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We know that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was highly favored, as detailed in Luke 1:28, and she received God’s grace. The term “highly favored” comes from one Greek word that means “much grace.” Grace is an unmerited favor, a blessing we receive despite the fact that we don’t deserve it. Mary needed God’s grace and a Savior like the rest of us do. She herself understood this, as she declared that her spirit rejoices in God, her Savior, in Luke 1:47. By God’s grace, the Virgin Mary recognized she needed the Savior. The Bible doesn’t say that Mary was anyone but a regular human whom God chose to use extraordinarily.

Simultaneously, Mary was a sinful human who needed Christ as her Savior, as we all do. The Virgin Mary didn’t have an “immaculate conception,” and the Bible doesn’t suggest that the birth was anything but a standard human birth. She was a virgin when she gave birth to Christ, but she wasn’t a virgin permanently. The concept of the perpetual virginity of Mary is unbiblical. In Matthew 1:25, we read that Joseph didn’t have a union with Mary until she gave birth to Christ. The word “until” indicates that Mary and Joseph didn’t have sexual relations after Jesus was born, and Mary stayed a virgin until Jesus’ birth, but later, Joseph and Mary had several other children together. Jesus had four brothers: Joseph, James, Judas, and Simon, as we read in Matthew 13:55.

Jesus also had half-sisters, although they’re not numbered or named. God graced and blessed Mary by giving her several children, which was accepted as the clearest indication of God’s blessing on a woman in that culture. One time, when Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd said the womb that bore Him was blessed, as were the breasts that nursed Him. There wasn’t a better chance for Jesus to proclaim that Mary was worthy of adoration and praise. How did Jesus respond? He said that those who hear the word of God and observe it are blessed. According to Him, obeying God’s Word was more important than being the woman who gave birth to Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus or anyone direct any glory, praise, or adoration toward Mary. In Luke 1:42-44, Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, praised her, but it was based on the blessing of giving birth to the Savior.

It’s not based on any natural glory in Mary. In fact, Mary spoke a song of praise to God after this, admiring His mindfulness to those of humble state and His faithfulness and mercy, as detailed in Luke 1:46-55. Many think that Mary was one of Luke’s sources when he wrote his gospel and Luke accounts the angel Gabriel visiting Mary and telling her she would birth the Savior. Mary didn’t know how that would happen since she was a virgin. When Gabriel told her the Holy Spirit would conceive the child, she answered, saying she was the Lord’s servant. She responded with belief and a willingness to follow God’s plan.

Was Mary sinless?

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a blessed and godly woman, but she wasn’t without sin. Jesus was the only person without sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we read that Jesus had no sin, but the same couldn’t be said for Mary or anyone else. Christ is fully human, but He’s also fully God, as we read in John 1:1. He’s the Lamb of God without defect or blemish, a title and description that no one else can claim. As an ordinary person, ordinarily born into the world, Mary wasn’t without sin. Romans 3:23 says that all have fallen short of God’s glory and sinned, and there’s nothing in the Bible that suggests that Mary was an exception to the rule. The apostle John said that if we say we’re without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth isn’t in us. If we confess our sins, He’s faithful and will forgive our sins, as detailed in 1 John 1:8-10.

In that passage, the “we” includes Mary, the mother of Jesus. To say Mary is without sin is an example of “deceit.” To help reinforce their teaching that Mary was sinless, the Roman Catholic Church invented the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, formally recognized as Catholic doctrine in 1854. According to this teaching, from her very conception in her mother’s womb, Mary was preserved from all stains of the original sin, which means Mary had no sinful nature. This doctrine is neither necessary nor biblical. The virgin-born Christ was free from the stains of the original sin, but His mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother didn’t need to be. How far back would we have to go to ensure Jesus’ perfection if it was necessary for Mary to be sinless?

Instead of teaching that Mary was sinless, the Bible provides evidence that she was a regular person with a normal person’s need for salvation. In Mary’s humble, praise-filled prayer in Luke 1, she says that her spirit rejoiced in God. If she were sinless, she wouldn’t have needed a Savior. In John 2:4, Mary receives a gentle rebuke from Jesus, which hardly seems right if she were sinless. Catholicism also says that the reference to Mary being highly favored and one whose verse makes such a claim. It’s possible to know God’s favor and be blessed without being sinless. Catholic teaching also says Mary is “full of grace,” but that phrase is only found twice in the Bible.

Neither time is it in reference to Mary. In John 1:14, Jesus is said to be “full of grace,” and so is Stephen, as detailed in Acts 6:8. The respect of Mary in Catholicism and other religious systems has led to the claim that Mary was sinless. Other biblical doctrines have also cropped around the perspective of a sinless Mary. The idea that Mary was a lasting virgin, that she hears and answers our prayers, shares in our redemption, and that she’s a mediator of grace, to name a few. Those who praise a sinless Mary are being led astray from pure and sincere devotion to Christ.

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