1 John 3:7-9, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 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.”
Throughout his Epistle, the Apostle John continues in his writing to infer the differences between true disciples of Jesus Christ and the sect known as the Gnostics; mainly because their teaching was so prevalent during his time. Here again, John is making an inference, when he again warns the readers to “let no one deceive you.” The Gnostics were so prideful in their supposed knowledge of the spiritual and yet were extremely careless about their practical and personal lives. The beloved Apostle again uses the familial expression of endearment, “Little children,” to get their attention. This shows his extreme concern for the readers as well as the severity of his warning, “DO NOT BE DECEIVED!”
Again, the Apostle reiterates a point that he has made clear previously. There should be no confusion in the readers mind as to that point; a person who PRACTICES righteousness is righteous, just as Christ Jesus IS righteous. Again, going back to what we have taught in the past; Jesus does not have to become or practice righteousness for He already IS righteous. His nature is one of righteousness. The follower of Christ on the other hand has to PRACTICE at being righteous. Practice does not, nor will it ever denote that we have arrived, but rather as the Apostle Paul likes to state, “we pursue, we strive, we move forward to that which we wish to attain!” We don’t look backward at past mistakes, failures of for that matter successes, but rather are constantly looking forward towards the goal which we wish to attain! (Philippians 3:13-14).
John is telling us very pointedly that a man cannot be spiritual and continue on in a lifestyle of habitual sinning and yet on the other hand, we can only be spiritual and practice righteousness because Christ Jesus IS righteous already and He is our only true example. In this is a reference to that spiritual rebirth; we aren’t naturally born into spiritual righteousness, for our nature IS to sin, and to sin as a natural way of life. To be reborn, is to be “birthed” into the new spiritual nature, to become as the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
So it is that which John is reiterating; since we ARE in Christ now, we are no longer known according to the natural order of things, but rather have been reborn to become something of a totally new SPIRITUAL nature, one which is now ABLE to practice righteousness. Now I want to clarify something; even though man can be reborn as a child of God, man is NOT initially born as a child of the devil; there is no connection that way, but rather it is natural, human nature to sin. Children do not have to LEARN to sin; they have to be taught or discipled (disciplined) to be taught how to be “good.” This is where the world strays so far from the truth of human nature. You let a child go undisciplined and have his own way, he WILL grow to feel entitled and will do whatever to get his way. We see too much of this in society today. This is why the truth found in Proverbs is so important; “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6.
So John is showing the chasm that divides those who PRACTICE the unrighteousness of the devil and those who PRACTICE the righteousness of God. It is obvious, it is noticeable, and you cannot deny the different lifestyles; one is of sin, imitating the behavior of the devil, and one is of righteousness, walking in the light of the new creation in Christ a person has become. It is totally recognizable what branch of the family tree a person belongs! The devil has been sinning continuously and habitually from the very beginning. It is his nature, his characteristic behavioral pattern of living. Those who live accordingly do so in a very broad sense. Jesus Himself stated this as recorded in Matthew 7:13, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”
This is the very reason why Jesus came to earth in the flesh, why He was shown (manifested) to be Who He is, the Son of God, so that He would destroy or annul, put to no effect, the works of the devil. Think about this for a bit; Jesus could have destroyed the devil with a word; He has that power. Yet, He came to teach the truth, suffer, bleed and even die to destroy the WORKS of the devil, to make them to no effect! If the devil did not still tempt men to sin in this world, what would have been the reason for Christ Jesus’ mission to offer salvation and redemption as a CHOICE to mankind? God is NOT willing to take away man’s ability to choose God and to love Him for Who He is, mankind’s Heavenly Father and Creator. He still desires a people who will love Him for WHO He is and not for what He can give them. The temptations of the enemy gives man the choice to choose; what he wants selfishly and willfully, or what God wants unconditionally! The choice is and always has been ours. That is the ONLY way our Heavenly Father will know who loves Him for Himself as compared to what a person can get selfishly from Him.
So I want to put forth this thought; if our Lord Jesus Christ came to let us in on the truth of the Kingdom of God, and He came to suffer, bleed and die (and yes, to rise again), and He did that so that we might have a life, eternal life, more abundantly (John 10:10), than how much more incentive do we NEED to follow His example, empowered by the promised Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to leave a more holy and righteous life? After all, He is NOT asking us to do something within our own weaknesses, but rather is equipping us with His Spirit to be able to accomplish it; the Apostle Paul stated it best, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20.
