Can A Christian Ever Really Be Free From Sin?

Can A Christian Ever Really Be Free From Sin?

We love to quote 1 John 1:8 because it excuses the fact we live struggling with sin:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”

We forget that in the same letter John says:

“No one who abides in him (God) keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6)


“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning,” (1 John 5:18)

Honestly those verses challenge me more.

It doesn’t take much to accept a verse that qualifies your disfunction…

Do I still sin?


Never let it be said that I’m not saying I don’t.

So what am I saying?

I am saying it’s possible to stop.

The message of 1 John is that while we deceive ourselves if we think we’ve never sinned. We are also deceiving ourselves if we choose to think that should always be the case!

So sure, I’ll let others quote 1 John 1:8 to support their ability to continue struggling with sin.

But I’m far more interested in figuring out how I can experience what 1 John 3:6 and 5:18 describe!

[Tweet “I’m not saying it’s impossible to sin… I’m saying it’s possible to stop!”]

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  1. I mean really the bible does say all things are possible with God. That includes all things,including the ability to stop sinning. Not our bailout but His. And as far as I can see God has cappable hands. Short but sweet Phil.

    • Amen Lisa!

      God would be a terrible Father if He told us to do something He knew was impossible and actually expected us to succeed none-the-less.

  2. Brother Phil, I think this post makes an assumption that you (and others) know what sin is, but I’m not so sure that’s the case?! But to understand if one can stop sinning, we must obviously be grounded with the definition.

    Not only is it possible to stop sinning, Jesus actually commanded it or multiple occasions. “Go and sin no more”. God doesn’t see our sin and God cannot lie. So if God doesn’t see it, does it really exist? No, it cannot exist if God cannot see it. So if we say we are still sinning, then we are lying (Let God be true and every man a liar).

    Most people don’t realize that sin is simply another word for deception. Thus sinners are people that are deceived. Sin also means to miss the mark. There are two marks, just as their are two forms of righteousness.

    • I’m not sure what you’re getting at. The first part I understand. We need to understand the definition of sin. The second part about it being deception doesn’t really make sense. I would just say sin is real but God chooses not to see it because of what happened on the cross for those who believe. As far as the definition goes I thought you were hinting at a good point because how you do you know when you stop sinning. If I stop sinning then I know every way I can miss the mark but who actually knows that. Aren’t we supposed to depend on Christ for that kind of walk? And always point people to Him? Isn’t it His life being constantly lived through us? Like the other person commented that’s impossible but with God all things are possible.

      Phil your comment is appreciated too even though this is a reply to Karl.

      • I think we are quick to focus on the actions that we have which are “sinful”. That’s what this post is poking at a little.

        Of course the sinful actions are not sin in and of themselves but the fruit of sin.

        Ultimately the way I see it is that “sin” is to choose to disbelieve what God has to say.

        This is ultimately the source of all wrong doing in the world.

      • Actually, God says He would remember it no more..of course He can look upon sin..look at all the people Jesus/God came to people with ” SIN”

        The solution He gave was Himself to the Christian experience.

        Thank God He chooses to remember sins no more.

        The big issue is hearts of unbelief now which the Holy Spirit convicts us with.


        It’s not a question of sinning..but, where am I not believing..;)

    • I think there are multitudes of ways different people look at the concept of sin. I think in one sense you are right and I totally agree.

      You know my message and know I’m not teaching “sin” separates us from God or that we are sinners because we “sin”.

      But there is no doubt that we can still do things that fall into the traditional view of “sin” this concept of doing something unhealthy, damaging, hurtful, or down right anti- the nature of God.

      This is what I’m talking about here as this is what most people understand sin to be. I’ve talked about the true nature of sin multiple times on my podcast and blog as a belief that we embrace rather than something we do. However that was not the point of this post. It was merely to challenge those who are obsessed with this view of sin and believe we are doomed to live in sin till the day we die.

      Thanks for sharing Karl :)

  3. Great thought provoking post…as always.

    You said in this post “It doesn’t take much to accept a verse that qualifies your disfunction…” and I totally agree. You could even justify mass murder if you choose the right passages of the Bible.

    I believe the ‘sin’ John is talking about here is our human tendency to forget about God. We can be working, partying or watching tv and simply forget God and unconditional love for us. We push him to the back of our minds and while I don’t think anyone does it on purpose but we do it because we are human.

    John is calling forgetfulness ‘sin’. And he goes on to say that God is not condemning because he doesn’t condemn but in these passages, he is simply reminding us that God wants to be part of our lives 24/7.

    • Absolutely Bevie! Man am I guilty of forgetting about my union with Christ during my day-to-day and boy does it usually add unnecessary grief to my day!

  4. If you had to nail it down what is your definition of sin? I know some say its the transgression of the law.But then I ask if that’s true then what law did Lucifer break that God made for the angels? If the law is not for the righteous but the unrighteous than how can a law be for righteous angels?

  5. We don’t stop sinning…because we don’t want to stop sinning. Otherwise we would stop.

    “We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” We say that corporately each Sunday in our liturgy. It reflects our fallen, sinful nature. ‘Sin’ is our condition. It’s like that game where the little gophers pop up and you try and hit them with the mallet. Another pops up!

    And the list of sins where we ought be doing one thing or the other, but are not…is much longer than the list of stuff that ought not do.

    BUT! … “we are to consider ourselves dead to sin” (Romans 6)…even though we still sin!

    How can that be? Because Christ puts that old sinful self to death (for His sake) in our Baptisms (Romans 6).

    This is what we used to call, “The Good News”.


  6. Hey! I used to think about these verses also, specially that ” if we say, we have not”….verse. If I remember right, Dan Mohler said that in the verse he is talking about non-believers. Like they usually say:” I don’t believe in God so this is not sin for me” Like if they deny that they are not sinners and need savior so they are fooling themself. I think Jesus came to deal with this sin issue, and remove it. To get us to a place before Eve & adam ate from the tree. And now when we are born again, new creatures, righteous and holy, living in spirit, we keep our eye on Jesus. If we “fall”, the blood of Jesus speaks to Father that we are righteous. And hehe don’t get me wrong, it’s not licence to do what I want, but in case something happens, I’m under grace. Hope u got what I meant :D

    • Hey Tuomas – thanks for sharing that. Many scholars believe that John 1 is addressing gnostic belief that is creeping into the church… it’s a direct attack on their views that the body is sinful but the spirit is pure so “we (spirits) don’t have sin, just our sinful bodies”… something that would fit in with much of today’s gnostic evangelicalism.

  7. The point of John 1.8-9 is that through confession that is prompted by the Holy Spirit we are transformed. Evil leaves us when we confess. ( can you name the scholars who think v 9 was written to Gnostics?) Yes v9 was certainly influenced by gnostic ideas that said because our real existence was spiritual that consequently we could not sin in the body. John was dealing with this gnostic denial of sin which had come onto the church. The verses you quote also say that Christians dont KEEP ON sinning. John does say that Christian may sin from time to time but not continuously. If they do stuff happens see 1 Cor 5.

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