The Nature of Christ
On His human side, Christ took our nature 4,000 years after the fall of Adam. Because He took our nature, became just like us-and in that nature fully resisted temptation and never once sinned,- He is able to be both our Example in obedient living, and our Saviour in His death on the cross.
As our Example, He provides us with a pattern to follow in perfect obedience to the laws of God. As our Saviour on the cross, He died in our nature, thus taking our place. Because of all that He has done and is now doing we can be justified, sanctified, and taken to heaven. The work that He began on earth, He completes in heaven. As our High Priest in the heavenly Sanctuary, He provides us with forgiveness and enabling strength to do all that He asks of us in His Inspired Word.
But there are modernists in our church that teach contrary to the clear statements of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy on this subject. They claim that Christ took the nature of Adam before His fall, instead of your and my nature the nature of the descendants of Abraham with all of its weaknesses and liabilities. When asked why they believe this, they explain that they have decided that the earthly life of Christ was not a pattern for us since they do not think that God really wants anyone in this life to keep His commandments. (All sides fully agree that Christ never at any time sinned.)
Well, what does the Word of God have to say about all this? Let us look first at the teachings of the Bible:
Abraham lived 2,000 years after the fall of Adam. Christ took the nature of Abrahams descendants, not that of Adam with his unfallen inheritance.
"For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham." Hebrews 2:16.
"And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:29.
David lived 3,000 years after that event. According to the Bible, Christ was a descendant of David.
"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham." Matthew 1:1 (Matthew 1:1-17).
"Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness." Romans 1:3-4
"I, Jesus, have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." Revelation 22:16.
"The Lord hath sworn unto David; He will not turn from it; of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." Psalm 132:11.
"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1.
"And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the seed of David?." Matthew 12:23.
"Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth." Jeremiah 28:5.
Jesus took the nature of a descendent of the tribe of David, Mary who lived 4,000 years after the fall of Adam.
"And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ ." Matthew 1:16.
He took that nature of those living in the time of Mary the nature of man after 4,000 years of sin, so that He could save us from our sins.
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21.
He could only save us from sin by taking our nature and in that nature meeting all the demands of the law of God through perfect obedience.
"But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law." Galatians 4:4.
This is why God sent His Son to take our nature and bear our likeness and become like us in every way, even to taking our sinful heredity.
"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." Romans 8:3.
And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh!" 1 Timothy 3:16.
Yes, it is amazing that He would do this. But He did because there is no other way that He could save us by the example of His life lived in our nature, the propitiation of His death laid down in our nature, and the priestly intercession of His heavenly ministry in our translated nature.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise took part of the same." Hebrews 2:14.
Christ took our "sinful flesh," according to Scripture (Romans 8:3, quoted above), so that in that nature He could live a perfect life, die a perfect death, and be our perfect Priest.
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:6-8.
"And He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21.
"For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15.
"For every high priest taken from among men is ordained of men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. . And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest, but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee.. Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." Hebrews 51-8.
If Christ had taken Adams perfect, strong, unfallen nature, He could not have been made in all points as we are.
"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." Hebrews 4:15.
"Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren." Hebrews 2:17.
If Christ had not really taken our nature, He would have experienced no suffering in obedience. According to the Bible, we should not believe or teach that Christ did not really come in our flesh.
"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist. " 1 John 4:3
The Spirit of Prophecy
The Spirit of Prophecy is quite clear in telling us that Christ took our nature your nature and mine, and that in that nature He trusted in divine power and was never overcome by Satan, and never once yielded in thought, word, or action to temptation and sin. And, we are told, that if Christ had not taken really taken our human nature, with all its weaknesses, we could not have empowerment by His grace to obey Gods law in our own lives. So we can see that the correct view of the Nature of Christ is extremely important, for it is a major basis for the great truth that we can, through the strength of Christ's grace, resist and overcome sin.
Here are a few of the many Spirit of Prophecy passages on this important subject. They are very clear and to the point:
"It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take mans nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in His earthly ancestors. He came with such an heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life." Desire of Ages, 48.
"Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life's peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss." Desire of Ages, 49.
"Think what Christ's obedience means to us! It means that in His strength we too may obey. Christ was a human being. He served His heavenly Father with all the strength of His human nature. He has a two-fold nature, at once both human and divine. He is both God and man." 6 Bible Commentary, 1078.
"The great work of redemption could be carried out only by the Redeemer taking the place of fallen Adam. . He would take mans fallen nature and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam." Review, February 24, 1874.
