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“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:” Roman 8:3

This passage, alongside what we just learnt from Hebrews chapter two, describes the fact that Jesus Christ took upon himself the nature of man. Strong’s Concordance adequately indicates that the word flesh or sarx, as it is in the original Greek, is used by Paul to indicate that Christ took upon Himself human nature. Some have argued that SARX only refers to the physical component of man, concluding that Christ only took upon himself a human body, while retaining His divine mind, but as we learnt in our previous presentation, Jesus humbled Himself and partook of the nature of man, thus taking the title Son of Man. Furthermore the Bible says:

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” 1 Corinthians 2:11

Could Jesus have been truly a man, knowing the things of man, without possessing the mind of man? Not according to the verse we just read. In order for Christ to have known the things of man, He had to have had the spirit of a man. The term human nature simply implies a human being. It involves everything that we consist of – the physical, the intellectual and the moral.

“The nature of man is three-fold, and the training enjoined by Solomon comprehends the right development of the physical, intellectual, and moral powers.” {Ellen White, RH January 10, 1882, par. 1}

Both the Bible and the writings of Ellen White, present to us only two kinds of human nature. Adam and Eve were created perfect, without any predisposition to sin or corruption as the Bible says. However, God did not take away temptation from them. Adam and Eve still had their own free will, which was given them to exercise according to their liking. If they had remained faithful to their Creator, sin would still have been something foreign to them. Nevertheless, they chose to disobey and, as a result, all of their posterity was born with inherited tendencies towards sin. This is why our human nature today is referred to as a sinful human nature. It has the predisposition towards sin. In fact, here is how this very nature was described by some of the 1888 messengers:

“The law of God is as holy as He is holy, as perfect as He is perfect. It presents to us the righteousness of God. It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to keep this law; for our nature is depraved, deformed, and wholly unlike the character of God. The works of the selfish heart are “as an unclean thing;” and “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” {Ellen White, HB 184.3}

“Human nature is fallen nature, and fallen nature is sinful nature so sinful that it can descend to the lowest depths of wickedness.” (A. T. Jones, AMS 12 January 28, 1897, page 52 par. 2}

Nevertheless, we should remember that this depravity is not sin or an excuse for sin, because God has given us the ability to choose Christ through faith and produce righteousness, building a heavenly character. We also know that when the plan of redemption is complete, this depravity will no longer be there:

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:53

This verse also clearly indicates that the corruptible is mortal and the incorruptible is immortal. So if we have a Saviour who died on the cross for us, could we even entertain the thought that He could have had something incorruptible? It is the corruptible or our current depraved nature that is subject to mortality. Thus, in order for Christ to have died upon the cross, He must have had this depraved human nature upon Himself. Mortality was something foreign to Adam before the fall and it would have been foreign to Christ if He were not made like unto His brethren after the fall.

However, a question of vital importance still needs to be answered: was Jesus Christ made identical to us, having the exact same physical, moral and intellectual depravity as every son and daughter of Adam or was He made different? There was much written by the 1888 messengers upon this subject and we, just as we have done so far in the series, will allow them to give us the answer. Here is what they believed and taught:

“It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon himself the form and nature of fallen man, that he might be made perfect through suffering, and himself endure the strength of Satan’s fierce temptations, that he might understand how to succor those who should be tempted.” {Ellen White, 2SP 39.3}

“It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s 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 the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.” {Ellen White, DA 48.6}

“He assumed human nature with its infirmities, its liabilities, its temptations. “Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Matthew 8:17. “In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren.” Hebrews 2:17. He was “in all points tempted like as we are.” Hebrews 4:15. He exercised in His own behalf no power which man cannot exercise. As man He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him of God.” {Ellen White, Ms141-1901.9}

Let us pause here for a second and examine this statement, for it is a good synopsis of what we established in the previous presentations. We see Christ here presented just like every one of us. He was made like unto us in ALL things. His nature was depraved, deformed, and wholly unlike the character of God, just as ours is, and He was only able to overcome in the strength given Him of God. Without receiving this strength, His fight against sin would have been impossible.

