By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XLIII) 09/10/21

3:9 The person who has been born into God’s family does not make a practice of sinning because now God’s life is in them; so they can’t keep on sinning, for this new life controls them – they have been born again.

There are sins which to a reasonable person are by God’s grace quite unthinkable. We find that in the meaning of “abide.” Since it is uncertain, it can either mean, (1) “Their seed abides in Him,” that is, those who are born of God abide in God; or (2) “His seed abides in them,” namely, the new principle which they have received from God continues to operate in them; or (3) God’s quickening gift of eternal life continues to operate in the person.[1] But this last one is the least probable of the three interpretations; John would probably have written in this sense. “His seed abides in them.” Note the tense of the concluding verbs, gennaó (“be born”) gennaō (“was born”), showing that their birth from God continues still, not one that is past and gone.

Now, some teach that Christians can reach a point of sinless perfection where they do not sin again. It is possible from this view not to commit even one act of sin.  John already argued against this view.[2] Others teach that this verse refers to only willful sins. Therefore, it does not apply to real Christians. They might slide into sin unintentionally, but they cannot reasonably go into sin intentionally. Neither of these two interpretations is harmonizing with this text. John uses the term “born” metaphorically of God conferring His nature upon believers. He imparts spiritual life at the moment of conversion.[3] We can translate “has been born” to “beget,” “engender,” “bring forth,” “produce.”[4] The words “has been born” are in the Greek perfect tense and indicate that spiritual birth occurred in the past, with the results continuing to be in effect. We receive a divine nature at the point of salvation that continues until we go to glory.

The principle behind this is that God imparts the attribute of eternal life to us at the point of salvation. Thus, Christians are the spiritual offspring of God[5] by promise.[6] Consequentially, we believe that the spiritual life imparted to believers abides in them forever, without the possibility of extinction. God’s “seed” is God’s nature or capacity implanted into the believer at salvation.[7]  It is the fundamental truth that God imparted this component of life at redemption.[8] The Greek indicates a universal negative in the phrase “does not sin.”  No one with a divine nature can sin. The new core is a perfect creation[9] by God at the point of salvation.

Let’s look at it this way: Children share the nature of their parents. When a child begins to demonstrate specific features of their parents, it manifests the character of their parents. In the same way, we get our spiritual nature from God in its entirety. This unique nature is sinless. We cannot alter or lose the old nature or the new nature, for that matter. Thus, we have the “seed” of eternal life in us. Once God gives it, it is unalterable, unforfeitable, and inextinguishable. But there’s more. The old nature can do nothing but sin; the new nature cannot sin.  So, it makes for a gigantic tug of war between these two natures. There is no peaceful coexistence between them. They cannot get along together because they are opposites.[10]

The Greek word for “seed” is semen. “Seed” carries the idea of descendants, children, posterity. The idea in this verse is the germination of a new life planted by the Holy Spirit through regeneration. Since the sperm carries the hereditary characteristic and life principles of the parents, God’s seed resides continuously in His children. In other words, it “remains” in us, which conveys the idea of permanence. The believer will never lose God’s nature that resides in them once they become a Christian. The promise of eternal life to the believer can never be reversed. As we cannot cease existing as humans and become cows, neither can we lose our new nature nor trade it in for another one. But that begs the question.

Can a Christian lose their promised salvation? Once we receive the Anointed One as Savior, we cannot lose our salvation because we hold to the same status quo before the Father as Jesus does. Positionally, we are perfect before the Father with the Anointed One’s righteousness and eternal life.  These are permanent and can never be lost for any reason.[11]

In fact, a Christian is still a Christian even though they disown the Lord. Just like the Apostle Peter, he was still a disciple even after denying he knew Jesus. Therefore, the Bible assumes the possibility that a Christian might discard the Lord at some point in their life. But although they disavow Him, He will not reject them. The Lord will not go back on His promises. He can withhold our reward,[12] but He cannot refuse our claim to salvation any more than He can reverse the new birth.

