Is the Evidence of GENUINENESS in Christianity Really There?

A BIBLE STUDY IN 1 JOHN 3:4-10

As the WORD DETECTIVE, as we all should be, and looking at the evidence in this passage, I’ve found VERSE 9 to be one of the most difficult passages in the Bible to understand and explain.  It is often quoted to teach a child of God that once you become a “born again believer,” you will never sin.  And many honest and sincere people believe this, devoting themselves to the attainment of what is commonly called, “sinless perfection.”

1 John 3:9 (NIV) –

[9] 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.

But is this doctrine really taught in the Bible?

The ANSWER is “no” for two reasons:

#1.  There is clear teaching in the Bible.

When you come to a difficult passage to understand and explain the meaning to others, we should seek to interpret it in context with clearer teachings offered in Scripture.  To say this passage teaches a Christian never commits SIN contradicts clear teaching in this same book of the Bible:

#2.  There is the common testimony of the Bible.

In the Bible, we are told of the great Saints, all of whom were imperfect!  The Word of God doesn’t cover up their faults.  It’s made very clear in Scripture that there’s only One spoken of who is SINLESS–Jesus Christ.

For these TWO REASONS, we should say that the Bible doesn’t teach sinless perfection.  But if that is the case, what’s the deal with the words given in 1 John 3:9 mean then?

As a “Word detective” I, of course, wanted to look at this verse in an effort to find the answer to the questions that can and will arise.

GOD’S PROVISION – vs. 4-5 (Amplified Bible)

[4] Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect–being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and will).

[5]  You know that He appeared in visible form and became Man to take away [upon Himself] sins, and in Him, there is no sin [essentially and forever].

I love to use different Bible translations in studying Scripture, helping me answer questions that can arise.  And it goes without saying, Holy Spirit always clarifies the answer.

When Jesus came into the world, He made a perfect provision for our salvation which makes it possible our DELIVERANCE from SIN’S PENALTY…SIN’S POWER, and eventually, SIN’S PRESENCE.

Therefore, Jesus’ SACRIFICE provided us with daily VICTORY over SIN in our life.

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 of His Creation that was lost in the Garden (Genesis Chapter 3).

But He also needed to see the JUSTICE carried out with respect to the violation of His law.  How could these TWO attributes be satisfied simultaneously?

THE CROSS.  It had to be!

God took on flesh in the person of Christ Jesus to do for mankind what we could never do for ourselves–pay the PENALTY for our SIN in such a way to make possible a personal relationship with Himself.  NOW THAT’S REAL LOVE!

In searching the Scriptures, the PENALTY of our sin is so great, that left to pay it on our own, requires an eternity’s worth of suffering, meaning that we would never be able to be set free from sin’s penalty and have a RELATIONSHIP with Abba, Father.

God took on FLESH in the person of Jesus and lived a SINLESS life in order to QUALIFY and represent human race and pay the PENALTY of 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 to the entire human race and proved that sin’s penalty was fully PAID by being raised from the dead, ascending back to heaven leaving an offering of the Holy Spirit to bind the relationship with Himself to all who choose to receive His GIFT of eternal life.

Romans 6:23 (Easy-to-read Version -ERV)

[23] When people sin, they earn what sin pays–death.  But God gives his people a free gift–eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Nature of His Provision (vs. 5, 8) –

  • He came to provide us VICTORY over sin (vs. 5).
  • He came to provide us VICTORY over Satan (vs. 8).

ILLUSTRATION: The Dallas Texans, Not the Cowboys *[See Footnote [i] ]

The first NFL franchise in the state was in 1952–The Dallas Texans.

The Texans had a brief history and existing for only one year, posting a win/loss record of 1-11.  A former member of the team, before he was cut, recalls a story of the team’s equipment manager, Willie Garcia, who had never seen a football game in his life.  “Willie had one wooden leg.  When they kicked the ball into the high grass during practice, no one wanted to go after it because of SNAKES.  Willie would volunteer and said, ‘I’ve got a 50-50 chance 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, the FEAR of him should no longer be.

By the PROVISION of the Savior, our lives need not be dominated by SIN and SATAN!

The PRACTICE of the SAVED (vs. 6-7) –

 

John doesn’t say a SAVED PERSON won’t sin.  What he does say is a Christian won’t “keep on sinning.”

The Amplified Bible reads “[deliberately, knowing, and habitually]” commits SIN.

So truly SAVED people DON’T live to do what God says is wrong!

