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Ability not to sin


I came across a quote recently from Leonard Ravenhill. He was talking about Sin and he said the following.

“It’s not the ability to never sin again, it’s the ability not to sin. It makes all the difference in the world.”

I just wanted to see what everyone thinks about sin. How often does a person that has accepted Christ sin? Do you think that at a certain point you can be sinless in this life? These are things I’ve been wondering.

4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins; and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or knows him.

Jesus came to take away sins. Do you think that John meant the punishment of sin, or that Jesus made it so you can be sinless? I don’t have a fixed view yet, let me know what you think!

18 Responses to “Ability not to sin”

  1. on 12 Nov 2007 at 10:12 pmVince Schuele

    I feel as though everyone considers sin differently. Some people will consider watching a violent movie a sin while others will not. I think that you sin much more than you think you do with out realizing that you are sinning. I do not think that you are able to be sinless in this life. There is so much evil and other peoples sin going on around you that you will find yourself caught up in the worldly things without realizing it just by being around it.

  2. on 13 Nov 2007 at 8:11 amSal

    Oh yea, it’s first John 3. Yea when I heard that quote it made soo much sense to me. God doesnt make it so that you are unable to sin again. You have the ability to say no to sin, something Adam didn’t do and Jesus did. Every time you sin, you could’ve done something else, it’s all choice really (douglas). Also, another interesting point is that Jesus came to take away sins……that could mean the sin in our lives? I’m not sure what do you think about that?

  3. on 13 Nov 2007 at 8:01 amSean

    Sal, where do those verses come from? Somewhere in 1 John? Great post, it reminded me of a preacher called Earnest O’Neill who preached a sermon called “The Simple Gospel.” (click here to listen to it). I would say that if our initial repentance, our conversion, our new birth, has no change on our righteousness then what’s the point? Is the only difference between us and our neighbors that though we both get drunk and kick our dogs in outbursts of anger, when I do it I’m forgiven and when he does it he is going to hell? That is absurd.

  4. on 13 Nov 2007 at 10:33 amWolfgang

    Hello everybody,

    … a quote recently from Leonard Ravenhill. He was talking about Sin and he said the following.

    “It’s not the ability to never sin again, it’s the ability not to sin. It makes all the difference in the world.”

    I am not sure I get what’s “the world of difference” between his two statements to which Mr. Ravenhill was referring?
    Does he make a difference between “ability not to sin once”, and “ability not to sin often (never)”? seems to me like he’s trying to make a point that is more or less pointless ….

    Isn’t the rather sinple logic of the matter this: IF I had the ability not to sin, I would axiomatically have the ability never to sin (that is, not to sin the first time, therefore not to sin the second time, therefore not to sin the third time … etc” ??

  5. on 13 Nov 2007 at 11:00 amkev

    hi, how about looking at romans chapter 6,7,8,

  6. on 13 Nov 2007 at 11:27 amKen

    Just a contextual observation:
    One cannot divoce what is said about sin in I John 3: 4-12 from verses 5-10 in chapter 1. Later I’ll expound if I think it would be helpful.

  7. on 13 Nov 2007 at 12:23 pmDustin

    I dont think the Bible is communicating to us that we have sinless perfection. 1 John 1:6-9 talks about “when we sin” as if it is understood that believers do slip occationally.

    The Greek verbs in 1 John 3:8-9 are present tense, meaning a continuous action.

    “If anyone keeps on sinning……”

    Hope this helps.


  8. on 13 Nov 2007 at 3:28 pmKen

    Good points, Dustin.
    A translation that brings out the continuous sense of the present tense is the Williams translation:
    No one who continues to live in union with Him practices sin… No one who is born of God makes a practice of sinning, because the God-given life-principle (footnote: “seed”) continues to live in him, and so he cannot practice sinning, because he is born of God. (I John 3: 6a & 9)
    Honesty (according to verses 6-10 of ch. 1) seems to indicate that one would be kidding himself and making God a liar if claiming to have reached a state of already having ceased from sins or errors.
    On which day of any of our lives can one of us say, “I have so fulfilled everything God requires with such a perfect attitude (and no negligence) that I don’t need to ask for forgiveness.” That would sound sort of hypocritical: i.e. Luke 18:10-12.
    Even a man as “above reproach” as Daniel (Daniel 6: 4-6) knew of his need to confess his sins (ch.9, verses 3-16.) Note that Daniel did not exclude himself from the sins of the people.

  9. on 13 Nov 2007 at 3:34 pmSal


    There is a difference. It’s not being perfect, it’s being able to not sin through what Jesus has done and live holy through the power of the spirit.

    “Become sober-minded as you ought, and STOP SINNING; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” – 1 Cor 15.34

    “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins….” – Heb 10.26

    Every time you sin, there was an alternative route you could’ve taken. Adam didn’t have to eat of the fruit he could have said no, as Jesus did. I think it is very much in our grasp to be sinless if think more before we do something and be in constant communication with God.

