As a new Christian, I encountered a man who told me that as Christians we could become sinless. He pointed out 1 John 3:6, which says, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.”
I was confused. Something just didn’t seem right to me. Could we really get to a sinless state?
I went to the pastor of the church that I was occasionally attending. I learned that this man was wrong. As Christians, we will sin less, but we will never be sinless, until we get to heaven, of course.
Here’s what John is saying in his letter.
Sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4). Lawlessness is a disregard for God and His “laws” or His Word. To abide in Jesus, who is perfect and without sin, is to not sin. God sees us, in Jesus, as completely forgiven. Our sin has been taken away. (See 1 John 2:1-2; Romans 5:1)
It is very helpful to understand the sense of the Greek grammer in 1 John 3:6. When John writes “…no one who sins….” the verb ‘sins’ is an active, present tense verb that implies “habit, continue, unbroken sequence.” In fact some Bible translations (ESV and NIV) use the phrase “keeps on sinning,” which is more accurate. The same could be said of 1 John 3:9.
So the question for you and I is not, “Do I sin?” or “How can I reach a sinless state?” but rather the questions should be “How do I react when I sin?”
A Christian is one who does not live in a lifestyle of habitual sin. Sometimes, maybe even often times, we commit sin and even struggle with sin. That is a normal part of our Christian experience. Sin will always be present with us on this earth. But we do not live lives of unbroken sinful sequences.
When a healthy Christian sins, there is a feeling of disgust and disappointment. There is a quickness to repent; there is a felt need for forgiveness.
There is coming a day when we will be without sin. That will be the day that we see Jesus face to face; we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is: sinless!
I can’t wait!