Verses to review today: 1 John 2:26-3:5
New Verse: 1 John 3:6
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (ESV)
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (KJV)
Greek: πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει• πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν.
Transliterated Greek: pas ho en autō menōn ouch hamartanei• pas ho hamartanōn ouch heōraken auton oude egnōken auton.
Literal Word for Word Translation: everyone who is abiding in him does not sin, everyone who is sinning has not seen him and has not known him.
Vocab: μένων, menōn, he is abiding; οὐχ, ouch, not; ἁμαρτάνει, hamartanei, he sins; ἁμαρτάνων, hamartanōn, he is sinning; ἑώρακεν, heōraken, he has seen; ἔγνωκεν, egnōken, he has known.
Commentary: The ESV translation, as well as NIV, say for the first part of this verse “keeps on sinning.” The KJV, NASB, and HCSB, as well as my literal translation above, say, “does not sin,” or equivalent. The translation of “keeps on sinning,” is for clarification so that no one misunderstands John’s intent. The problem is that such translators are assuming that is what John meant because of the fact that believers do still sin even in the midst of making it their lifestyle to not continue in patterns of sin. One thing that is clear is the second part of the verse. Those who do keep on sinning as a pattern of their lifestyle do not know and have not seen the nature of the living Christ. I don’t think there is any doubt in most people’s understanding of the Scriptures, and of previous verses in 1 John about abiding in the light, obeying His commandments, and so forth, that a lifestyle change is a result of being saved – meaning, knowing intimately God and Jesus Christ. Obedience does not make one saved, but one who is saved is obedient.
Before a person knows the person they marry, they live for themselves. Maybe they live for their parents or someone, but for the most part, most people live for themselves. When a person falls in love with the one they will marry, they will do things they would not have done on their own because they love the other. They do not want to displease the other – particularly early on. It is no different with salvation. When one is saved, they love Jesus. How can they love one they do not know? And of course, if they don’t know Him, they don’t know what to do to please Him and they can’t really love Him. When someone just says a prayer for salvation, it can be selfishly motivated and there be no change. Yet, when a person personally meets the living Christ and experiences His love, they fall in love with Him and give their lives to Him – they can’t help it. So, when we see a person who keeps on sinning as a lifestyle pattern, we can be sure they are not saved.
But still, what about the first part of the verse? Verses 1:8-9 indicate that those who do sin, but confess it, are still being forgiven of it and that everyone has some sin. So, 3:6 cannot possibly be saying that a person does not sin ever again. But, do note that it is saying those who abide in Jesus do not sin. Now a believer always is abiding in Jesus as far as being saved is concerned. However, if we think about how sin in a believer’s life works, we know that we sin when we are thinking about ourselves and we are not likely to sin when we are focused on Jesus. Abiding in Him can mean keeping our focus on Him in everything we do. If we will keep our eyes on Him, we will not sin. Who would sin if Jesus was standing right next to him looking at him? So, if we keep our spiritual eyes on Him, if we abide in Him, we can move from sin to purity at least for the time we are keeping our eyes there. The problem is that in our human weakness, we constantly are tending to look at ourselves rather than Jesus, like sheep constantly going astray, and so we do sin. The point is to confess it, be forgiven, and get back to looking at Jesus. Having the Holy Spirit in us gives us a desire to want to please Him and to want to cut sin out of our lives. So, when we do fail, we just confess and get back to gazing at the Lord! In essence, we do not keep on sinning as a pattern of life in general as a believer, and we do not sin at all at those times when our eyes are focused completely on Christ.