Ellen White distinguishes between the effects upon spirituality from stories of fictional perfection, and the actual experiences of failure at temptations and eventual overcoming through the grace of Christ. She intimates that the latter gives the victory to the one who is truly wrestling with God.
“The same day in the afternoon, I was received into the church in full membership. A young woman, arrived at the age of maturity, stood by my side and was also a candidate for admission to the church with myself. My mind was peaceful and happy till I noticed the gold rings glittering upon this sister’s fingers, and the large showy ear-rings in her ears. I then observed that her bonnet was adorned with artificial flowers and trimmed with costly ribbons, arranged in bows and puffs. My joy was dampened by this display of vanity in one who professed to be a follower of the meek and lowly Jesus.
“I expected that the minister would give some whispered reproof or advice to this sister, but he was apparently regardless of her showy apparel and no rebuke was administered. We both received the right hand of fellowship. The hand decorated with jewels was clasped by the representative of Christ, and both our names were registered upon the church book.
“I can now look back upon my youthful experience and see how near I came to making a fatal mistake. I had read many of the religious biographies of children who had possessed numberless virtues and lived faultless lives. I had conceived a great admiration for the paragons of perfection there represented. But far from encouraging me in my efforts to become a Christian, these books were as stumbling-blocks to my feet. I despaired of ever attaining to the perfection of the youthful characters in those stories who lived the lives of saints and were free from all the doubts, and sins, and weaknesses under which I staggered.
“Their faultless lives were followed by a premature but happy death, and the biographers tacitly intimated that they were too pure and good for earth, therefore, God in his divine pity had removed them from its uncongenial atmosphere. The similarity of these avowedly true histories seemed to point the fact to my youthful mind, that they really presented a correct picture of a child’s Christian life.
“I repeated to myself again and again, ‘If that is true, I can never be a Christian. I can never hope to be like those children,’ and was driven by this thought to discouragement and almost to despair. But when I learned that I could come to Jesus just as I was, that the Savior had come to ransom just such unworthy sinners, then light broke upon my darkness, and I could claim the promises of God.
“Later experience has convinced me that these biographies of immaculate children mislead the youth. They extol the amiable qualities of their characters, and suppress their faults and failures. If they were represented as struggling with temptations, occasionally vanquished, yet triumphing over their trials in the end, if they were represented as subject to human frailties, and beset by ordinary temptations, then children would see that they had experienced like trials with themselves, yet had conquered through the grace of God. Such examples would give them fresh courage to renew their efforts to serve the Lord, hoping to triumph as those before them had done.
“But the sober realities and errors of the young Christian’s life were vigorously kept out of sight, while the virtues were so exaggerated as to lift them from above the common level of ordinary children, who naturally despair of ever reaching such excellence and therefore give up the effort, in many cases, and gradually sink into a state of indifference. Life Sketches (1888) p. 146,147.
Mrs. White learned that an immaculate human demonstration of infinitely perfect righteousness causes despair in the struggling saint. But, she never condoned the opposite extreme where no standards of righteousness permitted the girl to be received into church fellowship while wearing carnal, vain jewelry and fashion. She took hope in Jesus’ ransoming unworthy sinners, but she never expected Jesus to accept her sins or let her disdain the biblical standard of 1 Peter 3:3, 4.
What does this account say about a Saviour, “who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth”? (1 Pet. 2:22). It says that humans can discourage, but Jesus is different. As the Son of God, He can show us perfect holiness and not discourage the helpless sinner who looks to Him for supernatural virtue. It also says that divine grace never lowers the standard of righteousness. Rather, grace raises the standard. Jesus did no sin. And as gracious as He was, He never gave license to disobedience, nor did He ever allow Himself to come short of the mark of His Father’s high calling of Him.
“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Heb. 12:4). To the point of bleeding Jesus resisted Satan’s pushing of sin upon Him. Because of His Father’s presence, He had never had the slightest inclination to sin against His Father, and He wasn’t going to start in Gethsemane when His Father went away. Does the writer of Hebrews sound like Jesus was the same as we are? Compared to us, His righteousness was like the great Mount Everest and His judgment like the deep Marianas Trench. All we can do is stand in awe of Him and tremble. We certainly must fear to tread on the holy ground of His human nature.
