“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 NKJV
While this scripture would appear to be circular reasoning, and yes it is; however, the epistle from which it comes was sent to believers in the risen Jesus. Why does this make a difference? Because those who believe what was written have no need of additional information due to the fact that they have already witnessed the miracles, they saw the risen Christ, they live according to the prescribed life of God. Their celebration is on the new day of Sunday and no longer on the Sabbath (Saturday.) They have no need of further descriptions or definitions or the many proofs because they already believe.
But then the question arises…If we are born of God and we continue to sin, how then can His seed truly be in us as we continue to sin and fail Him? This is a great question, also it is one I have asked of myself many times over. As I continue to read Systematic Theology, chapter 34 “Regeneration”, which reminds us (concerning 1 John 3:9) that while we as believers who have given our lives over to Christ who now have the spiritual seed of God in our lives, we will not have a perfect life; however, we will no longer have a pattern of life which no longer continues to indulge in sin. Our life’s pattern will change, some faster than others…but it will change!
Now there are several possibilities:
- We are not truly saved and must do something else to ensure our salvation.
- We are truly saved, but our sinful nature of the flesh gets the better of us.
- We can always blame it on free will, a gift from God.
- And there are other possibilities, but would enlargen the scope of this discussion to such a point that this blog post would become a multipart series…or just a much longer post.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ~John 14:6 NKJV
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” ~Romans 10:9 NKJV
I believe the aforementioned passages pretty much handles the suggestion that we are not truly saved. IF you asked Jesus into your heart and life and sought to live accordingly, you are saved. Simple as that!
But we are also reminded by the Apostle Paul of our sinful nature:
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” ~Romans 7:15-20 NKJV
The Apostle Paul reminded us that even though we will to do something and we do not do it, our sinful nature takes hold of us. This is what was meant by God when He spoke to Cain:
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” ~Genesis 4:7 NKJV
We have an obligation to lean to “…rule over…” our sinful nature. We can only do so through the guidance and help from God. Quite often we will feel as though we are on our own and maybe we are…to a degree. Think about when you were a child, remember when you road your bicycle for the first time? It was scary and what about when your dad took off the training wheels and sent you on your way alone? It was alright when you thought your dad was there, holding and stabilizing your every move. But guess what? Dad had to let go at some point in time so you could learn and have the confidence to do things on your own! (Of course, this brings up another topic for a blog post…but that is for another time.)
So this all brings us to the point of why do we continue to sin after giving and submitting ourselves over to God? While sin is bad, sin does remind of things:
- Reminds us of where we came from
- So we remain humbled
- We can see our faults
- Knowing & understanding God’s grace
- By knowing & remembering we are sinful we are humbled – and stay such; we recognize God’s love for us, even though we do not deserve it. We are therefore unable to think too highly of ourselves. (Romans 5:8)
- Until we become doers of good (James 1:22) promoted by Jesus and His Apostles, we will remain hearers of the word/good…stuck in a loop with eternal ramifications.
This reminds me of how Matt Slick explains the assessment of who is and who is not alive:
“...Let’s say that we are on a 20-foot boat out in the ocean. We are sailing along when we notice two men in the water. There is no other boat around, so it is obvious these two men are in trouble. We take a life preserver, tie it to a rope, and throw it to them. It lands just a few feet short. We start yelling and yelling for them to grab the life preserver so we can pull them in. “Come on,” we yell. “Grab it! Grab it!” One of the men, exhausted, reaches out his arm for the life preserver but falls short. “Grab it!” we yell again. He reaches again and his arm plops down in the water from fatigue. The waves slap his face, but he tries again. The other man is simply floating face down in the water. He isn’t struggling at all. But, the first man is trying for that life preserver. He is fighting against the ocean, the wind, and the waves, all which are greater than he is. That is when I ask the person, “Which one of the two men in the water is alive?” Always, the response is, “The one reaching for the life preserver.” “Right,” I say. “He is struggling for life. Dead people don’t struggle for life…. and spiritually dead people do not struggle against their sin. Only those who are dead, who have no life in them, do not struggle. The fact that you are struggling against your sin is one very good sign that you are very much alive in Christ. If you were not struggling at all, then it might be true that you weren’t saved. But, since you war against your sins, then it sure sounds like you’re saved to me.” Usually, the eyes brighten at this point. I then keep going…” ~The Assurance of Salvation, CARM.org
We each have our way of understanding things, even the difficult things. But we can all understand these things, even the difficult ones, in a manner where we can gain the full assurance of God’s salvation. Will we ever be sinless? Yes, but not while we are here on this earth…When we die and stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ we shall be adjudicated with righteousness. It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are righteous before God because Jesus is and always has been righteous. However, in our flesh…we are wicked and sinful creatures!
May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!
MK Murphy, PhD, DD