"The humanity of Christ reached to the very depths of human wretchedness and identified itself with the weaknesses and necessities of fallen man, while His divine nature grasped the Eternal. Christ's work was to reconcile man to God through His human nature, and God to man through His divine nature." Review, August 4,1874.
"The Son of God humbled Himself and took mans nature after the race had wandered four thousand years from Eden, and from their original state of purity and uprightness. Sin had been making its terrible marks upon the race for ages; and physical, mental, and moral degeneracy prevailed throughout the human family. .Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the race as they existed when He came to the earth to help man. " 1 Selected Messages, 267-268.
"Think of Christ's humiliation. He took upon Himself fallen, suffering human nature, degraded and defiled by sin. He endured all the temptations wherewith man is beset. He united humanity with divinity, a divine Spirit dwelt in a temple of flesh." 4 Bible Commentary, 1147
"Christ by His own example made it evident that man may stand in integrity. Man may have power to resist evil a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place them where they may overcome as Christ overcame." Review, February 18, 1890.
"Christ who knew not the least taint of sin or defilement, took our nature in its deteriorated condition. This was humiliation greater than finite man can comprehend - - He stooped to poverty and to the deepest abasement among men." Signs, June 9,1898.
"Christ did not make believe take human nature, He did verily take it. He did in reality possess human nature. As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same, (Romans 11:3). He was the Son of Mary. He was the seed of David according to human descent. " 5 Bible Commentary, 1130.
"It was not a make believe humanity that Christ took upon Himself. He took human nature, and lived human nature. Christ's life represents a perfect manhood just that which you may be. He was in human nature. He took our infirmities. He was not only made flesh, but He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh." Letter No. 106, 1896.
"The great work of redemption could be carried forward only by the Redeemer taking the place of fallen Adam. . He would take mans fallen nature." Review, February 24, 1874.
"Christ, in the wilderness of temptation, stood in Adams place to bear the test he failed to endure. Here Christ overcame in the sinners behalf, four thousand years after Adam turned his back upon the light of his home. Separated from the presence of God, the human family had been departing, every successive generation, farther from the original purity, wisdom, and knowledge which Adam possessed in Eden. Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the race as they existed when He came to earth to help man. In behalf of the race, with the weaknesses of fallen man upon Him, He was to stand the temptations of Satan upon all points wherewith man would be assailed." 1SM, 267.
"In what contrast is the second Adam as He entered the gloomy wilderness to cope with Satan single-handed! Since the Fall the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and sinking lower in the scale of moral worth, up to the period of Christ's advent to the earth. And in order to elevate man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race." Christ knew that Adam in Eden, with his superior advantages, might have withstood the temptations of Satan—Christ knew that Adam in Eden, with his superior advantages, might have withstood the temptations of Satan." Review, July 28, 1874.
"Christ knew that Adam in Eden, with his superior advantages, might have withstood the temptations of Satan, and conquered him. He also knew that it was not possible for man, out of Eden, separated from the light and love of God since the Fall, to resist the temptations of Satan in his own strength. In order to bring hope to man, and save him from complete ruin, He humbled Himself to take mans nature, that, with His divine power combined with the human, He might reach man where he is. He obtains for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that strength which it is impossible for them to gain for themselves, that in His name they may overcome the temptations of Satan." Review, August 18, 1874.
"The exalted Son of God in assuming humanity draws Himself nearer to man by standing as the sinners Substitute. He identifies Himself with the sufferings and afflictions of men. He was tempted in all points as man is tempted, that He might know how to succor those who should be tempted. Christ overcame in the sinners behalf." 1 Selected Messages, 271-280.
"Satan told his angels that when Jesus should take fallen mans nature, he could overpower Him and hinder the accomplishment of the plan of salvation. " Early Writings, 150-153.
"Jesus took upon Himself the infirmities and bore the griefs and sorrows of humanity, and conquered in our behalf. He was made like unto His brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical. He was tempted in all points like as we are yet without sin Review, February 10, 1885.
"Those who claim that it was not possible for Christ to sin, cannot believe that He really took upon Himself human nature. " Manuscript 16, 1890.
"Bear in mind that Christ's overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give, to His human nature, a power that is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity. His imputed grace and power He gives to all who receive Him by faith. The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man." 3SM, 139.