“And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.” (1Jn 3:5).
In Jesus’ heart and mind there was no sin.
“Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him…. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1Jn. 3:6,9).
And, He will give us His power to overcome our sins so that we cannot sin. Here lies the crux of the whole matter. Those who will not believe that Jesus can save them from a sinful nature, will likewise not believe that Jesus could be without a sinful nature. Like the Greek philosophers, they cannot reconcile a sinless nature with flesh.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1Jn. 1:9;2:1,2).
Jesus was righteous, the only righteous, the only good. Only infinite perfection could propitiate the Father.
“If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” (John 15:10).
Jesus kept His Father’s commandments.
“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (1Cor. 5:21).
Jesus knew no sin. That’s how, if we come to Him, He can make us the righteousness of God.
“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” (John 14:30).
Satan could find nothing in Jesus to tempt.
“For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” (Heb. 7:26).
Jesus’ human nature was undefiled, separate from sinners. Yet, He gladly joined with sinners to uplift them from ruin, despite the grating their sinfulness did to His sin-free soul.
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).
Jesus was holy from the moment Mary’s egg was divinely germinated.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8,9).
Did anything change between Jesus, the Lord God of Israel and Jesus, Lord and Master of the church? No, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His ways and thoughts were not our thoughts and ways, but were higher as the stars are high above the earth.
“For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps. 16:10).
Jesus was holy, holier than the angels, and crowned with glory and honor.
“Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:7).
It was perfect righteousness that made Jesus happy.
“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isa. 53:2).
His perfection exposed the true degradation of the religious people and made them hate Him.
“Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isa. 53:12).
Jesus was numbered with the transgressors, not as a transgressor.
The issue at stake in the immaculate, sinless human nature of Christ is not that it sounds like Catholic doctrine. It doesn’t matter what Catholicism says, because Catholicism is pagan and anathema maranatha. Therefore, Catholicism should have no weight in determining biblical Adventist doctrine. Immaculate Mary means nothing to us because she wasn’t the mother of Jesus, but, rather the mother of Tammuz. To cover up her vilest immorality and incest, Satan made Semiramis, AKA Isis, Ishtar, Easter, Eastern Star, Ashtoreth, Ashtaroth, Ashera, Diana, Venus, and Mary, into the purest star of all the pure heavens, the Queen of heaven. She says, “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” (Rev. 18:7).
But, her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
Thus, Mary of Catholicism ranks up there in blasphemy with their Jesus who would burn sinners for ever and ever. What does any of this have to do with the true Jesus of scripture? Nothing.
The true Jesus was truly immaculate; He had a sinless nature. And He was the only human who was ever immaculate, according to scripture. The biblical Mary was influenced by her sons to stop the work of Jesus. Her mistake could only have been insinuated by the devil. Mary and Joseph scolded Jesus instead of taking responsibility for failing to protect their holy 12-year-old from King Herod. Mary was not immaculate or holy, neither prior to Jesus’ birth, nor ever afterward. Mary was a good, loving, godly mother who was privileged to bring the Messiah into the world, and He was a devoted son to her. But, He let her know that she would not control Him once He began His ministry, and she wisely and lovingly submitted (John 2:4). He also stanched the tradition of men to reverence and worship Joseph’s wife just because she was the mother of the Messiah (Luke 11:27). She was happy to be just a devoted supporter and follower of her Saviour (Acts 1:14). But, He was the only one ever sinless, with a sinless human nature. He alone was and is immaculate, and the only One immaculate, beside His Father.
“For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).
What could be so consoling to sinners by believing that Jesus had a sinful nature? Is it that He can be one of the guys? One of the girls? Would it allow that boys will be boys, and that girls can have a girls’ night out at the club without a twinge of conscience? Does that agree with Ellen White’s disturbed heart at her baptism, noted above? No, it doesn’t agree at all.
