Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Please, 1 John 3:9 does not mean a believer cannot (unable to) sin!

Increasingly, because of the overly grace believers unrepentant push for their erroneous core theology of all sins, past, current, and FUTURE ones, are forgiven of a believer at the time of his born-again, many believers are beginning to re-interpret scriptures, often in most ridiculous manners, just to tie with erroneous core doctrines of such grace theology.

While I am not opposed to (in fact, I encourage) studying and receiving of revelation and understanding of scriptures for ourselves, too many grace preachers are too casual with their accusations of churches lying to congregations, causing believers everywhere to abandon established interpretations of scriptures, to re-interpret scriptures with skewed lenses, instead of approaching scriptures with an open mind, and weighing out the established interpretations. The danger of every Tom, Dick, and Harry doing their own interpretations, and then teaching them to others, without weighing out established interpretations properly, is that such characters might not have been poring over all of Scripture enough to have grasped the overall counsel of the Word. Piecemeal interpretations of scripture without regard to context, and thematic flow, often only result in wrong interpretations. Sometimes, context is brief or a text lacks details, to interpret such, we need to employ the technique of scriptures-interpret-scriptures, and weigh any interpretation against the overall counsel of the Word. The overly grace belief movement has generated a pattern of scripture-interpretation haughtiness, on a scale, I believe, had not been seen before. It might be a sign of time, but even so, false teachings are to be resisted in the body of Christ.

1 John 3:9
Whoever 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. (NKJV)

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (NIV)

The above verse of 1 John 3:9 should never be interpreted as a believer cannot, as in unable to, or impossible for him to, sin (whatever the sin may be). The author, John, DID NOT have that notion whatsoever. The same goes for 1 John 5:18a - We know that whoever is born of God does not sin (NKJV); We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin (NIV).

Experiences AND overall counsel of the Word negate it
Our own experiences in our Christian walk tell us that it cannot be true; AND the overall counsel of the Word tells us it cannot be true. If we have read enough of the Bible, over and over again, and choose to be honest with ourselves, The Word would not admit such interpretation of a believer is unable to sin.

One article I read recently narrowed the sin to the renunciation of the faith, and said that a believer is unable to renounce his faith in Christ Jesus. No, the overall counsel of the Word does not teach such even, that a believer can never (impossible for him to do so) renounce his faith. These verses below are enough to show that it is possible for a believer to renounce his faith:

32"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. (Matt 10:32-33)

Again Jesus’ words, and here, it shows that it is even possible for a believer to blaspheme the Holy Spirit {not that we should do it} –

8"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. 10And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. (Luke 12:8-10)

Jesus to the Ephesus Church, end-time message –

I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. (Rev 2:13)

The above illustrated clearly “scriptures-interpret-scriptures”, and the overall counsel of the Word does not permit such interpretation of 1 John 3:9 to say that it is impossible for a believer to sin (be it, renunciation of his faith, or other sins).

Context – so that you will not sin, and if you do sin ….
Contextually, the author, John already stated his position for us, very clearly in 1 John 2:1-2:

1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 NIV)

John specifically mentioned that the purpose of his writing to the children of God was so that they would not sin. In other words, John was exhorting believers to make every effort not to sin, but if anybody does sin, he should know that we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense, and He is Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

When John said, “… so that you will not sin”;
And he also said that,“...but if anybody does sin”. What do these 2 phrases tell us? They are pointing to John NOT having the notion that believers cannot (unable to) sin. He would not be exhorting believers to make effort not to sin if it was not possible for them to sin.

One of the right ways of interpreting scripture is accept what is clear and without ambiguity, and use it to weigh out “disputed” scripture, as what I have done here, weighing 1 John 3:9 and 1 John 5:18a against 1 John 2:1-2.

So what was John trying to say by 1 John 3:9?
Whoever 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. (NKJV)

John was exhorting believers not to sin. He was saying that a believer (a born again) SHOULD NOT sin or continue to sin. Why? Because the Spirit of Christ (which is also the Holy Spirit) {God’s seed} is in us; the holy God is in us. At born again, God put deposit of his Spirit in us. In Jesus’ words, at born again we are not only born of water, but born of {so, the use of the word, “seed”} the Spirit. The “cannot” was not to be taken as “unable” or impossible” to do, but as “SHOULD NOT”.

