Sunday Sep 17, 2023

Soteriology Lesson 16 - Jesus’ Humility and Sinlessness

Jesus’ Humility

     It is only natural that the subject of Jesus’ humility be discussed after examining His position as the Suffering Servant. W. H. Griffith Thomas notes:

  • "In the Old Testament our Lord is called “the Servant of Jehovah,” and in the New Testament He is described as having taken “the form of a servant.” In order to do the will of God and redeem mankind, it was necessary for Him to humble Himself and become a “Servant,” so that along the pathway of service He might come to that Cross which was at once the exemplification of devoted duty, redeeming grace, and Divine love."[1]

     Matthew records Jesus’ mental attitude of humility when He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29). The word humble translates the Greek adjective tapeinos (ταπεινός), which denotes being “lowly, undistinguished, of no account.”[2] Jesus’ mental attitude of humility was in contrast with that of the world which regards the virtue of humility in a negative way. Moisés Silva notes, “In the Greek world, with its anthropocentric approach, lowliness is looked on as shameful, to be avoided and overcome by act and thought. In the NT, with its theocentric perspective, the words are used to describe our relationship with God and its effect on how we treat fellow human beings.”[3] For Jesus, being humble meant He was more concerned with doing the Father’s will than that of the world around Him, or even His own will (Luke 22:42). And there was no greater act of humility than Jesus being obedient to the point of death on the cross. Paul wrote that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). Wiersbe states, “His was not the death of a martyr but the death of a Savior. He willingly laid down His life for the sins of the world.”[4] Homer Kent notes, “He was so committed to the Father’s plan that he obeyed it even as far as death (Heb 5:8). Nor was this all, for it was no ordinary death, but the disgraceful death by crucifixion, a death not allowed for Roman citizens, and to Jews indicative of the curse of God (Deut 21:23; Gal 3:13).”[5] And Earl Radmacher comments:

  • "Jesus came to the earth with the identity of a man. Here the word appearance points to the external characteristics of Jesus: He had the bearing, actions, and manners of a man. He humbled Himself: Jesus willingly took the role of a servant; no one forced Him to do it. Obedient: Although He never sinned and did not deserve to die, He chose to die so that the sins of the world could be charged to His account. Subsequently He could credit His righteousness to the account of all who believe in Him (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 1:4)."[6]

     As stated before, Jesus was not forced to go to the cross, but willingly went to the cross and bore our sin (Isa 53:4-11; John 10:17-18; 1 Pet 2:24). As God, He could have avoided the cross altogether, or even stepped down from the cross if He’d wanted. Jesus died on a cross to accomplish the Father’s will. To be an atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we could receive forgiveness and eternal life and enjoy heaven forever with Him. His being humble to the point of death was for our wellbeing. He died for us, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Walvoord notes:

  • "No one else has ever come from infinite heights of glory to such a shameful death. If there had been a better way or another way by which the sin of the whole world could have been taken away, surely God would not have required His beloved Son to submit to such a death. This was the only way. There had to be a perfect sacrifice, an atonement of infinite value. This could be accomplished only by a person who was both God and man, who was without sin and yet was truly a man representing the human race. No other could take the place of Christ, no act of devotion, however unselfish, no act of ordinary man, however courageous, for  sin. As we contemplate the mind of Christ which made Him willing to die on the cross, we must realize that if Christ had not died men would still be in their sins with a hopeless eternity and facing just as certain a judgment as that which is the lot of the lost angels who know nothing of salvation."[7]

Jesus’ Sinless Life

     The record of Scripture is that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). But why was the sinless humanity of Jesus necessary? The biblical teaching is that all mankind is sinful and separated from God (Rom 3:10-23). We are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), and sinners by choice (Isa 59:2; Jam 1:14-15). Because of our fallen sinful state, we are completely helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3), and good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Being completely sinless, Jesus was qualified to go the cross as “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet 1:19) and die a substitutionary death in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Charles Lee Feinberg states, “Though tempted in all points as we are, He was nevertheless without sin (Heb 4:15); indeed, we are told, He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb 7:26). In short, the combined testimony of Scripture reveals that in Him is no sin (1 John 3:5).”[8] According to R. B. Thieme Jr.:

  • "As true humanity living on earth, Christ was free from all three categories of human sinfulness: the sin nature, Adam’s original sin, and personal sins. The first two categories were eliminated from our Lord’s life through the virgin birth, but personal sin remained an issue throughout the Incarnation. Scripture confirms that our Lord can “sympathize with our weaknesses,” because He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). The temptation to personal sin did not come from within, because the humanity of Christ had no inherent sin nature. He did, however, receive temptation from outside His person—even being tempted by Satan himself…By constantly relying on the provisions of the spiritual life (the same provisions available to us), Jesus Christ was able to resist every temptation and remain perfect (1 John 3:3, 5)."[9]

     Sinners need salvation, but cannot save themselves, nor can they save another. All are trapped in sin and utterly helpless to change their condition. But God the Son did what we cannot do for ourselves. He obeyed the Father and stepped into time and space, taking true and sinless humanity to Himself, and living a perfect life before the Father. Then, at a point in time, He surrendered Himself to the cross and died a penal substitutionary death on behalf of all humanity, bearing the wrath of God in their place. Then He was placed in a grave and rose again to life on the third day, never to die again. The benefits of the cross are applied to those who come to Jesus with the empty hands of faith, believing He died for them, was buried, and raised again on the third day. When they place their faith in Him as Savior, they have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This is given freely by grace. R. B. Thieme Jr. states:

  • Every human being needs to be saved, because everyone enters this world in a state of spiritual death, total depravity, and total separation from God. Because man is born hopelessly lost from God and helpless to do anything about it, God, in His grace, designed a perfect plan to reconcile man to Himself. God the Son took the burden of responsibility: He became true humanity and remained sinless so that He could be judged for the sins of the world (1 Pet 3:18). While Jesus Christ hung on the cross, God the Father poured the full wrath of His justice upon the Son He loved so perfectly (Matt 27:46; Rom 5:8–10; 2 Cor 5:21). Christ “bore our sins in His body” (1 Pet 2:24) and took the punishment in our place. God’s righteous standard approved of Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for all human sins.[10]

Dr. Steven R. Cook


[1] W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Christian Life and How to Live It (Chicago: The Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1919), 59–60.

[2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 989.

[3] Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 452.

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 75.

[5] Homer A. Kent Jr., “Philippians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 124.

[6] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1550–1551.

[7] John F. Walvoord, To Live Is Christ (Galaxie Software, 2007), 45.

[8] Charles Lee Feinberg, “The Hypostatic Union,” Bibliotheca Sacra 92 (1935): 423.

[9] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Impeccability of Christ”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 135.

[10] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Salvation”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 232.

Comments (0)

To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean or

No Comments

Copyright 2013 Steven Cook. All rights reserved.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Version: 20240320