Sinless Yet Sympathetic Substitute | Quotes on the Nature of Christ

Sinless Yet Sympathetic Substitute

Issue addressed: There is a growing school of thought in the Advent body who believe that Christ must possess a sinful nature, including our bent toward evil and all our inherited tendencies to wrong, in order to know what it is to be tempted in all points like as we are. However, let us consider carefully together, the statement: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15). Many believe, that Christ could inherit the same sinful nature and propensities that we have and, as long as He never willfully sinned, He was not under condemnation as a sinner. But let us see what the bible and the Spirit of Prophecy has to say.

The understanding of Christ’s nature is vitally important if we are understand the atonement and Christ’s capacity as a sin bearing substitute.

“The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study…When we approach this subject, we would do well to heed the words spoken by Christ to Moses at the burning bush, ‘Put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground.’ (Exodus 3:5). We should come to this study with the humility of a learner, with a contrite heart. And the study of the incarnation of Christ is a fruitful field, which will repay the searcher who digs deep for hidden truth.” (1 Selected Messages 244.1)

MAN’S NATURE BEFORE THE FALL:

What are we referring to when we talk about human nature? “The nature of man is threefold …the physical, intellectual, and moral.” Child Guidance 39.1

“God made man upright; He gave him noble traits of character, with no bias toward evil.” Patriarch’s and Prophets 49.2.

“His judgment …was disposed to obedience and affection regulated according to reason and truth … Yet he was not placed beyond the reach of temptation.” Youth Instructor August 10, 1899, par. 3

“God did not create man sinful. Adam came forth from the hand of his Maker without the taint of evil.” Signs of the Times Aug 26,1897.

“He (Adam) had originally the wonderful gift of a sinless nature.” Letter 83, 1905 (MR# 201, page 24).

ADAM’S TEMPTATIONS BEFORE THE FALL:

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life is not of the

Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16.
“The test upon appetite, upon the love of the world, and upon that love of display that leads to

presumption, these were the temptations that overcame Adam and Eve and so readily overcome us.” Desire of Ages 116.

“It was distrust of God’s goodness, disbelief of His Word, and rejection of His authority that made our first parents transgressors and that brought into the world a knowledge of evil.” Education 25.

“In what consisted the strength of the assault made upon Adam which caused his fall? It was not indwelling sin. For God made Adam after His own character, pure and upright. There were no corrupt principles in the first Adam, no corrupt propensities or tendencies to evil. Adam was as faultless as the angels before God’s throne. These things are inexplainable, but many things which now we cannot understand will be made plain when we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known.” Manuscript Release Volume 16, 86.2.

Note: It was possible for Christ to be tempted in all points like as we are with a sinless nature asAdam,who having a sinless nature was tempted and fell.

MAN’S NATURE AFTER THE FALL:

“Man was originally endowed with noble powers and a well-balanced mind. He was perfect in his being and in harmony with God. His thoughts were pure, his aims holy. But through disobedience, his powers were perverted and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened through transgression that it was impossible for him in his own strength to resist the power of evil. He was made a captive of Satan and would have remained so forever had God not specifically interposed.” (Steps to Christ 17).

“Man has fallen. God’s image in him is defaced. By disobedience he is depraved in inclination and weakened in power, unable, apparently, to look forward to anything but tribulation and wrath. (Signs of the Times March 30, 1904, par. 1)

“When man transgressed the divine law, his nature became evil, and he was in harmony, and not at variance, with Satan. There exists naturally no enmity between sinful man and the originator of sin. Both became evil through apostasy.” (The Great Controversy 505.2).

“When Adam apostatized, he placed himself on Satan’s side; his nature became evil, and he became separated from God. Had there been no interference on the part of God, Satan and man would have formed an alliance against heaven, and together they would have carried on a battle against God. There is not a natural enmity between fallen angels and fallen man. Naturally both are united in rebellion against good. Evil, wherever it exists, will always league with evil against good, so that naturally fallen angels and fallen men are linked in a desperate companionship. (Review and Herald May 3, 1906, par. 2).

Let us ask ourselves: Is this the nature Christ possessed? Nowhere in scripture or in inspired writings are we told that Christ “became evil and he was in harmony not at variance, with Satan” and “would have formed an alliance against heaven, and together [with Satan] they would have carried on a battle against God”? I shutter just to write it…

OUR INHERITANCE FROM ADAM:

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” Rom 5:19.

“Because of the transgression of Adam, Satan claimed the whole human family.” Manuscript 16, 1893.

“Adam disobeyed and entailed sin upon his posterity.” Letter 143, 1900 (MR# 347).