Ellen White declares further:

“I will try to answer this important question: 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 the 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 Adam’s disgraceful failure and fall, in our own humanity. A human body and a human mind were His. He was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.” {Ellen White, Ms94-1893.6}

“Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not have been placed in Adam’s position; He could not have obtained the victory that Adam failed to gain. If we have in any sense a more trying conflict than had Christ, then He would not be able to succor us. But our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured.” {Ellen White, DA 117}

“Satan again rejoiced with his angels that he could, by causing man’s fall, pull down the Son of God from His exalted position. He told his angels that when Jesus should take fallen man’s nature, he could overpower Him and hinder the accomplishment of the plan of salvation.” {Ellen White, EW, p. 152}

“Christ was not in as favorable a position in the desolate wilderness to endure the temptations of Satan as was Adam when he was tempted in Eden. The Son of God humbled Himself and took man’s nature after the race had wandered four thousand years from Eden, and from their original state of purity and uprightness.” {Ellen White, RH July 28, 1874}

“Let the children bear in mind that the child Jesus had upon Himself human nature, and was in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was tempted of Satan as all children are tempted.” {Ellen White, YI, p.189}

“The lessons of Christ upon the occasion of receiving the children, should leave a deeper impression upon our minds. The words of Christ encourage parents to bring their little ones to Jesus. They may be wayward, and possess passions like those of humanity, but this should not deter us from bringing them to Christ. He blessed children that were possessed of passions like his own.” {Ellen White, ST April 9, 1896, par. 6}

“… Christ taking our nature as our nature is in its sinfulness and degeneracy, and God dwelling constantly with Him and in Him in that nature—in this God has demonstrated to all people forever that there is no soul in this world so laden with sins or so lost that God will not gladly dwell with him and in him to save him from it all and to lead him in the way of the righteousness of God.” {A.T. Jones, CWCP 44.3}

“I know the defense that will be made: that Christ was divine, and that in that he had an advantage that we do not have; that he could take these things from the Bible and easily understand them, because he came down from heaven, and we did not. To make such an argument as that is not Christianity at all: it is the utter denial of Christianity. Because Jesus Christ, though he came down from heaven, “emptied himself,” and never used, in this world, in the flesh, any of his own individual, personal divinity that he had before he came to this world. He became flesh: he became human, as human as any one in this world is today; as weak, as helpless, as any one in this world is today in himself. And he plainly says: ‘I can of mine own self do nothing.’ That is just what he said about us: ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’” {A. T. Jones, ARSH October 3, 1899, p. 631.17}

“These two scriptures show that he placed himself exactly upon a level with us. And when he put himself there in human flesh, and upon the level of human flesh in this world, where he was unable to do anything of himself, he put his trust in God; and, by his faith in God, he drew from the Source of all power, of all knowledge, and of all good, into his life in human flesh, that which gave him all that he had, and made him all that he was, in the world, and all that he is to – day in heaven. And BY THIS he made it possible for every human being to become what he was then in the world, and what he is to – day in heaven.” {A. T. Jones, ARSH October 3, 1899, p. 631}

“Again, the sixteenth verse, “Verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” He took not on him the nature of angels, but He took on him the nature of Abraham. But the nature of Abraham and of the seed of Abraham is only human nature. Again, “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren.” In how many things? All things. Then in His human nature there is not a particle of difference between Him and you.” {A. T. Jones, The Third Angel’s Message Sermon 13, 1895}

