We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not — 1Jn 5:18
Faults, lacks in social deportment that may be offensive, and mistakes in opinion, judgment, and actions are not sins – unless they include a voluntary act of disobedience against a known commandment of God (1Joh 3:4; 5:17).
What may be sin for one person may not be sin for another due to difference in light and understanding of what God requires (Rom 14:22,23; Joh 9:41; Jam 4:17; Rom 3:20; 5:13). The position that mistakes are sin and therefore all believers are sinners will tend to lead people to the conclusion that willful acts of disobedience are compatible with salvation.
As the scriptures are very clear that whoever is born of God doesn’t sin (1John 2:3,4; 5:18). The view that Christians sin is not only unscriptural but harmful as it will weaken the believer’s resolve to resist all willful acts of disobedience.
Wesley held and taught the position that sin was “an actual, voluntary transgression of the law; of the revealed, written law of God” (The Great Privilege of Those That Are Born of God section II.2) and that “even babes in Christ are so far perfect as not to commit sin” (Plain Account of Christian Perfection section 12.2).
The early Methodist leaders taught that under the new covenant sin is rated by light and understanding and where they is no law there is no sin. Further they taught that faults, errors, and mistakes in opinion and action were not sins as the will and temptation were not involved and they were compatible with love, and love is the fulfilling of the law.
The danger of the position that most Christians takes is that they mixes faults, errors, and mistakes in opinion with acts of willful sins calling both sin, thereby causing the Christian to profess to be a sinner, to daily confess his sins, and bow to the concept that he can’t live with out sin as we all know we will commit faults, errors, and mistakes in opinion and action.
This naming convention is faulty for the following reasons. 1) it is unbiblical as the new covenant scriptures clearly state that Christians don’t sin and whoever sins is not a Christian; 2) it uses the same name (sin) for two completely different acts, one that a Christian will do regularly (faults, errors and mistakes) and the other that they are completely saved from (willful sins); and 3) if faults and willful sins are both call sins and it is allowed that sins are consistent with the Christian experience many will not confine the sins they allow to faults.
While some many be able to operate under this system and keep involuntary transgressions (faults, errors, mistakes in opinion and action) separated from voluntary transgressions (what is called sin in under the new covenant) I have yet to hear or see anyone do it. They profess to be a sinner, and confess that they commit sin and nothing or little is said about what kind of sins.
Here is how John Wesley deals with this subject.
“(5.) The best of men still need Christ in his priestly office, to atone for their omissions, their short-comings, (as some not improperly speak,) their mistakes in judgment and practice, and their defects of various kinds. For these are all deviations from the perfect law, and consequently need an atonement. Yet that they are not properly sins, we apprehend may appear from the words of St. Paul, `He that loveth, hath fulfilled the law; for love is the fulfilling of the law.’ (Rom. 13:10.) Now, mistakes, and whatever infirmities necessarily flow from the corruptible state of the body, are noway contrary to love; nor therefore, in the Scripture sense, sin.
To explain myself a little farther on this head: (1.) Not only sin, properly so called, (that is, a voluntary transgression of a known law,) but sin, improperly so called, (that is, an involuntary transgression of a divine law, known or unknown,) needs the atoning blood. (2.) I believe there is no such perfection in this life as excludes these involuntary transgressions which I apprehend to be naturally consequent on the ignorance and mistakes inseparable from mortality. (3.) Therefore sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself. (4.) I believe, a person filled with the love of God is still liable to these involuntary transgressions. (5.) Such transgressions you may call sins, if you please: I do not, for the reasons above-mentioned.
Q. What advice would you give to those that do, and those that do not, call them so?
A. Let those that do not call them sins, never think that themselves or any other persons are in such a state as that they can stand before infinite justice without a Mediator. This must argue either the deepest ignorance, or the highest arrogance and presumption.
Let those who do call them so, beware how they confound these defects with sins, properly so called. But how will they avoid it? How will these be distinguished from those, if they are all promiscuously called sins? I am much afraid, if we should allow any sins to be consistent with perfection, few would confine the idea to those defects concerning which only the assertion could be true.”