Home Ask the pastor Being in Christ and not sinning

Being in Christ and not sinning


QUESTION: What does John mean by “One born of God does not sin” (1John 3:9)? Peter.

RESPONSE: Thank you for this important question, brother Peter. To understand the context, we need to read the entire passage:

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is.

“And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

“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. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (1 John 3:1-10).

This passage has influenced various belief systems and teachings that emphasize sinless perfection. In defense of the teaching, 1John 5:18 is also referenced.

However, the challenge is: In the same book, John also warns: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

More so, 1John 1:9 reminds Christians that “we” should confess our sins. So, if John establishes the fact that Christians sin in chapter 1, how can he later say that Christians do not sin?

Shadrack Amai believes God is his redeemer. (Photos/Courtesy)

Christians shouldn’t Sin
Christianity is a movement of values, not vices. Being saved by grace through faith alone is not a license to sin. Christians should try as much as they can and pray as much as they can too, to avoid sinning.

God hates sin and sinning. Jesus’ death on the Cross demonstrates that God would rather die than compromise His standards of righteousness.

We are called to live holy lives. To live a holy life means to set ourselves as Christians aside, and away from the wickedness and apostasy of this world.

We are called to maintain victory over sin, the flesh and the world (1 John 2:15, 16). To that end, we must abide in Christ (John 15:4-6) and in prayer to obtain grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

We also ought to be diligent to add the fruits of the Spirit to our lives (2 Peter 1:4-10), humble ourselves before God (1 Peter 5:5), reading the Word of God (Romans 10:17), hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6), and be led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14).

This, however, has nothing to do with us being sinless.

Sinless life is a heresy
The teaching of sinless perfection holds that it is possible for Christians to completely defeat sin in the present life and to live holy lives as Jesus did.

At a glance, it makes a lot of sense. Jesus came to save us from sin. He died for our sins on the Cross and He sent the Holy Spirit to empower His people to overcome sin and to live obedient, righteous lives in the present (Titus 2:11-14).

While it is true that Jesus delivered us from the power of sin, we are still infallible bodies vulnerable to both temptation and falling.

So, once in a while, a Christian will fall into temptation and sin. No prophet, no disciple or even an apostle ever claimed sinlessness.

Apostle Paul addressed himself as the chief of sinners (1Timothy 1:15).

Johannine argument
The argument that John fronts is on the issue of the two natures; the carnal and the divine nature. In 1John 3:1-3, Christians are children of God, not by nature, but by calling and they are imperfect. These cannot claim to be sinless for they have to constantly purify themselves (verse three).

From verses four to eight, John discusses the sin and sinning of lawlessness that Christians are saved from.

Note that human sinners are not lawless sinners; for every sin they commit is against existing laws. Verses 9-10 discuss divine nature and emphasise that only those with divine nature cannot sin.

Under this, only Jesus of Nazareth qualifies; for Him alone was a God-man whose human nature was tempted, but never sinned.

He was naturally born by God, not just adopted (called) as we Christians are. That is what John means by one born by God does not sin.

Answered by Pr Isaiah White,


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here