This essay began as a response to a post about Psalm 110, and the assumption that God could not become human (and still remain full deity).

Human nature is not necessarily sinful or mortal – those aspects are a result of the Fall. Human nature is however limited in knowledge and power, granted; can the divine not overcome such limitations? Can one nature supersede the other?

The Bible indicates that Jesus, as the God-man, was not all-powerful, all-knowing or present everywhere. This seems to have been a voluntary limitation because the nature of deity, even intertwined with humanity, is to be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. To lack those traits would mean that deity was no longer deity. However, a voluntary non-use of those divine attributes is a reasonable solution to the question; all the more so, as Jesus was the second Adam, born to face and overcome the temptations that the first did not.

By so doing, by being fully dependent upon and faithful to God up to and including death (His decision in the Garden of Gethsemane), Jesus became – in his human nature – perfect. He was born without original sin, and so was perfect or at least innocent. Every time he had to make a choice he made the righteous one; and so both remained and became as righteous as it is possible to be. In so being, He was able to be a sacrifice for us.

As an analogy for this idea, imagine a balloon being filled with air. The balloon is able to hold a certain amount of air [its potential capacity], which is, let’s say, ten breaths: when air is blown into it, the balloon gets bigger. After two breaths, it actually holds more air than after one breath, and it can potentially hold eight more. When the balloon holds ten breaths of air, it’s as inflated as it can be.

Let’s say that the size of the balloon represents the times of testing in life – every time a person is tested, they are stretched. We’ll say that the air blown into the balloon is the test itself. If the person passes the test, they retain the air: they are righteous. But if they fail, the air escapes; they have sinned. So a person could succeed or fail at every test. At the end of their lives, their balloon is fully stretched, but they might be full of air (perfectly righteous), completely empty (completely sinful [1]), or anywhere in between.

Let’s move a step closer to reality. Adam was created innocent: he was righteous only as far as he hadn’t done anything wrong. But when he faced temptation he could have done what was righteous – his balloon would have been filled with air and expanded. He would have passed his first test and been as righteous as he was able to be (up to that time). What actually happened was that he was tested – his balloon expanded – but he failed – his balloon didn’t hold the air. Here the comparison fails: balloons without air shrink back to their original size but when Adam’s potential for righteousness (the size of the balloon) was tested, it expanded and remained that size; showing the righteousness he could have attained [2].

On the other hand, when Jesus was tested his balloon expanded and held every breath. So in this way he both remained and became righteous: every time His balloon was expanded, it held the full amount of breath blown into it – he remained righteous – until His balloon was expanded to its limit – he reached the full extent of his righteousness potential.

[1] This means more than just having sin affect every part of a person (which is the Calvinist concept of ‘total depravity’). If a person fails every test so that there is no air at all in their balloon, they are comprehensively empty/ sinful. Satan is such a one.

[2] Original sin can be thought of as a pin-prick in our balloons that means the air always escapes. Anyway, as we are talking about Jesus and Adam, they were both untainted by the original sin that every other member of the human family has.