They DO practice RIGHTEOUSNESS (Vs. 7) –

A truly Saved Person, a genuine Christian, lives to do what is right in God’s eyes and not their own.  John says those who are born again DON’T PRACTICE SIN but practice RIGHTEOUSNESS.

SIN in the life of a true believer should be the exception and not the rule.  If you are genuine in your belief, you don’t practice SIN.

So what does the word “PRACTICE” mean? 

The English Oxford Dictionary, Item #3 reads  “a Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.”  

SAVED people occasionally do wrong, just as the LOST occasionally do right.

The FACT that the SAVED occasionally does what is wrong doesn’t make him any less saved than the FACT that a LOST person who occasionally is found doing something right makes him any less lost.

In Matthew 7:17, Jesus says that a corrupt tree brings forth corrupt fruit and a good tree brings forth good fruit.  Occasionally you might find a good apple off a bad tree, and occasionally you might get a bad apple off a good tree, but normally, the FRUIT of a good tree will be good.

So it is in the life of a child of God.

That’s what John is saying here.  He’s not saying you will never sin if you’re a child of God.  He’s saying that the direction you take should be pointed toward God–doing the things that please Him.

The POWER OF SALVATION (Vs. 9-10) –

[9] Those who are children of God do not continue to sin, for God’s very nature is in them; and because God is their Father, they cannot continue to sin.

[10] Here is the clear difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children; those who do not do what is right or do not love others are not God’s children.  Good News Translation (GNT)

When one is BORN AGAIN…born of the Spirit (1 John 3:6-7)the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his/her life (Romans 8:16; Ephesians 1:13-14).

As a result of the Spirit’s presence, we should have…

A NEW DESIRE (V. 9 b ).

The phrase, “they cannot continue to sin” speaks of the NEW DESIRE on the part of those who are BORN AGAIN.

The apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 7:22 (AMP): 

For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].

The Bible says that when a person is SAVED…BORN AGAIN, “God writes His law on their heart” (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).

The CHILD OF GOD has the DESIRE to do what God says is right.  That doesn’t mean we always succeed, but it does mean that is what we want to do!

A Methodist Evangelist named Dr. Morrison taught the Doctrine of Holiness and it was said that he came closer to practicing it than most people do.  Someone once asked Dr. Morrison jokingly, “Dr. Morrison, have you gotten to a place where you cannot sin?”  Dr. Morrison answered, “No, my brother, I have not yet gotten to where I cannot sin, but I have gotten to where I cannot sin and enjoy it.”

That’s to be the testimony of every truly born again child of God.

Learning How To Live In GENUINENESS By Yielding to the Spirit –

“Yielding to” in Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary uses the Greek word “Peitho”; to PERSUADE BY, in contrast to “yielding” to one’s own SINFUL NATURE, something Paul had to grow to learn and as something every ‘GENUINE CHRISTIAN’ likewise needs to grow and learn.

2 Peter 1:3-4

 

An unbeliever has one nature, received a birth; a sinful nature.

But when we TRUST CHRIST, receiving a NEW nature with the Spirit’s presence in our life, a new power is provided for us.  No longer do we need to surrender to our sinful nature, give into temptation and live for sin.  Our DESIRE should be to surrender to the leading of Holy Spirit, resisting temptation and living for God!  That my friends is GENUINENESS!!

A NEW BELIEVER asked a church small group how they were doing in their Christian walk, especially around others.  They replied that it felt like they had a black dog and a white dog inside of them, constantly fighting with each other.  They were asked which dog was winning.  And their REPLY?  “The one I feed the most.”

Looking at your lifestyle right now.  Which one are you feeding the most?

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FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Story printed in the Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1992.

Dictionary used:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Words.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, using Bible verses as a reference.

Bible Translations:  Noted in the text.

 

In the Words of Humpty Dumpty… “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean”

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF JUDGES…Chapters 17-18 –

The Following From “Through the Looking Glass”

Humpty Dumpty and Alice were having an in-depth conversation about birthday presents.  Because Humpty Dumpty’s physical appearance (no neck and no waist), Alice had made a remark about his beautiful belt and was promptly corrected to “a beautiful cravat.”  Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry though he said nothing for a minute or two.

Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry though he said nothing for a minute or two.  He informs Alice that his “cravat was a present from the White King and Queen.  “They gave it to me–for an un-birthday present.”

“I beg your pardon?”  Alice said with a puzzled air…I mean what is an ‘un-birthday present’?”  

“A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.”

