Analyzing the Greek
- οὐ (G3756) not Adv
- δύναται (G1410) he is able V-PIM/P-3S
- ἁμαρτάνειν (G264)to continue sinning, V-PNA
Some Translation Options
- he is not able to continue sinning
- he cannot continue sinning
- he cannot sin
But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. (Job 32:8 NKJV)
An Introduction to how the Hebrews Defined 'Breath'
In the Hebrew mind we are composed of three entities; body, breath and mind. The body is the flesh, bones and blood, the vessel. The mind is ones thoughts and emotions. The breath is ones character, what makes a person who they are. (source)
So you can see why it is translated as Spirit. However the word spirit lacks the meaning of the breath. This missing English attribute can cause some confusion if not specified in the correct context.
Breath is sometimes a better translation for the word then Spirit here are a few examples
All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. (Genesis 7:22 NKJV)
But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him. (Judges 6:34 NKJV)
What it means to be 'Born of the Breath'
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NKJV)
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. (John 3:6 NKJV)
What we Hear and See we do not receive
Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. (John 3:11 NKJV)
Forgiveness is Decided by how we Hear and See
so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven. (Mark 4:12 NKJV)
The Command to Listen
He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:9 NKJV) (equivalent to Mark 4:9), 43; Mark 4:23; Luke 14:35 (comp. Mark 8:18; Luke 9:44; Revelation 2. and 3; 13:9).
Parables about Listening
New cloth, New wine. Lamp on a stand. Moneylender forgives unequal debts. Lamp on a stand (2nd time). Rich man builds bigger barns. Servants must remain watchful. Wise and foolish servants. Sower of seeds into four types of soil. Weeds among good plants. Growing seed. Mustard seed. Yeast. Hidden treasure. Pearl. Fishing net. Owner of a house. Lost sheep. The sheep, gate, and shepherd. Master and his servant. Unmerciful servant. Friend in need. Lowest seat at the feast. Invitation to a great banquet. Cost of discipleship. Shrewd manager. Workers in the vineyard, early and late. Persistent widow and crooked judge. Pharisee and tax collector. King's servants given minas. Wicked tenants. Invitation to a wedding banquet. Signs from a fig tree. Wise and foolish servants. Wise and foolish virgins. Servants must remain watchful. Three servants given talents. Sheep and goats will be separated.
Harmonize it with Chapter 1
To understand 1 John one must understand what the Light is.
What is the Light? He is Understanding
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength. (Proverbs 8:14 NKJV)
Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly. (Proverbs 16:22 NKJV)
The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. (Psalms 119:130 NKJV)
“I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. (Daniel 5:14 NKJV)
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4 NKJV)
How Understanding Resists Error
When a person is listening that person is not sinning because he is gaining the understanding of men. If it is only heard and not understood, then that person is still in the dark. For understanding is Light, and people understand by learning. Those however that are not listening do not receive the truth.
Try Reading 1 John this way
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is Understanding and in Him is no confusion at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in confusion, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the understanding as He is in the understanding, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)
To Understand Sin Source
In this issue, we will focus on the Hebrew word חטאה(hhatah, Strong's #2403), which is usually translated with abstract word “sin.” To understand the Hebraic meaning of this word, we will need to look at the verbal root of this noun,
which is the word חטא(Hh-Th-A, Strong's #2398).
Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every
one could sling stones at a hair-breadth, and not miss. (Judges 20:16 ASV)
The word “miss” in this passage is the Hebrew verb חטא and literally means, to “miss the mark,” to miss what you are aiming at. Yahweh gave his Torah
(teachings) to his people and Torah was their mark, their target. The noun חטאה(hhatah, Strong's #2403), derived from the verb חטא(Hh-Th-A, Strong's #2398) is an error. When you shoot your arrow at the target and miss, you have made an error. When we aim to hit the target of God’s teachings, but miss that target, we make an error.
To understand sin as error we have another reference
We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6 NKJV)
So How do we not 'Error'
Those that are "In the Conversation" and have been "Listening" gain "Understanding" so what "They Say" will not be in error. This does not mean that they have never been in error.
An Example from James
And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: (Acts 15:13 NKJV)