Jesus Sinlessness - mortal, venial or both


#1

I have a catholic coworker (I’m Protestant) tell me today that Jesus was not sinless. He said that his priest holds that he was sinless mortally but not venially. I’m guessing that this is not the official position of the church and would appreciate any links or docs or [font=Arial]catechism references that are official on this issue to give to him.[/font]
[font=Arial]Thanks[/font]


#2
  1. A sin is defined as an offense against God

  2. Jesus IS God.

… need I say more?


#3

Your co-worker must have skipped a few catechism classes.

540 Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.”(Hebrews 4:15) By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.

scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc2.htm


#4

Jesus is sinless is every respect, and this is what we hold, unless we are prepared to say likewise that God* can* sin, which is for any Christian an unthinkable proposition. Any Catholic, layman or priest who says otherwise may unknowingly be teaching something close to heresy.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#5

The following paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church also seem to apply to the issue of the sinlessness of Jesus:
1850. Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.” Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,” knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.” In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.

Christ’s human will
475. Similarly, at the sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but co-operate in such a way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our salvation. Christ’s human will “does not resist or oppose but rather submits to his divine and almighty will.”


#6

[quote=ohmanya]I have a catholic coworker (I’m Protestant) tell me today that Jesus was not sinless. He said that his priest holds that he was sinless mortally but not venially. I’m guessing that this is not the official position of the church and would appreciate any links or docs or [font=Arial]catechism references that are official on this issue to give to him.[/font]
[font=Arial]Thanks[/font]
[/quote]

Dear ohmanya,

This is great! I just finished writing a letter about how it was non-Catholic Christians who brought me back to Jesus and eventually the Catholic Church when I (a cradle Catholic) had fallen away.

Your story as a Protestant trying to instruct a Catholic in his own faith is wonderful testimony to the unity in the body of Christ. We are all here to build each other up. Not all Protestants tear down Catholics, and not all Catholics tear down Protestants.

Welcome to the forum, and thank you for posting!!! :tiphat:
:blessyou:

Alan


#7

[quote=AlanFromWichita]Dear ohmanya,

This is great! I just finished writing a letter about how it was non-Catholic Christians who brought me back to Jesus and eventually the Catholic Church when I (a cradle Catholic) had fallen away.

Your story as a Protestant trying to instruct a Catholic in his own faith is wonderful testimony to the unity in the body of Christ. We are all here to build each other up. Not all Protestants tear down Catholics, and not all Catholics tear down Protestants.

Welcome to the forum, and thank you for posting!!! :tiphat:
:blessyou:

Alan
[/quote]

Hi Alan,

Now that you mentione it, the same happened to me. One who played a big part on that is also one of my best friend (he’s evangelical) now we have very good apologetics discussion by emai.

Regards,
J.C.


#8

[quote=ohmanya]I have a catholic coworker (I’m Protestant) tell me today that Jesus was not sinless. He said that his priest holds that he was sinless mortally but not venially. I’m guessing that this is not the official position of the church and would appreciate any links or docs or [font=Arial]catechism references that are official on this issue to give to him.[/font]
[font=Arial]Thanks[/font]
[/quote]

As He is several times called the “Holy One of God”, in the Gospels, He could not be a sinner.

See Hebrews 4 as well. And the Letters of Peter. And 2 Corinthians 5. Read the NT.

“Jesus Christ sinned” is a contradiction in terms. It’s meaningless. To be Jesus Christ, is to be free of all sin.

If He sinned, how could He save others from the very evil to which He Himself was subject ? ##


#9

it’s interesting, i think, that many of you seem to be saying that Jesus COULD NOT have sinned. if He were incapable of sin, how does He now know what it is to be tempted?

by this, i mean that He DID NOT sin, but that He COULD HAVE, or His temptation was not temptation.

an aside - i’ve always found it fascinating that Jesus never sinned. this means, of course, that He never did anything wrong. but it also means He always did the right thing. AND He always did it for the right reason.

can you imagine living life, ALWAYS doing the right thing, EVERY time, for the right reason??? i can’t.