Alice considered for awhile, “I like birthdays best.”  

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” cried Humpty Dumpty.  “How many days are there in a year?” 

“There are three hundred and sixty-five,” said Alice.

“And how many birthdays have you?” 

“One.”

“And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what remains?”

“Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.”

Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful at Alice’s math.  “I’d rather see that on paper,” he said.  

Alice couldn’t help smiling as she took out her memorandum-book, and worked the sum for him.

365

-1

364

Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully.  “That seems to be done right.”

“You’re holding it upside down,” Alice interrupted.

“To be sure I was!”  Humpty Dumpty said as she turned it around for him.  “That surely shows that these are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents.”

“Certainly,” said Alice.

“And only ONE for birthday presents, you know.  There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled…”Of course, you don’t–till I tell you.  I meant there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master–that’s all.”

[See Footnote [i] ]

It seems a bit silly, doesn’t it?  “When I use a word it means whatever I choose it to mean?”  What would life be like with no absolute, no certainties, nothing to measure oneself by.

The Bible tells us that there was a time just like that when people measured themselves…by themselves.  The Book of Judges points this out for us to meditate on:

Judges 17:6 (NIV) –  In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Sound familiar?

SCRIPTURE FOUND IN JUDGES 17 –

 

Spiritual Anarchy Always Results In MORAL Collapse –

It follows this pattern:

  1. You have a person with no moral compass.
  2. They meet another person with no moral compass.
  3. They multiply their SIN and spiritually bankrupt themselves and a DANGER to others.

A Pathetic Story is unveiled.

Son of a wealthy family…looking for the easy way out.  MICAH didn’t want to wait for inheritance…didn’t want to work for anything…saw what he wanted…and with no moral compass…took it.

JUDGES 17:1o indicates that ten shekels of silver a year was an adequate wage.

[10]  And Micah said to him, “Dwell with me and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver each year, a suit of clothes, and your living…”  (AMP)

Therefore, 1,100 shekels was a great fortune (vs. 2).

But without the true belief in God, Micah fell prey to superstition, feared his mother’s curse and so confessed his sin.  

And it was easy to pick up on how this young man got there…A THIEF.  He learned it at his mother’s knee.  She stole 900 shekels from God.

I see one of the true tragedies of our times where so many parents who are steering through some sort of MORAL FOG of relativism…having no moral bearings or compass to pass on to their children.  So, their children get deeper and deeper into the FOG.

I see my own extended family…PARENTS abandoning the church, the Word, and the faith.  What is left…NO ABSOLUTES…just relativism.

And the grandchildren parents…the relativism doesn’t match the relativism of their friends, so they pick and choose.  There’s no king, no absolute or higher law…so they do what is right in their own sight.

Notice in the verses, how the mother didn’t even correct her son for stealing.  How could she–a THIEF herself!  Not only was she guilty of failing to do right by him…she was guilty of leading him to sin.  She was the one responsible for getting him into IDOLATRY.

EXODUS 20:4-5 (NIV)

[4] “You shall not make for yourself an idol; in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  [5] You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”

This is what happens when you combine two hearts and minds, both wicked and neither having principles…The SIN is multiplied…IDOLATRY.  That’s the reason God wants us to have Christians friends, partners, and spouse.  Two persons without MORAL COMPASSES combine their SIN and then you become spiritually bankrupt, spiritually malnourished and starving.

God’s ANGER burned against Micah, his mother, and now Micah’s son.

That’s the Nature of Sin…it always takes you farther than you wanted and always keeps you longer than you wanted.  It always involves others.

MICAH consecrated one of his sons to be his Priest.  Sin because ONLY God can consecrate someone as a priest.  MICAH and his mother have now dragged Micah’s son into the quagmire.

But Micah wasn’t finished yet…his SIN would get much deeper, endangering many more people.

Here’s a 2nd Sad Case… we have a person who is a Levite but not a priest (not in the lineage of Aaron) but he is masquerading as a priest.  He’s dissatisfied with his position and his inheritance.

When Israel was divided among the 12 tribes…

The tribe of LEVI is the only one who didn’t receive a territory–they received 8 cities.  They received no land and were to be supported by the tithes of the other 11 tribes.  A LEVITE would never own land or have riches.

But the LEVITE wanted more and left Bethlehem (17:8).

He had determined that he would go whereever…do whatever and make a name and fortune.  He had lost his moral/spiritual compass, what’s right and wrong…resolutions, different from Micah.

MICAH never had a compass, but the Levite did.

