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Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Aug 11 2009 6:52 AM

hi,

 I was not going to post this as this is not directly a tech post about Logos, but it "could" be depending on the answer.

I'm not looking for a flame war...just some answers, some of which may involve Greek Grammar and so I thought that I would go ahead and trust everyone's judgment.

 

I was looking at 1st John and it's apparent contradictory statements:

1st 1John 1:8
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

and

1John 3:6
Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him.

From what I gather of the views of this situation, there is the "present participle" αμαρτανων as "continuously" or "habitually" view. I was leaning toward this but Daniel Wallace seems to poo poo that notion as "inconsistent" in his intermediate grammar.

Some other commentaries seem to say that John is speaking "hyperbolically" and this is not to be taken as absolutes.

 

My Q: how do YOU resolve it?

 

bob

Robert Pavich

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Joe Gschwandtner | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 8:15 AM

hamartia vs. hamartion

 

Habitual sinning vs. individual, uncharacteristic acts of sin

 

As Christians, we can't be habitual sinners, because we have received a new nature, and the Holy Spirit enables us to not sin habitually. However, because we still have a fleshly part to our nature while on this earth, there are times when we commit individual, uncharacteristics acts of sin. God promises to forgive us those.

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Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 8:22 AM

Joe,

can you elaborate when you say "hamartia vs harartion"?

Robert Pavich

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Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 8:31 AM

As I alluded to in the original post; here is what Dan Wallace had to say about it:

 

 

b. Debatable Examples
1 John 3:6, 9
πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει· πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν. (9) Πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ, ὅτι σπέρμα αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει, καὶ οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται.
Everyone who remains in him does not sin. Everyone who sins has not seen him nor has he known him. (9) Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him, and he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.
Many older commentaries have taken the highlighted presents (as well as others in vv 4–10) as customary (a view especially popularized by British scholars, principally Westcott): does not continually sin does not continually sindoes not practice sin … is not able to habitually sin. Taking the presents this way seems to harmonize well with 1:8–10, for
to deny one’s sin is to disagree with God’s assessment. But there are several arguments against this interpretation:

(1) The very subtlety of this approach is against it.

(2) It seems to contradict 5:16 (ἐάν τις ἴδῃ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον [if anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not unto death]). The author juxtaposes “brother” with the present tense of ἁμαρτάνω with the proclamation that such might not lead to death. On the customary present view, the author should not be able to make this statement.

(3) Gnomic presents most frequently occur with generic subjects (or objects). Further, “the sense of a generic utterance is usually an absolute statement of what each one does once, and not a statement of the individual’s customary or habitual activity.”28 This certainly fits the pattern.
How should we then take the present tenses here? The immediate context seems to be speaking in terms of a projected eschatological reality.29 The larger section of this letter addresses the bright side of the eschaton: Since Christians are in the last days, their hope of Christ’s imminent return should produce godly living (2:28–3:10). The author first articulates how such an eschatological hope should produce holiness (2:28–3:3). Then, without marking that his discussion is still in the same vein, he gives a proleptic view of sanctification (3:4–10)—that is, he gives a hyperbolic picture of believers vs. unbelievers, implying that even though believers are not yet perfect, they are moving in that direction (3:6, 9 need to be interpreted proleptically), while unbelievers are moving away from truth (3:10; cf. 2:19). Thus, the author states in an absolute manner truths that are not yet true, because he is speaking within the context of eschatological hope (2:28–3:3) and eschatological judgment (2:18–19).

 

Robert Pavich

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Jim VanSchoonhoven | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 8:45 AM

I have a real problem with the whole idea of habitual sin compared to sin that just happens once in a while.

If I brush my teeth daily it is considered a habit and is habitual, if I exercise 5 days a week that is my habit and it is considered habitual.

Show me the believer that is not a habitual sinner.

In Christ,

Jim

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Jules lamond | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 8:58 AM

Context here is very important.

If we say ... is an expression of remarkable interest, because the apostle here identified himself with the false teachers, not through any agreement with them, but out of a delicate regard for his readers. 

