1 John 5:18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.
The way this one verse is handled is my biggest single objection to the Japanese translation I use, though in general I like it very much. Amazingly, the NIV gets it right here. Traditional English translations agree with the Japanese, in saying “anyone born of God does not sin.” That not only violates the tense of the Greek verb, it violates the whole rest of the Bible! Actually, John in this very letter makes it quite clear that we don’t achieve sinless perfection on this earth, though we are continuously to aim for it. (1 John 1:8- 2:2) From the Greek tense, we know that this verse is talking about a continuing action. Anyone who is born of God is indeed uncomfortable with sin. Someone who is satisfied wallowing in sin is not born again, whatever rites they may have gone through. Having said that, I also need to point out that we don’t know what goes on inside someone else. They might be putting up a defiant front, insisting they are happy with how they are, while inwardly being miserable. This is what drives some Christians to suicide. The devil has blinded them to 1 John 1:9, they feel absolutely miserable about what they are doing, and they decide to stop doing it by stopping living. Such a person is indeed severely deceived, but I would be very hesitant to insist they are not saved. The danger of sin is that it feels good, for a while anyway. If it didn’t, how much temptation would it be? However, anyone who is born of God is quick to recognize it for what it is, and repent of it. This applies to the more subtle sins as well, such as pride, prejudice, and the like. There, the danger comes from those around us insisting those things aren’t sins (because they indulge in them too). It all comes down to the reality that anyone born of God has been given the Holy Spirit as a guide, and we need to seek to learn to listen to Him more and more accurately.
This is quite literally the story of my life. I believe my commitment and baptism at age seven were real and valid, but I got so far from them in pride and this world’s thinking that when the Lord brought me back at age 24, it was so dramatic that I requested and received baptism a second time. However, that didn’t insulate me from sin. In the 40 years since then I have been growing in my sensitivity and obedience to the Holy Spirit, but I still can’t say I never sin. However, I have complete assurance of my salvation by the grace of God. This is the truth I try to communicate to the believers around me who are stumbling, because it is a truth the devil tries to hide.
Father, thank You again for Your amazing grace. Help me be an accurate, effective messenger of that grace to everyone I encounter, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!