Does John teach that Christians can’t sin?

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John wrote, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). Some claim that this verse teaches that Christians can’t sin. But the apostle, here, is not talking about an occasional sin but about a life in continual and habitual sin (1 John 3:6).

The evidence of conversion

It is true that the Christian may at times be tempted into a sin but the proof that a he has been really converted is that he doesn’t continue practicing that sin. The proof that a person is justified, born again, and delivered from death is that he now finds pleasure in obeying God’s commandments (Romans 13:8). In conversion, the heart is brought into line with God and His law. And when this great transformation occurs in the life of the sinner, he has been delivered from death to life. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

True believers reflect their heavenly Father (John 3:3–5; 1 John 3:1). They hate the sin they used to love, and love the godliness that they used to hate (Romans 6:2, 6; 7:14, 15). They do not continue practicing their old sins. For these John wrote, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Here the apostle is speaking of specific acts of sin, and not of sin as a main principle in the life. And if one slips, John affirmed, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

To live in sin is presumption

It is one thing, because of the human tendencies of the flesh, to do an occasional sin. It is quite another to live in sin. To live in sin means that sin rules over a person and dictates the way he conducts his life. Such a life is undeniably unsuited with the life of holiness (John 8:34). The faith in Christ that produces justification of the sinner demonstrates a complete willingness to do God’s will and shows sorrow for the sin that caused the Savior such great pain (Romans 3:28, 31). Therefore, the faith that claims justification but at the same time allows for a continual walking in sin is not genuine faith at all but it is presumption.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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