Jul 1 2012
Question: It seems like more and more churches and commentators use Philippians 2:7 to support the “Doctrine of Kenosis,” the idea that Christ “emptied Himself” of His divine abilities and became just a man. This doctrine appears to violate 1,600 years of Biblical Christianity. Am I mistaken?
Response: The problem is that people are taking the biblical account far past what it is meant to say. It is true that Jesus humbled Himself, or literally “emptied himself” (“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”–Phil:2:7).
That doesn’t mean that He “couldn’t” act as God, for He was and is God. It means that during His earthly sojourn He “wouldn’t” act contrary to humanity but relied fully upon His Father. John:5:30 tells us, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” His “emptying himself” was a determined, voluntary submission, not a “divestment” in that He temporarily ceased to be God.
So many teachers, as you point out, are using the humanity of Christ (and He was fully human, and also fully God) to postulate the idea that in our humanity we can be “godlike.” That is the heretical teaching of the word faith/Latter Rain/etc. movements and is simply unbiblical. It produces teachers such as Kenneth Copeland, who tell us that we are “little gods.”
Once again, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tm 3:16).