1 John 3:9 – Those “Born of God” Do Not Sin?

Reprinted with permission from Faith Pulpit, November/December ‘05

Four views that appeal to this verse

1. The works-righteousness view

This view teaches that one earns or keeps salvation by good works, and thus that the person who chooses to sin has forfeited any right to heaven. This view contradicts the Bible’s clear teaching on salvation as God’s gift through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), purchased for us not by our works but by the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross (Romans 3:24-25, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24).

2. The instantaneous sanctification/Wesleyan view

This view states that it is possible for a believer to have an experience following conversion in which the principle or root of sin is removed and replaced by love for God. 1 John 3:9 does not support this view but, rather, argues against a second work of grace by implying that one who sins has never been born of God.

3. The progressive sanctification/perseverance view

This view recognizes that believers occasionally sin but argues that, because they have been regenerated, it is impossible for believers to habitually practice sin. This view has much to commend it but is not entirely satisfactory upon consideration of a literal rendering of the verse (see Five Factors, 1. The text).

4. The sinless seed/new nature/Holy Spirit view

This view argues that it is not the believer who is sinless but rather God’s seed that remains in each believer. This view has much to commend it as well but is not entirely satisfactory because it fails to distinguish in this verse between God’s seed and the one who has been begotten of God.

Conclusion: none of these views is completely satisfactory. I believe a correct understanding of verse nine must incorporate elements from both of these last two views.

Five Factors to consider in developing a correct understanding

1. The text: 1 John 3:9

This author’s literal rendering of this verse says, “Each one having been begotten (or born) of God does not do sin because His (God’s) seed in him remains, and he (or it) is not able to sin because He (or it) has been begotten (or born) of God.”

2. The context: 1 John 3:4-10

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 10In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. (NKJV)

3. The identity of the “sin” the verse is talking about

a. Sin as lawlessness: verse 4. This verse is not describing a failure to obey a particular law but the general attitude of lawlessness.

b. Sin as failure to practice righteousness: verse 6. The present tense of the verb and its participle support the idea that this is not describing an occasional sin but the practice of sin.

c. Sin as failure to love one’s brother: verse 10. Most interpretations overlook the fact that often in 1 John 3 the “sin” being referred to is actually failure to love one’s brother (see verses 10-23).

4. The phrase “He [or it] is not able to sin”

In 1 John 3:9 two distinct identities are described: (a) the one having been begotten of God and (b) God’s seed. In sorting out what is being said in this verse about each of these two things, it should be noted that the third person singular ending on a verb can be translated, “he,” “she,” or “it.”

This being the case, verse 9 could be interpreted: “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin …because he is born of God.” The omitted words would refer to God’s seed and would explain why the one born of God cannot do [poieō] sin: “for God’s seed [which is the Holy Spirit or new nature] remains in him and it [God’s seed] is not able to sin.”

5. The truth that believers are able to practice sin and become enslaved to it.

1 John 1:7-10 states,

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Elsewhere in Scripture it is clear that believers can choose to practice sin. In Romans 6:12-13 Paul admonishes his readers,

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Paul’s admonition shows that it is possible for a believer to let sin reign in the body, but it also shows that it is possible for a believer to refuse to let sin reign. And in verses 14-16 Paul makes it clear that, while sin cannot cause God’s law to send believers to hell, choosing to sin can cause believers to become enslaved to it. He says,

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Paul’s admonition, however, does not imply that there is no observable difference in the behavior of a believer and that of an unbeliever. 1 John 3:10 explains, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” But this verse also explains that the primary observable difference between the behavior of a believer and that of an unbeliever involves love (or concern for the wellbeing) of other believers. 1 John 3:11-19 supports this understanding.

Conclusion: Because true believers possess God’s seed and it is not able to sin, their behavior will be observably different from that of unbelievers. This difference will be especially evident in their love and concern for other believers.


Myron J. Houghton is the Senior Professor of Systematic Theology and director of the Master of Arts Theological Studies program at Faith Baptist Theological Seminary. He taught at Denver Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary before coming to Faith in 1983.

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nathankeen's picture

I thought this was fairly straightforward if you looked at the tense (continuous) that would thus read:

“Each one having been begotten (or born) of God does not continuously/habitually do sin because His (God’s) seed in him remains, and he (or it) is not able to continuously/habitually sin because He (or it) has been begotten (or born) of God.”

Thus it very easily fits with the 3rd view.

The 4th view is clearly nonsensical given we already know God is sinless - what's the point in writing about that? It is clearly talking about the person, and since the person can indeed sin as 1 John 1:8-10 clearly points out: this view is ruled out too.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well, the point of the fourth view would be what the personal impact is of having the sinless God (Holy Spirit) indwelling you. He's examining the verse very closely so its easy to lose sight of the message in the context, perhaps.
So the point would be that our conduct is dramatically altered because of that indwelling.

I've personally always found the tense-based progressive view a bit strained.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I believe Carson argues that it is wisdom type language, similar to a parent saying to a child, "You can't talk to me like that." Of course the child can (and just did), but the point is that it is incompatible with being a child of the father.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

A very valuable thought I found was an exposition of 1 John by Hiebert where he quotes Barclay:

Quote:
He is demanding a life which is ever on the watch against sin, a life which ever fights the battle of goodness, a life which has never surrendered to sin, a life in which sin is not the permanent state, but only the temporary aberration, a life in which sin is not the normal accepted way, but the abnormal moment of defeat.46

http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/NTeSources/NTArticles/BS...

