1 John 5:18-21
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
Verse 18 says, "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin". Notice it does not say the one born of God never sins, but does not continue to sin. All of us who believe in Christ and are born again will continue to battle sin for the rest of our lives. But this is different than when John says to "continue in sin". To continue in sin means to continue a lifestyle of sin, as if one had no relationship with God. To continue in sin means nothing has been transformed as a result of being in Christ. It denies the very presence of God in a person, who is "born of God". John says this person is under the control of the evil one.
This was the heresy the false teachers were teaching. They were saying that the sinful nature had been eliminated on the cross, so that sin really didn't matter anymore. A believer could keep on sinning since they were already saved. You can see why that would be problematic for the early church, or any church. It would seem foolish that Jesus delivered us from sin on the cross, only for us to return to be enslaved to it. Kind of defeats the purpose. And the reason that believers do not continue in sin is that they are under new ownership. Since we are now in Christ, we are not under the control of the evil one. John says, "the One who was born of God keeps them safe." That is Jesus keeps us safe.
Also, since we know Jesus, we know the truth. When we live according to the truth, the truth sets us free. We are free from the evil one, the world, and even our sinful self. This is the benefit of being born of God. He who is in us, is greater than he that is in the world. The question for us then is, will we continue to "live in Him"? Will we follow Jesus and be led by the Holy Spirit?
As we end 1 John, you can see many of the concerns he had are relevant for us today. Most importantly, God wants to know us intimately and sent Jesus so we could be in an intimate relationship with Him. Unlike the false teachers taught, Jesus was fully man and fully God. If we dilute either of these qualities of Jesus, we deny the power of Gospel. As we come into a living and dynamic relationship with God through Christ, we are born again. We cannot continue in a lifestyle of sin, because we are fundamentally changed people. We are now sons and daughters of God. The evil one has no sway over us. We now know the Truth, and we truly see the difference between right and wrong. We cannot keep on sinning, because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and convicts us when we sin. As we confess our sins to God and each other when we do sin, we are set free to live a life worthy of our calling.
Does this describe your relationship with God? Do you sense that He knows you and you know Him? I believe that the deepest desire of God is to be in a loving relationship with you, who He created in His own image. Though we are all born of a sinful, fallen nature, God sent His Son Jesus so we could be born again and be in relationship with Him forever. This is a free gift that God offers to every man and woman of every tribe and nation. This is what Christmas is all about.