“Adam sinned and the children of Adam share his guilt and its consequences.” Signs of the Times, May 19, 1890.

“Children received from Adam an inheritance of disobedience, of guilt and death.” Letter 8, 1895. “As a result of Adam’s disobedience, every human being is a transgressor of the law and is sold

under sin.” Manuscript 122, 1901.
“he (Satan) prevailed on Adam to sin. Thus at its very source, human nature was corrupted.” Review

and Herald, April 16, 1901.
“Selfishness is inwrought in our very being. It has come to us as an inheritance…” Historical

Sketches 23, 139.

“All selfishness is sin.” Letter 165, 1901.

“In the human heart there is natural selfishness.” Testimonies 4, 496.

“All selfishness is condemned by the law of God.” Youth Instructor December 9, 1897.

“Human nature is depraved and is justly condemned by a holy God.” RH Sept 17, 1895.

“By nature we are alienated from God.” Steps to Christ 43.2.

“God hates hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong.” (Letter 34, 1899)

“The inheritance of children is that of sin.” Child Guidance 475

“Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalms 51:5

“The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” Psalms 58:3.

“Selfishness is the root of alienation” (Testimonies volume 6, 43).

“The life of the apostle Paul was a constant conflict with self. He said, I die daily (1 Cor 15:31). His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination

he did God’s will, however crucifying to his nature.” (Ministry of Healing 452.4)
“Men who have lived the nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly

commit a wrong act…confessed the sinfulness of their nature.” (Acts of the Apostles 561).

“But he who is truly seeking for holiness of heart and life delights in the law of God and mourns only that he falls so far short of meeting its requirements.” (The Sanctified Life 81).

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19.

“Those who…. accept of Christ are looked upon by God, not as they are in Adam, but as they are in Jesus Christ, as the sons and daughters of God.” Signs of the Times June 6, 1895 par. 4

INNOCENT INFIRMITIES & SINFUL PROPENSITIES

It is important to note, that after the fall there are two distinct results from sin:

1. Innocent infirmities—In man’s very creation, he was created as a dependent creature. Man was also created lower than the angels, with need to eat, drink, companionship, a covering to their nakedness and rest. As a consequence of sin, man’s nature would become even more weakened and deteriorated in its powers of mind, body and spirit, subject to death.

2. Sinful Propensities—this refers to the perversion of man, in which man became depraved, deranged, subject to selfishness by sin.

We will explore which of these two Christ took upon Himself when He “clothed His divinity with humanity”.

CHRIST’S HUMAN NATURE:

“From all eternity Christ was united with the Father, and when He took upon Himself human nature, He was still one with God. He is the link that unites God with humanity.” (1 Selected Messages 228).

“I and My Father are One.”John 10:30.

“The Godhead was not made human, and the human was not deified by the blending together of the two natures. Christ did not possess the same sinful, corrupt, fallen disloyalty we possess, for then he could not be a perfect offering.”—Manuscript 94, 1893.

“There should not be the faintest misgivings in regard to the perfect freedom from sinfulness in the human nature of Christ.” Manuscript 143, 1897.

“We should have no misgivings in regard to the perfect sinlessness of the human nature of Christ.” Signs of the Times June 9, 1898.

“In the fullness of time He was to be revealed in human form. He was to take His position at the head of humanity by taking the nature but not the sinfulness of man.” (Signs of the Times May 29, 1901).

“Be careful, exceedingly careful as to how you dwell upon the human nature of Christ. Do not set Him before the people as a man with the propensities of sin. He is the second Adam. The first Adam was created a pure, sinless being, without a taint of sin upon him; he was in the image of God. He could fall, and he did fall through transgressing. Because of sin his posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience. But Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God. He took upon Himself human nature, and was tempted in all points as human nature is tempted. He could have sinned; He could have fallen, but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity. He was assailed with temptations in the wilderness, as Adam was assailed with temptations in Eden. (Manuscript volume 13, 18.1)

“Never in any way leave the slightest impression upon human minds that a taint of or inclination to corruption rested upon Christ, or that He in any way yielded to corruption. Let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as ourselves, for it cannot be.” 5BC 1128,9.

