Only God can save the world because man cannot do it by himself. God expressed His great love for us by sending His only begotten Son to die on our behalf to save us from eternal death, as St. John says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Christ is the Word of God, and “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The Apostle Paul says, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory” (1 Timothy 2:16).
Christ was born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1; Luke 1), without the seed of man, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4). This virginal birth is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy, “Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14), and that it is, as well, the fulfillment of the longings of all men for salvation. The virginal birth is understood as a necessity because the One who is born must not be merely a man like all others who need salvation, but He is the Savior of all. He is indeed a real and perfect Man, but sinless.
Nature of Christ
In Christ, all that belongs to God, i.e. Godhead or divinity, united with what belonged to man, i.e. manhood or humanity, except sin. This humanity refers to the human body, soul, and spirit. He was sinless to the extent that His enemies failed to catch even one sin against Him when He told them, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46), and St. Peter says about Him, “… Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth” (1Peter 2:22).
The Divine nature (God the Word) was united with the human nature which He took of the Virgin Mary by the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit purified and sanctified the Virgin’s womb so that the Child to whom she gave birth would inherit nothing of the original sin; the flesh formed of her blood was united with the only begotten Son. This unity took place from the first moment of the Holy Pregnancy in the Virgin’s womb. The unity between divinity and humanity is the most important declaration of the love of God for mankind, to save us. He made His humanity united His divinity without mingling, confusion, alteration or separation even for a single moment.
Objectives of Incarnation
Man fell in sin, was exiled from Paradise, condemned to eternal death, and heard the words, “Dust you are, and unto dust you return” (Genesis 3:19). Therefore, we needed someone else to renew the first creation and to preserve the new one that had come to be. Repentance alone fails to save man and to renew his human nature, for man had to suffer death as a natural fruit of his disobedience and leaving God, the source of life. Moses’ Law failed as well. Man waited for the Savior who can redeem him by fulfilling God’s justice and reconciling him with God, granting him the new life that conquers death. This Savior is Christ, the Messiah, about whom the prophets of the Old Testament foretold, the evangelists concentrated and the apostles preached. He is the incarnate Word of God, the only begotten Son of the Father, who was incarnate and became Man to redeem us by His suffering passions and His shed blood to save us from eternal death (John 3:16; Galatians 2:20). Through His redeeming act, He conquered our enemy, Satan, (Colossians 2:13-15; 1 John 3:1), conquered death and raised us up, in Him, to heaven (Ephesians 2:6).
God created man in His own image according to His likeness (Genesis 1:26, 27), according to God in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24). Since the fall of the first man, Corruption affected the human nature. The image of God was tarnished and wickedness of sin affected every person, to be increased and spread from one generation to the next. All social methods to treat wickedness such as severe punishments failed to stop it, because sin is a spiritual disease; and no one is able to restore that image again. Christ, the incarnate Word of God, came as the only true Physician to heal the body, soul, and spirit of all, revealing the fact that “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… For I did not come to call righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:12, 13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31). Being ill with incurable sin, man was not able to reach to God, but the True Physician came to heal us from our sin and to restore for us the image of God, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Human perfection means the level of perfection which we could achieve by our human capabilities, and it is not absolute because absolute perfection belongs to God alone. The Law of the Old Testament was effective to build up man and to direct him to righteousness, but man, with his corrupted nature, was not able to live in human perfection according to the Bible. Therefore Christ came to renew human nature, to be able to reach this human perfection, offering in Himself the example of human perfection. He taught us the virtuous life through His life not only by words, like all prophets and teachers. He lived among us as a perfect human proving that man is now able to reach his perfection. He left us an example to follow (1 Peter 2:21, 22). He gave us His Holy spirit to dwell in us as a Helper to guide us in our way of perfection.