John uses the condition "If we say", as though he was taking up the claim of some whose thinking is to be avoided.  These probably claimed to have no sin.  If we should so argue, says John, "we deceive ourselves".  

Some may really believe that such is true, that they are above sin and do not need the blood of Jesus to cleanse them in order to have fellowship with God, but the idea is not truth.  It is a lie, and those who so speak have had their eyes blinded so that they do not perceive their error.  If we are in this group, "the truth is not in us".

 

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Charlie Nason | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 9:08 AM

Bob,

I am not a grammarian like Wallace only a student of his word and one who loves 1 John.  The way I understand the "apparent" contradiction is this:

1:8 is speaking of the reality of our situation.  We are utterly steeped in sin so much so that there are unintentional sins that are unknown to us unless God brings them to our attention (Lev 4:14, Hebrews 9:7).  We, in ourselves, are unable to be without sin for we do not see ourselves as God sees sin.

3:6 is speaking in the arena of time (thus 3:8 the Devil has been sinning from the beginning).  The Devil has never stopped sinning.  He perpetually sins.  However, the people born of God do not continuously sin.  There are breaks from sin unto acts of righteousness.  I liken it to a heart monitor.  The Devil is a flat line dead in his sin.  One who has been born of God breaks from the flat line of sin and has a beat of righteousness.  As the spiritual health of the person increases the heart beat becomes stronger and more consistent.

I believe the language supports such an assessment.  I hope this helps.

Charlie Nason

Feel to contact me if you want.  charlie.nason@sbcglobal.net

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Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 10:17 AM

From what I've gleaned; it would seem that the grammar does play into it...and as Jules pointed out; the context also.

The BECGNT says that it's the "false teacher" / believer juxtaposition that's in play.

 

I asked Dr. James White; mainly because I really respect his integrity in dealing with the text itself and he indicated that the grammar angle was valid.

 

thanks everyone for chiming in...

 

PS: I'm absolutely AMAZED that this thread has gone this far without "you know who" getting in on it...George Somsel! Where are you!

Seriously; George, I really did wonder what you'd say...

Robert Pavich

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Alain Maashe | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 10:50 AM

I disagree that the grammar angle necessarily  helps determine the meaning of the passage

especially in light of Wallace's point

  (2) It seems to contradict 5:16 (ἐάν τις ἴδῃ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον [if anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not unto death]). The author juxtaposes “brother” with the present tense of ἁμαρτάνω with the proclamation that such might not lead to death. On the customary present view, the author should not be able to make this statement. 

most recent commentaries that I have consulted agree with that assessment (the point appears to be obvious to me since his use of the present tense must be assumed to be consistent).

I believe that the context yields more useful clues if we assume that the author has not forgotten what he said in 1:8-10

even though I would not argue the habitual view based on grammar, I believe it is hinted  at by the context

while not exactly supporting the point I am arguing for, the NET Bible notes are interesting (they argue that the habitual meaning cannot be ruled out, not that it is necessarily proven by grammar)