The issue is qualitative as opposed to quantitative which is the treatment given here by some. That is to say, no one can provide a measure of how often the temporary status may endure or the nature of it, whether it should be allowed to be viewed as at times being very severe, prolonged or only going so far, which is the attempt by those who treat this with a quantitative view.

What I believe God does show us through John is that in the absence of a state other than one of constant sin we can then understand we do not qualify for this description. That is to say, if we are marked by nothing but constant sin without recollection of any regenerative faith or any struggle to combat the wants of sin, then we are not being described here. But if we do recognize, as Barclay states that this is not the "normal accepted state" and we ourselves know and understand, regardless of the depth one's temporary aberration or the height of ones fellowship, without inappropriate attempts to import additional considerations that do damage to this, such as "falling away" or "perseverance", we can know we are being described.

The unregenerate man cannot, not sin. The regenerated man can, not sin and it is his purpose (in the scheme of his life of faith) to not sin.

Though my own personal examination of the text is not as thorough as I would like, therefore I present my own thoughts with the recognition of more enlightenment quite possible, I also wondered if the "stative active" plays any role in the verb here.

Ed Vasicek's picture

The simplest way to understand I John is to recognize two sins: the unpardonable sin -- the sin unto death (apostasy) and sin in general.

If we say that we are not sinning in a general way, we are lying (I John 1:8).

Someone truly born of God cannot commit the sin unto death. Those who commit such a sin were "never of us" (I John 2:19-20) and never truly anointed by the Spirit.

Simple, clear, and warranted by the context.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jay's picture

I have to agree with Nathan Keen; it seems to be the best interpretation, and it would fit in nicely with I John 1 and 1 John 2:1-14 as well. The ESV translates the passage thus:

Quote:
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

That said, I'd like to look at the HCSB and the NASB [later on ] as well to see what they do with it.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Ed,

Ed Vasicek wrote:
The simplest way to understand I John is to recognize two sins: the unpardonable sin -- the sin unto death (apostasy) and sin in general.

If we say that we are not sinning in a general way, we are lying (I John 1:8).

Someone truly born of God cannot commit the sin unto death. Those who commit such a sin were "never of us" (I John 2:19-20) and never truly anointed by the Spirit.

Simple, clear, and warranted by the context.

By what exegetical and theological cause to you assign the reference in 1 John5:16 (the sin unto death) the unpardonable sin?

It appears to me somewhat clear that in vs 16:

Quote:
16If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.
That when John states anyone seeing a "brother" committing a sin that does not lead to death (meaning they could also see a brother commit a sin that does lead to death because if no such thing exists then stating "if anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death" is invalid in its rhetorical structure seeing such a construction is for the purpose of being presented as an "as opposed to" case with another possibility, which is the possibility of a brother committing a sin that leads to death ), this carries with it the rather plain implication that the alternative is also possible, meaning that they can also see a brother commit "a sin that leads to death".

Additionally, at no point in the text is there the introduction of non-believers being in view with regard to the sin unto death. One might "reason" this must be in the mind of John but this is far from sufficient to argue that John switched from "brother" to "non-brother" when he went to those who commit a sin that does not lead to death to those that commit a sin that does lead to death.

And as well, the unpardonable sin, which is found in Mark 3:28-30, Matthew 12:30-32, and Luke 12:8-10, are separate from this text and at no place do I see John offering reference to them either explicitly or implicitly. So from what I can see, to superimpose the unpardonable sin (which is identified as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit) onto this text and specifically to the "sin that leads to death" one has to offer both substantial exegetical and theological force.

And two rather immediate obstacles I see for this is:

1. As I mentioned, John's statement presents, in the least, the implied assumption and more strongly with the "as opposed to" rhetorical construction, that a "brother" can be seen committing both, a sin that does not lead to death and a sin that leads to death. In which case this would eliminate the possibility of the context being interpreted as a reference to the unpardonable sin seeing that the unpardonable sin, by default, is one that a believer cannot qualify for seeing his sins are forgiven.

2. Secondly, the unpardonable sin is one that has, with respect to context and consequences, not death, particularly temporal death which is what John is referring to in 1 John 5:16. Rather its context has reference to forgiveness of sin ("but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come").

I would be interested in hearing the force of your exegetical and theological reasons and considerations regarding my observations if you get time. It is a large request so if you are willing, I certainly have no expiration on the request (I did note your citation of 1 John 2:18-19, however I cannot see its reference being with respect to the sin unto death which is no longer in view here, rather those who are antichrists and refers to those departing the fellowship).

*And (per mods) if this question or line of consideration departs too greatly from the topic, then I will happily post it in another thread but for the moment I do ask it be considered relevant with respect to its impact on how the topic is handled and viewed and I will endeavor to keep any heavy pursuits of the matter subdued and try to enlist it only for the help of discussing the topic and not overtake it.

Alex

nathankeen's picture

I'm still trying to work out the fourth view. Perhaps it goes something like this:

Whoever has been born of God [has a seed in him which ] does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and [the seed inside of him ] cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

Weird, no?

