A question that arises is whether Jesus was tempted with sexual sin. There are some that believe that Jesus was tempted with every imaginable sin under the sun from the beginning of time until now. This perspective isn’t without merit, since Hebrews 4:15 does say Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Yet, how could all of humanity’s temptations, from the tiniest to the most challenging, be directed at one person (quantitatively speaking, not qualitatively speaking)? What about temptations for women? What about temptations from the modern age? What about temptations that exist today that didn’t exist then? How could the lifetime of one man (presumably about 33 years) be enough time for this level of exposure?
To be clear, Hebrews 4 and also chapter 2:14–18 establish that Christ was perfect and His provisions for victory are also powerfully perfect for us; that He has wonderful and gracious mercy upon us; that He was a human in our likeness; and that He helps all those who ask. However, the rest of the book of Hebrews is making an emphatic point that Christ was better than all previous archetypes: better than angels (ch. 1–2); better than Moses (ch. 3); better than Joshua and the rest he brought (ch. 4); better than priests (ch. 5–7); and better than the ministry of the earthly sanctuary (ch. 8–10). Chapter 11 highlights those who understood by faith that Christ was better and beyond what humanity could provide, and climaxes in chapter 12 that Christ is our example. Where are we going with this?
Rather than being tempted with every single sin, Jesus, who was in every way human and also in every way God, was tempted with every type of sin—from both His divine side and His human side. Ultimately every sin comes down to serving self or serving God; following selfish desires or following the selflessness of God. In the way that humanity may be tempted to fulfill desires such as hunger and sexuality through selfish routes, Jesus Himself was tempted to fulfill His desires through selfish routes as well. For example, He desired to satiate His hunger. Satan tempted Jesus to use His divine power to create something out of nothing to make stones into bread and prove His identity. There is nothing wrong with satiating hunger. But there is something wrong in using power for selfish reasons or in doubting God’s Word. Another example is God desiring to save the world and humanity. There is nothing wrong with this desire! But Satan tempted Jesus to use His divinity to escape trials and suffering. From His divine side Jesus faced temptations that we will never have as human beings, but He never sinned.
Since He came as a human, “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), He understands and sympathizes with our temptations because He was tempted also from His human side. When He spoke about the dangers of lust, He must have been tempted “in all points” as a man. How glad we are that Scripture records that Jesus was “yet without sin”! Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. And just as He overcame, He promises that we may also, by inviting Him into our hearts (Rev. 3:20, 21). As a High Priest who has experienced temptation, He can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15) and grant forgiveness of our past because He did victorious over sin. He as Victor can come to the aid of “those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18); He as Jesus the Righteous Advocate can impute His righteousness to us (1 John 2:1); He as Author and Perfecter of faith can be the Example on whom we fix our eyes (Heb. 12:2); He as Creator and Re-Creator can create and recreate purity in our lives, regardless of past performance.
In the last days, Revelation 14:4 describes a people who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” They were redeemed and also called “virgins”—not that they were all males and sexually inactive, but that they were sinners (Rom. 3:23), and they had received the pure righteousness of Jesus. Purity cannot be achieved by tactic, effort, education, or merit, but by unblinking commitment and determination to follow the Lamb wherever, whenever, and however He goes.