The Meaning of “Cannot Sin”

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Hi F____,
Thank you for sharing with me about your family. I am so happy for you that God has blessed you with a loving respectful family.
And thanks for pointing out what is in the rest of Psa 139, especially this verse:

Psa 139:15  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

I just had not noticed that, and I’m sure it will serve to clarify other parts of God’s Word.
The apostle who wrote:

1Jn 3:9  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.

Also wrote:

1Jn 1:10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

That word ‘sinned’ is in the perfect tense, according to KJC+ TVM. Here now, is the previous verse:

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

What is the need to confess our sins if we “cannot sin?” When should we “confess our sins?” Should we ask God to forgive us of our sins at the beginning of our walk? In the middle of our walk? When should we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness? Here is our Lord’s answer to that question:

Mat 6:7  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [ do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Mat 6:8  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye : Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Mat 6:10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [ it is] in heaven.
Mat 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread.
Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Mat 6:14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mat 6:15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And so we go back just one verse more in 1Jn 1, to get more of the sum of God’s word on our present condition in this ‘vessel of clay:’

1Jn 1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

That word ‘have’ according to my KJV + TVM is in the present tense. We have sin! ‘If we say we don’t have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’ I repent for ever having had such a thought that this could even be so while in this marred body. And yet, as you point out, as I decrease, He increases to the point that sin no longer has dominion in my life. I abide in Him more each day and thereby “die daily” to “the body of this death.”
So we have verses 8 and 10. Verse 10 says “if we say we have not sinned” and verse 8 says “If we say we we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the Truth is not in us.” The words “have, deceive and the word ‘is’ are all three in the present tense. We are sin and we have sin and “when we pray” we need to ask for forgiveness for our sin and our trespasses.”
So “cannot sin” has reference to being ruled over by sin. It does not have to do with present perfection while yet in this “sinful flesh.” Perfection and flesh are not compatible.

1Co 10:11  Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

1Co 10:12  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Php 3:10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Php 3:11  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Php 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Php 3:13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus .
Php 3:15  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect [ Greek – aorist – being perfected], be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Php 3:16  Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Here is Paul on this subject:

Rom 6:14  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Rom 6:15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Rom 6:16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Rom 6:17  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Rom 6:18  Being then made free from sin , ye became the servants of righteousness. [ Being free from sin is taking away sin’s dominion.]

Peter agrees with Paul:

1Pe 4:1  Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
1Pe 4:2  That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

So as we are “being perfected… let us walk whereto we have already attained” willingly acknowledging that we have not yet been perfected while as yet in this vessel of clay. Willard Rogers was as loving, forgiving and as generous a man as I know, but he still had to relinquish his “sinful flesh” in order to be perfected. This was required of our Lord Himself. So it is with us all. That is why we all “die daily” until there are no more days in which to die.
I know that you know that it is the sum of God’s Word that comprises Truth. That ‘sum’ clearly admonishes us to be daily vigilant against that ever- present body of death that is sinful flesh. If we are through “Christ in you” vigilant, then the flesh will never again have dominion. We will continue to be “free from sin[‘s] dominion,” we will “abide in Christ” and “sin not.” And yet the sum of God’s Word tells us that “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves.” The whole point is to encourage vigilance in the lives of God’s elect. It is not to tell us that we must either submit to sin or that we have already been perfected. It is all about vigilance:

1Co 10:12  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

As always, your epistles are both informative and encouraging. I just love the positive understanding which you show to all the apparently negative statements involving the flesh.
[“Seed of the woman, Christ in me, mystery of godliness

1Jn 3:10  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Seed of the serpent, sin in the flesh, mystery of iniquity. I see them both within me, and I see only one winner

Exo 15:3  The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.”]

The Lord will eventually win in every man who has ever lived. What is negative for the flesh is positive for the spirit. Consequently the entirety of scripture is good news; the gospel of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

My days and your days were all in God’s “book” while as yet there was not one of them.” I find that very comforting. God apparently has what he calls for our benefit a “book” with the days of every one who comes out of Adam, in that ‘book.’
Just like you, I know that it is ordained to be a trial, but I look forward to seeing what is on the next page.
I take great comfort in those words and I know that you do, too.
I want you to be aware that there is a whole family of God, a whole body of Christ and a temple of lively stones, here in the U. S. that loves and cares for you!
Your brother in the Christ,
Mike

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