#10

That is exactly why he is LORD.:amen:


#11

[quote=jeffreedy789]it’s interesting, i think, that many of you seem to be saying that Jesus COULD NOT have sinned. if He were incapable of sin, how does He now know what it is to be tempted?

by this, i mean that He DID NOT sin, but that He COULD HAVE, or His temptation was not temptation.
[/quote]

One could be **tempted ** without necessarily falling for it. Temptation per se, is not necessarily a sin on the part of the one being tempted.

If Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert, perhaps the devil foolishly thought he could somehow score a “sneak” victory over the Christ, and thereby derail His mission.

[quote=jeffreedy789] an aside - i’ve always found it fascinating that Jesus never sinned. this means, of course, that He never did anything wrong. but it also means He always did the right thing. AND He always did it for the right reason.

can you imagine living life, ALWAYS doing the right thing, EVERY time, for the right reason??? i can’t.
[/quote]

Well, we cannot fully imagine it. After all, this is precisely why we call Jesus as the Lord of all.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#12

i’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my question. i’m not asking if Jesus sinned. He did not. i’m asking why, on this thread, many seem to be saying that He was not CAPABLE of sin. that it was impossible for Him to sin. that no matter what He did, it would not have been sin. i contend that He could have sinned, because if He couldn’t, He was not really tempted.


#13

[quote=jeffreedy789]i’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my question. i’m not asking if Jesus sinned. He did not. i’m asking why, on this thread, many seem to be saying that He was not CAPABLE of sin. that it was impossible for Him to sin. that no matter what He did, it would not have been sin. i contend that He could have sinned, because if He couldn’t, He was not really tempted.
[/quote]

First, He was not capable of sinning, because sin is disobedience to God and to assume that Christ would be disobedient to God would imply that God is capable of being disobedient to Himself, which would go against God’s essential immutability. A house divided against itself would fall.

Second, Jesus cannot sin because **only ** Persons **can ** sin, not natures. Since the person of Jesus is the **same ** as the Person of the divine and eternal Word, though He has two natures, human and divine, Jesus simply cannot sin in this respect. If Christ had two persons, corresponding to each of the two natures, which we in any case deny, would the prospect of sinning be plausible, though unlikely.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#14

thanks for your explanation, but i don’t think what you just said is christian at all, let alone catholic.

Jesus WAS (is) a person.

i see how it seems confusing that He could be disobedient to God, when He WAS (is) God. however, the Bible makes it clear that He was tempted to sin, as we are. this simply isn’t the case if He were incapable of sin.


#15

[quote=jeffreedy789]thanks for your explanation, but i don’t think what you just said is christian at all, let alone catholic.

Jesus WAS (is) a person.

i see how it seems confusing that He could be disobedient to God, when He WAS (is) God. however, the Bible makes it clear that He was tempted to sin, as we are. this simply isn’t the case if He were incapable of sin.
[/quote]

In another thread this question of “person” also came up. If you mean a human person, this is not consistent with Catholic teaching. One of his natures is human, but his personhood is divine
The following was part of the exchange:

Originally Posted by [font=Arial]porthos11[/font]

Don’t confuse the two. To say Jesus is a human person is outright heresy. The orthodox Catholic teaching is this: that Jesus Christ is two natures hypostatically united in one Divine Person.

[font=Arial]

Please explain your distinction between nature and person. To my layman’s perspective they seem the same.
Thanks,[/font]
[font=Arial][font=Arial]

[/font]Consider this:

A persona called “H2O”.
At one time he flows. His nature is "liquid."
At other time he is sturdy. His nature is "solid."
Yet, his “person” is the same throughout. He is “H2O”

Hope that makes sense.[/font]


#16

[quote=jeffreedy789]thanks for your explanation, but i don’t think what you just said is christian at all, let alone catholic.