    “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man: and God is faithful, who will no allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” – 1 Cor 10.13

    to hear Leonard Ravenhill talking about this click here

  10. on 13 Nov 2007 at 4:58 pmjoyced

    I agree we always have a choice. It seems the only way to avoid sinning is to walk by the spirit, minute by minute. If I say I will not eat candy this week, I may be able to discipline myself not to eat candy. But if I say I will not sin in one way, another way is sure to pop up (like the whack-a-mole game). The only way I can see to be continually sinless is to walk by the spirit and ask God constantly what choice I should make in any given situation.

  11. on 13 Nov 2007 at 5:21 pmJohnO

    It seems the only way to avoid sinning is to walk by the spirit, minute by minute

    What does that mean? I don’t understand?

  12. on 13 Nov 2007 at 6:57 pmjoyced


    This seems like a leading question to me.

    I was referring to Galatians, walk by the spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

  13. on 13 Nov 2007 at 9:42 pmVince Schuele

    1 John 3:9-No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    I believe that John is referring to the seed of the parable of the sower here. John and Peter were two of Jesus’s top disciples. John is talking about how if you have the seed of God, the seed which fell in the good soil you cannot practice sin.

    1 Peter 1:23-25-having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth. For, All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth: But the word of the Lord abideth for ever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you.

    Mat 13:23 -And he that was sown upon the good ground, this is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; who verily beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
    I also believe that here the seed is referring to the parable of the sower.
    If you are sown in this good ground then you are not going to sin because you heard and understood the word which is the same as the gospel, the good news, and the kingdom. You will live for God and avoid these sins. When Peter is talking about the seed in 1 Peter 1:23-25 he refers to the good tidings. This is the same as the the word; which is the seed of the sower. So if your seed is the seed of the good soil; the seed of God then you will have it forever. If you have this seed of God as it says in 1 John 3 then you will not be able to practice sin. The key here is be the seed of the good soil which will make you have the seed of God which will make it so you are not able to sin.

  14. on 13 Nov 2007 at 11:35 pmSean

    Excellent observation, Vince. The seed is the gospel of the kingdom which is God’s plan to intervene in world affairs to set the world right (punish the wicked and vindicate the righteous). This is certainly the core of Jesus proclamation (Mat 4.17, 23; 9.35; 24.14; Mark 1.14-15; Luke 4.43; etc.). The idea is to become enthralled by God’s dream for his creation to restore it back to its pristine Edenic glory through his son, the Messiah.

    This should affect how we live in the here and now. We, as the people of God, are a prophetic sign post of how God wants the world to be; a demonstration of holiness, peace, and wholeness to this evil age. We need to get a hold of this and realize that we have a purpose and that our “seeking first the kingdom” (Mat 6.33) should affect us to the point that we begin in our own communities looking like the kingdom. (Click here to listen to a clip of NT Wright who says it so much better than I). If the people of God cannot live holy in the present (with the help of the spirit) then why should any pagan believe that the gospel about the coming kingdom is true? Indeed, Christianity itself is the #1 reason given by non-believers for why they don’t become Christian. In other words, Christianity has demonstrated by its hypocrisy the opposite of what we are supposed to be showing the world. We should be giving the world a taste of the kingdom.

    Even so, I’m not in full agreement with your last point, “which will make it so you are not able to sin.” I would rephrase it to, “which will make it so you are able to not sin.” It’s not that we can’t sin, I certainly can, it’s that we are now able to not sin (or live the kingdom lifestyle now in the power of the spirit).

  15. on 14 Nov 2007 at 10:11 amJohnO

    I honestly have no idea what people mean when they say “just walk by the spirit” – and they say it very frequently. I missed a memo somewhere.

  16. on 15 Nov 2007 at 7:02 amjoyced


    To walk by the spirit – to walk in communication with God. To ask Him a question and receive (or wait to receive) an answer. Often the answer will come by His Word brought to mind. To walk by the spirit is to not respond by our own emotions or habit, but to choose to act deliberately according to the answer we receive. To be constantly aware of God’s prescence, to be tuned in instead of on autopilot. To see things God’s way rather than by our 5 senses way.

  17. on 15 Nov 2007 at 12:05 pmKen

    Sin is so deceptive. It certainly should be intentionally avoided, not by our reliance on our intelligence, but by humble, continuous dependence on God. I think an overall reading of the Scriptures shows so much about varied degrees of deliberateness in sin within varied degrees of knowledge and maturity among people. Of course, God is the one who weighs the hearts (Proverbs 16:2; 24:10-12); I think a “one size fits all theology” about our abilities might be presumptuous. We should all be growing in obedience as we pray such things: “Keep me from presumptuous sins. Search my heart. Show me when I get off track, etc.

  18. on 24 Nov 2007 at 2:42 pmjimS

    Hebrews states that we are to forsake the sin which is particular to each one of us…

    Heb 12:1
    Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

    What besets me isn’t necesarily what besets you. One thing is for sure whereas now having the anointing of holy spirit we can do what our Father is asking us to do…

    1 John 2:27
    But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

    Our Father is just and helpful to us in this endeavour…

    1 Cor 10:13
    God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    Love for our God and Father and our Lord Jesus Christ is the real motivation for our change of behaviour…

    John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

    May we keep His word through the love we share!!!


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