Friday, September 12, 2014

Objections To the Deity of Christ Part 1: The Temptations of Jesus

One of the primary objections people have to the belief that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh is the fact that Jesus is tempted (Matthew 4:1-11), while God is stated to not be able to be tempted. The Scripture referenced here is James 1:13, which says, 'Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.'

Now this is seems like a very compelling argument on the surface, but in the end it falls short because it ignores the doctrine of the hypostatic union, which teaches that Jesus is one Person, with the divine and human natures totally united within him (Colossians 2:9). The temptations of Jesus are not related to His deity, but to His humanity. The temptations of Jesus also do not show that He isn't God, but they do show that He is human.

Jesus's resisting of Satan's temptation mirrors that of Adam and Eve in Genesis  2, but instead of succumbing to the temptation and failing, Jesus conquers by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact that Jesus lived in total submission to God and (as a result) lived a sinless life shows us that if we submit to the Holy Spirit working within us, we can live righteously also. Because of the fact that Jesus was tempted by sin but overcame without sinning, He is able to be a sympathetic, yet pefect High Priest for those who place their faith in Him. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

In the incarnation, God did not merely dwell in a man or look like a man; He truly became a man! This entails that the man that God became had to rely on the God who He was beyond the incarnation in order to overcome the temptations brought against us in this life. Jesus lived, walked, and breathed as a human being while being the divine Person incarnate. He even says in John 5:19, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner." Jesus did not rely on His own human strength or His deity to overcome temptation, He relied on the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, this does not disprove His divinity, but it establishes His genuine humanity.

All Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible.