By Spencer D Gear PhD
Do Christians sin after they become believers in Christ? Of course they do! They commit some sinful actions. However, occasionally I meet a person – generally online – who uses the KJV to try to prove that Christians don’t sin.
I met another one of these and I tried to respond biblically to him/her.
a. Christ made us sinless?
Let’s try somebody else on another Christian forum. He made the comment: ‘all theology is flawed’, to which I responded, ‘That’s because you and I are flawed, imperfect, ineffective and sinful’. His comeback was to cite 1 John 3:9 in the KJV and added:
We are joint heirs in the body of Christ by his Blood.
God cannot look upon sin ,therefore we through Christ have been redeemed from the flawed sin nature into the perfection of the body of Christ.
All men have sinned, but Christ has made us sinless by his Blood.
This is false theology that ‘Christ has made us sinless by his Blood’, so I responded: ‘Christ has not made us sinless by his blood sacrifice. This sacrifice means I am justified by faith – declared righteous. It’s a legal position before God’. Then I proceeded to provide the following exegesis for him.
1 John 3:9 in the King James Version of the Bible states: ‘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’.
Some have interpreted this to mean that Christians do not sin. I was responding to this statement:
I believe the issue is now, a matter of the fear that if/when we do presently sin, then how can we claim to have Christ? Or to rephrase, the problem is how is it that we could sin if Christ is in us? Wouldn’t we then never sin? If so, then none of us would need confess our sins and be cleansed. 1 John 1:9. James 5:16.
b. Christians don’t sin continuously
The translators of the NIV have tried to convey the meaning of the Greek tenses in this verse, 1 John 3:9 (NIV): ‘No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God’.
The issues from 1 John 3:9 (NIV) are:
- We are talking about those who are born again (favourite language of John), those who are ‘born of God’. We are talking about Christians who have been changed from the inside by God.
- These Christians will not continue to sin as a lifestyle. They cannot go on sinning in that way. The Greek present tense verb indicates continuous action, so the NIV presents a good translation. The thought in this verse is NOT that Christians will never commit acts of sin. It is not saying that born again believers will not sin but that they will not persist in sin.
- So, the born again believer cannot live in habitual sin.
- BUT, there is the possibility of committing occasional acts of sin – as I can testify in my own life. If we commit those acts of sin, 1 John 1:9 (NIV) tells us what we are to do: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’.
That’s my understanding of 1 John 3:9 and the Greek verb used. Also, it makes practical sense. We know from the preceding verse, 1 John 3:8 (ESV) that ‘whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil’. In other words, they have not been born of God.
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil (1 John 3:8).
 This was my reply on Christian Forums.net 2015. 1 John 3:9 What does it mean? OzSpen#201, August 30. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/1john-3-9-what-does-it-mean.59658/page-11 (Accessed 31 August 2015).
 Christian forums.com 2017. Bible translations (online), now faith#146, 23 March. Available at: https://www.christianforums.com/threads/bible-translations.7978355/page-8#post-71032433 (Accessed 25 March 2017).
 Ibid., OzSpen#149.
 Ibid., now faith#152.
 Ibid., OzSpen#154.
 Christian forums.net 2015. 1 John 3:9: What does it mean? childeye#200.
Copyright © 2017 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 9 January 2018.