Those who are of God to not sin....?


I was reading the 3rd chapter of the first letter of John, and read the following:

Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not; and whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, nor known him.
7 Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doth justice is just, even as he is just.
8 He that commmitteth sin is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whosoever is born of God, commmitteth not sin: for his seed abideth in him, and he can not sin, because he is born of God.

This is pretty clear that those who are of God do not sin. However, we know that we are all sinners, and I doubt there are any of us who will never sin again, despite our best efforts. How is this text reconciled with the fact of our sinfulness? Was John only referring to “deadly” sin?

I am a little confused over this text.



I’m sure that others will provide a much better answer, but I’ll give you my views on it.
When we are baptized/confirmed into the Church we are to abide in God and so long as we do not sin we remain their. When we sin we are seperating ourselves from God. When we repent and confess our sins we are returned to abiding in God.
Now one also has to look at the degree of sin. Someone who is truly “Of God” recieves grace to resist sin at all levels. When this one does commit a sin, (as in a moment of emotional turmoil) the immediate remorse is enough to prevent the person from remaining in a state of sin for very long.
This same grace, along with the discipline of remorse in small sins, prevents one who is “born of God” from committing any serious sin or harboring sin in his heart.

I don’t know if I have explained myself very well but do hope it helps.



Thanks James, that helps. The part that confused me the most was verse 9 where it says a person of God cannot sin. It is almost as if they were incapable of sin, which obviously none of us are.


We stop being part of the Body of Christ when we commit a mortal sin, the radical act of turning from God. As the prodigal son must return home to be part of the feast, so must we, through the doorway of the Confessional.


So you believe John is referring only to mortal sin?


I have heard this described as a reference to a lifestyle of sin, not so much single acts. If a person is abiding in Christ, one will not persist in a lifestyle of sin, because the two are incompatible.


From the context, I would say he is. Venial sins are confessed each Mass, and sometimes along with mortal sins. Any sin is a turning away from God, and toward the Devil, but mortal sin threatens our very relationship with God.


This makes a whole lot of sense. Not just a mistake, but a lifestyle that one lives. Thanks for the insight.


It’s good that you brought this up. Because of this very passage, there are some groups who really do believe that a “saved” person is incapable of sin. From there they diverge into two different camps. One believes that no matter what a person does after being saved, it’s not a sin. The other believes that if a person sins after being saved, they must not have been saved in the first place. But both rely on the false belief that salvation is something that can happen to us within our own lifetime.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit