CORRESPONDENCE:- THE NATURE OF CHRIST
I recently read the Logos and had a problem with one of the sections. Page 320 begins the sections entitled Face to Face with the Enemy. Some of the wording I had a problem with was:
“The suggestions were evil suggestions out of a carnal mind, and this could not possibly have been generated from the mind of Christ, for he is the only son of Adam to have been completely free from carnal thinking”
“Even to consider displeasing God is a symptom of unbelief, ignorance and imperfect love. The suggestion of the tempter was sin. The rumination of the evil thought was sin. It was the thinking of the carnal mind which is enmity against God, something possessed in greater or lesser degree by all of Adam’s offspring, except the Lord Jesus Christ who was always pure in mind and body. It is this quality that made him to be the perfect sacrifice for God and man. (p. 324).
I would appreciate some thoughts on these quotes and on the topic in general if you have time.
Love in the Hope,
Dear Bro J,
Greetings in The Way,
I share your concern, and discussed the Logos position with its editor a few years ago, in response to similar articles published in Logos by another writer.
The basic proposition is this:
- Proverbs 24:9 states “The thought of foolishness is sin …” and so as the Master was “without sin”, he could not have had those thoughts.The concept is that Jesus could not have conceived a thought to transgress without an external tempter.Hence it is argued that the temptations in the wilderness could find an origin only in external influences.An article by Bro Thomas called “Tempter and Tempted” is cited as ‘evidence’ for the position, but itself does not state this.
- The reasoning extends to Hebrews 4:15, where we read that Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”.Here, it is reasoned that the words relate to the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 Jno. 2:16) formula, and is not concerned with where the temptations originated from.
- Again, the master’s prayer in Gethsemane is said to be not a prayer for the cross to be avoided, but rather that the experience would be over quickly.This was first proposed by Bro HP Mansfield some years ago.
My response, which Bro Graeham did not address is as follows:
Re: Proverbs 29:4, The word “thought” as in “the thought of foolishness” in the Hebrew implies not a passing inclination quickly dismissed, but an active consideration, or a desire that is dwelt upon.So it is teaching that to knowingly harbour foolish thoughts in the mind is sin. Jesus himself tells us this: “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mat 4:28).Here, it is not a passing thought of how pretty a woman is, but it is harbouring that thought, “to lust after her”.
Re: Hebrews 4:15, it can be countered that if the source of Messiah’s temptations differed from ours, it cannot be accurately stated that they were “in all points” like ours – only in some points.Additionally (and crucially, Bro Mansfield refused to comment on this) Galatians 5:17 states: “the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these things are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”If it be allowed that Messiah experienced “the lust of the flesh”, as in Jno 2:16, it must also be accepted that he also experienced how these two contrary principles war against each other in the hearts of those who would seek to do the Father’s Will (See also Romans 7).
Re: Messiah’s Prayer at Gethsemane, this is proof positive that Messiah did possess an independent “will” to that of his Father:Mark 14:36 reads:
“He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt”
Firstly, the words are specific: He was praying for the cup of suffering to be “taken away”, not to pass quickly.If words mean anything, this suggestion cannot be allowed.Also, this passage is specific in stating that Messiah had a “will” contrary to the Father, that he prayed might not be done.
I wrote an appendix to my booklet on the Atonement that you might like to look at, to deal with this teaching.You can download it here:*
Also, a very helpful article by Bro Robert Roberts is here:
In short, the reasoning expressed in Logos actually diminishes the Sacrifice of Christ, in that it diminishes the enemy that Christ had to overcome to being external only – whereas our enemy is greater, being both external and internal.It also means that if this is true, then Christ provides us with no example of how we can overcome the resident principle of sin in our members (Rom. 7), for he did not even experience it, let alone overcome it.And by making his experience of temptation different to ours, then that undermines the points made in Hebrews 4, which states it is precisely because of the sameness of his temptations to ours that he is able to be a merciful High Priest.
Finally, we ought to mention James 1:14:
“Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”
(See Deut 30:17 for the OT background for this). How does this apply to the Master? Sin, notice, becomes such by allowing lust to conceive, not by experiencing the initial desire.Messiah, like as his brethren, experienced the “lust of the flesh” but did not allow it to either draw him away, or conceive.
In short, the sacrifice of Christ was efficacious for all sin, whether it’s origin be external, or internal, because Messiah overcame all sin, and brought the ultimate source of all sin (AKA the Diabolos/sin in the flesh), to death in his voluntarily yielding himself up to the Father upon the cross.
As a final remark, the phrase “was always pure in mind and body” is also objectionable as it teaches the doctrine of “Clean Flesh” – i.e. that the Master’s flesh was clean, and not under the defilement of “the law of sin and death” such as ours. However, as the editor of Logos openly repudiates “Clean Flesh”, we can perhaps assume this phrase to be an oversight.
Your brother with love in Messiah,