The next verse puts this (perhaps) unclear verse in great clarity: "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God" The author is trying to help us to understand who is from God and who isn't (1 John 5:13). If God is in you, you cannot practice habitual sin---the good seed in you produces good fruit, not bad fruit (Matt 7:15-20)

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I've personally always found the tense-based progressive view a bit strained.

What do you mean when you say "progressive"?

Charlie's picture

I must say that this little essay has left me entirely confused. First, his objection to the third view baffles me. He points the reader to factor #1, which is not an argument at all, but simply the author's own preferred translation of the text. There is nothing more "literal" about the author's translation than mainstream versions, and he is not clear about how his "literal" translation undermines #3, or how his combination with #4 rehabilitates it. A translation is not the starting point of interpretation; you cannot translate a verse until you already know how to exegete it. Translation itself is a drawing of conclusions, and thus the entire argument is circular.

Second, the author's suggestion is syntactically awkward to the point of being dubious. I'm specifically referring to

Quote:
This being the case, verse 9 could be interpreted: “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin …because he is born of God.” The omitted words would refer to God’s seed and would explain why the one born of God cannot do [poieō ] sin: “for God’s seed [which is the Holy Spirit or new nature ] remains in him and it [God’s seed ] is not able to sin.”

According to this analysis, the first οτι clause along with the following και clause (the omitted words from the quote) modifies ποιει, but then the last οτι clause also refers back to ποιει. For this to be possible, the οτι clauses would have to be understood as being either in a coordinated series or in apposition. There are two syntactical problems with this. First, on a linear reading of the sentence, there is an awkward and unmarked shift of subject - "Whoever is born does not commit sin ... because seed remains ... and seed cannot sin ... because he has been born of God." Between the third and fourth clauses ought to be some kind of marker of subject shift. It's much more natural in Greek to place the equivalent of a semicolon after clause 2, and read clauses 1, 3, and 4 as all sharing the same subject. Second, and a much greater issue, is that coordinating the οτι clauses that way is just absurd. If you want to make them a coordinate series, there should be a και connector. Understanding them in apposition without some kind of appositive phrase (such as τουτʼ εστιν) would be introducing a syntactical feature that is not, to my knowledge, found in NT Greek (and I looked). Simply put, the second οτι clause modifies the clause before it; it does not reach back over two clauses to connect with the main verb.

Third, the verse makes perfect sense if it is construed in a form similar to Hebrew parallelism. It reads like a proverb:

Everyone who has been born of God does not sin,
---because his seed remains in him;
And he is not able to sin,
---because he has been born of God.

Fourth, I will just jump in and say that the "habitual present" view is firmly warranted by the pragmatics of the context and is not strained in any way. If anyone wants to discuss that, I'll be happy to do so in another post.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Ed Vasicek's picture

I still maintain that my simple approach is warranted in the context of I John, which is cyclical in nature. Thus 5:16ff is dealt with in a number of spots throughout this epistle, a dual track of "sin" and "the sin leading to death." Unlike Paul's writings, which are generally linear in thought, John recycles and adds nuances.

Quote:
I John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.

Professed believers in the New Testament were presumed to be brothers in the Lord. But, like Judas Iscariot, tares are planted among the wheat. Since the true Christian cannot sin (in a way that leads to death), such a sin (apostasy) indicates that one is not truly a child. There is no change of status here, only a revelation of status. Paul uses the expression "supposed brother" but also confesses that "the Lord knows them that are his."

John makes the point that a believer with genuine faith, one who truly belongs to God, will not abandon the Savior. Observe 1 John 2:19-20: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.”
Note the part of the passage that reads, “if they had been of us, they would have remained with us…” It rings of a guarantee, does it not? Those who are of us will indeed remain among us. Those who abandon the faith were never really one of us. That is pretty potent.
But that is not the passage in question. In order to understand these passages, we must understand the difference between sin (as mentioned in 1 John) and the sin (or sinning “the” sin). I refer to this as “the sin” of 1 John (this is not original with me).
John makes it clear that all believers continue to sin, and educates us as to God’s provision for cleansing. This cleansing is mentioned in regards to fellowship with God, not salvation.
1 John 1:8-10 reads: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
Verse eight reminds us all of an unpleasant reality: we are all still sinners. The verb for “have” in the Greek language is in the present tense, thus implying duration (“if we say that we are not having sin”). So John’s discussion is not whether we have ever sinned, but rather whether we STILL are sinning. John says if we say that we still do not sometimes sin, we are deceiving ourselves.
Those verses address sin in general. But there is “the sin,” namely the sin of turning away from Christ, that is impossible for the genuine (and I want to emphasize the word “genuine”) to commit.
This is the sin John has in mind in 1 John 3:9-10, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”
The NASB translation “practices sin” (and the NIV “continues to sin”) is an interpretive attempt to express the durative nature of the present tense. Yet the translators did not choose to do this with 1 John 1:8; here they chose to do so. The text in 3:9 literally reads, “the one who is born of God is not sinning.” I understand this to mean, “the one born of God is not sinning the sin of apostasy.”

The unpardonable sin is introduced in Deut. 29:19-21

Quote:
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, "I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way." This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The LORD will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 The LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.

There is one unpardonable sin in Scripture, that is the forsaking of the true God from among those who had professed Him and given evidence of understanding and believing in him. Whether it shows itself as blasphemy against the Spirit, leaving the faith, or seeking another sacrifice for sins besides that of Jesus' sacrifice, the idea is the same.

