Sanctification and glorification
Warren Wilson sent the Surprising God Blog the following questions:
I've recently read some articles on the Internet that said that since Jesus had a fallen human nature but was able to completely avoid sin through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we who also have the Spirit should be able to become completely sin free in this life. That seems to overstate things to me and ignores that Jesus' situation and ours is not exactly the same. Am I correct in that?
Also, I've never seen anything written about the question of whether Jesus continues to have a fallen human nature in heaven? In other words, what effect does glorification have on fallen human nature? Are we doomed to continue to have fallen human nature for eternity, even after we're glorified?
Thanks Warren for your questions. I agree that the human nature assumed by the Son of God through his incarnation in the person of Jesus is the *fallen* nature we all have. By taking on our nature, Jesus redeemed us as the fallen sinners that we actually are. And thus our redemption in Jesus is complete - body, mind and spirit.
Some object to the idea that Jesus had a fallen human nature - they think that this means that Jesus sinned. Yet scripture testifies (2Cor. 5:21) that "God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." By taking upon himself our sin nature, and beating it back moment by moment ("tempted in every way, just like we are" - Heb 4:15), he brought, within himself, sanctification to our fallen nature, never once succumbing to the temptation to personally commit sin. In Jesus, our human nature, has been redeemed; re-created; made pure and holy.
Does it follow that we, with a fallen nature like Jesus had, and led by the same Spirit that led Jesus, should experience his perfection of behavior (his sinless life)? Christians have long asked this question and some have answered "yes." They have thought that there could (or at least should) come a time in this life when followers of Jesus would achieve what some call "entire sanctification" - coming to the place where a person would no longer ever commit an act of sin.
The problem with this view is that it does not line up with our experience (what Christian has ever experienced a life free from all acts of sin and from all sinful thoughts?), nor does this view line up with Scripture (where do you read, for example, of Paul or Peter proclaiming that they no longer commit any sin?). The confidence of Christians is that in Christ, they are forgiven of all sin, and their hope is full deliverance from the stain of sin in glory (even as they progress in that direction now). Indeed, we understand that it is in our *glorification* with Jesus that our *sanctification* through Jesus will be made complete. In the future resurrection of our body at Jesus' return, we will experience for the first time the full, unstained perfection of our life in Christ in body, mind and spirit.
And that brings me to your last question Warren. Indeed, in our bodiliy resurrection (our glorification), we will be freed entirely from sin. We will experience then the fulness of Jesus own perfected (non-fallen) humanity - the humanity of his glorification. That perfection, which is ours in Jesus is now "hidden in Christ" (Col. 3:3), to be revealed in all its fullness when we stand glorified with our Lord at the eschaton. So Jesus, the glorified human now in heaven, has a human nature that is not fallen, and in that day, so shall we.
Come Lord Jesus!