07 January 2011

Question of the Week:
Do Christians Sin?

"Good and Evil: The Devil Tempting a Young Woman"
Andre Jacques Victor Orsel 1832
Image source:

Is it true that Christians "can't" sin?
~ Hannah Meyer

This question usually arises from 1 John 3:9-10. Here's the Analytical Literal Translation (ALT) text:

Every one having been begotten from God is not practicing sin, because His seed abides in him, and he is not able to be sinning, because he has been begotten from God. By this are revealed [who are] the children of God and the children of the devil: every one not practicing righteousness is not from God, and the one not loving his brother.

Here is why the child of God, born again in Jesus, does not sin.

God's Word reproduces spiritual life in His children, not sin.
To be "begotten from God," is to be born again through the seed of God. Whether seed is of a plant, human, or God Himself, "seed" implants and reproduces life. God's seed is His Word (logos, Greek for "word"), whether manifest as Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), or as the living sayings of God from the Bible (Hebrews 4:12). If the Word of God is implanted in a person and takes hold, the spiritual life of God is reproduced in His new child.

God's children gain the legal standing of Jesus—"righteous."
Those who receive God's seed—His Word, Jesus—and allow it to reproduce spiritual life are born as immortal, spiritual beings. God does not call us His children as only an affectionate metaphor. We receive a legal status of child and heir. We receive Jesus' life (sinless) in place of our life (sinful). Our standing before God is changed from "sinner" to "righteous." We are no longer guilty of any sin. No matter what we do, it is not counted against us as sin.

God's children grow in likeness to God, hating sin ...
Though we gain a new spiritual status, we continue to live in sinful flesh, which dies. As we grow in likeness to God, sin is something we will become increasingly aware of (see Romans 7:15-20), continue to repent of, and hate enough to not willfully practice. Paul describes the situation of sinning but hating it as "wretched," and comforts us with the words, "Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me."

... while practicing righteousness and love.
Children of the King are royalty, who are not judged by the law, but are instead members of His court, outside the law. However, the King holds His royal children to a higher standard of character than mere duty to obey the law. We are to behave as royalty, like the King Himself, out of love for our Father. And though we are no longer subject to the death penalty of law, we are subject to the discipline of our Father, Who takes a dim view of His children defaming His name with bad behavior.

A shorter explanation might modify the cancer mantra and simply say, "I may have sin, but sin doesn't have me."

For further information on this topic, readers may be interested in
Lie of Hell #2: No More Worry About Sin."

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. What an explanation. I knew that one was going to be deep. I'm going to have to reread it.

    But, ah the freedom! He gave us such freedom because of what He suffered on the cross!

    ~ Wendy

  2. Wendy ~

    Yes, it's all about freedom. Can those who were never enslaved appreciate freedom as much as those who have been redeemed?

    And I was trying to not be deep. I think this is one of the most difficult questions raised by Scripture. I was trying to make it as simple as possible. Really. : /

  3. simple?:) this was and is really freeing once a person can fully grasp it. it took me a while to accept, i know. i loved the John 1:14 verse related to grace and truth. love learning His truth...

  4. This one gets me. And it may be simple for some, but for me, it's downright mind-boggling. I can't wrap my brain around it, honestly. But I do cling to a cross and Savior who paid it. In full.

    It ... is ... Finished.

  5. Bud ~

    I won't claim to fully grasp it. And when I'm in the "oh wretched man that I am!" stage (Romans 7:24), I don't know if I'm believing it. But when I spend some time in the Bible, the truth again reaches and comforts my heart.

  6. Jennifer ~

    None of us understands it all. The Lord enables each of us to understand what we need. This principle certainly isn't one that is critical to understand, but rather, it is a source of either comfort or conviction that the Holy Spirit speaks to the one who needs it—in that hour.

    You are correct. We need to know that we have a Savior, and that

  7. "And though we are no longer subject to the death penalty of law, we are subject to the discipline of our Father, Who takes a dim view of His children defaming His name with bad behavior." Amen sister! I tried explaining this to my son the other night. Discipline is TOUGH it is not worthy of the sin no matter how small. Trust me I know. :)

    *and please excuse my lack of blogging consistency! From October till now I've just been bowled over, but I'm getting back in the groove. (I think!) XOXO

  8. It is so easy to slip back to sin when we take off our armor, when we forget to take our daily meal of God's word, when we are so caught in our activities forgetting who is the source of our life...

  9. Hmm. I don't believe I'm a "sinner", since I came to the Lord and the blood of Jesus cleaned and continues to cleanse, and one great day I get to die and go to heaven. [I'll be "yippee-ing" all the way there!!] But, I do sin... on a minute/daily basis. Attitude, blurting out in less-than-kind ways, nagging the Lord to break into some of the lives I'm hurting for, and on and on. IF I didn't know I was HIS daughter, his little girl, I'd be in real trouble. One of my favorite scriptures is Rom. 8, and that ain't gonna change.

    MAN, you really toss some thoughts out!!

  10. T ~

    Amazing how often we don't do as we know should, thinking we know the price and we're willing to pay it. We're slow learners, but we do eventually learn.

  11. Natasa ~

    We do "slip" into sin, because our eyes and hearts are not where they need to be. But praise the Lord, He washes our feet when the rest of us is already clean.

  12. Caryjo ~

    I don't have a favorite book of the Bible, or a favorite chapter (there's just too many good ones!)—but if I did, Romans 8 would definitely be in the running for favorite. I'm glad you see the sin without being a sinner. I really do try to be thought-provoking without my thoughts being provoking. : )