“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:4–10 ESV)
When we walk in ongoing, unrepentant sin, we walk outside of God’s good, right and protective law. To walk outside of God’s provision and protection has grave consequences. Jesus’ mission was not only to forgive us of sin, but to free us from its grip (Romans 6). John goes boldly tells us that no one who abides in Jesus keeps on sinning – we can’t because He is light and in Him there is no darkness or sin. He says that no one who walks in ongoing, unrepentant sin (that is evident for we all have sin in our lives) knows Him. This may be a long and slow process, but ultimately God ensures His elect that they are His by the way that they walk. Our actions always speak louder than our words. It is easy to say we love God, serve Him and pursue Him, but only those who pursue the righteousness that is found in Jesus alone are truly His. Don’t be deceived! If you’re hanging your hat on having walked an aisle or having prayed a prayer, but have no real desire to know God or grow in holiness, then you need to ask if you are really His child.
We aren’t of God if we make an ongoing practice of sinning. Growth in holiness, empowered by the grace of God is the most comforting thing in regards to our eternal security. One cannot be regenerate and walk in ongoing, apparent & unrepentant sin. Sin is of the devil. We must be careful not to place timetables on this – for we have all walked in sin for a season. But, it should always frighten us and move us towards the cross. The regenerate person cannot continue to walk in open sin because the Word of God and the Holy Spirit dwell within him. We can’t keep on walking in open sin because we have been reborn. It is like being reborn as a fish and trying to live on land – you can’t for long. The very air that we now breath is the grace of God through the Word of God.
The litmus test for faith (children of God versus children of the devil): whoever does not practice righteousness or love his brother is not walking in the light. This takes some serious unpacking because it sounds like external behavior modification. We are recognized by our fruit (Matthew 7:16). The Christian is transformed to the core by the Holy Spirit, so much so that he cannot walk in a pattern of continual sin for long periods. John boils it down to the true barometer of where our hearts really are regardless of what we profess or what we’d like to believe. If we don’t love others, we aren’t regenerate; we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). This is at the top of the list of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5:22. We can’t produce this, it is Spirit wrought. Additionally, if you can’t forgive then you aren’t forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). This is slow and progressive, but will be a growing reality in the hearts of the elect. God, help us!