Let’s read that verse.  1 John 3:7 says, “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” (NASB).  This verse was written in contrast to the next verse.  1 John 3:8 says, “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (NASB)  So, we have in this portion the distinction between righteousness and sinfulness.  Let’s look at this carefully:

  • LITTLE CHILDREN – In this first epistle of John, he addresses three groups of believers: Fathers, young men, and little children. These terms address the spiritual age of those to whom he is writing. 
  • MADE SURE NO ONE DECEIVES YOU – John is cautioning the younger believers about those who might try to twist the truth and deceive them into believing what is false.
  • THE ONE WHO PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS IS RIGHTEOUS, JUST AS HE IS RIGHTEOUS – This does not mean that one is made righteous by doing acts of righteousness.  No, it is saying that it is the one who is made righteous that is able to perform righteous acts. (Read Romans 10:3-10).  The one who is yet in his sins cannot do righteous acts.  We read in Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and ALL OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSES ARE AS FILTHY RAGS; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Only those made righteous through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can practice righteousness.

On the other hand:

  • THE ONE WHO PRACTICES SIN IS OF THE DEVIL – Once, while teaching in the temple, the Lord Jesus said to a group of unbelievers, “YE ARE OF YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44). These are very strong words, aren’t they?  Yet…they are true.  Those who continue in sin, apart from faith in the Lord Jesus, are OF THE DEVIL.  So, the one who PRACTICES SIN is in direct contrast to the one who PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS. 
  • THE DEVIL HAS BEEN SINNING FROM THE BEGINNING – If the devil committed the first sin (Isaiah 14:12-15), and has sinned continuously ever since, then whoever lives in sin is akin to him, and is morally his offspring.
  • THE SON OF GOD APPEARED FOR THIS PURPOSE, TO DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL – The Lord Jesus came to destroy all of Satan’s plans of wickedness, and his control over the hearts of men.  Since the Son of God came to destroy all the works of the devil, it stands to reason that one cannot be his true follower who lives in sin.

Albert G. Fisk once wrote:

  1. The unregenerate sinner, living in the habitual practice of sin, is of Satan, because his will harmonizes with Satan’s will; and it follows, therefore, that all the powers and faculties which he possesses, influential as they are upon those with whom he associates, become instrumental to the working out of the dictates of Satan’s will rather than God’s will.
  2. The unregenerate sinner, living in the habitual indulgence of sin, is under the despotic influence of Satan, whose slave and vassal he is. He may be a free member of a free community, but his heart, his intellect, his body, all are bound in unresisting submissiveness to Satan.
  3. The unregenerate sinner, living in the habitual indulgence of sin, must, if unreclaimed by sovereign grace, share the final end of Satan. If he is of the devil in sinning, he must be of the devil in suffering.

Let’s conclude by reading 1 John 3:9, “No one who has been born of God PRACTICES sin, because His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin continually, because he has been born of God.” (NASB).  This does not mean that Christians never sin.  The true believer does not PRACTICE SIN, neither does he SIN CONTINUALLY because he has been BORN OF GOD. Indeed, we read in 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  (CC)  (577.6)