Cannot Sin

by Weldon Warnock
via Biblical Insights, September 2000

We are told by some of our religious neighbors that the soul of a child of God cannot sin, but rather only the outward man sins. This erroneous position is taken in order to justify a denominational dogma of "once saved, always saved." A child of God may sin over and over, they reason, but this has no effect on his soul.

I read an article some months ago wherein a preacher stated that it is impossible for the soul of a born again person to sin. He quoted I John 3:9. This passage declares: "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." The phrase, "doth not commit sin," is present active indicative, which means, "does not keep on doing sin as a life habit." The idea is that a Christian quits living in sin, not as he did when walking in darkness. John adds that he "cannot sin" or go right on living in sin and expect to go to heaven.

To say it is impossible for a child of God to sin contradicts I John 1:8,9,10; 2:1. In these passages John states that we have sinned, we do sin, and we shall sin. The "seed" in I John 3:9 is the word of God (Luke 8:11). It fortifies us against sin. David said, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalms 119:11).

It is rationalized that saved, children of God, may engage in adultery, lying, stealing, homosexuality, murder, cursing, idolatry, hatred, bitterness and wrath, and still go to heaven even if they die while practicing any, or all of these sins. Why? Because, as they say, the soul is protected from sin; that the body is what sins in these sinful and ungodly practices. Let's introduce the beloved apostle Paul and find out what he says about the inward man. He writes: "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (I Corinthians 9:27). Notice the contrast between "I" (the inward man) and "body" (the outward man). Which one could become a castaway (rejected at the judgment)? Clearly, and quite obviously, the inward man, the "I." Of course, the body is used as an instrument in committing many sins as well as the instrument for righteousness (Romans 6:13). Sin, however, originates in the heart or soul and often is manifested through the body.

Jesus said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19,20). Yet, Calvinistic preachers have the audacity to tell us that the soul which has been saved never sins. Jesus, in unmistakable language, says that sin originates in the inner man, the heart.

If a child of God cannot be lost, regardless of what he does, then why the warnings about falling, the exhortations to endure, and the examples of God's people falling away? Paul warns, "take heed lest ye fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). Peter stated: "If ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (II Peter 1:9). "These things" in the context are virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, etc. Peter implies if we do not do them we shall fall. Jesus taught that there are those who for a little while believe, but in time of temptation, fall away (Luke 8:13). The writer of Hebrews says, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12). Notice that these are brethren, and through becoming unbelievers, they depart (apostatize) from the living God. Observe that the heart could become evil, that is, the inward man. As an example, Paul stated that 23,000 Israelites fell in one day by committing fornication (I Corinthians 10:8). Yet, these Calvinistic preachers keep right on singing the same old man-made tune, "Once saved, always saved."

Friends, be not deceived. Those who practice sin shall not inherit the kingdom of God, including children of God (I Corinthians 6:9,10; Galatians 5:19-21).