1 John 5:18
NKJV - 18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.
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The answer is yes and no. Before and after salvation a believer's heart was and still is as Jeremiah records, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jer. 19:9). After salvation Paul tells it this way: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels." (2 Cor. 4:7) What Paul is addressing is the fact that believers have a dual nature after being saved. We still have the "old man", our old nature, the earthen vessel, "the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts" (Eph. 4:22) but believers now have a "new man", "which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27). A believer’s new man is by faith, "the operation of God" (Col. 2:12), the "new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:24). "The old man which [only] grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts" (Eph. 4:22), is the enemy of God and is not subject to Him "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be." (Rom. 8:7). A believer’s new nature can not sin (the Christ in him), his old nature, the old man can only sin. This is the battle of life for believers. The old man versus the new man. It is an inward, ongoing, continual struggle. That is why believers are instructed to "bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor.10:5). Paul describes the inward battle this way: "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do [the old man is in control]. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me [his carnal nature]. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me [the old nature/man], the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man [the new man, Christ in him]. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members [his old man]. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. [his old nature/man]" (Rom 7:15-25) The only way to not sin is to put to death our old nature (Rom. 8:13, Col. 3:5) and submit to Christ (Jam. 4:7). It's a choice believers make minute by minute, day by day.
It helps to look at all of what John said about the Christian sinning. Look particularly at 1 John 1:8: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Maybe comments on 1 John 3:9 will also help: One who believes and teaches that a Christian can't sin gets the idea from I John 3:9. John did say one born of God cannot sin. "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." If this means what the preacher says it does, why did John say, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8)? And why did he say, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not" (I John 2:1)? And if a Christian is not capable of sinning, why did John say, "if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1)? Study the words and the grammar of the original language, and you learn that John was saying whosoever is born of God does not keep on committing sin; for his seed remains in him, and he cannot keep on sinning.
"Toucheth"----meaning laying hold with intent to harm "That wicked one" refers to the devil. This verse is saying he that is of God is kept by him. To fully understand the meaning of 1 John 5:18 we need to look at chapter 3 and note verses 6 & 9. To abide in Christ is to be dead to sin (Rom. 6). The one who habitually lives in sin has never been transformed by Christ's life-changing power and purity.. John is not teaching sinless perfection (1:8, 10; 2:2). He speaks of habitual practice of known sinful acts. The true believer's actions will conform to the character of his Father, either God or Satan. The person born of God will reflect this in his behavior, will be kept by God, and Satan cannot lay hold of him or harm him.
John, in this epistle, attempts to give a more comprehensive view of what it means to be ‘born again’. In reality, it is a process from the time we first believe (1 John 5:1) until we are overcomers (1 John 5:4). Note, in this last verse, that it is our faith that overcomes the world. Faith demands a goal – ours is eternal life before the Father (1 John 5:20 - to 'know' the Father), and thereby defines a hope – ours is to be like Jesus WHEN HE APPEARS (1 John 3:2-3). Unfortunately, John isn’t as succinct as Peter, where Peter states that we have been born again to a ‘living’ hope (1 Peter 1:3), defines the hope and specifies that it is RESERVED IN HEAVEN (1 Peter 1:4 NASB), and confirms that our victory is through faith in salvation that is TO BE REVEALED IN IN THE LAST TIME (1 Peter 1:5). A ‘living’ hope is one that grows with time. It is not consummated at the moment of belief. It first requires that we suffer a little before we can attain to perfection (1 Peter 5:10 NASB). Unfortunately the ESV uses the word ‘restore’ instead of ‘perfect’ in 1 Peter 5:10, because John’s point of not being able to sin, in 1 John 5:18 and 1 John 3:9, is the realization of perfection. Jesus told us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). When Jesus appears, we will receive the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4). It is then that we, as heirs, will come into our inheritance, eternal life before the Father. It is then, and only then, that we will be perfect – not able to sin (miss the mark of God’s glory). Again, John is not as succinct as Peter was, but he does provide the reason for our perseverance to the end. It is to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). The devil sinned from the beginning. Jesus didn’t come to help us to the degree to which we ‘practice’ sin. He came to eradicate sin. That is what John is trying to convey in 1 John 5:18 and 1 John 3:9, but that will not be realized until our Lord returns. I’m no expert in the Greek, but I believe 1 John 2:5 is saying that until the Lord returns, whoever keeps God’s word – His commandments, the love of God is being perfected in him, and they are In Him (In Christ). I don’t believe it is saying the love of God has been perfected/completed. If it were, John would not have given us the next verse (1 John 2:6), where he defines what it means to be In Christ, or to abide in Christ. It means that our walk should be, in the best case, just as Jesus walked. He was without sin. None of us can attain to that in this lifetime, but we can attain to the resurrection. It is then that we shall be made perfect, or completed in the image of the Father (Philippians 3:11-12 and Hebrews 1:3). It isn’t until the Day of Judgment that God’s agape love is perfected in us (1 John 4:17), and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). It is the fear of death that gets the boot, and the ‘sting of death’ is sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-56). After the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:54) death and sin will be swallowed up in victory. It is then that God’s agape love is perfected in us, and the works of the devil will be destroyed. See my answer for: “What does it mean that man is made in the image if God?” Also, “Why does the Greek, in 1 John 3:9, say that those born of God are not able to miss the mark, when it states in Romans 3:23 that all have missed the mark and fallen short of God’s glory?” God bless
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