"The Midrash Detective"

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

The unpardonable sin is introduced in Deut. 29:19-21

Quote:
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, "I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way." This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The LORD will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 The LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.

There is one unpardonable sin in Scripture, that is the forsaking of the true God from among those who had professed Him and given evidence of understanding and believing in him. Whether it shows itself as blasphemy against the Spirit, leaving the faith, or seeking another sacrifice for sins besides that of Jesus' sacrifice, the idea is the same.


I cannot recall ever running into this interpretation of Deut. or the view that:

Quote:
1. "forsaking the true God from among those who had professed him...",
2. blasphemy of the the Spirit,
3. leaving the faith
4. seeking another sacrifice for sins

to all be "the same idea". While they may have within them similar concepts, categorizing all of these as the same idea is something I have never run across. Nevertheless I asked for an explanation of your position and you provided one so I thank you and don't feel the need to pursue any further clarity.

Alex

pgerard's picture

Larry wrote:
I believe Carson argues that it is wisdom type language, similar to a parent saying to a child, "You can't talk to me like that." Of course the child can (and just did), but the point is that it is incompatible with being a child of the father.

I cannot verify the quotation from Carson, but I have preached and explained this passage in this way for years. In its impact it is similar to View #3, but it explains why the language is so black and white. The point is not just habit, but family character. It also agrees well with the context, especially verse 10.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

nathankeen wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
I've personally always found the tense-based progressive view a bit strained.

What do you mean when you say "progressive"?

What I mean is the view that turns all references to "do" into "practice." While it's true that a present tense/aspect in Greek can have the English idea of progressive action (ongoing) it's still going another step further to turn "whoever is doing sin" into "whoever practices sin."

I'm still undecided on it. Certainly, the view that takes the broader context of the NT into it and reads it "practices sin" is the majority view.
But it doesn't solve everything. How many sins = "practicing"? How long must one be involved in sinning to be "praticing sin"? See what I mean? So there are theological problems to work out in the area of sactification... if you go beyond "practices sin" and make it "practices habitual sin" as I've heard many preachers do. But this is certainly far more than John wrote. Whether it is what John meant is another question. His style is terse, so it's not like you absolutely shouldn't read into it from other passages.

Charlie wrote:
Simply put, the second οτι clause modifies the clause before it; it does not reach back over two clauses to connect with the main verb.
I'm inclined to agree.

Charlie wrote:
Third, the verse makes perfect sense if it is construed in a form similar to Hebrew parallelism. It reads like a proverb:
Everyone who has been born of God does not sin,
---because his seed remains in him;
And he is not able to sin,
---because he has been born of God.
Hadn't looked at it that way. I'm just about sold.

Charlie wrote:
Fourth, I will just jump in and say that the "habitual present" view is firmly warranted by the pragmatics of the context and is not strained in any way. If anyone wants to discuss that, I'll be happy to do so in another post.
Tell me more. Smile

Jerry Shugart's picture

"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" (1 Jn.3:9).

The failure to understand the meaning of this verse is a result of not understanding what John means when he speaks of God's seed being in those who are saved. God's seed refers to the very nature of the saved individual. The child partakes of the nature of his Parent and therefore sin is not a result of the saved person's regenerate nature. Therefore, a child of God cannot and does not sin. The "new man" (Eph.4:24) is a perfect creation. Paul understands this principle when he writes the following:

"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me...Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Ro.7:14-17,20).

From this we can understand that Paul did not perceive of sin being a part of what he was at the most inward part of his existence, as being "born of God." That is what he was referring to here:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal.2:20).

The following words must also be considered in this discussion:

"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him" (1 Jn.3:6).

The word "abideth" refers to our "walk." As long as we are walking in the Spirit we are free from the law of sin and death (Ro.8:2). It is only when the Christian is walking in the Spirit that he can say that "Christ liveth in me." It is only when walking in the Spirit that the Christian's true nature is being manifested.

In His grace,
Jerry

Ed Vasicek's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:

I cannot recall ever running into this interpretation of Deut. or the view that:

Quote:
1. "forsaking the true God from among those who had professed him...",
2. blasphemy of the the Spirit,
3. leaving the faith
4. seeking another sacrifice for sins

to all be "the same idea". While they may have within them similar concepts, categorizing all of these as the same idea is something I have never run across. Nevertheless I asked for an explanation of your position and you provided one so I thank you and don't feel the need to pursue any further clarity.

Alex

Thanks, Alex.

"The Midrash Detective"

Charlie's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

What I mean is the view that turns all references to "do" into "practice." While it's true that a present tense/aspect in Greek can have the English idea of progressive action (ongoing) it's still going another step further to turn "whoever is doing sin" into "whoever practices sin."

...

But this is certainly far more than John wrote. Whether it is what John meant is another question. His style is terse, so it's not like you absolutely shouldn't read into it from other passages.

Actually, I think this view simply suffers from people who don't know Greek very well trying to explain it and not doing a very good job. All finite verbs have a tense, that presumably was chosen rather than a different tense for a reason, although sometimes the actual semantic difference is almost nil. Tenses in Greek primarily communicate aspect - linear/progressive, punctiliar, perfective, and perhaps no discernible aspect (future tense). Most Greek scholars (leaving aside verbal aspect theory) also believe that in the indicative mood, finite verbs reference time. Aspect, abstractly considered, should be distinguished from Aktionsart, which is "aspect in combination with lexical, grammatical, or contextual features" (Wallace, GGBB, 499).

