7 Little children, do not let any man seduce you; he that does righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous.1 John 3:7-9
8 He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested in order to destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whoever is born of God does not sin; for His seed abides in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
One of the way the false teachers were seducing the early church was in regards to blurring the clear line between righteousness and sin. This same temptation repeatedly presents itself as a continual danger which confronts the church. It is the danger that Paul addresses in Romans 6:1, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” God pronouncing us as righteous in Christ is not permission to continue in sin. The proof of our justification is the resulting works of righteousness. Righteousness is what those who are reckoned as righteous do, for Christ is their righteousness, and He can do no other than produce the fruit of His righteousness.
But the seducers which John is warning about tried to have it both ways. As Calvin points out in commenting on this text: “For many would gladly persuade themselves that they have this righteousness buried in their hearts, while iniquity evidently occupies their feet, and hands, and tongue, and eyes.”1 Righteous deeds accompany a righteous seed. A righteous seed will not produce an evil fruit. Woe to those who call up down, and down up.
The contrast which John raises here is similar to what he insists upon in John 8:42-44a “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” Those who walk in sin are sons of the devil. They do according to their generation, to their paternity. Their father is the devil. So, they behave like their father. From the beginning of the devil’s rebellion, he has sinned and therefore all he produces is sin.
John follows up this warning with one of the most swagger inducing lines in all of Scripture: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested in order to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus came to bind the devil, and take his stuff. Jesus came to end his whole evil empire. The dark tower has been toppled, never to be rebuilt. Christ came to bring about a new birth. This new birth has brought about a new category of humanity: those “born of God.” Being born of God means that you are no longer under subjection to the devil’s works.
This doesn’t mean that we aren’t still faced with evil outside and within. Some wrench verse 9 into describing a sinless perfectionism. But if this were the case, what John said earlier would be nonsensical. Why confess sin if you have no more sin? Rather, what is being identified is that those who are born of God cannot endure in their sin. The seed of righteousness will more and more overtake the whole life of the child of God. Once more, we must jump up and down on this verse of assurance. If you are born of God, sin is a grief to you. Those not born of God don’t care about their sin, they redefine their sin, they ignore their sin, so that they might continue in sin. The one born of God, refuses to walk any longer in sin.
1 Calvin, Jean. Calvins Commentaries. Vol. XXII. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999. Pg. 211
- 1 John 1:1 – A Cosmic Epistle
- 1 John 1:2 – Life Manifested
- 1 John 1:3 – Invitation to Fellowship
- 1 John 1:4 – Silos Full of Joy
- 1 John 1:5 â€“ God is Light
- 1 John 1:6 â€“ Do the Truth
- 1 John 1:7 – Fellowship in the Light
- 1 John 1:8 – Deluded or Delivered
- 1 John 1:9-10 – Forgiven & Not Guilty
- 1 John 2:1-2 – Christ Our Advocate