I have been reading 1 John, and, just to quote two verses, he says;

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

(All Scripture references are taken from the ESV.)

Is there forgiveness to the believer who finds himself in this position? I’m thinking of James 5:19 & 20:

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

But Hebrews 10:26 says:

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

So, does a believer who "wanders (planēthē) from the truth", fall into the same category as a Christian who habitually sins? Is this not one and the same thing? Is not wandering from the truth the same as ignoring or rejecting the truth?

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! If you would be so kind as to add version references to your quotes, it would be greatly appreciated. If they all come from the same, just note that once ("All verse references are from the NIV/NASB"). I would figure it out and paste them for you, but my browser is acting up today regarding BibleGateway.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 18:01
  • Hi Frank, all verses quoted are from the ESV, thanks for the heads up.
    – Anthony
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 20:28

1 Answer 1


I think if you look at the context of the verses in 1 John you will see that he was very much concerned with protecting believers from false teaching and false teachers. He starts out in verse 7 with:

"Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray."

It seems to me, here he was trying to help them to identify false teachers, not necessarily to make a diagnosis upon Christians who still sin - as we all do!

The verses from James come, as you know, from a section where he is giving advice to believers about bearing up under suffering and helping out fellow believers. To try to help a fellow believer who has "wandered away" would therefore be consistent with what precedes it.

The piece from Hebrews reminds me of a proverb I was giving some thought to the other day.

"A righteous man falls seven times and rises.

An evil man falls but once" (Prov 24:16 NIV).

We will sin. It is inevitable. But as we know, God is concerned with our hearts and motivation. A righteous person will still sin but he will know he has sinned. He will acknowledge his sin, ask for forgiveness and try to learn from his mistakes and not repeat them. He is still at heart a righteous man.

An evil man probably neither knows nor cares he is a sinner. I think the key phrase in the Hebrew quote is deliberately. To continue to sin deliberately and knowingly should not be the practice of a Christian.

This is the first time I have posted on here. I have read the advice so hope I have followed the correct format and everything is acceptable?!

  • Thanks for joining us! If you like, you can hyperlink your verse citations, so that with a click anyone can check the verse (to include its wider context). I had a quick question for you: Do you think that overlooking sins (forgiveness or passing over) is warranted in cases where the believer is sinning against the collective body of believers, or perhaps against the authority of the one who is leading those believers? In other words, is there a difference between sinning one-on-one (forgiveness is always unconditional) and sinning one-on-many (forgiveness is sometimes conditional)?
    – Joseph
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 14:43
  • Welcome to SEBHB! I've taken the liberty of editing your fine answer--rest assured, there was nothing major! You can highlight Scripture or a paragraph or more of quoted material by preceding the verse (or the other material you're quoting) with a >. Press "enter" twice after the first line, as I did in your verse from Proverbs, and precede the second line of your quotation with a >. To create a hyperlink, highlight (for example) a word in your text, such as "Constable"; go to Constable's web site; highlight and copy the IP address; go back to your answer; click the chain icon; paste the IPA. Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 16:49

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