A Lifelong Struggle
Read 1 John 3:1-10
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.
(1 John 3:8-9)
We are “born into God’s family” (1 John 3:9) when the Holy Spirit lives in us and gives us Jesus’ new life. Being born again is more than a fresh start; it is a rebirth, receiving a new family name based on Christ’s death for us. When this happens, God forgives us and totally accepts us; the Holy Spirit gives us new minds and hearts, lives in us, and begins helping us to become like Christ. Our perspective changes, too, because we have a mind that is renewed day by day by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24). So we must begin to think and act differently.
Accepting citizenship in heaven means that we’ve left our country of origin—the devil’s kingdom. But he doesn’t give up his citizens easily. He fights tooth and nail against us. That’s why we all have areas where temptation is strong and habits are hard to conquer. These weaknesses give the devil a foothold, so we must deal with our areas of vulnerability. The battle over sin, however, is one we’ll fight for the rest of our lives.
In this passage, however, John is not talking about people whose victories are still incomplete; he is talking about people who make a practice of sinning and look for ways to justify their actions. “They can’t keep on sinning” (1 John 3:9) means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning, nor do they become indifferent to God’s moral law. All believers still sin, but they are working to gain victory over sin.
We all struggle with “pet” sins—those things we can’t stop doing. Three steps are necessary to find victory over prevailing sin: (1) seek the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word; (2) stay away from tempting situations; and (3) seek the help of the body of Christ—be open to their willingness to hold you accountable and to pray for you.
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