1 John 3:9
Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Various expositions are given of this.
1. He ought not to sire Cannot indeed is sometimes taken for ought not (Acts 4:20). But this is not the meaning of cannot here, ought not; for an unrenewed man ought not to sin any more than a regenerate man. But the apostle attributes here something peculiar to the regenerate, addling the reason, "because he is born of God."
2. He cannot sin so easily. He may sin easily in respect of the frailty of the flesh, but not so easily in regard of the abiding of the seed in him, which helps him to bewarere of sin. Grace being a Divine habit, hath the nature of a habit, which is to incline the person to acts proper to that habit, and facilitate those acts, as a man that hath the habit of an art or trade can with more ease work in it than any other.
3. He cannot sin, as he is regenerate. A gracious man, as a gracious man, cannot sin; for grace, being a good habit, is not capable of producing acts contrary to its nature. Sin in a regenerate man proceeds not from his grace, but from his corruption.
4. He cannot sin as long as he is regenerate, as long as the seed remains in him, as long as he follows the motions of the Spirit "rod grace, which are able to overcome the motions of concupiscence, but he may give up the grace: as an impregnable tower cannot be taken as long as it is defended by those within, but they may fling away their arms and deliver it up.Sin may be considered in two ways, viz., as to —
1. The act of sin. Thus a believer sins.
2. The habit of sin, or custom in it, when a man runs to sin freely, willingly, and is not displeased with it.Thus a believer does not commit sin. Being God's son, he cannot be sin's servant; he cannot sin in such a manner and so absolutely as one of the devil's children, one born of the devil. Doctrine: There is a mighty difference between the sinning of a regenerate and a natural man. A regenerate man doth not, neither can, commit sin in the same manner as an unregenerate man doth. The sense of this "cannot" I shall lay down in several propositions.
1. It is not meant exclusively of lesser sins, or sins of infirmity.
2. A regenerate man cannot live in the customary practice of any known sin, either of omission or commission.
(1) Not in a constant omission of known duties.
(2) Not in a customary commission of any known sin.I shall confirm this by some reasons, because upon this proposition depend all the following.
1. Regeneration gives not a man a dispensation from the law of God.
2. It is not for the honour of God to suffer a custom and course of sin in a renewed man.
3. It is against the nature of the covenant. In the covenant we are to take God for our God, i.e., for our chief good and last end.
4. It is against the nature of our first repentance and conversion to God. True repentance is "a breaking off iniquity by righteousness" (Daniel 4:27).
5. It is against the nature of habitual grace, which is the principle and form of our regeneration.
6. A regenerate man cannot have a fixed resolution to walk in such a way of sin, were the impediments to it removed.
7. A regenerate man cannot walk in a way doubtful to him, without inquiries whether it be a way of sin or a way of duty, and without admitting of reproofs and admonitions, according to his circumstances.
8. A regenerate man cannot have a settled, deliberate love to any one act of sin, though he may fall into it.
9. A regenerate man cannot commit any sin with a full consent and bent of will.
Parallel VersesKJV: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.