Why Christians Won’t Habitually Sin

Posted on March 24, 2011


Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. – 1 John 3:4

The following comes from page 1951 in the John MacMarthur Bible Commentary and addresses the fact that born again believers do not habitually sin.

Why Christians Won’t Habitually Sin

This passage begins with the phrase “Whoever commits sin” (v. 4). Commits translates a Greek verb that conveys the idea of habitual practice. Although genuine Christians have a sin nature (1 John 1:8) and do behave sinfully, their confession of sin (1 John 1:9; 2:1) and acceptance of forgiveness prevent sin from becoming the unbroken pattern of their lives (John 8:31, 34-36; Romans 6:11; 2 John 1:9). God builds a certain growing awareness about sin that provides four effective reasons why true Christians cannot habitually practice sin:

1. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the law of God, which they love (1 John 3:4; Psalm 119:34, 77, 97; Romans 7:12, 22); whereas habitual sin betrays the ultimate sense of rebellion – living as if there were no law or ignoring what laws exist (James 4:17) – in short, lawlessness.

2.  Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the work of Christ (1 John 3:5). Christ died to sanctify (make holy) the believer (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 5:25-27). Habitual sin contradicts Christ’s work of breaking the dominion of sin in the believer’s life (Romans 6:1-15).

3.  Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because Christ came to destroy the works of the arch-sinner, Satan (1 John 3:8). The devil is still operating, but he has been defeated, and in Christ we escape his tyranny. The day will come when all of Satan’s activity will cease in the universe, and he will be sent to hell forever (Revelation 20:10).

4.  Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who has imparted a new nature to the believer (1 John 3:9; John 3:5-8). This new nature shuns sin and exhibits the habitual character of righteousness produced by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).