Questions on the Human Nature of Christ

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Brother Ron,

I was reading your page
(
http://members.tripod.com/omega77/dailyfocusonchrist.htm) on the human
nature of Christ, particularly this one:

"Jesus came to the world as a human being that He might become
acquainted with human beings...Adam was tempted by the enemy, and he
fell. It was not indwelling sin that caused him to yield; for God made
him pure and upright, in His own image. He was as faultless as the
angels before the throne. There were in him no corrupt principles, no
tendencies to evil. But when Christ came to meet the temptations of
Satan, He bore the 'likeness of sinful flesh.'" E.G. White, Signs of the
Times, 10/17/1900, p. 658, col. 2, 3.

Q. Is the phrase "no tendencies to evil" the same as 'having no
propensities to evil"? What does it mean to bear the 'likeness of
sinful flesh' yet have 'no tendencies to evil'? Are we the same in both
counts?

Ron responds: The brain nerve endings have what they call butons. Those butons are multiplied (reinforced) by every act we commit. Sow an act, sow a habit, so the saying goes, and there is physical, scientific proof of that fact. This has much to do with what Ellen White said about Christ and Adam. I believe Ellen White's use of tendencies and/or propensities applies to the same thing. One accrues tendencies and propensities by committing acts, whether they be good or bad. Christ had no tendencies or propensities to evil acts because He never committed such. However, He had "ALL THE STRENGTH OF PASSION OF HUMANITY. Notice:

"Though He had all the strength of passion of humanity, never did He yield to do one single act which was not pure and elevating and enobling.--EGW, In Heavenly Places, p. 155.

Christ had all our passions, but He controlled them, as "all animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul." (See Adventist Home, p. 128).

Because He had our same passions, He could be tempted as we are, but keep in mind that temptation is not a sin. But one might counter: If Christ had not accrued butons for sinful acts, then He could not be tempted in the degree we are. I believe there are at least four important answers to such a thesis:

1. I believe that Christ felt all our "buton" accruements for sin when our sins were laid upon Him. In other word, though He had no PERSONAL PROPENSITIES OR TENDENCIES for sin by way of a PERSONAL build-up of butons, He took ours upon Himself and experienced mankind's temptations as many fold as they existed in all of mankind, yet without yielding.

2. How did He do that? By yielding to the will of His Father moment by moment and by meditating on the results of sin and the beauty of the law (as David did), so that He would rather have died than sin.

3. The playing field was levelled when Christ gave up (laid aside) His former (preIncarnation) life, as a regenerating gift to us via His Holy Spirit essence. By that act, He indwells man and they thereby have access to the very same empowerment He had access to, and none of us have the weight of all the sin butons of everyone who ever lived or will live, laid upon them!

4. Christ did not have our propensities and resultant butons by personally sinning, but He had all of ours laid upon Him. Because of that Ellen White could correctly say that Christ had our same succeptibilities, mental and physical. Notice:

"He was made like unto His brethren, with the SAME SUSCEPTIBILITIES, mental and physical. RH, 2/10/85.

Roget's Thesaurus lists susceptibilities and propensities as synonyms. So Christ had all our susceptibilities and propensities laid upon Him, and thus was far more tempted than we are, but controlled His passions and the propensities and susceptibilities of ours which were laid upon Him when ALL SIN OF ALL MANKIND was laid upon Him. But always hasten to add that He did not BY PERSONALLY SINNINING have our propensities and susceptibilities by way of accrued butons (formed habits). Were all this not true, He could never have been tempted as we are in ALL THINGS. He was so tempted, infinite times over!

Q. What does sinful human nature mean in the context of the various quotes -- our physical body or something intangible like moral character, our mind, or something else?

Ron responds: Man has a physical as well as a spiritual nature. The physical (lower nature) passions must be under the control of reason and the spirit of God--even the Holy Spirit gift He sacrificed in order to bequeath it to us for the purpose of controlling the lower passions and rising to the spiritual nature--even dying daily to the physical and being born again daily according to the spiritual nature of Christ indwelling us if we invite Him in on a moment by moment basis. That is how He overcame the physical sinful nature like ours which He indeed did take. This brings us full-circle back to your question:

Q. What does it mean to bear the 'likeness of sinful flesh' yet have 'no tendencies to evil'? Are we the same in both counts?

Ron responds: He took the likeness of sinful flesh in its state of deterioration after 4,000 years of sin. The mental and physical state of man had become considerably impaired. So what about His spiritual state? Christ's spiritual state of being was under the control of the Holy Spirit from His birth. We cannot deny that. But that Holy Spirit control was tested in a way that our's never is. Namely, having the weight (affect) of all the sin of all mankind placed upon Him. We will never be tested like that, so I believe that factor more than leveled the playing field--it highly tilted the field in our favor!

Q. I heard one historic pastor say that Christ didn't have any propensities
(probably meaning 'tendencies') to sin.

I think the question is: What makes Christ different from us, if any? He has no tendencies to evil but we do? Is this the same as saying he had Adam's perfection (no tendencies to sin) but took our sinful nature?

Ron responds:

  • Christ had no accruement of personal sinning, by way of PERSONAL butons formed and enforced by any act or acts of sin.
  • Christ compensated for that apparent "advantage" by taking all the sins and accrued butons of all mankind upon Himself and still overcame their influence on Him. That is some "tangible" but (to us) unfathomable evidence of the full power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin!
  • We thus have no excuse to sin. We can receive the Divine Nature of Christ and that is something that even Adam did not possess. So mankind today, as deteriorated physically, as he surely is after six-thousand years of sin, can still overcome by partaking of the Divine Nature of Christ, just as He partook of the same nature by receiving the Holy Spirit gift to us, which He laid aside at His Incarnation, as a regenerating gift to us. We have far more advantage than He did in that we will never have the "butons" of every man who ever lived or lives, placed upon us.

"Whatever may be the evil practice, the master passion, which through long indulgence binds both soul and body, Christ is able and longs to deliver." EGW, Desire of Ages, 203.

Hope this helps answer your ponderings on this all important subject. If I have not made anything clear, I would be obliged to try again.

God bless you and yours,

Ron Beaulieu


I'd appreciate your thoughts/comments to clear up this matter.


Anonymous

Final response from Anonymous:

Brother Ron,

I truly appreciate your thoughts and insights. It's clearer now. I was trying to reconcile her statements about not having tendencies and propensities with the Biblical account that "in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren" (Heb 2:17).

It is, indeed, a very important subject.

Blessings to you and yours as well,

Anonymous

Anonymous,

One other thought I might interject: Possessing the attribute of omniscience before His Incarnation, when the Son of God volunteered to become our Sacrificial Lamb, He knew the affects and effects of having our sins laid upon Him from the foundation of the world. That is one reason why the sacred Word says that He was slain from the foundation of the world, and not just on the Cross.

Rev 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

That is something to meditate on! We have not truly realized, nor can man fully fathom the great Sacrifice that was made for our character regeneration and our redemption. And I believe that if we were more cognizant of such by meditating upon it more often, we would love Jesus more than we do. We need to come to the place where we love Him so much, we would rather die than sin. Our sin merely crucifies Him afresh.

If possible, you might obtain a book by Dr. Ralph Larson, entitled The Word Was Made Flesh," One Hundred Years of Seventh-day Adventist Christology, 1852-1952. This covers about every available E.G. White statement on the Human Nature of Christ.

God bless,

Ron