No one who abides in Christ keeps on sinning
Habits are hard to break. Try replacing a bad habit with a good one. It takes a lot of determination, persistence and grit to make a success of it. We all know the struggle we have conquoring sin in our lives. God has set the standard but we can never meet it in our own power. We miss God's standard time and time again; so much so we will never be able to keep an accurate record of the number of times we break His laws. So what is John saying, and how does it apply to us?
Jesus came to deal with sin. When we abide in Him we won't keep on sinning. Is that what John is trying to say here? Well yes; that's exactly what he is saying. But there is more to this than meets the eye. Even the most dedicated Christian still sins and keeps on sinning. So does that mean he or she has not been born again? It would seem so according to what John has written. Is it possible I have misinterpreted the above Scripture? Maybe, but the wording is as clear as the dial on my face. We may have to do some rather fancy spiritual gymnastics to get out of this one, if we think we have been born again and yet are unable to stop sinning.
Some Christians, I believe, spiritualise this situation by claiming our spirit is born again and does not sin but the physical body continues to sin because of the fall of Adam. Our bodies have been so corrupted, they say, that our final separation from sin can only happen after we die and go to heaven. I don't see this portrayed in the Scriptures and yet the essence of this belief gives some Christians a believable excuse.
Other Christians believe the above passage of Scripture applies to habitual sin. Therefore they say, if we are born again we don't habitually sin like we did in the past. If we continue to sin is this not a habit? And isn't all sin habitual in one way or another? We can deliberately sin knowing what we are doing is wrong, and we can unconsciously sin by failing to do what is right and not know it is wrong. If it was not habitual we could say to ourselves, "I am not going to sin anymore", and we would succeed. But this is not the case.
John says that a Christian "cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God". Maybe our concept of sin and of being born again is wrong. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman church wrote: ". . . He (Christ) condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit"(Romans 8:3-4 ESV).
Paul also wrote a lot more on sin and salvation in his letter to the Roman church – three chapters in fact
! We can be totally free from the power of sin, he writes, when the Spirit takes up residence so you can follow after the Holy Spirit and not sin. Would you like to know what all this means? I have prepared a simple Bible study showing that what Paul says is possible. It is called The Sanctification and Power of the Holy Spirit
, and it demonstrates from Scripture how the Holy Spirit frees us from sin. Download it here