Mar 10

Whosoever Is Born Of God Cannot SinWhosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. — 1 John 3:9 KJV
Whoever has been born of God does not [continuously] sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot [continuously] sin, because he has been born of God. — YLT (Modified)

The verb in 1John 3:9 “doth not commit sin” and “he cannot sin” is in the Present Active Indicative (tense/voice/mood) and can be translated either present or present continuous.

The Greek Present Tense can be either present tense of present continuous tense. Here is a quote from Croy’s Primer of Biblical Greek that deals with present tense.

2.11 The Present Active Indicative

“Finally, you need to recognize that the Greek present tense is actually simpler than the English present. In English, there is a strong distinction between the present tense (I walk) and the present continuous (I am walking).

In Greek, there is no such distinction. As a result, every single time you translate a Greek present tense verb, you must CHOOSE between the two English possibilities: present and present continuous. This is just one of those basic, pervasive differences between Greek and English that makes translation such a difficult art!

Every single time you translate a Greek present tense verb into English, you are making a choice – and that requires some thought on your part! There is no such thing as automatic translation when it comes to Greek and English.

You are going to be making stylistic choices every single time that you translate from Greek into English, and vice versa.”

The two components of the tense of a verb are Time and Aspect.

“Time may be either past, present or future, and tends to be the most important part of a verb’s tense in English

Aspect refers to the how the action unfolds, and tends to be the most important part of a verb in Koine Greek. Aspect may be either Undefined, Continuous, or Resultative.”

There are a number of ways different Bible Teachers deal with 1 John 3:9 and the question concerning can a born again Christan commit sin.

The Two Natures View:

The teaching that is most common is the Christian has Two Natures. The Old Nature and the New Nature. The Old Nature continues to sin from time to time or as Question 83 in the Westminster Shorter Catechism would say “No mere man, since the fall, is able, in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them, in thought, word, and deed”.

This is the teaching that will be found in most liberal Christian denomination. They hold Romans chapter seven experience of “the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Rom 7:19) to be the normal Christian standard.

Intermittent Sinning View:

Another view that is very common is that a Christian doesn’t continuously sin but intermittently commit sins. The Christian doesn’t walk in a life style of sinning but from time to time they sin.

Typically these that hold this view have a broad definition of sin that takes in faults, errors, any kind of carnality, and unwillful omitted commandments.

You will find this teaching in many plain clothes congregations like Charity, in some of the more liberal holiness denominations, or in some of the more conservative Pentecostal denominations.

The Wesleyan Christian Perfection View:

John Wesley taught in Plain Account of Christian Perfection that “even babes in Christ are so far perfect as not to commit sin” (PA Section 12).

Wesley’s position was based on a narrow definition of sin. He held that sin was “a voluntary transgression of a known law” and that “involuntary transgressions… you may call sins, if you please: I do not” (PA Section 19).

He considered “omissions, their short-comings, (as some not improperly speak,) their mistakes in judgment and practice, and their defects of various kinds… 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” (PA Section 19).

In Wesley’s Sermon 19 on The Great Privilege of Those that Are Born of God he provides his position concerning “whosoever is born of God” and “in what sense he doth not commit sin.”

He held that “one who is so born of God, as hath been above described, who continually receives into his soul the breath of life from God, the gracious influence of his Spirit, and continually renders it back; one who thus believes and loves, who by faith perceives the continual actings of God upon his spirit, and by a kind of spiritual re-action returns the grace he receives, in unceasing love, and praise, and prayer; not only doth not commit sin, while he thus keepeth himself, but so long as this seed remaineth in him, he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Wesley’s position was that after “evil desire begins and spreads in his soul, till faith and love vanish away: He is then capable of committing outward sin, the power of the Lord being departed from him.” But if “he who is born of God, keeping himself, doth not, cannot commit sin; and yet, if he keepeth not himself, he may commit all manner of sin with greediness.”

While I would agree with much that Wesley teaches his position on 1John 3:9 seems to be that a Christian can’t sin outwardly until he gives into temptation inwardly and sins inwardly and then he can sin outwardly.

Further Thoughts on 1Joh 3:9:

If we admit a Christian can sin (1John 2:1), I feel we have no choice with 1John 3:9 but to translate both verbs in the present continuous tense otherwise we would cause the scriptures to contradict its self. “He cannot sin” in the literal sense can’t not be true as we know from the scriptures (1 Joh 2:1) that Christians can fall into sin.

We must reject the liberal two nature teaching and Wesley’s explanation of “cannot sin” being that Christians can not sin outwardly until they sin inwardly doesn’t seem to be in context nor does it make sense to me.

It appears that what this scripture is tell us is that a person that has been born again does not and in fact cannot continuously commit sin because he has the seed of God in him. Those who are continuously sinning simply are not born again.

Some would hold they never have been born again, I hold that the scriptures teach that those who have been born again and are continuously sinning have foriefted their standing with God just like the widows that cast off their first faith and have damnation (1Tim 5:12).

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8 Responses to “Whosoever Is Born Of God Cannot Sin?”

  1. 1. Paul Says:

    Interesting article, I agree with your further thoughts.

    James 1:14-15
    But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

    James 4:17
    Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

    1 John 5:17
    All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

    I think James 1:14-15 describes sin unto death as Premeditated willful disobedience.