It is like my friend telling his son, Bu Lee, “You cannot beat up (or continue to beat up) your schoolmates. You are now in the country’s most prestigious school (Raffles Institution)”. Obviously, it does not mean that Bu Lee is not capable of beating up his schoolmates anymore. He did that before, in his previous school, and he can still bash someone up with no problem. The father was trying to get him not to do it since now that Bu Lee has managed to get into a very reputable school, it is just not right and proper (not that it was right and proper, previously) to disgrace the name of such a school by engaging in bullying. It is along this line, that John was saying, the holy God, by His Holy Spirit, is indwelling in us, we should not sin or continue to sin. Scripture said that when we are born-again, we become a temple of God, where God is to be enthroned.

In all visions in Scripture, where God allowed men to catch a glimpse of His dwelling or throne-place, it was always that everything around the throne was holy; sandals must be taken off, or holiness was felt or experienced. Moses, Isaiah, and even the author, John himself, had had such experiences. John was therefore saying we cannot sin, because minimally, the holy God must be given the reverence due Him.

Clearly, John was painting to us that believers are capable of sinning, but we should not sin, and there are problems with us sinning; sinning by believers are NOT non-issue.

Anthony Chia – Lord, there is now a class of false teachings within the body, misleading your children, to sway from your commands and ways, robbing you of the reverence due you, by saying that it is alright, when it is not, and by misquoting you in your saying of “It is finished.” Lord, protect your children. Help us, in our attempts to overcome, against all false teachings, especially those from within. May you help me to proclaim only your truth, and nothing, but your truth. Stop me, Lord if I am NOT speaking your truth, for I can bear NOT, “the blood of your children on my hands”. Amen.

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  1. I would not want to make to much of this but it is interesting to note that the word "poiei" can be translated as "practices" or even "produces" as opposed to "does." This would render the meaning from "...does not sin to..." to... "produces not sin...." I think this translation could be better since the context of the verse is having the "seed" (Greek: "sperma") within one's self. In other words, if one is born of G-d, and has the "seed" of G-d within them, then they will not produce sin.

    Seeds produce fruit. The fruit of the believer is love, joy, peace, etc. Understood this way, we see that John is, to an extent, being metaphorical here and therefore, as the author of this blog states, did not mean to be taken literally...that we cannot ever sin. Rather if we really have the seed of G-d within us, we won't be (willful) producers of sin. As those not born of G-d, for John, inevitably are.

  2. Seed, in Scripture, can be referring to either the Word or the Holy Spirit. The Word or the Holy Spirit, whichever the case, does NOT commit sin, but we are talking about the person, here. God never commit sin. God is light, in Him there is no darkness; God is never evil. Scripture said God is NEVER successfully tempted (or cannot be tempted), and does NOT tempt. Of course, as seed in us, the Word or Holy Spirit, wants only to produce fruit (fruit of the Spirit) in us, but like I say, we are NOT referring to the Word or the Holy Spirit sinning or NOT.

    I know it is NOT uncommon for us to say believers do NOT practice sins or live a sinful lifestyle, and that does set us apart from the unbelievers, but what God expects is more than just that. It is one thing that God forgives us for a sin that we have committed, it is another to say that it does NOT matter to God when we sin at times. David was a man after God's heart, said God, in Scripture, but when David sinned with his being smitten with Bathsheba, God was displeased, and David was punished for that, although he was forgiven (the set of punishment was awful, to say the least).

    As a matter of exhortation, it is best we do NOT say "it is alright to sin, only don't live a sinful lifestyle", because (i) singular sin can displease God because every sin is offensive to His holiness, and (ii) one sin can lead to another, as was the case of David, from committing sin of covetousness, to sin of adultery, to sin of murder.

    Furthermore, try telling that to the Father of a girl who is raped by a believer; or if you are the Father of the girl who is raped. John said it clearly that he wrote what he wrote, so that the people (believers) will NOT sin (1 John 2:1). His exhortation was simply, "Don't sin", NOT "Don't practise sin or live a sinful lifestyle".

  3. So Just to be clear, I was agreeing with your main point regarding a believer's ability to sin (they certainly can). Second, I also agree that the "seed" there is indeed referring to either the Word of Holy Spirit.

    But the Word and/or Holy Spirit are not literally a "seed." Seed is a metaphor for these. (Note Jesus' use in the parable of the sower, mustard seed etc. So my point is that John is speaking metaphorically, and the metaphor of seed fits perfectly with the idea of not "producing" ("poiei") sin. Therefore one can understand the verse in this way: "If you have the seed of G-d you will not be a producer of sin." This is different than saying you "can not" sin.

    Furthermore, I don't think anyone (I would hope) thinks that the Holy Spirit or the Word can sin. I don't think that is the point of the verse. The verse is speaking about the person who has the seed/their ability to sin, hence all of the controversy.

    I really think it is a translation issue.


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