What Does 1 John 3:9 Mean?

Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.

1 John 3:9(HCSB)

Verse Thoughts

This is a verse that is so often misunderstood, misinterpreted and even mistranslated – but when understood in its context, adds a beautiful symmetry to the truth of Scripture.

Some erroneously think that this verse means that believers have sinless perfection when they are born of the Spirit, but this is a false teaching - for if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and we do not understand the truth... for although our old sin nature was severed forever at the cross, when we are born into the family of God and given the new-life in Christ – our sinful nature remains with us, lusting against the new life in Christ, that is born from above.

Some, who certainly know that we DO still have an old sin nature, that is at enmity with our new life in Christ, incorrectly mistranslate this verse by saying that whoever is born of God does not keep on sinning or does not make a practice of sinning – but this is not being true to the grammatical structure of this verse which simply says, whosoever is born of God doth not sin.. period.

In point of fact this is simply a reference to the new life in Christ that is given to each sinner, by the Spirit of God, the moment that we believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and are born again. Our new life in Christ does not commit sin - our new life in Christ will not sin - our new life in Christ cannot sin. BUT the old sin nature - our sinful fleshly self can do nothing but sin against God.

We are made a new creation in Christ and are given a new life – the life of Christ – a life that needs to grow in grace and be conformed into the image of Jesus – a life that cannot sin. By God’s grace we are given the perfect, sinless, holy life of Jesus Christ as our very own life - which the Holy Spirit seeks to conform into the image and likeness of Jesus throughout our earthly life. It is impossible for the sinless life of Christ within a believer to sin – and so we read that - whoever is born of God does not sin; for His seed (i.e. the sinless seed of the sinless Christ) remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

When we understand this verse in its correct context, all that Paul writes in Roman 7 begins to make sense – for when he says it is no longer I myself who commits evil, but it is sin (the old sin nature) living in me, we understand why in Galatians he is also able to say,  is no longer I who live, but Christ (my new, sinless life in Christ) that lives in me. Let us live our life as unto the Lord for WHOEVER is born of God – does not sin – in their new, born-again Christ-life.

My Prayer

Loving Father, thank You for my new life in Christ, for I know that Your Holy Spirit breathed the perfect life of Christ into me when I trusted You as my saviour. I confess that too often my old sin nature causes me to sin – but thanks be to God that the power of that sinful nature has been broken in my life – I confess my sins and pray that I may live my life as unto the Lord, in Jesus name I pray, AMEN

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