1 John 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
Recently, a link provided here at RIHG drew a little public attention… and a little more behind-the scenes response. It was in reference to a certain take on these verses (above). This passage is often disputed among Christians and a multitude of explanations have been given for them. Here’s a look at a few of the more common.
1. When a person is saved, he or she no longer commits sin. To this, I can only say, “If true, I’m in big trouble.”
2. By working with verb tenses, the text is teaching that a saved person will no longer live a lifestyle that is defined by sin (habitual sin).
3. The term, “he cannot sin” is meant to be heard as one would see a speeding sign telling drivers “you cannot exceed 55 mph,” but if you press the accelerator pedal hard enough, what you cannot do legally, you can do illegally.
4. In a similar way as described by the previous link, those who are “in Christ” are a new creation. The new creation is without sin (cannot sin), but it still resides in “a body of death,” that is still prone to succumb to the desires of the “old man.”
There are of course other explanations and variations of these. I think that what I gather from these verses more so than my being able to argue for one stance or another, is the fact that sin is grievous to my God. Therefore, it should be to me also.
Last night, my Pastor made an excellent point. Do I truly pray with the Psalmist, “Search me Lord and reveal the sin in my heart (139:23-24)?” It’s one thing to apologize for that sharp remark I made to my wife (sorry, honey). It’s a whole new ball field when I start pleading with God to show me the pride hidden within me that caused me to bring pain to the one I love.
At face value, these verses make some things clear… outside of “abiding in Christ,” there is no hope of overcoming the sin that so easily besets me, and growing in Christ should produce a passionate hatred for what is displeasing to the Father. What I practice defines whose child I am.
- Does God draw a line between man and sin? (ptl2010.com)
- If Christ made me perfect, how come I continue to sin? (mtsweat.com)
- Our Righteousness in Christ (missiontopapua.wordpress.com)
- Believer’s Death to Sin in Practice (loopyloo305.com)