555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

482. Is Sinlessness Possible?

It frequently happens that confusion arises concerning the apparent conflict of statements in the passages in I John 1:8 and 3 :q. In the first of these, every one is represented as sinning, and in the latter it is clearly stated that "Whoso is born of God cannot sin." To suppose that none who sin are begotten of God would exclude every one, as John himself admits in the first passage we quote. One explanation is that the writer is speaking of the divine nature implanted in the believer. It never commits or condones sin, but always protests against it. A second explanation is that the man who is begotten of God does not continue in sin. If betrayed by his fleshly nature into sin, he repents, seeks pardon, and watches against a repetition of it. However high the Christian may set his ideal as a follower of Christ, he realizes, after all, that his efforts are sadly short of the Great Exemplar and that his imperfections are beyond dispute. At the same time, he can be said truly to be no longer under the bondage of sin, since, having laid his burden on the Great Burden-Bearer, sin is no longer imputed to him.