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John answers our sin with the advocacy of Christ.

“the wicked one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18, NKJV) 

I speak from personal painful plumbing experience. If you see water dripping, however so slowly, from the repair you just made to your toilet or sink, the problem has not been fixed. 

That can be our personal experience with sin. If we continue to see the steady drip of sin in our lives, we might conclude that the problem has not been fixed. We can question whether we have in fact been saved, particularly when John says things like this: “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin” (1 John 5:18). John said something similar to this earlier (3:9) and evidently he wants us to hear it again. 

But John cannot mean that we don’t sin. Early on in his epistle he insisted that we do sin (1 John 1:8, 10) and that awareness of sin is a mark of being spiritually alive and having salvation in Christ (2:2). Christ is our righteousness. 

John answers our sin with the advocacy of Christ. “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18, NASB95). Jesus came into the world to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). 

Satan, the accuser, may prosecute our sin before the judgment seat of God, and we may cower because we know he is right. We have sinned. We do sin. But our risen Lord Jesus intercedes for us to say that our debt is real and ongoing, but He paid that debt in full. “It is finished” is His continued declaration for our sin. The guilt is atoned for. The wrath is satisfied. Perfect righteousness credited. 

Here John reminds us that the sin we see in our lives has been addressed at the cross and by new birth we are no longer of the world but are now of God. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). 

All this is to say that the wicked one may try to upend us but we who have born of God are guarded, protected, and kept from his clutches. Our Lord Jesus emphasized this wonderful truth in John’s Gospel in describing Himself as the Good Shepherd. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (John 10:27–30). 

The evil one cannot touch us because we are secure in the hand of our God. Ongoing sin might dampen our assurance, but our comfort is not in our righteousness but Christ’s for us. 

How are you to handle the ongoing sin you see in your life?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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