The LEVITE and MICAH meet (17:9-13).

This was an accident waiting to happen meeting another accident waiting to happen!

THE RESULT: BIG BANG!

Micah wanted a proper Levitical priest (to get God’s favor) and the Levite wanted fortune and fame.  They were a perfect match…made in Hell!

The LEVITE was a member of the CLERGY…not a priest.

He wasn’t supposed to be a PRIEST…not from the priestly family.  In Numbers 16, God caused the ground to swallow a LEVITE that tried to be a priest.

BUT HE WAS HAPPY!

He had been dissatisfied with his position God had placed him in for his life, and now, he was determined to make his own plans and he was happy…at least for a while.

He was serving an IDOL, sacrificing to an IDOL, leading others in the process to do the same.  The Levite had moved beyond the sins of PRIDE and INGRATITUDE…was now in the big leagues…IDOLATRY.

Now he was spiritually destroyed and in danger to others around him.  But his sin had not reached its peak.

3rd Sad Story (Judges chapter 18)

 

Scripture tells us that the tribe of Dan was seeking an INHERITANCE  ” for themselves”  (verse 1).  They were not satisfied with God’s plan.  And God’s PLAN for them: He had given the land between Ephraim and Judah, stretching to the Mediterranean Sea.

It wasn’t as they claimed, that God had not given them a territory to possess, but rather that they chose NOT to possess it because that would cause them to have to defeat the Amorites living there.  Their FAITH in God’s promises was lacking.

They loved the junk-food of easy living.  

“GOD’S WAY IS TOO HARD…WE WANT AN EASIER WAY!”

That’s what Micah said…that was what the Levite said…now Dan says it.

And today it is the CRY of Society…God’s way is too hard, too demanding…we want a new God.

So the tribe of Dan left their homes in the Promised Land and sought a new, easier place to live.  They left their COMPASS of absolute right and wrong…lost in relativism.  That’s where they were when they met the LEVITE, another one without a COMPASS.

REMEMBER: they are guilty of disobedience, lack of faith, fear, and last but not least…LAZINESS.

They are looking for a god to stamp–validate their plans, and the Levite is looking to move up…BIG BANG!

They took the Levite to be THEIR Priest and the gods of Micah to be their own.

Look how steep the slope has become…

It started with a SINFUL MOTHER with no principles, no king, and she was in danger.

She led her son into IDOLATRY.

MICAH became spiritually bankrupt and dangerous to others.

Micah led the Levite into IDOLATRY.

The LEVITE became spiritually bankrupt, malnourished and dangerous to others.

The Levite led Dan into IDOLATRY.

The Story Is the Same…Only the Names Change Throughout History.

Eve lost her COMPASS…met the serpent with no compass, fell into SIN…danger to others.

Samson lost his COMPASS…met women with none…fell into SIN…danger to others.

David, Solomon, Jacob, the list goes on.

When you get to the point where you are no longer satisfied with God’s way because it’s too hard, it doesn’t give you what you want, it’s NOT fun…then you decide to choose your own way of doing things…you toss away the COMPASS…absolute right and wrong.

You’re bound to run into others like yourself.

Together, you will get more LOST, deeper into SIN.  You too will become morally/spiritually BANKRUPT.  You become a danger to others and you have NO COMPASS.

WHAT’S THE CURE?

You’ve got to hold on to the COMPASS, no matter what!

What is the COMPASS?

The Word…the Holy Spirit.

As long as you have the Word of God in your heart, Holy Spirit in the driver’s seat, and not deceived by the bogus teachings or promises of the world.

But it all starts right here…Satan’s first move is to get you off the straight and narrow; to give up the COMPASS…the ABSOLUTES.  

To accept RELATIVISM…” the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society…is not absolute” (Google dictionary).

  • All roads lead to God,
  • All religions are the same.
  • Each person must decide for self what is right and wrong,
  • Other religions have their bibles,
  • There are no ABSOLUTES.

With it, he has you!

No matter how good your reasoning and rationale might seem, if God calls it SIN…then it’s SIN.

We need to make sure that as Christians, we never slide into the category of “Doing what is right in our lives.”  

That we never define our actions with the attitude “Whenever I use a word it means whatever I choose it to mean,” said Humpty Dumpty scornfully.

____________________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  Alice in Wonderland – Wiki – Humpty Dumpty a novel by Lewis Carrol and Who Says It’s Right?  by Denn Guptill, Jan. 5, 2004.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – advanced SETTINGS.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.