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The glories of Christ

March 2004 | by G. S. Beck

. His life

Last month we considered the glory of Christ’s deity. Let us look next at the sinless life of the blessed Son of God.

At his birth, the Lord Jesus Christ was the object of the wise men’s worship, as they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). Gold speaks of his divine glory and deity; frankincense speaks of that glory manifested in his perfect life on earth (John 1:14); and myrrh speaks of his sufferings in death, leading to his triumphant resurrection and ascension.

Attested by heaven

In his boyhood, Jesus baffled the doctors of theology (Luke 2:40-46), yet was subject to his parents (Luke 2:51). When he was baptised by John in Jordan ‘to fulfil all righteousness’, heaven wonderfully witnessed to God’s pleasure in his Son (Matthew 3:15-17; Luke 3:21-22; Mark 1:11-12).

Whenever did God, before or since, verbally admit to taking pleasure in a man? This accolade is only offered to him who is ‘the chiefest among the tens of thousands’ (Song of Songs 5:10, AV) — who is ‘far above all’ and who ‘in all things’ has ‘the pre-eminence’ (Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:18).

From his baptism he was led to his temptation in the wilderness, and we need to deal with this matter simply and clearly. For many speculative and near-blasphemous statements have been made concerning this experience in the life of the Lord Jesus — all of which can be avoided if our teaching is based firmly on the Word of God rather than the reasoning of men.

Perfect sinlessness

Firstly, in his temptation as in all other experiences in his life, Jesus was ‘God … manifest in the flesh’ (1 Timothy 3:16). Let us never fall into the error of dividing the person of Christ and saying that he did some things as God and other things as a man. He was one divine person with two perfect natures, truly God and truly man.

The Scriptures clearly teach the perfect sinlessness of Christ. The point we wish to make concerning the temptation of Christ is that he who ‘was God’ could not sin (John 1:1). The fact that he was truly tempted does not imply that he was capable of yielding to temptation. We may not understand this, but human logic must defer to Scripture in this matter.

The Bible reveals Christ as the one who is absolutely set apart from, or separate from, all that is sinful — ‘for such an high priest became us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens’ (Hebrews 7:26).

It must follow, then, that God allowed Satan to tempt or try his Son, not to see if he would sin (God knew that was impossible) but to prove that he could not sin. Even Satan’s minions confessed, ‘I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God’ (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34).

God’s seed in man

Holiness, of course, belongs essentially to God. It can be imparted to men (Hebrews 12:14), but only by divine grace. All who are ‘born of God’ are judicially righteous — and practically so also, in the measure in which they are subject to God and enabled by grace (Romans 6:12).

John says by the Spirit, ‘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’ (1 John 3:9).

When I sin after I am saved, therefore, ‘it is no more I that do it but sin that dwelleth in me’ (Romans 7:20). In other words, it is ‘the old man’ in us who sins, who was born ‘after the flesh’ — not ‘the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness’ (Ephesians 4:24).

It is our responsibility as believers to so ‘walk … after the Spirit’ that ‘the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us’ (Romans 8:4).

The psalmist said of old, ‘Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord’ (Psalm 93:5), and those who profess faith in Christ today in the churches of God should be manifesting the highest degree of holiness.

Beautiful testimony

Returning to our contemplation of Christ, let us look next at two three-fold cords in the Scriptures that attest the sinlessness of Christ.

Firstly, there is a threefold apostolic testimony. Paul tells us that Christ ‘knew no sin’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). John says ‘in him is no sin’ (1 John 3:5). Peter declares, ‘who did no sin’ (1 Peter 2:22). Note the repetition of the words ‘no sin’.

Secondly, Christ attests his own sinlessness in his word to the Pharisees: ‘the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him’ (John 8:29). God the Father twice reveals his pleasure (or delight) in his Son — firstly as he emerged from his baptism by John (Matthew 3:17) and again on the mount where he was transfigured (Matthew 17:5).

Not only so, but the demons added their testimony, as we have already noted, confessing him to be ‘the Holy One of God’.

What a beautiful testimony in life he had! When we view him, delivering the demon-possessed, healing all manner of diseases and raising the dead, fulfilling the will of God — and doing so in meekness and humility, yet in manifestations of divine power — it should fill our hearts with holy wonder and worshipful adoration.

Fragrance, fulness and finality

As Isaiah prophesied (42:1), he was manifestly God’s servant whom he upheld, God’s chosen one in whom his soul delights. He neither failed nor was discouraged — moving forward in the will of God, despised and rejected, shamed and reproached, until that will was finalised in his self-offering and atoning work at Calvary.

Beholding him in all his perfection, purity and power — in all the fragrance, fullness and finality of his life to the glory of God — we hear again the Father’s admonition, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him’ (Matthew 17:5).

And we can sing, in the words of the hymn-writer:

With reverence we remember him,
In all the heavenly path he trod;
And view those glories nought could dim,
Revealed in thy beloved, O God.

From highest heaven, his rightful place,
As Father of eternity,
In servant form he came, in grace,
Unfolding love’s infinity.

When he from Jordan came that day,
His earthly ministry began;
Thy voice from heaven was heard to say,
‘This is my well-beloved Son’.

To Thee, O God, in heaven above
Arose in fragrance sweet each day
The savour of his way; in love
He walked before thee perfectly.

We muse upon that heavenly One,
In all his holy, heavenly ways,
And thus remembering thy Son,
Pour forth to thee adoring praise.