Jesus WAS (is) a person.

i see how it seems confusing that He could be disobedient to God, when He WAS (is) God. however, the Bible makes it clear that He was tempted to sin, as we are. this simply isn’t the case if He were incapable of sin.
[/quote]

Jesus is **one **Divine Person with **two ** natures, human and divine. This was perfectly clear from my previous statement so I don’t see any confusion here. I kindly suggest you reread what I posted earlier.

Secondly, I would repeat what I said earlier, temptation does not presuppose that the one tempted could in fact sin. Someone could “tempt” me to drink beer although I find the smell of liquor utterly revolting and hence I cannot [not *would not] give in to it. With God, what could be more revolting than sin itself?

Gerry :slight_smile:


#17

[quote=davidv]In another thread this question of “person” also came up. If you mean a human person, this is not consistent with Catholic teaching. One of his natures is human, but his personhood is divine

[/quote]

Precisely. Jesus has two natures united in the one Divine Person of the Word. This is the reason why it is impossible for Jesus to Sin.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#18

One more point, just in case there is any doubt about the orthodoxy of my statement, the online Catechism of the Catholic Church [no. 468] has this to say on the Incarnation:

" Against them, the fifth ecumenical council, at Constantinople in 553, confessed that "there is but one *hypostasis *[or person], which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity. Thus everything in Christ’s human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject, not only his miracles but also his sufferings and even his death: "He who was crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, is true God, Lord of glory, and one of the Holy Trinity. [highlighting mine].

Gerry :slight_smile:


#19

There are several kinds of temptation. You can be tempted from without or from within.

Exterior temptation is pretty simple: it comes from outward suggestion. Somebody tries to get us to do something we shouldn’t.

Interior temptation, on the other hand, follows from inheriting a human nature wounded by the sin of our first parents. The wound makes us tend towards evil without anybody else’s suggestion. We come into the world addicted to sin, and it doesn’t take much for us to get into trouble with those interior temptations.

It’s obvious that Jesus was tempted from without. Satan gave his best shot and failed. Was Jesus tempted from within? Since we believe Him to be totally perfect, he was free from Adam’s wound and so did not have those unreasonable motions that come from possessing a fallen human nature. We can safely conclude that Jesus was free from interior temptations.

Does temptation imply the capability of sinning? In *human *persons, yes. Adam and Eve suffered no interior temptations prior to the Fall. Their natures weren’t wounded yet. The temptations of Satan were external. After they fell, not only did they have to guard against exterior temptations, but to interior temptations as well.

Jesus is different. *Who *is He? He is the *divine *person of the Son who assumed a human nature. Someone could foolishly tempt God, and Deuteronomy 6:13 warns us not to do so. Yet God not only does not sin, but He can’t sin. To paraphrase Frank Sheed, nothing is impossible to God, and the possibility of God sinning is exactly that-- nothing-- which is impossible to God. When God makes human nature His own, this does not change.

However, don’t think that even though Jesus could not sin means that He had it easy when He was tempted. Because He is God the Son and possesses His human nature in all of its original integrity it wouldn’t mean that He suffered less than we do when we’re tempted. Far from it. It would mean that He felt the anguish even more. Frank Sheed writes that Jesus called Peter “Satan” because in his suggestion, Peter was exposing Jesus to the kind of suffering in Gethsemane in which his sweat became like drops of blood.


#20

In addition, the Old Testament tells us that God the Father Himself was subjected to temptation, such as in Exodus 17:2, and Numbers 14:22. If the Father Himself was tempted, does it follow He can sin if He had wanted to ? Sin is essentially disobedience. Are we going to state that the Father is capable of disobedience toward Himself ?

If we regard our Lord Jesus as Divine, hence, He, like the Father cannot commit sin. No other conclusion is possible.

Gerry :slight_smile:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.