tn The interpretive problem raised by the use of the present tense ἁμαρτάνει (hamartanei) in this verse (and ποιεῖ [poiei] in 3:9 as well) is that (a) it appears to teach a sinless state of perfection for the true Christian, and (b) it appears to contradict the author’s own statements in 2:1–2 where he acknowledged that Christians do indeed sin. (1) One widely used method of reconciling the acknowledgment in 2:1–2 that Christians do sin with the statements in 3:6 and 3:9 that they do not is expressed by M. Zerwick ("Biblical Greek" §251). He understands the aorist to mean “commit sin in the concrete, commit some sin or other” while the present means “be a sinner, as a characteristic «state».” N. Turner (Grammatical Insights, 151) argues essentially the same as Zerwick, stating that the present tense ἁμαρτάνει is stative (be a sinner) while the aorist is ingressive (begin to be a sinner, as the initial step of committing this or that sin). Similar interpretations can be found in a number of grammatical works and commentaries. (2) Others, however, have questioned the view that the distinction in tenses alone can convey a “habitual” meaning without further contextual clarification, including C. H. Dodd (The Johannine Epistles [MNTC], 79) and Z. C. Hodges (“1 John,” BKCNT, 894). B. Fanning (Verbal Aspect [OTM], 215–17) has concluded that the habitual meaning for the present tense cannot be ruled out, because there are clear instances of habitual presents in the NT where other clarifying words are not present and the habitual sense is derived from the context alone. This means that from a grammatical standpoint alone, the habitual present cannot be ruled out in 1 John 3:6 and 9. It is still true, however, that it would have been much clearer if the author had reinforced the habitual sense with clarifying words or phrases in 1 John 3:6 and 9 if that is what he had intended. Dodd’s point, that reliance on the distinction in tenses alone is quite a subtle way of communicating such a vital point in the author’s argument, is still valid. It may also be added that the author of 1 John has demonstrated a propensity for alternating between present and aorist tenses for purely stylistic reasons (see 2:12).

 
sn Does not sin. It is best to view the distinction between “everyone who practices sin” in 3:4 and “everyone who resides in him” in 3:6 as absolute and sharply in contrast. The author is here making a clear distinction between the opponents, who as moral indifferentists downplay the significance of sin in the life of the Christian, and the readers, who as true Christians recognize the significance of sin because Jesus came to take it away (3:5) and to destroy it as a work of the devil (3:8). This argument is developed more fully by S. Kubo (”I John 3:9: Absolute or Habitual?” AUSS 7 [1969]: 47-56), who takes the opponents as Gnostics who define sin as ignorance. The opponents were probably not adherents of fully developed gnosticism, but Kubo is right that the distinction between their position and that of the true Christian is intentionally portrayed by the author here as a sharp antithesis. This explanation still has to deal with the contradiction between 2:1–2 and 3:6–9, but this does not present an insuperable difficulty. The author of 1 John has repeatedly demonstrated a tendency to present his ideas antithetically, in “either/or” terms, in order to bring out for the readers the drastic contrast between themselves as true believers and the opponents as false believers. In 2:1–2 the author can acknowledge the possibility that a true Christian might on occasion sin, because in this context he wishes to reassure his readers that the statements he has made about the opponents in the preceding context do not apply to them. But in 3:4–10, his concern is to bring out the absolute difference between the opponents and his readers, so he speaks in theoretical rather than practical terms which do not discuss the possible occasional exception, because to do so would weaken his argument.

 
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Ted Hans | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 12:33 PM

Alain Maashe:

I disagree that the grammar angle necessarily  helps determine the meaning of the passage

especially in light of Wallace's point

  (2) It seems to contradict 5:16 (ἐάν τις ἴδῃ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον [if anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not unto death]). The author juxtaposes “brother” with the present tense of ἁμαρτάνω with the proclamation that such might not lead to death. On the customary present view, the author should not be able to make this statement. 

most recent commentaries that I have consulted agree with that assessment (the point appears to be obvious to me since his use of the present tense must be assumed to be consistent).

I believe that the context yields more useful clues if we assume that the author has not forgotten what he said in 1:8-10

even though I would not argue the habitual view based on grammar, I believe it is hinted  at by the context

while not exactly supporting the point I am arguing for, the NET Bible notes are interesting (they argue that the habitual meaning cannot be ruled out, not that it is necessarily proven by grammar)

