In 1John 3 we are told that for the children of God it is an impossibility to sin. The original recipients of John’s letter would have understood by the grammatical structure that what he was saying is that it is impossible to practice sin, or to be comfortable with sin. There is an internal battle against it.
Still unclear on what he means? Let me tell you this story and maybe it will help. Late October every year, for a period of about fifteen years my older brother, Eric and I had the chance to go ride the fall round-up in a spectacularly beautiful and rugged 27 square mile community pasture SE of Wainwright, just on the Saskatchewan side of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border.
The first year Eric rode this pasture he got sent towards the Alberta border to sweep through that section of the pasture. He came across a small bunch of about 15 pair and, after gathering them together, got them headed NE towards the sorting corrals. But these critters were a handful. They kept splitting off and trying to circle back. The others riders he had been sent with had spread out and were nowhere to be seen so Eric just kept fighting and pushing the cattle along.
I came across him when we were about a mile from the corrals and I joined my few pairs with his and we worked together to get them all in. His horse was foamed up, and Eric’s eye had that look of fiery determination I had come to know from when we were kids that said “there is no way I’m going to be beat.” By that point he had lost four or five pair but he had managed to get most of them in. But when we finally pushed them into the corrals the laughter of the guys there told us there was something wrong. Eric had picked up cattle from the Alberta side and had been pushing them away from home.
That’s kind of the picture of sin in the life of a Christ follower. We may at times get pushed towards committing a sin, but there is something inside us that battles against it and won’t leave us comfortable in continuing to practice sin. That something is similar to our conscience but much greater. It is, in fact, the very nature of Jesus himself.