“Now that law of heredity reached from Adam to the flesh of Jesus Christ as certainly as it reaches from Adam to the flesh of any of the rest of us, for He was one of us. In Him there were things that reached Him from Adam; in Him there were things that reached Him from David, from Manasseh, from the genealogy away back from the beginning until His birth.
Thus in the flesh of Jesus Christ—not in Himself, but in His flesh—our flesh which He took in the human nature—there were just the same tendencies to sin that are in you and me. And when He was tempted, it was the “drawing away of these desires that were in the flesh.” These tendencies to sin that were in His flesh drew upon Him and sought to entice Him, to consent to the wrong. But by the love of God and by His trust in God, he received the power and the strength and the grace to say, “No,” to all of it and put it all under foot. And thus being in the likeness of sinful flesh He condemned sin in the flesh.
All the tendencies to sin that are in me were in Him, and not one of them was ever allowed to appear in Him. All the tendencies to sin that are in you were in Him, and not one of them was ever allowed to appear—every one was put under foot and kept there. All the tendencies to sin that are in the other man were in Him, and not one of them was ever allowed to appear. That is simply saying that all the tendencies to sin that are in human flesh were in His human flesh, and not one of them was ever allowed to appear; He conquered them all. And in Him we all have victory over them all.
Many of these tendencies to sin that are in us have appeared in action, and have become sins committed, have become sins in the open. There is a difference between a tendency to sin and the open appearing of that sin in the actions. There are tendencies to sin in us that have not yet appeared, but multitudes have appeared. Now all the tendencies that have not appeared, He conquered. What of the sins that have actually appeared? “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6) “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” 1 Peter 2:24. Thus it is plain that all the tendencies to sin that are in us and have not appeared and all the sins which have appeared were laid upon Him. It is terrible. It is true. But, O, joy! In that terrible truth lies the completeness of our salvation.”
{A. T. Jones, GCB 1895, p.266-267}

“A little thought will be sufficient to show anybody that if Christ took upon himself the likeness of man, in order that he might suffer death, it must have been sinful man that he was made like, for it is only sin that causes death. Death could have no power over a sinless man, as Adam was in Eden; and it could not have had any power over Christ if the Lord had not laid on him the iniquity of us all. Moreover, the fact that Christ took upon himself the flesh, not of a sinless being, but of sinful man, that is, that the flesh which he assumed had all the weaknesses and sinful tendencies to which fallen human nature is subject, is shown by the very words upon which this article is based. He was “made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” David had all the passions of human nature. He says of himself, ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ Psalm 51:5.” {E. J. Waggoner, SITI January 21, 1889, p.39.2}

“His being made in all things like unto His brethren, is the same as His being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, “made in the likeness of men.” One of the most encouraging things in the Bible is the knowledge that Christ took on Him the nature of men; to know that His ancestors according to the flesh were sinners. When we read the record of the lives of the ancestors of Christ, and see that they had all the weaknesses and passions that we have, we find that no man has any right to excuse his sinful acts on the ground of heredity. If Christ had not been made in all things like unto His brethren, then His sinless life would be no encouragement to us. We might look at it with admiration, but it would be the admiration that would cause hopeless despair.” {E.J. Waggoner, GBG, February 10, 1887, 61.2}

“He took your flesh, my flesh, the flesh of all mankind, sinful flesh, so that He was in all things made like unto His brethren. They are partakers of flesh and blood: “He also Himself likewise took part of the same.” Whatever we have, He had, even the self-same things. John pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away; bears! the sin of the world.” There is not a temptation that has oppressed any human being, and overcome him, that did not press in with all its might upon Jesus, without overcoming Him. But the temptation was none the less real. People seem to think that the fact that Jesus never sinned is proof that He was not tempted in the same way that we are. As much as to say that if He had been tempted as we are, He would have sinned! Or, in other words, the same as saying that there is no possibility of successfully resisting temptation. They who would separate Jesus from the fullest share in our human nature, do not realise that in so doing they are labouring to deprive mankind of all hope.” {E. J. Waggoner, PTUK vol. 13, December 9, 1897, p. 771}

If Jesus was not identical to us, friends, we would have no hope. A gospel that separates Jesus in any way from the rest of humanity is not a gospel of hope. Christ, the only begotten Son of God, took upon himself the same depraved, sinful human nature that we have. In fact, there was absolutely no difference! He had a fallen body and a fallen mind. His physical, intellectual, and moral powers were just as depraved as are the ones you and I have. Nevertheless:

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

The Bible and the 1888 messengers are beyond clear upon this subject. Not only that, but as we just established form their writings, understanding the humanity of Christ is everything to us. Are we then surprised that Satan constantly works and attempts to mislead the minds of many when it comes to understanding the human nature of Christ? Any teaching that separates Christ from sinful man, regardless of how it is introduced, is but a mere repetition of the immaculate conception. A. T. Jones understood it very well and he has dedicated an entire chapter to this point in his book “The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection”. All of the 1888 messengers have written extensively upon this topic, and yet there is so much confusion today. Unfortunately, some passages have been taken out of context and used to support teachings that contradict everything we just learnt from White, Jones and Waggoner. However, as we have seen, when we put everything together, we can form a proper understanding of what was meant by these passages. It is worth mentioning that most of these so-called contradictory statements come only from the writings of Ellen White. We won’t go through all of them, but it would be wise to mention a few and see how they line up with what we have learnt so far. We should always keep in mind that the inspired writings of Ellen White do not contradict each other. If a contradiction exists, it is only because we have not understood them properly.

Let us also keep in mind the following thoughts:

– Christ is different from all other human beings that have ever lived in one thing only – he was the only one who has never sinned.
– He is the only one who has wrought out a spotless human character, due to the fact that He has never sinned.
– Christ is not altogether the same as us, because, as we learnt already, His self, his person is comprised of two natures – divine and human.
– Christ was fitted for the battle against sin and temptation, only by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, which came as a result of his choice to surrender to His Father’s will.
The statements used most often to contradict the rest of Ellen White’s writings are not even found in any of her published works. The statements come from a letter that Ellen White sent to a brother who had accepted ideas that were not in line with her teachings. This paper has become known as the Baker Letter. There is however, no written record of what brother Baker believed. Hence, we can only judge her response based on what was being taught within Adventism around the year 1895 which is when she sent out the letter. This, is exactly what we did in this presentation. We allowed the 1888 messengers tell us clearly what they believed and taught in regard to the human nature of Christ. Thus this letter cannot and should not be used in order to contradict the very many plain statements we just went over.

Here are a few of statements from this letter:

“Be careful, exceedingly careful as to how you dwell upon the human nature of Christ. Do not set Him before the people as a man with the propensities OF sin. He is the second Adam. The first Adam was created a pure, sinless being, without a taint of sin upon him; he was in the image of God. He could fall, and he did fall through transgressing. Because of sin, his posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience.
But Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God. He took upon Himself human nature, and was tempted in all points as human nature is tempted. He could have sinned; He could have fallen, but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity. He was assailed with temptations in the wilderness, as Adam was assailed with temptations in Eden. Bro. Baker, avoid every question in relation to the humanity of Christ which is liable to be misunderstood.
The incarnation of Christ has ever been, and will ever remain a mystery. That which is revealed, is for us and for our children, but let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as ourselves; for it cannot be. The exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know.” {Ellen White, Letter 8, 1895 To W. L. H. Baker and wife}

These passages, among few others, are used by many to conclude the following:

– Christ’s humanity is not the same as ours because Sister White mentions that we are not to make Him altogether human, such as ourselves
– He was born with a human nature that did not have the propensity TO sin
– He was born without the taint of sin, while we were born sinners
However, such conclusions would only make Ellen White contradict herself. Not only that, but she would also be contradicting the teachings of Jones and Waggoner, which she constantly endorsed. I know I have mentioned this a few times already but it is important for us to understand that the contradiction is not coming from Ellen White, but rather from our inability to put all her statements together. Let us now look a little into her writings and see if her statements makes perfect sense when understood properly. We are going to first quickly examine the word propensity. Here is what we find:

“It is the grace of God that… your passions and appetites may be subject to the control of reason, and the tongue be bridled against levity and unhallowed censure and faultfinding. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The greatest triumph given us by the religion of Christ is control over ourselves. Our natural propensities must be controlled, or we can never overcome as Christ overcame.” {Ellen White, 4T 235.1}

Natural Propensities = Passions and Appetites

We clearly see in this statement that the word propensity is synonymous with our passions and appetites, which are part of our nature and must be controlled, like Christ controlled them so we can be overcomers as He was. Did Jesus fight against the evil passions and appetites of humanity?