So, where is the consolation if Jesus had a sinful nature? Even Ellen White said that Bible characters’ faultiness gives the Christian encouragement, and that the picture perfect fictional heroes were a stumblingblock. True, we can have courage when we see others like us stumble and fall under temptation, but overcome in the end. They needed a Savior like I do.
But, if Jesus were tainted with sin and struggled with sin, then who would He have for an intercessor, since He, the Intercessor, could not stand before a holy God? What kind of a Saviour could He be? Could He be a faithful High Priest? How could I trust Him to stand for me before the infinite Judge of all and not get blown away with a fury greater than He (John 14:28)? Jesus had to be infallible, immutable, untouchable by sin, and remain so distant from Satan that his temptations could not even find a pinky hold. Jesus not only spoke the truth, He was the truth. And He could even be a faithful friend of sinners.
If we are genuinely being drawn by the Father who hands us over to the Saviour, then righteousness will be in the process of being written in our heart; godliness and holiness will be our main concern. Victory over the sins that are besetting us, destroying us and our loved ones, will be our chief concern, not hoping in some faultiness of Jesus’. If we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, we will yearn to have righteousness and hunger to see it in others, especially in our beloved Saviour. We will be bowed down because we don’t see it often enough in this world. The true seekers for God’s acceptance and His honor will “sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” (Eze. 9:4). They will not be looking for a doctrinal loophole for their continuing in our sins. God’s honor, evidence of obedience to Him, will be uppermost in those who get sealed in the end.
“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37). Only those that Jesus will not cast away are those children whom God, through His Law, is handing over to Jesus. Each child of God is full of guilt and shame, as “a brand plucked out of the fire.” (Zech. 3:2). God is our schoolmaster, and the Law of God is the strong voice of God to the conscience. His Law is His tool to humble us and prepare us to need in His Son a saviour from sin. It is the Spirit of truth, working His Law against our sinful unbelief and leaning on our conscience. The Law of God inspires hope and faith in a Saviour, which brings us “unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24). “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:6,7).
What are the ramifications of the alternative? What does this say about those who need a lower standard in their Saviour? It says that they have not wrestled with the convictions of the Holy Spirit of God in His Law. They have never known surrender to the humbling of the Spirit of truth, “whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.” (John 14:17). To need a Jesus with a sinful nature means such a soul is not converted. Such a one is none of His, the Anointed One. Yes, He was “one like the Son of man.” (Dan. 7:13). But, He was still the Most Holy Messiah the Prince to whom was given “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Vs. 14).
The Son of Man is the same Jesus who left His precious 500 disciples to receive His kingdom after the close of the investigative judgment by the Ancient of days. Can anyone actually believe that “this same Jesus, which is taken up from [the disciples] into heaven” (Acts 1:11) could establish the eternal kingdom while embodying even the slightest taint of Satan’s previous, corrupted kingdom of rebellion? Would the Ancient of days ever permit that? “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him…. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” (Heb. 3:1-3). Consider Him who was holier than Moses and the holy brethren of the apostolic church. Here was One greater than Moses. Even the best of them and us are capable of the worst; but, Jesus would not let Himself be capable of sin. By living and breathing every word of God, He would not let the darts of the tempter get through the helmet of His salvation.
“Although in the wilderness, [John the Baptist] was not exempt from temptation. So far as possible, he closed every avenue by which Satan could enter, yet he was still assailed by the tempter. But his spiritual perceptions were clear; he had developed strength and decision of character, and through the aid of the Holy Spirit he was able to detect Satan’s approaches, and to resist his power.” The Desire of Ages, p. 102. Yet, there came One after John whose sandals he was not worthy to unloose.
“When Jesus came to be baptized, John recognized in Him a purity of character that he had never before perceived in any man. The very atmosphere of His presence was holy and awe-inspiring. Among the multitudes that had gathered about him at the Jordan, John had heard dark tales of crime, and had met souls bowed down with the burden of myriad sins; but never had he come in contact with a human being from whom there breathed an influence so divine. All this was in harmony with what had been revealed to John regarding the Messiah. Yet he shrank from granting the request of Jesus. How could he, a sinner, baptize the Sinless One? And why should He who needed no repentance submit to a rite that was a confession of guilt to be washed away?” The Desire of Ages, p. 110.
