HOT TOPIC: God's Nature vs His Character

michael_legna's picture

In another thread we veered off ending up discussing the Nature of God esepcially His omniscience and omnipotence.

I hold that God is ALL powerful and ALL knowing and He just chooses not to do somethings and to not know certain things when it suits His plans.

The other side of the argument is that there are certain things God cannot do, like sin. That it is not just Him choosing to not sin but that He is completely incapable of sin, that it is an actual limit to His omnipotence and omniscience.

This thread is meant to give all an opportunity to present arguments for either side.

I will begin by posting a few responses to the last few posts of one other poster in the previous thread.

JeffLogan's picture

Dan asked - Jeff, if the

Dan asked -
Jeff, if the incarnate Christ walked the earth as fully man (not merely but fully) then does not the possibility of His failure have to exist too?

Jeff replies -
Yes, as the last Adam. Scripture tells us He was the Last Adam. Both Adams were perfect to begin with but only one retained that perfection. But notice that many of Christ's temptations were to use His divinity to escape the cross. We cannot be tempted to use our divinity because we have none. Had Jesus yielded to that temptation and trusted to Himself for power to resist then Lucifer would have been justified in his sins. If the Son of God could not keep the law then God could be rightly accused of asking men to do something unreasonable and it would therefore be unjust to condemn men to die for their transgression. The law would have to be abolished in order to remove the condemnation hanging on the Son of God and Lucifer would have to be reestablished in heaven. But Jesus did not fail. He trusted in His Father just as we are to do. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Jesus did just that! He placed all of His trust in His Father regardless of how hopeless the situation appeared to Him as a man. "Not my will, but thine." Our temptation is to trust to self. And as scripture says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is death."

But this is a foundation truth upon which I base my argument. God could neither die, nor lie. So in order for Jesus to die and be tempted He took upon Himself "the likeness of our sinful flesh."

Romans 8:3 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: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

If read carefully, we find that the law wasn't weak per se; it had the power to kill. But it was the flesh that was weak. However, the law is unable to produce righteousness in weakened man and in that capacity it fails. However, scripture tells us that it could produce righteousness if men were able to obey.

Romans 3:21 [Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

Dan asked -
Why did the angels need to strengthen Him? The medical condition (known to a few doctors who attended condemned men) which caused bleeding through the pores of the skin left the person dehydrated and weak ... Is it difficult to believe the Son needed the strength of the angels and, for that matter, the sight of His friend and mother at the foot of the Cross? Do we have to be careful not to take something away from Christ's humanity if we leave Him as one who cannot sin?

Jeff replies -
I do not leave Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, as one who could not have sinned, just as one who DID NOT sin. But more than this, no sin was found in Him. It wasn't merely that He willfully resisted sin and didn't allow it to manifest itself outwardly, it was that He retained His purity. Satan's temptations did not strike a chord with Jesus because He was born free of 'original sin' (to use a Catholic term, but meaning He was born without the propensity to sin as we posses). Jesus faced temptation but wasn't tempted to sin. The opportunity and possibility existed but He never entertained the idea. How could He be tempted to sin if temptation struck no chord in Him? He faced the temptations just as Adam did but He did not yield. Adam was pure also, free of sin, and with no propensity to sin. He was created with a noble character and a pure nature. But when the temptation came he reasoned within himself rather than relying upon God's word and therefore he fell under its specious influence.

James 1:13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

First, Jesus was fully divine, yet on earth He lived as Adam lived. His divinity was hidden. He had to rely totally upon His Father's help. On occassion we see His divinity flash through Him, but never did He rely upon it to help himself. If He was to be the last Adam then He had to overcome in exactly the same way He had asked His creation to overcome--to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. ML has suggested this makes men puppets. But not so if the will is surrendered to God. God does not manipulate, but rather it is love that becomes the motivating force in man's life. This does not, therefore, trample upon man's free will. Even a past Pope agrees with this analogy even if ML does not. (cf., Libertas). Which makes me think that either ML is unaware of this teaching, or ignores it when it suits him.

Secondly, we were born in sin and have a bias toward it. Temptations do strike a chord with us. This is why we are "dragged away" by our "own evil desires." Jesus could not be dragged away because He was pure. There was nothing in His nature to entice Him to rebel against His Father.

Thankfully, God understands our weaknesses and therefore is long-suffering. He does not excuse sin but expects for us to overcome it--in His strength. He does not tolerate sin but He tolerates us. And, all repeat something I posted earlier which I think helps here. Some who come to God by repentance and confession, and even believe that their sins are forgiven, still fail of claiming, as they should, the promises of God. They do not see that Jesus is an ever-present Saviour; and they are not ready to commit the keeping of their souls to him, relying upon him to perfect the work of grace begun in their hearts. While they think they are committing themselves to God, there is a great deal of self-dependence. There are conscientious souls that trust partly to God, and partly to themselves. They do not look to God, to be kept by his power, but depend upon watchfulness against temptation, and the performance of certain duties for acceptance with him. There are no victories in this kind of faith. Such persons toil to no purpose; their souls are in continual bondage, and they find no rest until their burdens are laid at the feet of Jesus. We must not trust at all to ourselves nor to our good works; but when as erring, sinful beings we come to Christ, we may find rest in his love. God will accept every one that comes to him trusting wholly in the merits of a crucified Saviour. Love springs up in the heart. There may be no ecstasy of feeling, but there is an abiding, peaceful trust. Every burden is light; for the yoke which Christ imposes is easy. Duty becomes a delight, and sacrifice a pleasure. The path that before seemed shrouded in darkness becomes bright with beams from the Sun of Righteousness. This is walking in the light as Christ is in the light.

Dan continues -
"Why have you forsaken me?" But God cannot forsake God so unless one accepts a kenotic vs hypostatic view of the person of Christ, then God could not really ever forsake Christ even though the man felt forsaken. This could drive a person crazy if you go too deep in this mystery.

Jeff writes -
Scripture says that Christ would tread the wine press alone. His Father could not comfort Him during that period of agony. He had to do it alone as the perfect sacrifice. All of men's sins were place upon Him as though He had committed every evil act Himself. "He who knew no sin was made sin for us." If He was to take our place then He must go through what every unrepentant sinner must face. He had to drink the cup full of the undiluted wrath of God. No one could share that cup. Christ had to drink it all, alone! He experienced what every unrepentant sinner must experience.

BTW, God does not forsake us either.

Dan continues -
I have to give you two credit for this discussion. It is one of those topics ML actually recommends staying away from. Ummm ML is not Michael Legna in this case by the way but you can guess who I mean. My mind cant get fully around a Person who walked about 30 years on this earth, and is as fully man as I am (hungry, tired, tempted, died) but by definition this same Person is my God and therefore carries all the Divine/moral attributes of God.

Jeff writes -
I think this will be our science for all eternity. We will never exhaust the subject!

BTW, I cannot guess who you mean by "ML" if not Michael_Legna. I do, however, think ML's user name is a scrambling of Michael [the Arch] Angel. Am I correct? If not, it's quite a coincidence.

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