We stay in the family in which we were born during our journey on earth. We belong to that family whether we ever see them again or not. But, once we believe in Jesus the Anointed One, God puts us into His family forever. He gives us an eternal inheritance[13] as part of His family. Thus, God sovereignly keeps our salvation for us:[14] The Holy Spirit seals the salvation for every Christian so that no one can break that closure. He encloses us until we meet the Lord face to face.[15]

There is nothing you can do, nor anyone else can do to lose your salvation. The responsibility is upon God to save our soul once we believe in the Anointed One. Why try keeping something you cannot lose? Doing so distorts your walk with the Lord. This inability of the Christian sinning is from the source of their divine capacity, not their human capacity or “flesh.”  God’s nature that resides in the believer cannot sin one iota. That is, our new nature cannot sin because it has been born of God. Sounds good so far, doesn’t it? But that’s not yet the whole story.

To reiterate, just as a child shares the nature of their parent, so the child of God shares God’s character. Thus, the idea of “practicing sin” is entirely alien to the Apostle John’s thought in this verse.[16] John loves stark contrasts. For instance, all sin finds its origin in the devil[17] and not from the new nature. Another, the divine nature of God’s child cannot sin. His Parent is sinless, so the divine nature is sinless. The old nature or capacity to sin is nothing but satanic.  It springs from an unregenerate heart with room for more.[18]

Finally, we must acknowledge that being spiritually alive is a necessity. The filling of the Holy Spirit or control of the Holy Spirit over our lives is absolute. The pretend Christian walks in darkness, but the spiritual believer walks in the Light [God’s absolute perfection.][19] Our sinful tendencies do nothing but persuade us to sin.  It cannot profit the Christian in any way. The flesh is a dynamic entity.  It will not lay dormant.[20] The rebirthed spirit loves, forgives, is full of compassion and mercy, and is kind. The old nature may be refined and cultured, but it is full of self. It cannot be converted, cured, or saved on its own. All of us have Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in us.[21] If we can label the differences between the sin capacity and the divine capacity, we are on our way to conquest in the Christian life. Our desire to stick up for ourselves or to have things our way is the operation of the flesh. It is not easy to lead these things to the cross because we want to be the center of everything.

A spiritually alive Christian labels these things as sin. They maintain tender feelings toward the Lord. They can detect right and wrong, good and bad. Our spiritual emotions become calloused when we step out of fellowship with the Lord and allow our capacity to sin to dominate us. Both a pig and a sheep can fall into a mud puddle. The pig remains perfectly content in such filth because part of its character is to roll in the dirty sludge. The sheep are not pleased to squirm around in miry clay because it is contrary to their temperament. They want out as quickly as possible. If believers genuinely possess a holy mind and soul, they will be uncomfortable in sin because it is contrary to their new creation.

Keep in mind, sin can enslave a genuine Christian, but they will never be comfortable under the domination of sin. In principle, Jesus brought an end to sin’s reign. That became the believer’s privilege and power. They have a new ruling mindset that motivates and inspires them. The needle in the compass may turn from its magnetic marker for a moment, but it always comes back to the right pole.[22] No Christian is sinlessly perfect. They have a faultless nature at their spiritual birth, but they cannot sin with that divine quality. While they abide in the Anointed One through His divine nature, they cannot cause Him to sin. The moment they sin, it is from their old self, not the new.

[1] See Isaiah 53:10

[2] See 1 John 1:6, 8, 10; 2:1-2

[3] 1 John 3:3, 5-7; 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:4, 18

[4] See 1 John 5:1

[5] See Romans 4:16, 18; 9:8

[6] Galatians 3:29

[7] Cf. 1 John 2:29; 4:7; 5:1, 14, 18

[8] John 1:12-13; cf. 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2 Peter 1:4

[9] Ephesians 2:24; Colossians 3:10

[10] Romans 7:18-19; Galatians 5:17

[11] Ibid. 8:31-39; John 10:28-29

[12] 1 Timothy 2:12-13

[13] 1 Peter 1:4-5

[14] Jude 1:24-25

[15] Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30

[16] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[17] 1 John 3:8

[18] Romans 7:17

[19] 1 John 1:5-7

[20] Romans 13:14

[21] The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a novella (a short, concise story with a simple plot) by Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1886. The names of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the two alter egos of the main character, have become shorthand for the exhibition of wildly contradictory behavior, especially between private and public selves.

[22] Genesis 39:9

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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