Summary: What does the Bible teach about overcoming sin in the life of the Christian?
We come now to one of the most difficult passages in Scripture. Verse 9 is often quoted to teach that a child of God will never commit sin. Many honest and sincere people believe this, and devote themselves to the attainment of what is commonly called "sinless perfection." But is this doctrine taught in the Bible? The answer is "no" for two reasons:
1) There is clear teaching of the Bible.
When we come to a difficult passage, we should seek to interpret it in light of clearer teachings of Scripture. To say this passage (which is difficult to interpret) teaches a Christian never commits sin, contradicts clear teaching found in this same book of the Bible (1 John 1:8-10).
2) There is the common testimony of the Bible.
In the Bible, we're told of great saints, all of whom were imperfect! The Word of God doesn't cover up their faults. It is clear in Scripture that there is only One spoken of who is sinless - Jesus Christ!
For these two reasons, we would say that the Bible doesn't teach sinless perfection. But if that's the case, what does 1 John 3:9 mean? Well, let's look at this passage in an effort to find the answer to that question.
1. The Provision Of The Savior - vs. 4-5
When Jesus came into the world, He died on the cross and made perfect provision for our salvation, which makes possible our deliverance from sin's penalty, sin's power, and eventually, sin's presence. Therefore, Jesus' sacrifice provides us with daily victory over sin in our life.
A. The necessity of His provision - v.4
Human sin made the cross necessary. God is a just God, along with being a loving Heavenly Father. God wanted a restored relationship with His creation, but He also needed to see that justice carried out with respect to the violation of His law. How could these two attributes of God be satisfied simultaneously? The cross is the answer! God took on flesh in the person of Christ to do for mankind what we could never do for ourselves - pay the penalty for our sin in such a way as to make possible a personal relationship with Himself.
You see, the penalty for our sin is so great that left to pay it on our own, would require an eternity's worth of suffering, which would mean that we would never be able to be free from sin's penalty in order to have a relationship with God.
God took on flesh in the person of Christ and lived a sinless life in order to qualify to represent to human race and pay the penalty for our sin. And because He was God in the flesh, He could pay that infinite penalty in a finite period of time on the cross. He provided forgiveness for the entire human race, proved that sin's penalty was fully paid by being raised from the dead, and ascended back to heaven to offer by means of the Holy Spirit, a personal relationship with Himself to all who choose to receive His gift of eternal life.
"When people sin, they earn what sin pays - death. But God gives his people a free gift - eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23 (Easy to Read)
3 Nails + 1 Cross = 4given
B. The nature of His provision - vs. 5; 8
1) He came to provide victory over sin - v. 5
2) He came to provide victory over Satan - v. 8
There's a humorous story from the early days of football having to do with the Dallas Texans, who eventually became the Dallas
Cowboys. They were the first attempt at professional football in the state. They lasted one year, 1952, and had a record of 1 win and 11 losses. Their training camp was in Kerrville, Texas. Willie Garcia was the equipment manager. He had one wooden leg. The first time a football bounced off the field into tall grass nearby, no one would go after it because of fear of snakes. Willy volunteered to retrieve the ball commenting, "I've got a 50-50 chance that the snake will go for the wrong leg."
On our own, there's always a chance of getting "bit" by the devil. But because of the cross, we need fear him no longer! By the provision of the Savior, our life need not be dominated by sin and Satan!
2. The Practice Of The Saved - vs. 6-7
A. They do not practice sin - v. 6
John doesn't say a saved person won't sin. He says he won't "keep on sinning." Truly saved people don't live to do what God says is wrong!
B. They do practice righteousness - v. 7
A truly saved person lives to do what God says is right! John says those who are truly saved don't practice sin; but practice righteousness.