Q&A: The Importance of Jesus' Obedience

The Importance of Jesus' Obedience

Why did Jesus have to remain loyal to God the Father and obey the Law during his earthly life?

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Answer

It was necessary for Jesus to be sinless because Christ worked to carry out his messianic task as Messiah, as Savior, as the last Adam, and to effect the salvation of those he came to save directly depended upon his personal obedience to God's law. We speak of Christ's "active obedience," that is, all the things that Christ did to observe the law of God and to keep it perfectly. If Christ had not been sinless, his human nature would have been damaged just as ours is. He would have been unable to make atonement for his own self, much less anyone else. And if, playing off that, if Christ had only suffered the penalty for our sin, we would have been in the same state that we were as Adam before the Fall. We still would not have had any holiness, righteousness, obedience to the law. So, Christ's perfect obedience which—this double imputation that took place at the cross; our sins were imputed to Christ, but his righteousness, his obedience, his holiness, was credited to our account. So, it was very important that Christ be sinless, and his perfect obedience actually merits for his elect their adoption as the sons of God and eternal life.

Answer by Dr. Jim Maples

Jim Maples is pastor at Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Pleasant Grove, Alabama and also serves on the faculty at Birmingham Theological Seminary in Birmingham, Alabama.