So then, the dear Apostle goes on to say, “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.” WOW! Okay, it IS an awesome statement but the reason I say that is because WHOLE doctrines have been conceived on this thought alone! Taken literally, just as it is with no context, a person born of God doesn’t sin anymore and in fact they CANNOT sin because they have been reborn! I can now rest on the fact that as a child of God, I do NOT have the ability to sin anymore! A miracle, magic in fact, since now I am a NEW creation, a new creature. My human nature has been expunged, it is no longer in control of me, my actions, my senses, my thoughts, etc., etc.!
I’m telling you right up front, there is and has been a lot of controversy over this verse and yet, if you allow the Holy Spirit to open your heart, there is no need for that. You HAVE to take what John is writing in CONTEXT as you do with ALL of Scripture. The Scriptures do NOT contradict and yet, this would contradict the theme of his Epistle concerning the Advocate with the Father whom we DO have if we sin, etc. Again I say, emphatically, you cannot pick and choose what individual verses you want to fit your theories, no matter how spiritual they may seem. You MUST take the WHOLE counsel of God or take none of it!!
And while we’re at it, I’m sorry if this offends your tradition or even some of the great teachings of the past. No teacher of the Word is infallible, none, and that includes myself!! I want to ask something though; I want you who read this to consider something that just maybe you haven’t. In the Book of Daniel, this is written, Daniel 12:1-4, “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
This is speaking of the Last Days, the End Times and I want to point out that so often times we look at the 4th verse as speaking to technology and the advancement of sciences, but what about also, the advancement of the Word of God? We all know that as time has progressed, things that were hidden in the Word has been revealed by the Spirit. They have been there all along, but it is like the meaning has been “awakened” to modern man. Ever think that this is the reason why Peter spoke in his writings, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:19-21.
The prophecy, the prophetic word Peter is speaking of is not just the foretelling of future events, but of the knowledge of the Word of God! A New Testament prophet’s ministry is one of stating, “thus says the Word of God,” and not necessarily foretelling the future! It is revealing the truth of the Word, in ALL its depth and meaning and is not reliant upon personal belief nor tradition, but on what the Holy Spirit is revealing and that Word will NEVER contradict itself!
Anyway, with those thoughts in mind, Peter also wrote the following:
1 Peter 1:22-25, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”
With ALL the Scripture in mind and the context in which the Beloved Apostle is writing; what he is stating in verse 9, is that “whoever is spiritually reborn of God does not habitually sin or live a lifestyle of constant sinning!” Why is that? Because the new creature has the seed of the divine planted within his heart and is no longer of corruptible seed of Abraham or even Adam for that matter. The Adamic nature has been replaced with the Christ nature, an anointed divine, spiritual nature. It doesn’t however destroy the human nature, it is now up to us to use the gift we have been given, the indwelling of Christ’s Spirit, to lead us and guide us according to the Spirit’s will rather than the natural, selfish will of our human nature. We still have the ability to choose! Being reborn does NOT take away that ability, otherwise, why do you assume that Jesus Himself told us to deny ourselves daily and take up our cross to follow after Him? (See Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27).
We are now not under BONDAGE to sin with our corruptible nature though we still live in corruptible flesh, but rather we are FREE from the bondage and that means free to choose the path to walk, mainly, being led by the Spirit of God, or led by our willful nature. That is why we still need to walk IN the Spirit; it is a daily choice; crucify my will and the things I want to do in favor of the Will of Christ by His Holy Spirit. It is a daily choice and as I state earlier, Paul writes we don’t look back to yesterday, whether we failed OR succeeded, but rather we move forward day by day striving to attain the GOAL of perfection and holiness.
I want to give you a simple example and it is up to each of you to be honest concerning it. Do you who are True Christians, ever have a crude thought, or possibly have thought of revenge on something that has happened either in the world or locally? Another one; have any of you who are True born-again Christians ever told a “white lie” to protect someone’s feelings or concerning something inconsequential? All I’m going to say is, sin is sin, whether it is in thought, spoken or deed. ANY sin is abhorrent to God the Father and needs to be reconciled through our Advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus. We need to recognize it and confess it.
If we fall into temptation due to our weakness or even lack of faith, it is still sin and needs to be confessed. This does not mean that a True born-again Christian is habitually PRACTICING sinning. If you ARE, then you are not a Christian and not born-again, plain and simple. The Word of God does not lie, nor does it contradict itself. The keyword is practicing, continuing on in a willful lifestyle of selfishness in opposition to what pleases God. Because we DO have God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit within us, we CANNOT habitually sin for the Holy Spirit will not allow us to continue undisciplined. If we ARE His, He does chastise as a loving parent would a wayward child. The child is still the parents, but a loving parent will not let unruliness go without “discipling” the child in the right way or chastising and admonishing.
In closing consider what the writer of Hebrews admonishes us:
“You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:4-11.