One cannot, then, understand a verb except through its context. Consider the sentence, "The family celebrates Jacob's birthday." This could mean (at least) two different things. It could refer to the family celebrating this particular birthday of Jacob. If so, it is a narrow-band present, describing action occurring within a short interval. Or, it could be relating that the family habitually celebrates Jacob's birthday as opposed to ignoring it. If so, it is a broad-band present, describing action occurring over a broad interval. These examples are in English, but they relate pretty well to the idea in Greek.

The issue in the 1 John passage is not whether the verbs are progressive, since present tense verbs are by definition progressive except in cases where aspect is minimized by features of aktionsart. The issue is whether the presents are narrow-band or broad-band. I think the context relates strongly favors broad-band. Consider the verse immediately previous: ̓απ ̓αρχης ̔ο διαβαλος ̔αμαρτανει (the devil [present tense "sin" ] from the beginning. Clearly, this is broad-band, indicating that the devil has been in continual and unbroken sin from the beginning. Now, consider a verb in v. 9: ̔οτι σπερμα ἀυτου εν ἀυτω μενει (because his seed [present tense "remain" ] in him). Now, this is talking about probably the Holy Spirit or perhaps figuratively "the word." In any case, it is describing a permanent, continual presence. The contrast is made greater because of the aorist ̓εφανερωθη and the perfect tenses of γενναω. The manifestation of Christ at a particular time in the past has led to these people being born again, a past action which placed them into a state with ongoing results, a result of which is that they do not engage in the kind of unbroken, continual sinning that characterizes the devil and those of him.

Based on the immediate context then, it makes perfect sense to me translate (with amplification) vv. 8-9 as follows: The one who is continually practicing sin is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning continually from the beginning. The son of God was manifested for this: that he should destroy the works of the devil. Everyone who has been born (or is born) of God does not continually sin, because his seed continually remains in him; And he is not able to be continually sinning, because he has been born of God.

The biggest reason objection to this way of reading the verbs is the tendency to think that how you were taught in first-year Greek to translate verbs (λυω: I am loosing, I loose) is somehow the basic or default way of reading verbs in a passage. It isn't.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Ed Vasicek's picture

Charlie ][quote=Aaron Blumer wrote:

What I mean is the view that turns all references to "do" into "practice." While it's true that a present tense/aspect in Greek can have the English idea of progressive action (ongoing) it's still going another step further to turn "whoever is doing sin" into "whoever practices sin.".

Charlie, what are your thoughts on the use of the present tense in I John 1:8? I have no trouble translating both of these verses as durative.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jerry Shugart's picture

Charlie wrote:
Based on the immediate context then, it makes perfect sense to me translate (with amplification) vv. 8-9 as follows: The one who is continually practicing sin is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning continually from the beginning. The son of God was manifested for this: that he should destroy the works of the devil. Everyone who has been born (or is born) of God does not continually sin, because his seed continually remains in him; And he is not able to be continually sinning, because he has been born of God..

Charlie, from the "immediate" context it would seem that John is speaking of not sinning at all:

"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him" (1 Jn.3:6).

John says "sinneth not" here so this verse is certainly not speaking of "continually sinning." Are we to suppose that the meaning of these words here are to be completely divorced from these words?:

"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" (1 Jn.39).

In His grace,
Jerry

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jerry Shugart wrote:
"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him" (1 Jn.3:6).

John says "sinneth not" here so this verse is certainly not speaking of "continually sinning." Are we to suppose that the meaning of these words here are to be completely divorced from these words?:

"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" (1 Jn.39).


No, it's speaking of not continually sinning. The negative part "not" doesn't have any aspect or tense, all of that comes from the verb.
So the verb itself Charlie (and just about everybody) says is "continually sinning" ... then you add the "not."

Charlie:
I think I follow most of what you posted on the verb grammar there, Charlie. It's interesting that after a heap of Greek analysis we end up in almost the same place we are just taking a very literal English reading... that is, determining the meaning from the context. I'm not suggesting here that the grammatical analysis is not of value though. Because every generation has to produce a solid group of language-competent people to keep the translations connected to the original.
(And I also believe pastors should be skilled enough to make good use of the tools)
At the same time it's comforting--whenever possible--to be able to go to the pulpit and make a case for 'interpretation A' that folks in the pews could have arrived at themselves via the context.

I believe it will be a while before I feel that I have a good handle on John. I think part of the answer may lie in repeatedly reading through entire epistles aloud. There is something very non-western about how John communicates. (Perhaps he is just far less Greek in his thinking than Paul, having not had that education).

Edit: one more note.... I'm thinking someone has probably done a whole dissertation--or at least full length paper--on present tenses in John's epistles. I'll have to scour the journals I have access to (which is not many without driving to Minneapolis/St.Paul)

Jerry Shugart's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
No, it's speaking of not continually sinning. The negative part "not" doesn't have any aspect or tense, all of that comes from the verb.
So the verb itself Charlie (and just about everybody) says is "continually sinning" ... then you add the "not."

