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Answering The Atheist
December 1, 2002 / Volume 2, Issue 48

We are told that everyone sins (Romans 3:10, 12, 23), but also that Christians do not sin (1 John 3:6, 9). Is there a contradiction?

Let us consider what the texts in question say:

As it is written: ‘ There is none righteous, no, not one... They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:10, 12, 23)

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.... Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:6, 9)

Indeed, all have sinned. That is the point which Paul clearly makes in Romans 3. However, if the questioner had continued to read through the book of Romans, it would be noted in 6:1-2, 7, 11-13, ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?...For he who has died has been freed from sin...Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.’

Though the one who has come to God through Christ has in the past transgressed God’s commandments, he ought to forsake such conduct, giving himself to the service of God. This is Paul’s point in Romans 6, and the intent of John in 1 John 3. The apostle John uses very strong working, saying of the Christian, he ‘...does not sin...’ The Weymouth New Testament has conveyed John’s thought rightly, ‘No one who continues in union with Him lives in sin: no one who lives in sin has seen Him or knows Him.’ The Christian may fall to temptation occasionally, but sin is not habitual with the child of God. Habitual sinners are not His.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible