Bible Reading: 1 John 3:6-10
Is John teaching in these verses that sinlessness is the sure sign of salvation? Are the true saints of God distinguished by living lives of sinless perfection? If this is what John is teaching here, then, he is contradicting what he previously taught in chapter one. Remember, in chapter one, John taught that anyone claiming to “have no sin” was deceiving himself, void of the truth, denying God’s Word, and even accusing God of being “a liar” (1:8, 10). Obviously, John is not contradicting himself; he is not contradicting here in chapter 3 what he taught back in chapter 1.
The Bible teaches that all men are sinners (Romans 3:23). We all sin, Christians and non-Christians alike. Christians can even have besetting sins, sins that continuously trip us in our Christian walk (Hebrews 12:1). Furthermore, a Christian can even commit an atrocious sin. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 5:1, Paul speaks of a Christian in Corinth who was sleeping with his own stepmother.
Far from teaching in this important passage that Christians do not commit sin, John is simply teaching here that Christians cannot continue in sin. Whereas the non-Christian can commit sin without a struggle and continue in sin without contrition, the Christian cannot. Instead, the Christian must struggle against the inward resistance of the indwelling Holy Spirit to commit sin, as well as suffer the continuous conviction of the Holy Spirit if he or she continues in sin. It is this struggle to commit sin and contrition afterward, caused by God’s “seed,” Jesus Christ living in us in the person of the Holy Spirit, that makes it intolerable for the true Christian to continue in sin. Whereas the true Christian can pull off the perpetration of a sin, he or she, thanks to the indwelling Holy Spirit, will find the practice of sin unendurable.