Hi Aaron, the following word "believeth" from the pen of John is in the "present" tense and it does not speak of a continuous action of believing:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn.5:24).

It is obvious that as soon as the hearers of the Lord Jesus heard and believed His words they had (present tense) everlasting life and they would not come into condemnation. Are you willing to argue that the faith of those who heard and believed Him had to be durative?

Let us look at another verse which is similar:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn.3:16).

Kenneth S. Wuest writes the following in regard to the Greek words translated "whosoever believes": "'whoever believes' = 'pas ho pisteuon' = relative pronoun with a participle verb functioning as a noun, lit. 'everyone who is believing'...Contrary to objectors who insist that Jn 3:16 stipulates everyone who maintains a constant state of believing as result of the phrase 'whoever believes' = 'pas ho pisteuon', the form of the verb to believe is not a present tense form but it is actually a nominative, singular, masculine, present active participle, i.e., a participle acting as a noun indicating 'one who believes' [in Christ as Savior ], i.e., a believer. The participle acting as a noun does not require a perfection of continuous action such as continuous believing in order for an individual to be qualified as a believer" (Wuest, Wuest's Word Studies, Vol. 3, [Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1992 ], p. 67).

I believe that this shows that action in the present tense does not always mean a continuous action. Or perhaps you believe that a sinner can believe the gospel and receive everlasting life and then stop believing and lose that everlasting life and come into condemnation?

Quote:
Edit: one more note.... I'm thinking someone has probably done a whole dissertation--or at least full length paper--on present tenses in John's epistles. I'll have to scour the journals I have access to (which is not many without driving to Minneapolis/St.Paul)

If you have access to Andrews University Seminary Studies 7 you might check out "1 John 3:9: Absolute or Habitual?" by S. Kubo, 1969: 47-56.

In His grace,
Jerry

Matthew Christensen's picture

Jerry Shugart wrote:

Hi Aaron, the following word "believeth" from the pen of John is in the "present" tense and it does not speak of a continuous action of believing:

I'm in my second year of studying Greek so someone please correct me if I am wrong. The reason why the action of sinning is continual in 1 John 3:9 is because the verb ποιέω is a present active indicative. So it is fair to add the word "continually" to it. The word πιστεύων that you quote in John 5:24 is a present active participle so it doesn't necessarily contain a continual aspect to it.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'd recommend a second look at Charlie's post (#16).
It's a bit technical but worth sorting out. The gist: the aspect (progressive or punctiliar) has to be determined by the context and there are several progressive presents in the context, especially in reference to sin.

It is not necessary to assert that all present indicatives are progressive/"durative." They definitely aren't.

I think Jerry's view has some strong points as well and (if I understand it correctly) is pretty close to Dr. Houghton's in the article.

Charlie's picture

Ed, I would venture (haven't really studied) to say that 1:8 is not particularly affected by aspect in such a way that naming it a particular use helps us understand it better. I think the point is that is, if at any point I say "I don't have any sin," at that time, I am deceiving myself.

Jerry, your objections are... off topic. Of course John uses present tenses in all sorts of different ways. That doesn't really matter, and however John uses πιστευ- verbs is likewise irrelevant (although you might want to check Wallace, GGBB, 620-21 and fn. 22).

Of course, the crux of your position (which, Aaron, I don't think is like Houghton's) is that "God's seed abides in him" means "the believer's new nature abides in God." Therefore, there is a dualism throughout 1 John. Whenever sin is talked about, it's the old nature; whenever inability to sin is the topic, John is talking about the new nature. Have I understood you correctly?

If I have, I must object. Sin is not the action of a nature, but of a person. Also, natures are not "born again"; people are. Believers do not have two natures, but one nature that is progressively being renewed in the image of Christ. As such, Christians many times feel as if they are two people (Rom. 7) but ultimately must recognize that who they most truly are is who they are in Christ and who they will one day fully be (Rom 7 + 8).

So, question. To whom or what exactly does Πας ̔ο γεγεννημενος ̓εκ του θεου in 1 John 3:9 refer?

Aaron, here is a link to a fairly brief paper that focuses on the verbs in question in 1 John. It explains more thoroughly some ideas that I presented in this post. http://www.alwaysreformed.com/publicdocs/papers/Tim%20Black%20-%20Exeges...

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Jerry Shugart's picture

Matthew Christensen wrote:
I'm in my second year of studying Greek so someone please correct me if I am wrong. The reason why the action of sinning is continual in 1 John 3:9 is because the verb ποιέω is a present active indicative. So it is fair to add the word "continually" to it. The word πιστεύων that you quote in John 5:24 is a present active participle so it doesn't necessarily contain a continual aspect to it.

Matthew, I have given you an example from the Scriptures thst demonstrate in no uncertain terms that at least in one instance the "present" tense does not require s continuous action. If you are correct that in some instances the "present" tense speaks of continuous action then you should be able to be to quote a verse which demonstrates your assertion. Can you give me such a verse?

In His grace,
Jerry

Jerry Shugart's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I'd recommend a second look at Charlie's post (#16).
It's a bit technical but worth sorting out. The gist: the aspect (progressive or punctiliar) has to be determined by the context and there are several progressive presents in the context, especially in reference to sin.

