Jesus’ Dependence Upon the Holy Spirit, His Impeccability, and Our Sanctification

Posted: February 16, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Christology, Discipleship/Sanctification, Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests, Pneumatology, Theology
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In my reading of James B. Shelton’s volume, “Mighty in Word and Deed: The Role of the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts”, I offer the following quotes and thoughts.

There is much discussion if the Spirit, for Luke, was primarily an empowering agent for ministry and witness, or also an agent of renewal and transformation. I think that Shelton (1991:57-62), in his chapter, “The Holy Spirit and Jesus’ Temptation”, shows that there is adequate Lukan material to suggest that Jesus’ triumph over temptation is paradigmatic for believers’ today as well. Shelton (1991:60) states:

Luke’s use of “full of the Holy Spirit” and “led by the Spirit” makes it doubly clear that Jesus’ temptations were real and that he was truly human. He relied not on his own power and resources but on God’s.

Shelton (1991:60) elaborates:

While Luke maintains that Jesus experience as God’s Son through the work of the Holy Spirit is unique, he also shows that in his humanity Jesus is dependent upon the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation and carry out his ministry. this is why Luke use the same terms to express Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit and that of believers. This is good news to Luke’s readers. The temptations of Jesus are real, as real as anyone else’s dilemmas. Jesus does not rely on the uniqueness of his Spirit-generated birth (LK 1:35) or his office of Messiah to win over temptation. He overcomes evil as God expects all people to triumph—through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Shelton (1991:61) concludes the chapter by the following summary:

Thus for Luke enduring the temptations is not merely a staged act by a divine being incapable of being tempted, but it is a lifestyle of a human being endowed by and dependent upon the Holy Spirit. Luke’s emphasis on the Spirit in the temptation narrative is simultaneously sobering and encouraging for the followers of Jesus in their struggle with evil.

I hold to the impeccability of Jesus, meaning that He could not have sinned. Even so, I sometimes think the debate on the issue a vain thing as it only speaks to hypotheticals. The fact is that HE DID NOT SIN. That’s what matters in the whole enchilada. Having said that, I don’t think that taking a position of the impeccability of Christ is contradictory towards Shelton’s emphasis on Jesus’ dependence upon the Spirit to overcome very real temptations.

The fact is that God ordains “means” to fulfill His purposes. Jesus dependence upon the Spirit, His prayers, and learning of the Scriptures were all “means” which enabled Him, in a very real way, to live a life fully devoted to the Father, thus fulfilling all righteousness.

While we aren’t Christ, we are encouraged to employ the very same means in our own sanctification. We are to learn the Scriptures, pray, and walk in the power of the Spirit. While our faith is built upon the foundation of Christ’s righteousness as being ours, He does also serve as an example for our sanctification. After first answering “What Has Jesus Done?”, are we then able to answer “What Would Jesus Do?”. In fact, we answer the latter question by first understanding the former.

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Comments
  1. thesauros says:

    Good post. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. James B. Shelton says:

    I am honored that you looked at Mighty in Word and Deed.
    We are dealing with a mystery here. A mystery revealed but not a mystery completely explained. Jesus was completely human and completely divine. The hypostatic union of his humanity and divinity means that he did nothing apart from either nature. So in one sense one could say that his union with divinity would preclude his sinning; like we avoid sin only by the presence of his bountiful grace.
    Yet, in his humanity he was like us in that he depended on the Holy Spirit to help him overcome evil. In one sense the doctrine of perichoresis says that Jesus as God the Son does nothing without the Holy Spirit and the Father. But he was a real human and therefore empowerd by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:48; Luke 4:18). Like the hymn, Veni Sancte Spiritus( Come Holy Spirit) we say to the Spirit “Come fill our hearts; for without your grace all turns to ill. Veni Sancte Spiritus.”
    Jim Shelton, Ph. D.
    Prof. of NT and Early Christian Literature
    Oral Roberts University

  3. […] Dr. James Shelton Replies Posted on February 25, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam Dr. James Shelton was gracious enough to share some thoughts in response to my earlier blogpost. […]

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