First John 3 can be summed up as follows: The child of the Devil transgresses the law, the child of God abides in righteousness. The child of the devil continues to transgress the law while the child of God continues to abide in righteousness.
In this chapter verb forms of several words ending with eth appear over twenty times. As does the original language, these English words express an action which is continual. The child of the devil transgresseth the law, that is he continues to sin for sin is the transgression of the law. The child described as one who is born of God abideth in righteousness. He keeps on doing that which is righteous.
The possessive pronoun, whosoever, is found five times in this chapter, one each in verses 4, 9, 15, and 17, and twice in verse 6. The word whosoever includes every individual involved in the action under consideration in the verse in which it is found.
Whosoever committeth sin (v. 4), transgresseth the law, “for sin is the transgression of the law.” As described in verse eight these persons are children of the devil. Is it because they commit a single act of sin? No, it is because they continue to sin, it is the manner of life. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The child of the devil is one who keeps on sinning. He is a child of the devil because the devil has continued to sin from the beginning (v. 8). May the child of the devil be rescued from sin? Yes, he may. “He was manifested to take away our sins.” The He is Christ, who was manifested that He might destroy the devil’s works (v. 8). One who is born of God must cease from living in sin. We know this is the case from this chapter (v. 9).
As the child of the devil continues to sin, the child of God continues to abide in righteousness. “Whosever abideth in him sinneth not:” (v. 6). “He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous (v. 7). The child of God continues to abide in Him and continues to do righteousness.
Mentioned in this chapter is the whosoever who continues to commit sin, the whosoever who abides in Him, the whosoever is born of God, and the whosoever who continues to hate his brother. Among the other applications of this chapter is, it destroys the popular false doctrine of Calvinism, for the conclusion can be drawn that whosoever has sinned yet ceases to do so and does righteousness is now a child of God. Such a person is not so saved that he can never be lost, for the saved person must continue to abide in Him. If one is truly born of God, he does not commit sin—as in continuing in sin—for His seed continues to remain in him.
The conclusion of this thought is in verse 10. “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
John writes of the example of Cain as one who continued to transgress. He was not guilty of one work of sin. His works (plural), were evil. We know Cain sinned by not offering a sacrifice as God instructed. Then in jealousy, he hated Abel and murdered him. He continued in sin. Christ came and laid down His life for us that we May come out of sin through repentance, be forgiven of our sins by obedience (doing righteousness), then continuing to live in righteousness. That forgiveness does not come as the faith only Calvinists claim by belief only. That error is denied in verses 23 and 24. Those two verses sum up both the chapter and the point of our article. They read:
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
1 John 3 is a wonderful study. We have barely begun to discuss the truths the apostle John covers in this material, thus we will be blessed in our study of it if we “abideth” in the study of it.