Did Jesus have free will to sin if he wanted to? Wouldn't He need that to be human? Was He sinless by divine intervention or choice? Wouldn't that be robotic if He couldn't sin, and also belittle his temptations? And if He did choose not to sin, why can't we choose not to sin and live a sinless life? -- George
Great questions, and tough ones too! Jesus was fully human, so he should have been able to sin. Yet Jesus was also fully God, so he could not sin. This leaves us with quite a conundrum. Philosophers and theologians have wrestled with this question for some time but, while they have answers that are logically coherent, I have yet to hear one that satisfies me. I recommend that you research the topic to see if anyone has come up with an answer you are comfortable with. I know Paul Copan has written on the subject; you might start there.
As to why we can't choose to live without sin, technically we can. We are not forced to sin even once. Therefore, each sin is a choice that we could have chosen not to commit. But there are a couple of things working against us.
1. We have spent years training our bodies to sin, so it is now very natural for most of us to respond in sin when life doesn't go our way -- which is often. Since it took years to mold yourself into someone who sins, it will take quite a while to be remolded into someone who naturally does not respond with sin. Now this doesn't mean you will be sinless, only that sin won't be such an automatic response.
2. A sinless life would require an amazing amount of trust in God. You would need to trust him at every moment for everything. Consider how much of the sin in your life is due to not trusting that God will take care of your concerns or give you what you want to your satisfaction. We trust God with our eternal souls, but not with the smallest details of our lives. I think this is backwards. If I can't trust God to get me through today, with all my desires and concerns, why should I think I can trust him for heaven? We might do well to ask God what we are holding back from him. Do we trust him at work, or do we hold back a little sin to get ahead or to not get in trouble? Do we trust him enough with who we are to be honest at church about who we really are, or do we have to wear a mask and tell people, "I'm fine?" How about with our finances? Do we trust God there, or do we feel that as long as God gets his 10% we should be able to do whatever we want with the other 90%? (While God may have given us the money to use as we see fit, the question is whether we use it out of a heart of trust or a heart of holding back.) And how about our relationships? When someone we care about hurts us or is hurt by someone else, how do we usually respond? Do we respond as someone who trusts God with the situation, or someone who needs to take matters into his own hands? This is only the tip of the iceberg. Most committed disciples have many areas of their lives that they do not regularly trust God with, perhaps because they don't think these little things are that important. But this is where Jesus shined. In 1 Peter 2:23 it says, "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (NIV). It is the little things that we hold back that set us up to fail at the big things.
We can choose not to sin. But we will have limited success until we go about intentionally training ourselves to react differently and we choose to trust God with everything: every feeling, every desire, every hope, every relationship, and every dollar. When we are ready to do that, sin won't be much of an issue. -- IBTM Research Team