“To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:5, ESV)
Many times, I have been in discussions with people about the deity of Jesus Christ. Those who deny that Jesus is fully God and fully man assert that the Scriptures do not say this directly. I beg to differ with their opinion. The deity of Jesus Christ is clearly delineated in the Scripture and it is essential for our faith.
Here Paul wraps up the point about his burden for Israel explaining how Christ came in the flesh through the nation of Israel. It was the plan of God established in eternity to use Israel to bring forth the Messiah, Jesus. Yet, Paul’s description in verse five clearly gives us a vital truth. Jesus is fully God and fully man, God the Son, the incarnate God. While a few might disagree, I believe that the ESV version has correctly punctuated the translation, “the Christ, who is God over all,” indicating the deity of our Lord. This is affirmed in many other passages in the New Testament as well. (See John 1:1, 14; Col 1:16-19, etc.)
Why is this so vital? There are many reasons that this doctrine is vital. However, let me just focus on one, impeccability. By this I am referring to sinlessness. Jesus being God born of a woman conceived by the Spirit of God, made Jesus man with divine nature and without a sin nature. Because Jesus was not a sinner, He never sinned and He is the only person ever born that could bear that distinction. Scripture states that He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, KJV 1900)
This is a vital point. You see, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, KJV 1900), meaning eternal punishment. Moreover, we “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, KJV 1900). This means that every person who has ever lived is a sinner and would have to pay the penalty of their own sin, which would be eternal punishment. Yet, the Scripture indicates that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3, KJV 1900). He died on the cross to pay the complete penalty of sin for us. If Christ was not God, He would have been an ordinary man like us and not have been sinless. In this case, He would have remained in the grave paying for His own sin eternally.
Yet, Jesus did not remain in the grave. The reason is that He is God, spotless and without sin. Therefore, only He could pay the penalty of someone else’s sin. The good news for us who believe is this. Through His death on the cross, it states that “he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV 1900) He took our sin on himself and clothed us with his righteousness. The only way this could happen was for the spotless Lamb of God to die for our sin.