It may be a little clearer if we read this from the New American Standard Bible. Let’s read 1 John 3:8-9, “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

You are absolutely right in your observation that we still sin. Who can deny that? It is to the born again believer that instruction is given in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Here, we are taught what to do on the occasion of an act of sin. We are to confess this sin to the Lord. What will He do when we confess with a truly repentant heart? He will “forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In this same chapter, we are told in verse 10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” To declare that we do not sin shows that we do not know the Word of God and we are calling our God a liar.

So, 1 John 3:9 cannot mean that believers are absolutely perfect and do not sin. If so, there ARE NO true believers in the world. Notice carefully in 1 John 3:8-9, that it speaks of one who “practices sin”. The Amplified Bible puts it like this, “No one who is born of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin.” The English Standard Version puts it like this, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning.” This passage means that they who are born of God, that is, who are true Christians through putting their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, do not sin habitually and characteristically. Sin, for the believer, is not the norm. We seek to live lives to please the Lord and we do not continue to do the things that please ourselves. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: THEREFORE GLORIFY GOD in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

The Lord has ‘zero tolerance’ for sin. His desire is that we do not sin at all. The Lord Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11, “Go, and sin no more.” The Lord would never say to us, “Go, and try not to sin too much.” No, His desire (and command) for us is that we do not sin at all. However, He does offer forgiveness and restoration to us when we come before Him in repentance and confession of our sins. If a person claims to be saved, but his life style doesn’t change, if he continues to live in willful disobedience to the Lord, if he continues to deliberately practice sin, then the Bible says, “The one who practices sin is of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)

We learn in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When we are saved, we don’t become better. We become brand new! This brand new person desires to follow Christ, to serve Him and to honor Him at all times. How do we do this? How can we live lives that show our love for our savior? Where does the power for this come from? Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” If we live according to the leading of God’s Spirit as He teaches us from His Word, we will have the desire and strength to live in such a way that we please the Lord and not our old sinful flesh. (282.6)