Born Again Christians and Sin

By Ron Graham

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8. Anyone who says they have not sinned is living a lie. In the verse above you must notice John adds himself into the mix of sinners. He says if we say we have no sin. “No” in the Greek is “ou” and is expressed absolutely, and emphatically. It’s as though the Apostle John has asked someone if he considers himself a sinner, and the answer has come back to John in the form of a resounding NO!

We deceive ourselves: Here again John adds himself into the fray in that he too would be leading himself astray if he were to claim he had no sin. We just aren’t grasping the truth if we claim to be sinless. John is addressing believers in Christ in his epistles therefore he is addressing me and you; as believers we will continue to sin until we are called home. If anyone tells you differently they are deceived.

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10. Again, we must first understand that John is addressing believers “In Christ” not the unsaved. Here in this verse John tells us if we claim we have not sinned we make Jesus Christ a liar. John tells us His (God's) word cannot be in someone who says they have never sinned, or even in those who claim now that they are saved they no longer sin. Again John places himself in the middle of this assertion by using the words “we” and “us”. It also means we can’t have God’s Holy Spirit in us if we claim a sinless life or a life of no more sin after we are born again. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Nowhere in the Bible are we told we will stop sinning once we’re saved.

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” 1 John 2:1. Can you see what a contradiction this verse is when we neglect the exegeses of the scriptures? “My little children” is referring to born again believers and John wants us to fully understand that point. When we compare “That ye sin not” to the previous verse we can see John isn’t advocating sinning. He’s simply saying turn away from habitual sin. In other words don’t let our whole focus in life be on one big sin party without thought of the consequences. If that be your case, salvation has eluded you.

In the last part of First John chapter 2 verse 1, John states that if any man sins we have Christ as our advocate for our defense. In this same verse, “if any man sin” actually means “in case”. So if we interpret this verse correctly, what John is saying is when not if we sin we have an advocate which is Jesus Christ the righteous.

“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:1. Is it possible that John is saying in keeping Jesus’ commandments we will no longer sin? The Greek word “tēreō” represents our English phrase “keepeth”.  The Greek word actually has many meanings but in this context John is speaking of those who “observe or take heed to” Jesus’ commandments. Since John previously addressed the fact that all believers sin, the answer to the question above is “No”. What he is saying is in observing Christ’s commandments we won’t live our lives in habitual sin. For example, living a lifestyle as a homosexual is habitual sin, as is living as an unmarried couple, or lying habitually. Once we become born again there will be a change that everyone who new us before our conversion will see. This change will reflect Christ as a definite positive part of our lives.  

“I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.” 1 John 2:12. This verse is wonderfully placed in this chapter and in context we are told that all believers are forgiven sinners. Something that many “In Christ” believers stumble with is the fact that they continue to sin even though they have been justified (saved). Condemnation reigns supreme in their lives. But Paul tells us “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1.

In the book of Romans chapter 7 Paul speaks about his childhood before he was taught the law “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” Romans 7:7-8. Very young children don’t know what sin is until their parent’s teach them what constitutes sin and what doesn’t. That’s why parents must be responsible for explaining sin and its consequences to the children God has blessed them with.


In Jesus’ eyes the very young children are blameless. They aren’t corrupted by all the evil and sinful desires that adults are continually confronted with. Children see joy, happiness, and love in the simplest forms. But before we know it our children are at that age when they are accountable for their own sinful actions; if they aren’t taught Godly ways they will not see any sin in those actions.  

In the following verses Paul addresses that age old conundrum, one that has continually plagued believers throughout the ages. Why do I continue to sin now that I’m born from above? Remember this, now that we are justified God sees us through His Son Jesus Christ and our sins past present and future are forgiven. Still, even though we are justified in God’s eyes (saved), we still sin. The Apostle Paul will explain why, “The law is good, then. The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master. I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can't help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Romans 7:14-24. (NLT)

Now read and understand Paul’s last words on this subject, and please, dwell on them. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin...” Romans 7:25 (KJV). I hope the readers of this commentary will understand why I’ve inserted the verses in the paragraph above using the New Living Translation. Many have a difficult time understanding Paul’s explanation about the nature of sin in Romans 7, especially when read in the KJV.  So there is no lingering doubts, Paul, far into his ministry, states the obvious, we are all sinners and will remain so until glorification.

That’s why God had to die for His creation. There was no other way for us to be redeemed from this life of sin. Please don’t misunderstand, born again believers will grow to hate sin over time and they will be remorseful each time they fall back into temptation. Neither the Apostle John nor Paul is advocating sin. On the contrary, they are preaching against sin. Even though we remain slaves to sin, through our Christian maturity, our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, we will begin to walk to the far side of sin.

One last point, for the believer who occasionally stumbles (that’s you and me), “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”1 John 1:9. This was written to born again believers in Christ, what an awesome promise.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

KJV and NLT were used in compiling this commentary. Those of you who are KJ only, forgive me.