1 John 3:9 says:

"Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." (NKJV)

The verse appears to say that it is IMPOSSIBLE for Christians to sin (those who are born again). Yet John already made clear in 1 John 1:5-10 that Christians will sin, but when we do we can find forgiveness in Jesus if we confess our sins to God.

My first question is: why the apparent contradiction?

Secondly, if John means that the new creation cannot sin, perhaps he's saying that even though the new creation cannot sin, the old nature nonetheless continues sinning. If this is the meaning, this leads to the second question:

If the new creation cannot sin, does this mean that someone who's born again can NEVER end up lost because, having been born again, he (his new creation part) can never grieve or offend God? No matter what heinous sins he might fall into, it is never his 'real' self which is sinning, but his old nature; but his old nature is not the part of him that's 'saved', it's the new man, born of incorruptible seed which is saved?

Alternatively, if salvation is only guaranteed if someone abides in Christ and continues in faith then perhaps it's possible for the new creation to die if it doesn't continue in faith?

  • Please edit this to quote from your preferred translation. And are you really asking a question here, or are you trying to argue your position?
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 5 '16 at 12:53
  • Hello Curious dannii, no I'm not trying to argue my point because I don't have a point on this issue. I'm on the fence! I've started a personal Bible study to try and find out the truth but I see how certain verses can be applied to both views. I was hopeful that Greek scholars or others who are more familiar with the 'sum' of God's Word could shed light for me. Perhaps it's possible for the new creation to die if it continues in unbelief. In which case, a Christian could lose salvation, and 1 John 3 8-9 wouldn't teach unconditional eternal security. I really don't know. That's why I'm asking.
    – Marisa
    Apr 5 '16 at 15:30
  • @Marina Sorry, when I first read your question yesterday I thought your questions were rhetorical. It's much clearer now thanks!
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 5 '16 at 23:51
  • 3
  • @Susan: Isn't this indeed a duplicate of How should we understand "he cannot sin" in 1 John 3:9??
    – user862
    Apr 6 '16 at 18:51

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.