Spiritual DNA

Friday, July 17

1 John 3:9. “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God (NIV).” The KJV says “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin . . .” There’s some ambiguity here. Is John suggesting that we should be totally free of sin? But then he uses the word “seed” as reason for the preceding statement. At first glance, it seems a weird word to use in this context, but I think it’s a very appropriate word. Seed contains the DNA for reproduction. When an apple seed germinates, it produces an apple tree, not a thorn bush. By being born of God, we have a new spiritual DNA. We can no longer sin by nature. Yet we do sin as Christians. That is precisely why John is presenting this truth. As Paul would have put it, we are declared dead to sin, but sin is not yet eradicated. We need to consider our sin nature to be dead (Rom. 6). The subsequent fight between our new standing with God and our fleshly desires becomes unbearable (Rom. 7). The means of victory over sin is choosing to walk in the Spirit (Rom. 8), an option that was not there before conversion. The Holy Spirit provides the motivation and power to deal with sin, but we don’t always choose to walk in the Spirit. John teaches the same thing. In 1 John 1:9 he tells us how to deal with the sins that invade our new “justified” position. So, contrary to the implications in the NIV and KJV, the point of 1 John 3:9 is that a true Christian will not be dominated, motivated or characterized by sin. The NLT clarifies it. “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning . . .” Our new DNA will not allow it.

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