“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him…. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” [1 John 3: 6 & 9].
These two verses underscore that habitual and on-going sin is incompatible with a claim of salvation. When John saw Jesus coming to him he cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29]. John perceived Jesus as a ‘sin-bearer’ not as a sin license.
It must be understood that John is not claiming that once we accept Christ it becomes impossible for us to sin. So long as we live in our human bodies and in a sinful world, the potential to sin will exist for us. But what John is declaring is as born-again Christians, we have the possibility not to sin.
It is John’s conviction that a Christian who continues in his sin has two fatal flaws: a) He does not understand the nature of God as being holy. God judged our sins when he laid them upon His sinless Son on Calvary’s cross. Sin is repugnant to God so that as Christ bore our sins, the Father turned his face away. This is why John declares that a ‘sinning’ Christian has not seen God.
b) Secondly, a sinning Christian doesn’t understand the nature or the power of sin. Sin is a downward drag upon the soul and mind of the person. And the more we continue to sin, the stronger will be its downward pull. That’s why John and Jesus preached repentance as the primary requisite to salvation. They understood the need for a decisive, determinate action that was powerful enough to reverse the direction of the sinner’s life. We will never be through with our sins until we come to the point of loathing and detesting it the way God does.
But one does not have to live under the bondage of sin. Charles Wesley saw clearly the provision of Calvary when he wrote: “He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean; His blood availed for me.” [ “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, UM Hymnal p. 57]
—written by Rev. Ivan L. Schwenn, 10/2019—