Christians Do Not Sin – 2
But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1 John 3:8-11 NLT
John, in his argument against “sinning religion,” ties together several thoughts. The first, as here, is that we are, through conversion, born of God and therefore can, and will want to, manifest the qualities of our Father, God, and our brother, Jesus. That is, we do not so much focus on not sinning as we do on sharing our Father’s life and character.
The second thought is also seen in the passage above: we don’t sin because we are motivated by love. On the surface, it seems a little odd to conclude this paragraph on not being a child of the devil with the command to love one another. But, in fact, it is not odd at all. Again, John is emphasizing the positive. Trying not to sin is a bit like trying not to think about pink elephants; the harder we try, the more focused we get on the thing. “No,” John says, “focus on others, especially Christian brothers and sisters, and what is best for them.” As we focus on others and what is best for them, the focus necessarily shifts away from us, and from our performance. At bottom, sin is self-centeredness, so freedom from sin is to become refocused on our Savior and then on our brothers and sisters. To be free from sin is to be delivered from ourselves, from our desires, our stuff, our image, and set free to give ourselves away for others.
So the question for us is not, “Was what I just did, or thought, or said, sinful?” Rather, it should be, “What can I do to help him or her, serve him or her, encourage him or her, challenge him or her, for the love of Jesus.” That is to be born into the family of God.