“Never, in any way, leave the slightest impression upon human minds that a taint of, or inclination to, corruption rested upon Christ, or that He in any way yielded to corruption. He was tempted in all points like as man is tempted, yet He is called “that holy thing.” It is a mystery that is left unexplained to mortals that Christ could be tempted in all points like as we are, and yet be without sin. The incarnation of Christ has ever been, and will ever remain a mystery. That which is revealed, is for us and for our children, but let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as ourselves; for it cannot be. The exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know. We are to keep our feet on the Rock Christ Jesus, as God revealed in humanity. (Manuscript volume 13, 19.1)

“Our Savior identifies Himself with our needs and weaknesses, in that He became a suppliant, a nightly petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, to come forth invigorated and refreshed, braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, but not in possessing like passions. As the sinless One, His nature recoiled from evil. He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin.” (2 Testimonies 201.2)

“Christ is called the second Adam. In purity and holiness, connected with God and beloved by God, He began where the first Adam began. Willingly He passed over the ground where Adam fell, and redeemed Adam’s failure.

“Christ was without sin, else His life in human flesh and His death on the cross would have been of

“He was a mighty petitioner, not possessing the passions of our human, fallen natures, but compassed with like infirmities, tempted in all points even as we are. Jesus endured agony which required help and support from His Father.” {2 Testimonies 508.2}

“He [Christ] was to take His position at the head of humanity by taking the nature but not the sinfulness of man…” (The Signs of the Times, May 29, 1901).”{7BC 925.4}

no more value in procuring grace for the sinner than the death of any man.” Manuscript 92, 1891.

“Man could not atone for man. His sinful, fallen condition would constitute him an imperfect offering, an atoning sacrifice of less value than Adam before his fall. God made man perfect and upright and after his transgression there could be no sacrifice acceptable to God for him, unless the offering made should in value be superior to man as he was in his state of perfection and innocency.” (Spirit of Prophecy Volume 2, 9).

“Christ alone could open the way by making an offering equal to the demands of the divine law. He was perfect and undefiled by sin. He was without spot or blemish.” (Spirit of Prophecy 11).

“We should have no misgivings in regard to the perfect sinlessness of the human nature of Christ. Our faith must be an intelligent faith. Looking unto Jesus in perfect confidence, in full and entire faith in the atoning sacrifice. This is essential that the soul may not be shrouded in darkness. The holy Substitute is able to save to the uttermost, for He presented to the wondering universe perfect and complete humility in His human character and perfect obedience to all the requirements of God.” Signs of the Times June 9, 1898.

HIS TEMPTATIONS AND SYMPATHIES:

“Christ’s sympathy was not impaired by his sinlessness.” (SpM 149.2)

“It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.” (Desire of Ages 48.6).

*Christ inherited a weakened human nature which is the consequence of sin, not man’s sinfulness.

“Christ was suffering as the members of the human family suffer under temptation; but it was not the will of God that he should exercise his divine power in his own behalf. Had He not stood as our representative, Christ’s innocence would have exempted Him from all this anguish, but it was because of His innocence that He felt so keenly the assaults of Satan. All the suffering which is the result of sin was poured into the bosom of the sinless Son of God. Satan was bruising the heel of Christ, but every pang endured by Christ, every grief, every disquietude, was fulfilling the great plan of man’s redemption. Every blow inflicted by the enemy was rebounding on himself. Christ was bruising the serpent’s head.”—The Youth’s Instructor, December 21, 1899.

note: Christ suffered the temptation to exercise His innate divine power to deliver Himself, but choosing to use no other power than what would be available to all humanity, He stood as our representative and suffered more keenly the assaults of Satan because His sinlessness made Him more sensitive.

“The temptations of Christ, and his sufferings under them, were proportionate to his

exalted, sinless character. But in every time of distress, Christ turned to his Father…

“Upon the cross Christ knew, as no other can know, the awful power of Satan’s temptations, and his heart was poured out in pity and forgiveness for the dying thief, who had been ensnared by the enemy.”—The Youth’s Instructor, October 26, 1899.

“Christ, the second Adam, came in the likeness of sinful flesh. In man’s behalf, he became subject to sorrow, to weariness, to hunger, and to thirst. He was subject to temptation, but he yielded not to sin. No taint of sin was upon Him. He declared, ‘I have kept my Father’s commandments [in My earthly life]’ (John 15:10). He had infinite power only because he was perfectly obedient to his Father’s will. The second Adam stood the test of trial and temptation that he might become the Owner of all humanity.”—Manuscript 99, 1903.