Aaron, if we are to determine just exactly what John is speaking about when he says that those born of God "doth not commit sin" then we should examine the context, and especially the immediate context where this concept is first introduced:

"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him" (1 Jn.3:6).

The key to understanding what John is saying here is determining the meaning of the word "abide." From the Lord Jesus' words at the fifteenth chapter of the book of John it appears that to "abide" in Christ (Jn.15:4) is the same thing as being in "fellowship" with Him. This refers to the Christian's "walk" as opposed to our position "in Christ," being raised up with Him and sitting together with Him in heavenly places (Eph.2:6).

When the Christian is abiding in Christ he is walking after the Spirit and when that is happening he is free from the law of sin and death:

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Ro.8:2).

It is when the Christian is walking in the Spirit that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in him:

"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Ro.8:4).

The "righteousness of the law" refers to a life of holiness so the righteousness of the law can be fully met when the Christian walks after the Spirit. The provision of a deliverance from the power of sin in the Christian's daily walk comes through the controlling power of the Holy Spirit, and that is what John means when he refers to abiding in Him."

So when a Christian is abiding in Him he does not sin because of the controlling power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore 1 John 3:6 is speaking of not sinning at all and it is not speaking of "not continually sinning." It would be rather ludicrous to assert that one can fulfilling the righteouness of the law by sinning as long as that sinning is not continuous.

I also know from personal experience that when I am walking after the Spirit I do not sin. When I walk after the Spirit I am yielding to the control of the Spirit, and while under that control it is impossible for me to sin.

In His grace,
Jerry

Jerry Shugart's picture

Charlie wrote:
Of course, the crux of your position (which, Aaron, I don't think is like Houghton's) is that "God's seed abides in him" means "the believer's new nature abides in God."

No, Charlie, the words "God's seed abides in him" means that the Holy Spirit, the seed that regenerates the sinner, abides in him:

The Greek word translated "seed" means "the Holy Spirit, the divine operating within the soul by which we are regenerated...1 Jn. iii.9" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

The believer is regenerated by the Holy Spirit and at that time he becomes "born of God."

Quote:
Sin is not the action of a nature, but of a person.

Yes, but if a Christian is walking after the Spirit he will not sin. When one is walking after the flesh (being self-centered) then sin has power over him.
Quote:
Also, natures are not "born again"; people are.

I never said otherwise. When the believer is "born of God" or born again" he receives a new nature.
Quote:
Believers do not have two natures, but one nature that is progressively being renewed in the image of Christ. As such, Christians many times feel as if they are two people (Rom. 7) but ultimately must recognize that who they most truly are is who they are in Christ and who they will one day fully be (Rom 7 + 8).

We see Paul's words at Romans 7 differently. His words there back my previous words here:

The child partakes of the nature of his Parent and therefore sin is not a result of the saved person's regenerate nature. Therefore, a child of God cannot and does not sin. The "new man" (Eph.4:24) is a perfect creation. Paul understands this principle when he writes the following:

"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me...Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Ro.7:14-17,20).

From this we can understand that Paul did not perceive of sin being a part of what he was at the most inward part of his existence, as being "born of God."

In His grace,
Jerry

Charlie's picture

I'm sorry, Jerry, I drew some inaccurate conclusions about your position. I understand much better now what you are saying. On the other hand, I still disagree strenuously, and I think one post should be sufficient to show how and settle the matter (at least to the extent that we both understand each other.)

I'd like to start with the verse you brought up: 1 John 3:6 - No one who abides in him [̔αμαρτανει ]; no one who [̔αμαρτανων ] has either seen him or known him.

You have interpreted the first half to mean whenever a Christian is abiding, he doesn't sin. Sin here is being taken as a simple present - he doesn't sin at all. This cannot account, though, for the last half of the verse. Unless the participle is communicating habitual aktionsart, we are left with the unfortunate conclusion that whoever commits a sin has not seen or known God. In John, both "seeing" and "knowing" are metaphors for salvation. So, your contrast is lopsided. Either someone always abides in Christ, which you conceive to be an action which may or may not be true of a Christian at any given point, or he is unsaved. Thus, this very verse rules out the possibility of an unabiding Christian. The result is a reductio ad absurdum against your position.

The only possible escape route is to suggest that the person who has not seen or known God actually refers to the "old man." But this too is entirely untenable because masculine substantival participles refer to persons, not "natures." Also, v. 10 clearly expresses that John's purpose is to distinguish between two kinds of people, the children of God and the children of the devil. He is not distinguishing between two "parts" of believers, or between believers at two different moments.

Your explanation suffers from the further difficulty that v. 9, by your own admission, speaks of the Holy Spirit abiding (or remaining) in the believer, not the believer abiding in Christ. If you equate the two, you are doing so out of mere conjecture. It is much easier to recognize that the Holy Spirit's abiding is continual and thus has an effect, not totally prohibiting sin but keeping the believer from the kind of continual sin that characterizes the Devil (continual present, v. Cool and his children.

Also, on a more pastoral note, I believe that you have, in this thread, already said you have no sin, and have thereby deceived yourself. Your personal experience be what it may, you have never lived a moment of your life in absolute righteousness before God. Note that your theology of sanctification absolutely rules out progressive sanctification, a massive theological error. According to your scheme, the believer is either abiding, and thereby temporarily sinless, or not abiding, and presumably in complete sin. There is no room for a progressive renewal of the nature in such a system. You are either on or off, and all the biblical language about progressive renewal, transformation, and conformation is nonsensical.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

nathankeen's picture

I quite agree with Charlie. A Christian does not at some times walk in or abide in the Spirit - if he has the Holy Spirit, he is in the Spirit.

