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1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. Together with 1 John 3:6, Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him, are difficult to understand.

These verses must be examined with the entirety of John’s first epistle. For example, 1 John 1:8 and 10, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” and “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” John is clearly teaching that the Christian sins. Understanding that John clearly is not teaching sinlessness on the part of the Christian, then we must surmise that John’s intent is easily definable within the text.

John’s intended audience are Christians, “Whosoever is born of God”, and not to a select few “super Christians.” Therefore, his writing affects the entire body of believers in Christ. John’s point is “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” It is important to know that John is declaring the total absence of all sin, and not just the continuing, practice or keeping on of sin. Some Bible translations translate this verse as: “no one who is born of God will continue to sin,” (NIV). While others will use, “makes a practice of sinning” (ESV, NASB). However, this is not the original Greek. Since God is the source of the Christian birth and he is completely holy and perfect, he cannot “beget” a partially perfect child. “Like-begets-like.”

For the apostle John, the idea that a Christian will continually or habitually practice sin goes against everything that John intends. John clearly defines that man is sinful, and that no sin is allowed in the Christian in order to have fellowship with God.

For John, the believer is in a constant state of struggle with the old man, which is an enemy of God, and the new man which is a born-again believer. The war is between the “inner man which is a believer’s new nature, and the old man whose nature is a sinful nature of Adam. The “inward man” tries to serve the law of God, but the outward man serves his flesh.

We can never be free of this nature, however, the inner man, being the image of a perfect God, is regenerated and does not commit sin. (Romans 7:20-25; Galatians 2:20). The “old man” sins, however the “new man” does not and cannot sin, according to John.

Caution; John does not intend to present the Christian as being able to become sinless perfection in the outward man. Sin does exist in the believer’s life, but it is foreign and extraneous to the inward regenerated man where Christ dwells in perfect holiness.  

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