tn The interpretive problem raised by the use of the present tense ἁμαρτάνει (hamartanei) in this verse (and ποιεῖ [poiei] in 3:9 as well) is that (a) it appears to teach a sinless state of perfection for the true Christian, and (b) it appears to contradict the author’s own statements in 2:1–2 where he acknowledged that Christians do indeed sin. (1) One widely used method of reconciling the acknowledgment in 2:1–2 that Christians do sin with the statements in 3:6 and 3:9 that they do not is expressed by M. Zerwick ("Biblical Greek" §251). He understands the aorist to mean “commit sin in the concrete, commit some sin or other” while the present means “be a sinner, as a characteristic «state».” N. Turner (Grammatical Insights, 151) argues essentially the same as Zerwick, stating that the present tense ἁμαρτάνει is stative (be a sinner) while the aorist is ingressive (begin to be a sinner, as the initial step of committing this or that sin). Similar interpretations can be found in a number of grammatical works and commentaries. (2) Others, however, have questioned the view that the distinction in tenses alone can convey a “habitual” meaning without further contextual clarification, including C. H. Dodd (The Johannine Epistles [MNTC], 79) and Z. C. Hodges (“1 John,” BKCNT, 894). B. Fanning (Verbal Aspect [OTM], 215–17) has concluded that the habitual meaning for the present tense cannot be ruled out, because there are clear instances of habitual presents in the NT where other clarifying words are not present and the habitual sense is derived from the context alone. This means that from a grammatical standpoint alone, the habitual present cannot be ruled out in 1 John 3:6 and 9. It is still true, however, that it would have been much clearer if the author had reinforced the habitual sense with clarifying words or phrases in 1 John 3:6 and 9 if that is what he had intended. Dodd’s point, that reliance on the distinction in tenses alone is quite a subtle way of communicating such a vital point in the author’s argument, is still valid. It may also be added that the author of 1 John has demonstrated a propensity for alternating between present and aorist tenses for purely stylistic reasons (see 2:12).

 
sn Does not sin. It is best to view the distinction between “everyone who practices sin” in 3:4 and “everyone who resides in him” in 3:6 as absolute and sharply in contrast. The author is here making a clear distinction between the opponents, who as moral indifferentists downplay the significance of sin in the life of the Christian, and the readers, who as true Christians recognize the significance of sin because Jesus came to take it away (3:5) and to destroy it as a work of the devil (3:8). This argument is developed more fully by S. Kubo (”I John 3:9: Absolute or Habitual?” AUSS 7 [1969]: 47-56), who takes the opponents as Gnostics who define sin as ignorance. The opponents were probably not adherents of fully developed gnosticism, but Kubo is right that the distinction between their position and that of the true Christian is intentionally portrayed by the author here as a sharp antithesis. This explanation still has to deal with the contradiction between 2:1–2 and 3:6–9, but this does not present an insuperable difficulty. The author of 1 John has repeatedly demonstrated a tendency to present his ideas antithetically, in “either/or” terms, in order to bring out for the readers the drastic contrast between themselves as true believers and the opponents as false believers. In 2:1–2 the author can acknowledge the possibility that a true Christian might on occasion sin, because in this context he wishes to reassure his readers that the statements he has made about the opponents in the preceding context do not apply to them. But in 3:4–10, his concern is to bring out the absolute difference between the opponents and his readers, so he speaks in theoretical rather than practical terms which do not discuss the possible occasional exception, because to do so would weaken his argument.

What a shame Alain Maashe does not live in the UK(London) If only, if only. Thanks, for your input on this verse which has baffled me, and regards to Robert Pavich for raising the question. This is one thread i shall be following, i have not made up my mind yet. I was hoping D.A. Carson forth coming commentary would clarify the issue for me, it seems clarity is coming much sooner than i thought.

Ted.

Dell, studio XPS 7100, Ram 8GB, 64 - bit Operating System, AMD Phenom(mt) IIX6 1055T Processor 2.80 GHZ

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gene yancey | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 1:07 PM

