Being without sin

I was just reading and came across 1 John 3:6 and it’s supposed conflict with 1 John 1:8.

Reading them through they seem to compliment one another rather than contradict.

1 John 3:6 describes the one who is remaining in Christ. “Every one who remains in Him [Christ] does not sin” Perhaps it would be clearer to say that, “Everyone who is continuously remaining in Him does not sin.” The emphasis is on the continuously remaining. The tense is present – emphatically pointing out current practice.

1 John 1:8 by contrast says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” This points to a binary statement (i.e. true or false) we make about ourselves. Do we recognize that we carry the baggage of our sin with us?

The focus on 3:6 is not on the sin, but on remaining in Christ, and the result of remaining in Christ is that we cease from sin. This doesn’t mean we have no sin, rather it is about us not sinning. It is entirely possible to recognize we carry the baggage of sin (in our history, in our flesh), to confess that sin, and to remain in Christ and so not sin habitually.

The big question really is, how effective are we at remaining in Christ?

For most of us, the answer is not really, and so we take our eyes off Christ (Col 3:2), lapse into sin, catch ourselves, confess our sin to the Lord and each other, and seek to change our hearts by washing ourselves with the Word and abiding in Him.

Christian maturity then, can in one sense be measured by our effectiveness at remaining in Christ, and thereby living a holy life.

Scroll to Top