“The Son of God in His humanity wrestled with the very same fierce, apparently overwhelming, temptations that assail men—temptations to indulgence of appetite, to presumptuous venturing where God has not led them, and to the worship of the god of this world, to sacrifice an eternity of bliss for the fascinating pleasures of this life.” {Ellen White, Lt116-1899.10}

“Had Christ conceded even once to the wishes and desires of His brethren with regard to wrong doing, He would have failed as a perfect Pattern, failed to carry out the plan made in the councils of heaven. The world would have been irrevocably lost. Had He allowed any license or excuse for sin or for the evil passions of human nature, Satan’s controversy would have terminated.” {Ellen White, Ms2-1896.11}

Do you see this, friends? Christ never allowed the evil passions of human nature to come forth. He crucified self and overcame all the passions and appetites of humanity. Remember, Christ battled against self at every step of the way. Can we then say that Christ did not have the propensities, the evil passions of human nature? Of course He did, but what was then meant by Ellen White in her letter to Baker? Let’s look at another statement where she uses the word propensity in a slightly different way.

“She is made by him an instrument to minister to the gratification of his low, lustful propensities. Very many women submit to become slaves to lustful passion.” {Ellen White, PH011 54.1}

Propensities = lustful passions

In this statement Ellen White uses the word propensity to illustrate a sinful desire or practice. Now, did Jesus commit any sins? Did He, for example, lust after women, be it in His mind only? No, He did not. Thus we clearly see that he had no such sinful propensities, there were no lustful passions ruling over him.

Understanding this, let’s now look at the statement from the Baker letter again:

“Do not set Him before the people as a man with the propensities OF sin. He is the second Adam. The first Adam was created a pure, sinless being, without a taint of sin upon him; he was in the image of God. He could fall, and he did fall through transgressing. Because of sin, his posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience. But Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God. He took upon Himself human nature, and was tempted in all points as human nature is tempted. He could have sinned; He could have fallen, but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity.”

Do you notice that Ellen White herself explains clearly which propensities she is referring to when she is talking about Jesus? Is she describing Christ’s nature or the way he lived His life? Read carefully with me: “He could have sinned; He could have fallen, but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity.” It is clear that she is describing His life of overcoming. Christ never sinned; He never allowed any sinful propensities to be part of His character. He was spotless. But this was not because of the way He was born, but rather the result of His life of faith and overcoming. This is also exactly what she means when she uses the term without a taint of sin. Here are a few other examples of that expression:

“One unsanctified act on the part of our Saviour, would have marred the pattern, and he could not have been a perfect example for us; but although he was tempted in all points like as we are, he was yet without one taint of sin.” {Ellen White, YI October 13, 1892, par. 2}

“Christ emptied Himself of His honored position in the heavenly courts. He became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was, as we are, subject to the enemy’s temptations. Satan exulted when Christ became a human being, and he compassed His path with every conceivable temptation…
The prince of this world cometh,” He [Christ] said, “and hath nothing in Me.” He can find nothing in Me which responds to his sophistry. Amid impurity, Christ maintained His purity. Satan could not stain or corrupt it. His character revealed a perfect hatred for sin. {Ellen White, ST May 10, 1899, par. 8}

And this next statement is by far the clearest of them all:

“Christ, the second Adam, came in the likeness of sinful flesh. In man’s behalf, He became subject to sorrow, to weariness, to hunger, and to thirst. He was subject to temptation, but He yielded not to sin. No taint of sin was upon Him. He declared, “I have kept My Father’s commandments.” [John 15:10.] He had infinite power only because He was perfectly obedient to His Father’s will. The second Adam stood the test of trial and temptation that He might become the Owner of all humanity.” {Ellen White, Ms99-1903.15}

There was not a taint of sin or corruption upon Christ, because he was perfectly obedient to His Father’s will. Friends, Christ is the second Adam and the owner of all humanity not because He was born different, but because He lived a righteous life in the very same sinful nature that you and I have. Ellen White properly stated that we are not to make Christ altogether human, such as ourselves, for he was the only human who lived a perfect life, and the only person who walked upon this earth that was comprised of two natures.

Friends, it is essential for us to understand this subject, because if we deny Christ’s fallen humanity, then we are denying the Lord that bought us. (you should add that verse here about denying the Lord that bought us!)
May God help us to fully comprehend and heed the words of Christ, as He uttered them to John:

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Revelation 3:21

“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2