To Sin the Impossible Sin


No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)

The way I see it, John’s little assertion here leaves us four options:

1. John has been eating hallucinogenic Patmos mushrooms. He has simply lost touch with reality (at least my reality, anyway) and is floating in strawberry fields forever. To claim that people who are born of God don’t continue to sin—in fact, cannot do so—gets the Pollyanna award for the millennium. Shoot, John can’t even keep his own story straight. At the beginning of the same letter he says that anybody who claims to be sinless is fooling himself and calling God a liar. He says we’re supposed to confess our sins, for crying out loud. I’m guessing it was just after he wrote chapter one that he downed the mushrooms. This is what can happen to a guy who spends too much time alone on a rocky island.

2. Most of us are not really born of God and are on a highway to hell. John leaves no wiggle room. If the statement above is true at face value, then it follows that those who do continue to sin are damned capable of it and, therefore, are not born of God. This, of course, means that most Christians who claim to be born again are full of shit and are going to get a rude awakening at the sheep and goat tribunal. We may be in touch with some Inner Vibe that makes us feel good about ourselves, but we’re Pavlovian trespassers: ding:sin—ding:sin—ding:sin. If John’s statement means what it says, it’s time for some asbestos underwear.

3. If I’m born of God, nothing bad I do actually counts as sin anymore. Maybe John means that since God forgave all sins—past, present, and future—then for believers there’s no sin left in sin. Maybe born-againers can’t sin because, for them, there is no longer such thing as sin. Maybe that’s what it means to be free from sin, not that we can’t do the fun stuff anymore, but that God’s grace takes the bite out of the crime. The Apostle Paul himself says that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” If this is what John means, it’s drinks on the house, baby.

4. John’s talking about some theological technicality that cannot be understood by the average person, including John’s original audience. Taking the terms of John’s statement, assigning symbolic values, and plotting the dynamic between concepts, we get the following equation


whereby the relationship between sin and seed is inversely proportional to the relationship between seed and the “him” in question. The variables are a function of the square roots of what we shall call the theological constant which, when the variables reach critical mass, inverts the proportional sequence and zeros out the sum or rather infinitizes the variables effectively rendering them irrelevant. Thus John’s categorical claim, initially suspect, is transformed into a meaningful application which is neither provable nor falsifiable by standard methods of assessment.

Take your pick, gang.


One Response

  1. NONE of it is “provable nor falsifiable by standard methods of assessment.” I like the equation narrative, though. Almost made sense.

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