Is Christian Sin Possible?

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"Can Christians Sin" is one of the most mystifying issues in scripture.. When I became a Christian I desired to be familiar with everything about my new life. I began reading the first letter of John one day and came across this assertion: "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." ( 1 John 1:8) I said to myself, "O,k.! There is theanswer to my uncertainty about Christian sin. Christians have to ability to sin. In fact, if we claim that we cannot sin, we are liars.

I kept reading through the book of 1 John. Quickly I arrived at chapter 3, where I read: "No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him." (1 John 3:6) Now I said to myself, "What did that say?" Just a few chapters ago the Bible asserted that a Christian is capable of sin, but now it seems to be declaring that a person who sins doesn't even know God! This is weird!

Now I appreciate that the majority of Christians trip over this topic at some point in time. I have returned toit several time because I don't like puzzlement and contradictions. I am going to convey my conclusions in this article. Perhaps someone else will find the answer appealing.


The answer to the mystery is to get an adequate understanding of the meanings of these two passages. I am going to talk about them below:

1 John 1:8. I would like you to study a number of parallel versions of this passage of scripture. You can find a parallel Bible by Googling for the term on the Web. Most of them use phrases like "claim to be without sin" or "have no sin" For most translators the passage does'nt seem to be stating that Christians are sinful, but just that they have the capacity to sin. On the contrary, the Bible appears to indicate that non-Christians are unable to do anything other than sin..

1 John 3:6. As you review a parallel translation of this passage of scripture you will no doubt perceive that most translators derive meanings like "does not continue to sin" or "does not keep on sinning". In other words, Christians do not repeatly sin with the knowledge that what they are doing is wicked. Once more, this is in distinction to the non-Christian, who not only sins repeatedly, but can't do otherwise.


I like to say that "to keep on sinning" means "sinning with concern for consequences." In other words, such a person has the ability to declare, "I recognize that what I am doing is wicked but I'm going to do it nonetheless, even though I comprehend what it does to God and other folks. These two verses can be aligned in the awareness that Christians can commit sins but can't do so over and over again without being affected by it. To do so is not consistent with a Christian nature..

If we are going to talk about Christian sin we find it necessary to think about what constitutes the "nature" of a Christian? We need to determine what the Bible means when it declares "...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) I believe most Christians would wish to believe that the "new creation" is incapable of sin. To believe that would plainly be incompatible with Biblical doctrine and human knowledge; at least until we are released from this "corruptible" flesh. (I Corinthians 15:53, KJV) The "new things" that are created when we are reborn are related to our will. We have been converted from a being that is completely controlled by the will to sin into a new creation that is capable of being controlled by the will to act righteously. Doing this is a process that we call "sanctification."

For more information on this topic click on the links below:



The Rocky Road to Christian Sanctification

Christian Hopes and Expectations

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