“It was a difficult task for the Prince of Life to carry out the plan which He had undertaken for the salvation of man, in clothing His divinity with humanity. He had received honor in the heavenly courts and was familiar with absolute power. It was as difficult for Him to keep the level of humanity as for men to rise above the low level of their depraved natures and be partakers of the divine nature.” (Confrontation 85.1)

“There are many who fail to distinguish between the rashness of presumption and the intelligent confidence of faith. Satan thought that by his temptations he could delude the world’s Redeemer to make one bold move in manifesting His divine power, to create a sensation, and to surprise all by the wonderful display of the power of His Father in preserving Him from injury. He suggested that Christ should appear in His real character, and by this masterpiece of power, establish His right to the confidence and faith of the people, that He was indeed the Savior of the world. If Christ had been deceived by Satan’s temptations, and had exercised His miraculous power to relieve Himself from difficulty, He would have broken the contract made with His Father, to be a probationer in behalf of the race.” (Confrontation 84.3)

“Christ was put to the closest test, requiring the strength of all His faculties to resist the inclination, when in danger, to use His power to deliver Himself from peril and triumph over the power of the prince of darkness. Satan showed his knowledge of the weak points of the human heart, and put forth his utmost power to take advantage of the weakness of the humanity, which Christ had assumed in order to overcome his temptations on man’s account.” (Confrontation 85.2)

note: Christ’s temptation was to suppress His DIVINE nature to deliver Himself from hardship and thus disqualify Himself as man’s substitute.

“Many look on this conflict between Christ and Satan as having no special bearing on their own life; and for them it has little interest. But within the domain of every human heart this controversy is repeated. Never does one leave the ranks of evil for the service of God without encountering the assaults of Satan. The enticements which Christ resisted were those that we find it so difficult to withstand. They were urged upon Him in as much greater degree as His character is superior to ours. With the terrible weight of the sins of the world upon Him, Christ withstood the test upon appetite, upon the love of the world, and upon that love of display which leads to presumption. These were the temptations that overcame Adam and Eve, and that so readily overcome us.” (DA 116.4)

“But the first Adam was in every way more favorably situated than was Christ. The wonderful

provision made for man in Eden was made by a God who loved him. Everything in nature was pure and undefiled…. Not a shadow interposed between them [Adam and Eve] and their Creator. They knew God as their beneficent Father, and in all things their will was conformed to the will of God…. But Satan came to the dwellers in Eden and insinuated doubts of God’s wisdom. He accused Him, their Heavenly Father and Sovereign, of selfishness, because, to test their loyalty, He had prohibited them from eating of the tree of knowledge….

“Christ was tempted by Satan in a hundredfold severer manner than was Adam, and under circumstances in every way more trying. The deceiver presented himself as an angel of light, but Christ withstood his temptations. He redeemed Adam’s disgraceful fall, and saved the world….

“In His human nature He maintained the purity of His divine character. He lived the law of God, and honored it in a world of transgression, revealing to the heavenly universe, to Satan, and to all the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that through His grace humanity can keep the law of God. He came to impart His own divine nature, His own image, to the repentant, believing soul. {ML 323.6}

“In what contrast is the second Adam as He entered the gloomy wilderness to cope with Satan singlehanded! Since the Fall the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and sinking lower in the scale of moral worth, up to the period of Christ’s advent to the earth. And in order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us. He humiliated Himself to the lowest depths of human woe, that He might be qualified to reach man, and bring him up from the degradation in which sin had plunged him.”{1SM 268.2}

“It is not correct to say, as many writers have said, that Christ was like all children. He was not like all children…His inclination to right was a constant gratification to his parents…No one, looking upon the childlike countenance, shining with animation, could say that Christ was just like other children. He was God in human flesh. (YI September 8, 1898, par. 7-10)

CHRIST’S HUMANITY

“These words do not refer to any human being, except to the Son of the infinite God. Never, in any way, leave the slightest impression upon human minds that a taint of, or inclination to, corruption rested upon Christ, or that He in any way yielded to corruption. He was tempted in all points like as man is tempted, yet He is called “that holy thing.” It is a mystery that is left unexplained to mortals that Christ could be tempted in all points like as we are, and yet be without sin. The incarnation of Christ has ever been, and will ever remain a mystery. That which is revealed, is for us and for our children, but let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as ourselves; for it cannot be. The exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know. We are to keep our feet on the Rock Christ Jesus, as God revealed in humanity.”{5BC 1128.6}

“But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man. The human did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human. This is the mystery of godliness. The two expressions “human” and “divine” were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality.

Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own. His deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty…”{5BC 1129.3}

“When Christ’s indwelling glory flashed forth, it was too intense for His pure and perfect humanity entirely to conceal. The scribes and Pharisees did not speak in acknowledgment of Him, but their enmity and hatred were baffled as His majesty shone forth. The truth, obscured as it was by a veil of humiliation, spoke to every heart with unmistakable evidence. This led to the words of Christ, “Ye know who I am.” Men and devils were compelled, by the shining forth of His glory, to confess, “Truly, this is the Son of God.” Thus God was revealed; thus Christ was glorified (The Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899).”{5BC 1129.5}