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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF JOHN - Chapter 3 - Verse 8

Verse 8. He that committeth sin. Habitually, wilfully, characteristically.

Is of the devil. This cannot mean that no one who commits any sin, or who is not absolutely perfect, can be a Christian, for this would cut off the great mass, even according to the belief of those who hold that the Christian may be perfectly holy, from all claim to the Christian character. But what the apostle here says is true in two senses:

(1.) That all who commit sin, even true believers, so far as they are imperfect, in this respect resemble Satan, and are under his influence, since sin, just so far as it exists at all, makes us resemble him.

(2.) All who habitually and characteristically sin are of the devil. This latter was evidently the principal idea in the mind of the apostle. His object here is to show that those who sinned, in the sense in which it would seem some maintained that the children of God might sin, could have no real evidence of piety, but really belonged to Satan.

For the devil sinneth from the beginning. The beginning of the world; or from the first account we have of him. It does not mean that he sinned from the beginning of his existence, for he was made holy like the other angels. See Barnes "Jude 1:6".

The meaning is, that he introduced sin into the universe, and that he has continued to practise it ever since. The word sinneth here implies continued and habitual sin. He did not commit one act of sin and then reform; but he has continued, and still continues, his course of sin. This may confirm what has been already said about the kind of sin that John refers to. He speaks of sinning habitually, continuously, wilfully; and any one who does this shows that he is under the influence of him whose characteristic it has been and is to sin. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested. Became incarnate, and appeared among men, 1 Jo 3:5. Comp. See Barnes "1 Ti 3:16".

 

That he might destroy the works of the devil. All his plans of wickedness, and his control over the hearts of men. Compare Notes on See Barnes "Mr 1:24"; See Barnes "Heb 2:14.

The argument here is, that as the Son of God came to destroy all the works of the devil, he cannot be his true follower who lives in sin.

{b} "He" Joh 8:44 {c} "that he" He 2:14

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