"Man cannot overcome Satan's temptations without divine power to combine with his instrumentality. So with Jesus, He could lay hold on divine power. He came not to our world to give the obedience of a lesser God to a greater, but as a man to obey Gods law, and in this He is our example." OHC, 48.
"The Lord Jesus came to our world, not to reveal what a God could do, but what a man could do, through faith in Gods power to help in every emergency." Manuscript 1,1892.
"As God He could not be tempted: but as a man He could be tempted, and that strongly, and could yield to the temptations. His human nature must pass through the same test and trial Adam and Eve passed through. His human nature was created; it did not even possess angelic powers. It was human, identical with our own. He was passing over the ground where Adam fell. He was now where, if He endured the test and trial in behalf of the fallen race, He would redeem Adams disgraceful failure and fall, in our own humanity." 3SM, 129.
"A human body and a human mind were His. He was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh." 3SM, 129.
"Through being partakers of the divine nature we may stand pure and holy and undefiled. The Godhead was not made human, and the human was not deified by the blending together of the two natures." Manuscript 94, 1893.
"There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from His obedience. How is it that such an infinite treasure is not appropriated? In heaven, the merits of Christ, His self-denial, and self-sacrifice, are treasured up as incense, to be offered up with the prayers of His people." General Conference Bulletin, 1899.
"He is a brother in our infirmities, but not in possessing like passions.. While He was a child, He thought and spoke as a child, but no trace of sin marred the image of God in Him. Yet He was not exempt from temptation. He was subject to all the conflicts which we have to meet." 2 Testimonies, 202.
[Note in the above paragraph that Christ did not have our passions our passionate thoughts, words, or actions. Note in the paragraph below that He did have our passions our inherited passionate tendencies. He inherited our weaknesses, but never once did He yield to them. He had "no trace of sin (paragraph above), and "never did He yield to temptation" (paragraph below). Thus He could have our passions (passionate inheritance), but not our passions (passionate actions).]
"Though He had all the strength of passion of humanity, never did He yield to temptation to do one single act which was not pure and elevating and ennobling. In Heavenly Places, 155.
"..the soul must purpose the sinful act before passion can dominate over reason, or iniquity triumph over conscience." 5 Testimonies, 177.
"We need not retain one sinful propensity." 7 Bible Commentary, 943.
"There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christ-like life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God. As the Son of God was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life." MYP, 136.
"Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), He lived a sinless life." Desire of Ages, 311-312.
"When He comes, He is not to cleanse us of our sins, to remove from us the defects in our characters, or to cure us of the infirmities of our tempers and dispositions. If wrought for us at all, this work will all be accomplished before that time.. No work will then be done for them [the unsanctified] to remove their defects and give them holy characters. The Refiner does not then sit to pursue His refining process and remove their sins and corruption. This is all to be done in these hours of probation. It is now that this work is to be accomplished for us." 2 Testimonies, 355.
"Christ rendered obedience to God, and overcame as humanity must overcome. We are led to wrong conclusions because of erroneous views of the nature of our Lord. To attribute to His nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, is to destroy the obedience that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan's temptations except as divine power works through humanity. The Lord Jesus came to our world, not to reveal what God in His own divine person could do, but what He could do through humanity. Through faith man is to be a partaker of the divine nature, and to overcome every temptation where with he is beset. It was the Majesty of heaven who became a man, who humbled Himself to our human nature; it was He who was tempted in the wilderness and endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself." ST April 10, 1893.
"We are not to serve God as if we were not human, but we are to serve Him as those who have been redeemed by the Son of God, through the righteousness of Christ we shall stand before God pardoned, as if we had never sinned." Signs 38, August 29, 1911.
"But God has met this by sending His own Son Jesus Christ to live in that human nature which causes the trouble. And while Christ was actually taking upon Himself the sins of men, God condemned that sinful nature." Romans 8:3, Phillips.
"The greatest work that can be done in our world is to glorify God by living the character of Christ". 6 Testimonies, 439.
"God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection and places before us the example of Christ's character. In His humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance to evil, the Saviour showed that through cooperation with Divinity, human beings man in this life attain to perfection of character. This is Gods assurance to us that we, too, may obtain complete victory." Acts of the Apostles, 531.
"The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken. If he can control minds so that doubt and unbelief and darkness shall compose the experience of those who claim to be the children of God, he can overcome them with temptation. Unless divine power is brought into the experience of the people of God, false theories and erroneous ideas will take minds captive, Christ and His righteousness will be dropped out of the experience of many, and their faith will be without power or life." Gospel Workers, 103-205, 1893.