The answer is simple, but requires a little thought and humility.  The unbeliever does not have a new birth (new nature, new spirit).  The unbeliever only has an old nature (spiritual death, Adam's original sin passed, old sin nature, flesh).  Anything the unbeliever does will not please God because he has rejected receiving God's free give of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.  The unbeliever is living under Satan's power (Eph.2:2). The unbeliever has not used his free will to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  When the unbeliever used his free will to become a believer, then he received a new spirit ( II Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:18) that is able to relate, associate, or have fellowship with God (Trinity).  The believer retains his old sin nature while possessing a new nature.  The believer is either controlled by his old sin nature or his new spirit at any time.  He chooses which will control him through his free will which remains intact after salvation.  If the believer chooses the old sin nature then he sins and lives under the authority of Satan until he (repents) changes his mind.  If the believer chooses for the many commands of the Word of God (including 1 Jn. 1:9) then he lives under the control of the new spirit.  The believer does not sin under the control of the spirit (notice there are no capital S's here) until he chooses to sin again.  The believer does not sin while under the control of the new birth until he (repents) uses his free will located in his heart which in turn changes his mind and allows sin to dominate for awhile.  Now go to Galatians chapter 5 and take your pen and make all the capital S's small s's.  Then read Galatians 5 corrected, and you should have no problem understanding 1st John 5:18f and 3:9, and how these relate to the rest of 1st John.  It's the new nature vs. the old nature, and which one you (the believer) are going to let control your life at any moment.  The more spiritual growth one has the better equipped one is to have the new spirit control.  But it still remains a matter of volition.     

Dr. Gene Yancey

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 2:16 PM

geneyancey:
Anything the unbeliever does will not please God because he has rejected receiving God's free give of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

Isn't it true that the unbeliever may not have heard of God's gift? If so, does the word "rejected" have meaning?

Sorry, I just love keeping people logically accurate - 30+ years of doing so professionally :-)

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 2:42 PM

Dr. Yancey,

Wow...it sounds like your unbeliever is holding all of the cards.. Surprise "Who can resist his will?"

 

Just ribbing you. I'm a Calvinist and though I know what you are saying when you say "Anything the unbeliever does will not please God because he has rejected receiving God's free gift of Salvation."

I'd have rephrased it like so: "Anything the unbeliever does will not please God because the bible says he does not have the ability to do so. He has rejected God's command to repent and believe" Big Smile

 

 

Robert Pavich

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Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 2:44 PM

Alain,

thank you so very much for your post but I'm kicking myself because I HAVE THE NET and didn't look at it's notes...argggg...

 

My comment on the NET notes would be that alothough they said the following:

 

(2) Others, however, have questioned the view that the distinction in tenses alone can convey a “habitual” meaning without further contextual clarification, including C. H. Dodd (The Johannine Epistles

The fact that others question it doesn't make it false though I agree, it's not the whole picture, but when you couple that with the context and the fact that we KNOW John is not saying that we are sinless...then this becomes a satisfying answer for me.

Robert Pavich

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Charlie Nason | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 3:09 PM

MJ. Smith,

Isn't it true that the unbeliever may not have heard of God's gift? If so, does the word "rejected" have meaning?

"Rejected" has meaning according to Romans 1:18 - 23.  They supress (reject and hold down) the truth about God revealled in creation (His invisible attributes defined as His eternal power and divine nature).  This rejection condemns man therefore it has meaning.

Sorry, I just love keeping people Biblically accurate, which in turn is logically accurate.

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Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 3:49 PM

Quote:

Sorry, I just love keeping people Biblically accurate, which in turn is logically accurate.

 

Charles, you're a man after my own heart.

Robert Pavich

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 4:06 PM

Charles Nason:
Sorry, I just love keeping people Biblically accurate, which in turn is logically accurate.

An excellent appeal to natural theology. Lawrence R. Farley in his The Epistles to the Romans: A Gospel for All does an excellent job of presenting this view as well as explaining how the law is liberating - the theme that started me reading this thread. (logically, support via appeal to authority which may, of course, also be a fallacy).

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Chris Ease | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 5:09 PM

Jules, I agree!  

