sovereign of the universe, as such He has no unmet needs. Conversely, the accounts of the temptation of Jesus Christ (Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) focus on God in human flesh, and as such, He experienced all the essential physical and psychological needs that are commensurate with humanity. He suffered hunger, fatigue, and desire for self-preservation.

The biblical truth that God cannot be tempted and yet Christ was tempted are complimentary, they’re not contradictory.

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15, NIV).

For further study, please see the following equip.org resources:

If God Cannot be Tempted, How Could Jesus be Tempted? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Genuine Temptation and the Character of Christ  (Adam Pelser)

The question on Jesus Christ being tempted is also addressed in That’s Just Your Interpretation by Paul Copan.

Blog adapted from “Did Jesus have the opportunity to sin?


Jesus Christ: Fully Divine, Fully Human, One Person.

Hanegraaff, Hank-Jesus Christ Fully Human Fully Divine

Q: I was talking to a friend about the two natures of Jesus Christ. He was telling me that Christ had a human spirit and a divine spirit. Does Christ have two spirits or just one?

A: Remember that Jesus Christ was one person with two natures—fully man and fully God. What does it mean to be fully man? When a woman gives birth, she gives birth to a body/soul unity. Jesus Christ was fully man. We also recognize from Philippians that He was not divested of a single attribute of deity. So, in the incarnation, while He took on the limitations of humanity, He was fully and completely divine.

How that is communicated, I think, is most safely put in the Creed of Chalcedon or in some of the other biblical creeds, like the Creed of Athanasius. This is important in that the church fathers wanted to codify this in language that’s consistent and correct.

There is a mysterious aspect to it; therefore, the language is important. We recognize even with the language that we don’t fully comprehend it, but this is our apprehension of God’s condescension in the pages of Holy Writ. I think we need to be very careful with the language; therefore, once again, I’ll refer you to the creeds that say,

One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledge in two natures…the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son.1

I don’t know if I can say it any better than that. From a historic Christian standpoint, therefore, we are well served to emulate the language of the creeds in communicating what it means that we have one person with two natures fully God and fully man.

For further related study, please access the following:

Does the Bible Claim Jesus is God? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did Jesus Claim to be God? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Credentials Back Up Jesus’ Claim to Deity? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is the Incarnation Incoherent? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Deity vs. Humanity A Closer Look at Philippians 2:6-7 (Kristen Forbes)


  1. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom: With a History and Critical Notes, sixth edition, vol. II (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 62

Blog adapted from “Did Christ have two spirits or just one?”