by Mike Ratliff
17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:17-19 ESV)
Several years ago when I took my first Evangelism Explosion class, our instructor emphasized over and over again that our Lord was both fully God and fully Man. Why is it important that we grasp this about our Lord? Gnosticism, for instance, teaches that Jesus is indeed God, but not really Man. Others teach that He was a Man, but not God. Both extremes are wrong and the heresies which flow from them abound. Sadly, many are ensnared by them. When we see our Lord separate from His humanity or Deity we make the same mistake. Let us look upon the humanity of our Lord which is exceedingly lovely and amiable.
Christ is fully Man, but unlike us, He is free from sin. He is the Lamb of God, without spot, and without blemish (1 Peter 1:19). Adam, at his creation, had this spotless purity (Ecclesiastes 7:29) as had the angels, but they came immediately from the hand of God, not through procreation. Adam sinned. This plunged all mankind, his descendants, into sin and separation from God. However, our Lord Jesus Christ is like a plant and root out of a dry ground (Isaiah 53:2). He is a blossom from the stem of Jesse, a bud from the loins of sinful man–born of a sinner, after there had been no innocent flesh in the world since Adam. All in the line before Him were infected completely by Adam’s sin. Christ as a Man is like a spotless bud brought forth in the wilderness of corrupted nature. All save Him are guilty of Adam’s transgression. Because Christ is Human, but free from guilt, free from stain, free from pollution, this is to be adored.
How is it possible that Jesus is Human, but sinless since Mary bore Him? Remember, in our lineage with Adam we share in His guilt of the first sin. His sin is imputed to all of His descendants.
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Romans 5:12 ESV)
All of us are in covenant with Adam. He is not only our natural head, but also our federal head just as Christ is this to all believers. (Romans 5:17; 1 Corinthians 15:22) Adam’s transgression of his covenant with God is reckoned to us. Along with imputation of Adam’s sin to us, we also inherited his polluted, corrupted nature. We are flesh born of flesh. All natural Men have a corrupt wisdom and mind. It is as a polluted fountain that produces polluted streams. From Adam comes our corrupt nature and that nature is passed to us and our descendants. However, praise be to God, Christ is entirely free from this curse. Why?
Christ was never federally in Adam. Because of this He is also not liable to the imputation of his sin. Christ knew no sin until He was made sin on behalf of His people on the cross. (2 Corinthians 5:21) It was through this in which He took away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Our sin was imputed to Him in the covenant of the Mediator through His voluntary reception. He did not inherit it in the covenant of Adam, which would be by legal imputation. No, He was sinless, but took our sin upon Himself deliberately. Consider what our state would be if this was not so. If He was part of the covenant with Adam then he would not be fit to be our High Priest in which He offered Himself as the one and only sacrifice for our sin. Why? Because he would not be separate from sinners and would not qualify. (Hebrews 7:26)
If Adam had not fallen into sin, remaining innocent, Christ would not have become incarnate to have been a mediator for sinners. Why? Because our race would not have become cursed. Yes, Christ is a Man and is, therefore, in Adam in a natural sense and according to the purpose of God (Luke 3:23, 38), He was not in Adam according to the law until after the fall. This made Christ not subject to Adam’s transgression.
Christ is not a partaker of the pollution of our nature. Why? Christ’s conception was by the Holy Spirit, not Man. (Luke 1:35) Yes, He was “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4), but His conception by the Holy Spirit made Him Holy. While each of us become partakers of the polluted and corrupted human nature through the conjunction and union of soul and body, the Holy Spirit prevented this in our Lord through His sanctifying work. Even in Mary’s womb, He was separated unto God’s Holy purpose. (Hebrews 7:26) According to the apostle Peter, He was sinless and no guile was found in His mouth. (1 Peter 2:22) Matthew tells us that He fulfilled all righteousness. (Matthew 3:15) Because of His Holiness and perfect Righteousness, God was always well pleased with Him. (Matthew 3:17) Even though He was all these things and infinitely more, for our sake, He was contented not only to be esteemed by the vilest of men to be a transgressor, but to undergo from God the punishment due to all of us.
The fullness of grace in Christ’s human nature should bring us to worship and adore Him, to desire to be with Him and serve Him even unto death. Yes, we who know Him and are known by Him are most grateful for our salvation, and we naturally love our Saviour more and more as God builds Christ’s character in us. However, we also should worship Him because He is worthy. His graces are infinite and many manifold. Christ is a fountain of grace by the Holy Spirit given without measure.
34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:34 ESV)
Paul tells us that “it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell” (Colossians 1:19) and “that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). Because of this, those who are in the Kingdom hold Him as the beloved of their souls, “holy, harmless, undefiled”, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 2:21; Matthew 3:17; Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 7:25)
Christ as a Man is:
- full, to a sufficiency for every end of grace
- full, for practice, to be an example to men and angels as to obedience
- full, to a certainty of uninterrupted communion with God
- full, to suit him to all the occasions and necessities of the souls of men
- full, to a glory not unbecoming a subsistence in the person of the Son of God
- full, to a perfect victory, in trials, over all temptations
- full, to an exact correspondence to the whole law, every righteous and holy law of God
- full, to the utmost capacity of a limited, created, finite nature
- full, to the greatest beauty and glory of a living temple of God
- full, to the full pleasure and delight of the soul of his Father
- full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in giving such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of man.
From Communion With The Triune God by John Owen, p168.
My brethren, no matter what place God has you in right now, on the mountain top, or in the valley, or in the fire, or in the wilderness of a cold and dry heart, take heart. Our Lord Jesus Christ is every way a Man who knows all about your sufferings and temptations. He is sinless yet He is not condemning those in Him who have stumbled. No, all in Him are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Christ’s blood is not only sufficient to cover all of our sins, but it is an eternal covering. Christ’s fulness is complete. His graces are wonderful and complete. Through this, God holds His own until the day of completion. Yes, take heart, but also fear letting your Lord down through your carelessness in taking His grace for granted. He is worthy of the best servants, therefore, let us, by His grace, become those spirit-filled believers who move and run the race with our spiritual sails filled by the Holy Spirit with our eyes firmly fixed on our wonderful, gracious Lord Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!