Robert, 1 John 1:9 says (Holman) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:8 is not a  statement of perfection, rather it is a statement of denial or wrong.  If we say we have NO sin, we call God a liar. Remember that gnosticism was a false gospel at the time.  John wrote this book with the help of the Holy Spirit.  John wanted the people (apparently believers) to mature in faith, not be babes (1 John 2:1 - My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ the Righteous One).  So, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (He paid the price).`

In regard to 1 John 3:6, I would like to interject the following scripture51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 6:51). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 6:56). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 15:3-4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Jn 4:2-4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
For me the answer is spiritually attained, although I know your looking for an answer in the Greek style of writing.  John's style of writing seems to say the same thing to me in English, so I purposely went to the Gospel of John and 1st John.  Abide in me and greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world point to Christ.  If you are in Christ, you are not in the world, therefore your lifestyle desires to please God (I'm not advocating works righteousness, but I do advocate a fruitful life, which you cannot do without abiding).  I realize that I have interjected some other thought into your initial question, but it is hard to be in the will of God if we are not in the word of God.  If we are in the word of God and we lead a prayerful life, we are not spending time fullfilling the lust of the flesh and we have the Advocate that we can go to for the confession of known and unknown sin.  There is no way in the flesh that we could ever be sinless.
6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Jn 3:5-6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Here is the reason that he does not keep on sinningI am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 15:1-6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Col 1:21-23). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
so the bottom line for me is FAITH.  Sorry, I do not intend to cause debate or war.  My only intent is to share the word of God and let it speak for itself, with of course a little of my non-exegeted theology.
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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 5:24 PM

Chris:
Sorry, I do not intend to cause debate or war.  My only intent is to share the word of God and let it speak for itself, with of course a little of my non-exegeted theology.

No need for apologies - yours is exactly the kind of reasoned posts many of us enjoy ... as an occassional addition to the Logos oriented questions. It is ever so much more enjoyable than personal attacks.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Alain Maashe | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 11 2009 8:34 PM

Daniel Akin in the NAC commentary has nicely summarized the different views for us

 

(1) The perfectionist view: the Christian does not commit acts of sin.

 (2) The limited view of sin: the Christian does not commit certain sins (1 John 5:16)

 (3) The Christian does not sin because what is sin in the life of the unbeliever is not so regarded by God in a believer.

 (4) The Christian does not sin in his new nature.

 (5) John is describing the theoretical or ideal and not reality. The ideal is, to a limited extent, true.

 (6) John is expressing himself by using exaggeration in this extremely controversial issue.

 (7) The Christian does not commit willful and deliberate sin.

 (8) The Christian does not commit habitual and consistent sin. Sin does not characterize his life.

 (9) The Christian who abides in Christ does not commit sin. When (or if) he sins, he is not abiding in Christ

 

There are a few variations of some of the views above

 

On the habitual sin view

 

In support of view #8, Colin Kruse in PNTC mentions Kerry Inman:  “Inman supports the traditional resolution of the problem but in a new way. He argues on the basis of a study of the distinctive Johannine vocabulary, especially the Johannine vocabulary regarding sin, that the expression poiein hamartian (lit. ‘to do/commit sin’) as it is used in the Johannine writings does denote habitual sinning. Inman draws attention to John 8:34 (‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins [pas ho poiōn hamartian] is a slave to sin’) as one example of Johannine usage where it is clear that poiein hamartian denotes habitual sinning. Inman also argues that in the context of 1 John 3:8 (‘He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning’) poiein hamartian must be understood to denote habitual sinning. In the light of these Johannine uses of poiein hamartian which clearly involve habitual sin, Inman argues that its use in 1 John 3:9 should be understood in the same way

 

Akin (NAC) says something interesting

"Although numerous suggestions have been offered, and none is completely satisfying, the most reasonable still seems to center on John’s use of the present tense verb. John is not suggesting that the child of God will not commit a single act of sin. Instead, John is describing a way of life, a character, a prevailing lifestyle. Here the present tense verb contextually depicts linear, continual action. In other words, the believer will not live a life characterized by sin. From John’s earlier statements it is obvious that the Christian, while enjoying a position or standing of sinlessness through identification with Christ, will sin on occasion and will need to seek God’s forgiveness (1:9; 2:1–2). But what is also apparent from John’s writings is that a genuine believer will not live in continual sin. As D. Smith writes,  “The believer may fall into sin but he will not walk in it.”

 
Alain
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