Have a look at Romans 8: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death". You are free from the power of sin if Jesus Christ is in you.
"He condemned sin in the flesh" The power of sin is dead.
If you can sometimes walk "in the flesh", then be warned: "the carnal mind is enmity against God" and "those who are in the flesh cannot please God"

You are always "in the Spirit" if you are born again: "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you"

Jerry Shugart's picture

Charlie wrote:
I'm sorry, Jerry, I drew some inaccurate conclusions about your position. I understand much better now what you are saying.

Charlie, you still do not understand my position. You said:
Quote:
Also, on a more pastoral note, I believe that you have, in this thread, already said you have no sin, and have thereby deceived yourself. Your personal experience be what it may, you have never lived a moment of your life in absolute righteousness before God.

Where did I ever say that I have no sin? I recognize that I am a sinner and I know that even after being saved I have sinned. I did say that when I am walking after the Spirit I do not sin but I never said that I am always walking after the Spirit.

Since I have received the imputed righteousness of God (Ro.4:24). then it is obvious that I have indeed lived a moment of my life in absolute righteousness before God. Perhaps you cling to the Romanist view of justification which denies the teaching of imputed righteousness? Do you not believe that a Christian can live in absolute holiness before God? Certainly Paul understood that a Christian can, and he refers this as a Christian's "reasonable service" (Ro.12:1).

Quote:
I'd like to start with the verse you brought up: 1 John 3:6 - No one who abides in him [̔αμαρτανει ]; no one who [̔αμαρτανων ] has either seen him or known him.

You have interpreted the first half to mean whenever a Christian is abiding, he doesn't sin. Sin here is being taken as a simple present - he doesn't sin at all. This cannot account, though, for the last half of the verse. Unless the participle is communicating habitual aktionsart, we are left with the unfortunate conclusion that whoever commits a sin has not seen or known God.


Yes, when a Christian is abiding in Christ or walking after the Spirit he doesn't sin. And that is exactly what Paul is referring to when he says the following:

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Ro.8:2).

It is when the Christian is walking in the Spirit that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in him:

"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Ro.8:4).

Certainly the righteousness of the law cannot be fulfilled when one commits a sin.

Also, when the Christian is carnally minded, or walking after the the flesh, he is at enmity against God and he is not subject to the law of God:

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Ro.8:7).

The Christian who is walking after the flesh is not abiding in Christ and can be described as being at enmity against God and not subject to the law of God. And that is exactly what John is referring to when he speaks of the one who sins as having not seen or known the Lord:

"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him" (1 Jn.3;6).

John is saying that sin is a product of ignorance and blindness toward God and that is exactly the state of the Christian at the time he is walking after the flesh.

Charlie, what do you think John is referring to when he speaks of "abiding in Him" at verse 6?

Quote:
Your explanation suffers from the further difficulty that v. 9, by your own admission, speaks of the Holy Spirit abiding (or remaining) in the believer, not the believer abiding in Christ. If you equate the two, you are doing so out of mere conjecture. It is much easier to recognize that the Holy Spirit's abiding is continual and thus has an effect, not totally prohibiting sin but keeping the believer from the kind of continual sin that characterizes the Devil (continual present, v. Cool and his children.

Verse 6 speaks of "abiding in Him," and that is in regard to the believer abiding in Christ. So unless you want to say that verse 6 has nothing to do with verse 9 then it is obvious that I do not have to prove anything about this. But please answer the question, What do you think that it means when the believer is "abiding" in Christ?
Quote:
Also, v. 10 clearly expresses that John's purpose is to distinguish between two kinds of people, the children of God and the children of the devil. He is not distinguishing between two "parts" of believers, or between believers at two different moments.

Here John is speaking about the fundamental way in which God's children are manifested over against the children of the devil.
Quote:
The one who is continually practicing sin is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning continually from the beginning.

According to your view someone who is "continually practicing sin" cannot be a saved person and we can see that Paul does speak of someone who was indeed continually practicing sin:

"It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife" (1 Cor.5:1).

Paul is talking about a member of the church at Corinth who was having an affair with his father's wife which was prohibited in the OT (Lev.18:8; Deut.22:22). According to your ideas it would be impossible for this person to be saved. But Paul has a different opinion:

"To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor.5:5).

How do you explain that?

In His grace,
Jerry

Jerry Shugart's picture

nathankeen wrote:
I quite agree with Charlie. A Christian does not at some times walk in or abide in the Spirit - if he has the Holy Spirit, he is in the Spirit.

Have a look at Romans 8: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death". You are free from the power of sin if Jesus Christ is in you.
"He condemned sin in the flesh" The power of sin is dead.
If you can sometimes walk "in the flesh", then be warned: "the carnal mind is enmity against God" and "those who are in the flesh cannot please God"

You are always "in the Spirit" if you are born again: "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you"


nathankeen, in the following verses Paul makes it plain that the Christian does not always "walk in the Spirit" or else he would not be urging believers to "walk in the Spirit":

"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Gal.5:14-17).

In His grace,
Jerry

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