Thursday, April 12, 2018

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, . . . and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9 NKJV, My Emphasis, RH).

What does that mean?  Aren’t we all sinners (Romans 3:10, 23; 1 John 1:8)?

First Interpretation

1 John 3:9 teaches that a Christian does not and cannot sin since he has been added to the saved.  He is “born of God.”  He never believes anything, does anything, thinks anything, or hints at doing anything that is offensive to God.  He lives a life without sin.  He never has a need to repent nor ask for forgiveness.  Why?  He is “born of God.”  The spirit or inner man does not sin (Romans 7:22).  It is the flesh that is guilty of committing the sin.  1 John 3:9 points out that the inner man can never sin because he is “born of God.”  God will endow him with His Spirit to keep his inner man in the body of the saved.

Second Interpretation

1 John 3:9 teaches that an individual may do all the right things to be recognized as a Christian.  He is present at every assembly.  He gives his tithe each week and adds a sizeable offering above and beyond that amount.  He engages in multiple good works.  He teaches one of the best Bible classes in the congregation and has the highest attendance of any.  He is a faithful husband and a great dad to his children.  He never loses his temper nor utters a profane word.  But, if he sins it proves he was never “born of God”!  He is not one of God’s elect.  Since he is not one of God’s elect, his sins prove he is not nor has he ever been “born of God”!  He remains in his sins!  Only the elect ones are added to the saved.  Only the elect ones have their sins erased.  The non-elect cannot be saved because they have not been chosen to receive that blessing.

Third Interpretation

1 John 3:9 teaches that a person may wonder how God can love him since he is not perfect.  He believes Jesus’ blood cleansed him of all his past sins, right up to the point that God added him to the saved.  Since then, the cleansing power of Jesus blood is only for those getting into his saved body of people.  When he sins, he loses his “saved” designation and is saddled with a “lost” epitaph.  He is no longer in the body of Christ.  He remains “lost” until he recognizes his need to repent, pray, and ask for forgiveness.  Once his “Amen” closes that prayer, God reinstates him with the “saved” designation and he is again a part of the “born of God.”  His problem is that he must not break any of the hundreds of known and unknown rules to remain in the body of Christ.  A tenth of a mile over the speed limit and the pearly gates are locked!  Any impure thought merits the boot!  Take a paper clip home from work that doesn’t belong to you and Bingo, lost again!  One minute late for Bible class, whoops!  Went to sleep before finishing his prayer.  Not valid!  He goes through life resigning himself to hell, but desperately hoping for heaven.  He wonders how he could be “born of God” because he is never free from sinning?  Perfection is his impossible goal.  If he comes up short, he hopes God will fill whatever gap remains.  That is his unstable hope!  His obedience becomes his payment to assist Jesus’ blood in purchasing his eternal salvation!  Perfection = “being born of God”!  His frequent new births get him back in, but there are no guarantees of permanence!  He prays for a prayer to fill his lips when death happens!

Fourth Interpretation

This group understands that John’s audience came out of idolatry.  John tells them that one will not continue in that lifestyle since he is “born of God.”  John is not preaching perfection (1 John 1:7-10).   Jesus is God’s perfect sin sacrifice!  Jesus paid it all!  All to him I owe!  We are to be like Jesus, but we will never be Jesus.  Christians sin.  Yet, our sins are covered by God’s grace and continually removed by Jesus’ blood.  God has added us to the saved.  The saved are the body of Jesus.  Since Jesus has no sins and one is added to his sinless body, our sins are removed by his blood.  God’s grace provides it!  Paul reiterates it in Romans 8:1 with “no condemnation.”  That’s why, being “in Christ” is good news!  We are dead to sin.  We are dead to that state of death (Romans 7:24-25-6:1-2).  Since we are a new creation and have received the righteousness of God, our reward is the divine life found in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; Romans 6:23)!  We are not in that number that draws back unto perdition, but those who believe to the saving of the soul (Hebrew 10:38-39).  You can put your trust in Jesus and shout with Paul, “Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)!  “Cannot sin” is a state one remains in due to God’s grace continually cleansing our sins!  1 John 3:9 expresses that cleansing.

There may be other interpretations, but perhaps they will fit into one of the above.  A dying man once told me, “My faith is a good one to live by, but a poor one to die by.”  What about your faith?  Is it built on the bold assurance that produces an excitable joy because you are sure of your salvation?  It’s all according to one’s understanding of 1 John 3:9!