"None are living Christians unless they are having a daily experience in the things of God, and daily practice self-denial cheerfully bearing the cross and following Christ. Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life. As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God every day; and this conversion is not completed until he attains to perfection of character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality." 2 Testimonies, 505.
"Man must do his part; he must be victor on his own account, through the strength and grace that Christ gives him. The Saviour came to show man how to overcome. All the temptations of Satan, Christ met with the Word of God. By trusting in Gods promises, He received power to obey Gods commands." 4 Testimonies, 32-33.
"There are thoughts and feelings suggested and aroused by Satan that annoy even the best of men; but if they are not cherished, if they are repulsed as hateful, the soul is not contaminated with guilt, and no other is defiled by their influence." Review, March 27, 1888.
"The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people." Desire of Ages, 671.
"If we will trust Him, and commit our ways to Him, He will direct our steps in the very path that will result in our obtaining the victory over every evil passion, and every trait of character that is unlike the character of our divine Pattern." Our High Calling, 316.
"How man can be a counterpart of Jesus Christ is beyond human comprehension. But the Holy Spirit can strengthen our spiritual eyesight." Sons and Daughters of God, 34.
"Scarcely can the human mind comprehend what is the breadth and depth and height of the spiritual attainments that can be reached by becoming partakers of the divine nature. " Our High Calling, 60.
"This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impart to us. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness" Christ's Object Lessons, 311-312.
"There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from His obedience. How is it, that such an infinite treasure is not appropriated? In heaven, the merits of Christ, His self-denial, and self-sacrifice, are treasured up as incense, to be offered up with the prayers of His people." General Conference Bulletin, 1899.
The soul must purpose the sinful act before passion can dominate over reason, or iniquity triumph over conscience." 5 Testimonies, 177.
"We need not retain one sinful propensity." 7 Bible Commentary, 943.
"Christ's identity with man will ever be the power of His influence. He became bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh . . He clothed His divine nature with the garb of humanity, and demonstrated before the heavenly universe, before the unfallen worlds, and before the fallen world how much God loves the human race." Manuscript 165, 1899.
"God has spoken, and He means that man shall obey. He does not inquire if it is convenient for man to do so. The Lord of life and glory did not consult His convenience or pleasure when he left his station of high command to become a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief . . Jesus died, not to save man in his sins, but from his sins. Man is to leave the error of his ways, to follow the example of Christ, to take up his cross and follow Him, denying self and obeying God at any cost." 4 Testimonies, 250-25 1.
"What Christ was in His perfect humanity, we must be, for we must form characters for eternity." Testimonies to Ministers, 183
"Through faith in Christ every deficiency of character may be supplied, every defilement cleansed, every fault corrected, every excellence developed." Education, 257.
"As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. His expediencies to be ours." Desire of Ages, 363.
"The heavenly intelligences will work with the human agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of character which will reach out to perfection in action. To everyone engaged in this work Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you." Christ's Object Lessons, 332.
"As the will of man cooperates with the will of God, it will become omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His commands are enablings." Christ's Object Lessons, 332-333.
"He knows how strong are the inclinations of the natural heart, and He will help in every time of temptation." 5 Testimonies, 177.
"It was necessary for Him to be constantly on guard in order to preserve His purity." Desire of Ages, 71.
"Today Satan presents the same temptations that he presented to Christ, offering us the kingdoms of the world in return for our allegiance. But upon him who looks to Jesus as the author and finisher of his faith, Satan's temptations have no power. He can not cause to sin the one who will accept by faith the virtues of Him who was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin." Review, January 28, 1909.
"Therefore he [Satan] is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome." Great Controversy, 489.
"When it becomes the habit of the soul to converse with God, the power of the evil one is broken; for Satan cannot abide near the soul that draws nigh unto God." Our High Calling, 96.
"Enoch's life and character. . represent the lives and characters of all who will be translated when Christ comes." Signs, November 11, 1886.
"In order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience, through active faith that works by love and purifies the soul." 1 Selected Messages, 366.
"Let no one say I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life." Christ's Object Lessons, 331.
"The righteousness of God is absolute. This righteousness characterizes all His works, all His laws. As He is, so must His people be." 1 Selected Messages, 198.
"The prince of this world cometh, said Jesus, and hath nothing in Me. John 14:30. There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan's sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ's humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature. So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character." Desire of Ages,