I had a friend ask me recently about my take on 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." Wow, take a moment and think about that!
It's difficult to consider the implications of that verse - because we are all sinners (people who, well, sin!). It's our nature. And it's something that John spoke about a lot in his Gospel and in 1 John. In 1 John 1:6-10 John makes another statement that echoes that of 3:6. He says that if we say we have fellowship with Christ but walk in darkness that we are liars. If we say we're sinless we're deceiving ourselves. If we say we haven't sinned we make Christ out to be a liar! On the positive side of things, John writes in 1 John 2:5-6 that God's love is perfected in us when we keep His word and walk in the same way He walks. John goes on to explain that by walking in darkness (as mentioned in Chapter 1) he means specifically that we aren't loving each other.
Later in Chapter 2 (1 John 2:15-17), John states that the love of this present world is something else that proves we do not love God. In a brief discussion about "anti-christs" that were among them but didn't confess Christ (1 John 2:18-27), John states they never were truly "of us."
However, the section in 1 John 2:28-3:10 is where I would like to focus in this post. This section starts with perhaps the key statement that we who know him and practice righteousness have been born of him (see also John 3:3-8). We have "been born of him" - we are "called children of God". We will one day be like him, but not yet.
Certainly, much of the direct context we've read so far shows that John was focusing heavily on Christians needing to love each other. And even the rest of his letter after this section deals heavily with this theme. So, this is extremely important - for how can we love Christ if we don't love his bride (the Church)? But a broader application of 1 John 3:6, and one that I believe has much scriptural basis, is that we simply cannot have life more abundant as followers of Christ when we are continually seeking after something that is contrary to what His will is in our lives! Daily, do you wake up planning to do what's against His will? Do you go to sleep at night knowing that tomorrow will be a continuation of disobedience to God? I believe this is what John is talking about. Do people struggle with daily sins? Of course! Paul even said that he does what he doesn't want to do and doesn't do what he wants to because of the indwelling sin in his life (Romans 7:19-20)!
Of course we are going to stumble and fall, but I believe that we should take heed to this warning John is giving to us in this verse. This is especially true, in context, of those who live their lives daily with anger and resentment toward another brother or sister in Christ. And let's not forget 1 John 3:7 immediately following it - "Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous." This is how we know we are His children, and what a blessing that is! We are working hand-in-hand with our Savior towards our sanctification! (Philippians 2:12-13)
Just a couple of hours after my friend brought up this topic, I was in the car listening to some Page CXVI and Come Thou Fount was playing and the words to that hymn are so fitting with what I believe John is teaching us in this letter:
"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee."
Or as I re-phrased it - Grace! Each day we are indebted to it. And Christ's goodness binds us to him as with handcuffs to keep us from wandering!