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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

22 April 2006

Christ’s Obedience

Q: If man learns obedience through sin and correction, how did Christ learn obedience if he didn’t sin?

Jesus in the TempleA: I imagine that you’re basing your question on Hebrews 5:8 &mdash “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” Let’s examine this idea in light of what we know about our Savior from the Scriptures.

We know that Jesus was sinless (and, thus, had a sinless nature) because of the testimony of the Gospels as well as much of Hebrews and many places in the Pauline Epistles. Christ was the completely “unblemished” sacrificial Lamb (Exodus 12:5, Deuteronomy 15:21, 1 Peter 1:19, et al.). As the Bible says, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)” In other words, although Jesus was completely sin-free, he carried both the guilt that was ours and the punishment that we deserved.

Jesus “learned” obedience by being obedient, not by sinning and being corrected. As the eternal Son of God, He was, is, and always will be obedient to the will of His Father.

CalvinballLikewise, the Christian doesn’t learn true obedience by sinning. That would be like trying to learn one sport by practicing another. Imagine learning golf by hitting baseballs in a batting cage or soccer in a swimming pool! Thus, we don’t learn perfection by practicing imperfection.

My sainted father had a stock retort whenever he heard someone say, “Practice makes perfect.” He always responded, “Proper practice makes perfect.” Christians practice obedience properly by responding in faith to God’s love, trusting in His guidance, and not standing in the way of Christ working within us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Anonymous Irving Karchmar said...

Greetings of Peace:
An old Sufi tradition advises us to speak only after our words have managed to pass through four gates. At the first gate, we ask ourselves, "Are these words true?" If so, we let them pass on; if not, back they go. At the second gate we ask; "Are they necessary?" At the third gate we ask; "Are they beneficial?" and at the fourth gate, we ask, "Are they kind?" If the answer to any of these is no, then what you are about to say should be left unsaid.

23 April, 2006 22:06  
Blogger Xrysostom said...

How does the above comment relate to this post?

24 April, 2006 01:21  

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