John puts it plainly: “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:6-8) We remember from last time that “sin is lawlessness”; therefore, no one who lives in him lives lawlessly (sinfully), but instead practices righteousness.
As we look at “whoever abides in Him does not sin” and compare it to an earlier Scripture we discussed a couple of weeks ago, we might scratch our heads. The previous verse is: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn 1:8) First let’s keep in mind who wrote this. John is an intelligent and loving person who does not say on one page something that is contradicted on another page. He is an inspired apostle, and he writes with wisdom, intelligence, and understanding.
The problem is really settled by the tense of the verb the apostle employs here in 1 Jn 3:6. He uses the present continuous tense for the word sins, which means “no one who abides in him keeps on sinning”. If John had wanted to refer to a single act of sin, he would have said, without any question, “No one who abides in him can commit even one single act of sin”. But he didn’t say that. He instead used this continuous tense, and to note this will help us a great deal in understanding the passage. So he is saying, “Anyone who abides in Christ does not go on living in sin”.
But we must not miss the trees because we are so intent upon the wood. How do we avoid living lawlessly and come to this place of not living sinfully? Well, as he puts it, it is all in this one word: abides: “Whoever abides in Him does not sin”. The key is abiding. We have already seen that the relationship of believers to Jesus Christ involves them in two aspects. Abiding in Christ is an advance on simply being “in Christ”. Our Lord Himself spoke of these two aspects of a disciple’s relationship to Him. He described them by these words: “you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you” (John 14:20b).
The first relationship is that we are in Christ. “You are in me” is to be “in Christ”. It is to believe, to receive Jesus Christ. It is to be joined in a union with Him that results in new birth. It is to act upon His invitation to come into our life. When we do, we are “in Christ”.
But what frees us from sin’s reign is the second relationship: “I am in you”, by which we experience by an attitude of faith. Christ is in us, as He makes His home in our hearts. We allow Him to live through us. We expect Him to do so in every moment of our experience. It is this that’s called abiding, which frees us from the bondage and power of sin so that we can live godly lives: “Whoever abides in Him does not sin” because He is at home in our hearts and we willingly relinquish control to His lordship. Christ’s righteousness literally and radically revolutionizes lives. The power of His indwelling Presence is life-changing. Have we in faith accepted the abiding Truth?
Thank You, Lord, that this is the continuing experience of those who come into relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, who offers Himself to me for this very purpose. Make me a living example of this revolutionary exchange: “You in me and I in You”.
Source: Abide In Him by Ray Steadman