The proverbial late night college dorm room question, “Could Jesus have sinned?” (the question of Jesus’ impeccability), is one that I recently came across in a section of theology written by the preeminent Orthodox theologian Bishop Kallistos Ware of Oxford, who by the way gave lectures at North Park last year. In an essay entitled “Salvation and Theosis in Orthodox Theology” Bishop Ware writes
How far was Christ subject to temptation? The testimony of Scripture is explicit: ‘in every respect as we are, only without sinning’ (Heb. 4:15). A human will and human freedom imply liability to human temptation. We are to affirm of the incarnate Christ, not that he was incapable of sinning, but that he was capable of not sinning; not non posse peccare, but posse non peccare. His sinlessness was moral, not ontological; as regards his humanity, he was sinless by virtue of his will, not of his nature. Sin was a real possibility for him as man.
I find Ware’s remarks, particularly his preference for the idea of “capable of not sinning” over “incapable of sinning”, a useful statement on the matter that well reflects the New Testament witness to Christ’s humanity.