Speaking to believers, the Apostle John said in 1 John 1:8-10, “If we say that we have no SIN, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our SINS, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not SINNED, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Now let’s read the words of the Apostle John in 1 John 3:6, “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” He also said in 1 John 5:18, “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

We have the same writer, in the same book, telling us at one point that even as believers, we do sin. Then he tells us that the one who abides in Christ does not sin, and that whosoever is born of God does not sin. Confused yet? Let us consider what is being said, and in dependence on the Lord, we can understand it.

John begins his epistle by introducing us to the Lord Jesus as the WORD OF LIFE. He goes on to say that this LIFE had been revealed and that they had seen him and do now testify of Him. This certainly corresponds with John’s words in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The purpose of John writing is revealed in verse 2, “…that you also may have fellowship with us. Yes, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” Fellowship with the apostles, with each other, with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

Verses 6-7 make it clear that in order to have practical fellowship with the Lord, we CANNOT walk in darkness. We MUST walk in the light where the Lord is. Indeed, He IS the light! It is not HOW we walk that is being addressed here; it is WHERE we walk…daily walking in the presence of the Lord. The light makes known the sin, or the SIN NATURE that is in us. If the believer says that he has no sin, the light contradicts him, he deceives himself, and the truth is not in him. Let us notice that in verse 8, John is speaking of SIN, where in verse, he is speaking of SINS. “If we say we have no sin…” SIN is that nature that can do nothing but sin. It is powerless to resist sin, neither desires to resist sin. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

Yet in 1 John 3 and 5, John states that the believer does not sin. How can that be true if we still have a sin nature that continues to delight in sin? In this instance, the KJV does not do this verse justice. I love the KJV and use it every day, but in this case, we need to look at another version or two to learn the true meaning of this verse. Let’s read 1 John 3:6 in the English Standard Version. “No one who abides in him KEEPS ON SINNING; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” Let’s read that same verse in the Amplified Bible Version. “No one who abides in Him [who remains united in fellowship with Him—deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] PRACTICES SIN. No one who habitually sins has seen Him or known Him.” Let’s also read 1 John 5:18 in the Amplified Bible Version. It says, “We know [with confidence] that anyone born of God DOES NOT HABITUALLY SIN; but He (Jesus) who was born of God [carefully] keeps and protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” We find the same thought presented in this verse. John is not saying that a believer will not ever commit sins. He is bringing out how that no one who continues to live in sin after making a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus “has seen Him or known Him.” I think we all realize that, even as believers, we have committed sins. How could we possibly deny that honestly before men or God? So, all believers do sin because we still have that old sin nature. However, if we walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will not give in to the lustful desires of the flesh and the old nature. What are we supposed to do if we sin? 1 John 1:9 instructs us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (281.6)