“And He said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:23,24).
How would the Son of God have the authority to tell anyone he would die in his sins in light of Him coming from immaculate, sinless heaven, if the Son had a sinful nature? What hypocrisy would that be!
“And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21).
And, how could He save us from our sinful natures if He has a sinful nature?
“For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb. 2:10,11).
This isn’t saying that we are united to Christ because we and He both have sinful natures, but because His sinless nature sanctifies our sinful nature and removes our sins from us, so that He isn’t ashamed to call us brethren. It’s about sanctification and receiving His sinless divine nature, not bemoaning or excusing our sinful nature next to His sinful nature. “We’re only human!!” “Jesus was only human!!” “Come on! Let’s be ethical and not judge Jesus (or us) too harshly!”
“Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Heb. 2:17,18).
The issue about Christ’s nature is not only about His power to sanctify His people; it’s that joining Him in His suffering under temptation strengthens us in our suffering under temptation.
“For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” (Heb. 2:16). “A body hast Thou prepared Me:… But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” (Heb. 10:5,12).
Jesus didn’t come in the brilliant body of angelic spirits which excel in strength; but He had no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. Rather, He came in a human form weakened by 4,000 years of sin’s degradation upon the human race. Yet, He offered a perfect sacrifice because He had never been tainted by sin.
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14).
Without a mediator before God, His just character necessitated sinlessness from His first moment of conception until His death. We can be declared just through justification, which says that we never sinned. However, Jesus’ status of never having sinned could only come through, not as a declaration by grace, but as a reality without grace. Otherwise, the Mediator would need a mediator before God. Who less sinful would be that mediator, God? Never! God is the Judge deciding if His Son is worthy to forever destroy the great controversy issues of sin and His sin spreading adversaries.
It’s a travesty, and a symptom of apostasy and acceptance of ecumenism, to degrade the Son of God with a nature tainted by sin. A Saviour with a sinful nature in no way inspires anyone to have victory over sin. So, the alcoholic in the gutter hears of another sinner-Saviour who wrestled with alcoholism. Could that really help the struggling alcoholic? Or, could the real power come from One who can be kind and loving and understanding enough to seek the alcoholic out and then give him His all-powerful, sinless Spirit for strength to overcome alcohol? The sinless One offers the slave of alcohol the privilege to look at Him and away from the sin that bewitches and beckons him so, telling him that he can have perfect acceptance by God if he accepts His Son’s friendly help. Another person can help by testifying that a sinless, powerful Saviour took away the same, or a similar, temptation by His sinless Spirit in the inner man. But, no one is benefitted by a supposed Saviour who has lost His perfection. We need to know that divine power can keep us from falling, and will never miss under any circumstance.
To believe that Jesus had our sinful nature pollutes the gospel into pure humanism. Humanism is a human tradition that says no one can reprove me, correct me, instruct me, or offend my conscience. It leads to unrestrained pride and perversity. It also gives the person who never touched alcohol or a cigarette or a drug or swine an advantage over a Jesus who is tempted with those things. It makes the person, who believes himself to have never done anything wrong, better than a Jesus who struggles with sodomy. Jesus can never convict that self-righteous person, and that is exactly what those who hold this sinful Jesus doctrine desire. The true Jesus caused a constant grating on the conscience of the humanistic religious leaders of the babylonized religion of Judaism. They would have loved to see some character flaw in Him. But, His challenge to them was, “Because I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not. Which of you convinceth Me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me?” (John 8:45,46). They could see nothing that even hinted of sin. So, their only reply was to cast Him off as devil-possessed. “Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” (John 8:48).
Jesus was not just like us. And how we should be abounding with joy that He isn’t like we are! How unfaithful and unloving sin makes us! How self-centered! Who could trust a Saviour like us? “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.” (1Cor. 15:45). Jesus was more than Adam before his fall into sin. But, it should be enough to know that the Son of God accepts me and loves me, can forgive my sins and make me whole. I can’t think of any better news.