    Some thoughts.

  2. 2. Anne Stocks Says:

    Hi Bob, my focus is still on Sinless Perfection, I feel it is very important that we understand this Truth, thank you for your sharing in this regard. I’m looking forward to reading some of your other Topics, I enjoyed the Poetry and would have liked to share one of mine, but I’m not sure how to add it or even if you can. Have a good Day.

    Sinless Perfection

    1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    The accepted Greek Translation for Not in this verse means Absolutely Negative or Never, if it was anything else it would contradict other Scriptures such as 1 John 2:4-5 and others some of which I have included below this is why we must look at the whole picture not just pieces of it .

    1John 2:4-6 He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in Him verily is the Love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.

    If we are to walk as Jesus walked… He walked without sinning and when we are Born again of God’s seed we have the mind of Christ and He dose not choose to sin.

    We are to obey what God asks us to do in regards to our evil flesh Nature and that is to put it to death by the Holy Spirit because it is this that causes us to sin and pollutes our spirit, so when it is put to death we will no longer sin because we are then Born again of God’s seed and the old Nature is gone and the New Nature has come we are a New Creature or Creation in Christ Jesus.

    1 John 3:6-8 Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.

    2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

    Galatians 5:23-24 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

    Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

    1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

    2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a New creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

    We do not sin so we will be saved… but because we are saved we do not sin.

    Thanking you for your time - Christian Love Anne

  3. 3. Anne Stocks Says:

    Hi Bob, I needed to add on my last post that there is a difference from falling into sin and falling away, the first can be forgiven if repented of, the last because Salvation was not established and Jesus Christ the Rock was rejected showing a hardness of heart, this then means repentance was not of the heart, but both falling into sin and falling away are only possible before being Born again of God’s seed because after we have been then we are adopted and sealed and God cannot forsake Himself and when Born again we cannot reject Him because He is part of us and because He is part of us, we also do not and can not sin.

    For confirmation on the Greek word… Not… please check Strong’s Concordance, this has been found to be the most reliable even though like all man made tools and Translations it does have some error, only Jesus reveals and confirms all the Truth because He is our only Teacher being The Living Word.

    Take Care - Christian Love Anne

  4. 4. sarah Says:

    Hope in his mercy.

  5. 5. Anne Stocks Says:

    Hi Sarah, I agree God is always Loving and Merciful but He will never go against our free will, it is not Him who causes hardness of heart sadly people who choose to sin and continue to sin in the end they die Spiritually and it is by their own choice that they do not to come to heart repentance it is not God’s will.

    God does not want anyone to perish but the Scriptures tell us He knows those who are His by His foreknowledge of our hearts repentance before we are Born and so He chooses us to be conformed into the image of His Son .

    Sadly because it grieves Him, He also knows those who won’t come to heart repentance, not His choice but theirs.

    God does not turn anyone away who calls on the name of The Lord Jesus Christ His Son, but those who are hard of heart and who have died Spiritually will never do this… they have indeed fallen away.

    This is not in reference to those who fall into sin before they are perfected in Love
    they are under God’s grace as Children are also before they understand good from bad we have Jesus who is our only Mediator as our Advocate 1 John 2:1-3 and when we repent we are forgiven but we see as we continue reading this passage that those who continue in sin have never known Jesus in their heart. We are also told in 1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.

    When we have repented which means we have turned away from evil and seek to do good by the empowering of the Holy Spirit, God perfects us in His Love and our evil flesh nature is then put to death and we are cleansed of all unrighteousness as we choose to walk in Love, and we can do this because we are no longer a slave to sin Jesus has set us free and so we walk as Jesus did which was without sin and we reflect His presence that is in us by our actions and words, we have been Born again of God’s seed 1 John 3:9 and have the mind of Christ, the old flesh Nature has gone and we now have His new Godly Nature, we are sealed by the Spirit and adopted into the Family of God which means we can’t be unsealed or unadopted, because we cannot sin 1 John 3: 9 we are a Chosen Generation, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation a …..1Peter 2:9-10 we have been brought from darkness into His light and we have been mercifully saved by our Loving God, our past sins are taken as far as the east is from the west and are remembered no more and God does not keep a record of wrongs so we will never stand in Judgment for them…well not by God but man sometimes points the finger and seeks to condemn.

    I believe and the Scriptures confirm James 1:4-6 that anyone who asks for God’s wisdom and believes without doubt that they have received it, will fully understand these Truths and will see also that the Scriptures confirm them over and over again.

    Take a moment to meditate on 1 Corinthians 2 which is a powerful Chapter of God’s Truth in regard to Born again Christians …what is The Spirit saying to you ?…ask God to open your Spiritual eyes and ears so that you can know His Truth of Salvation in your heart.

    Yes Sarah we do indeed have a merciful God, He is Love and can be no other way.

    God bless you greatly - Christian Love Anne

  6. 6. Chris Says:

    To be Born of God is to Abide with God?

  7. 7. Anne Stocks Says:

    Yes so True Chris and you can’t be Born again of God’s seed and not abide with Him.

    1 John 2:27-29 But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.

    1 John 2:28-29 And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.

    1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    Thanks Chris I appreciate the confirmation of God’s Truth.

  8. 8. Anne Stocks Says:

    P.S 1 John 3:6-8 Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.

    Thanks again Chris.

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