6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. (1 John 3:6–7, NKJV)
Is John saying that Christians never commit a sin? If so, then he contradicts himself earlier in this epistle when he wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The Holy Spirit does not contradict Himself with double talk. The key to understanding today’s passage is the word “practices” in verse 7. On the one hand, the apostle is describing one who practices sin as the course or habit of his life (verse 6), while on the other hand describing one who practices (has the habit of) righteousness (verse 7). God’s will is that “you may not sin” (1 John 2:1). God wants us to sin less and less. To deny sin’s reality is a lie. To practice sin is unrighteousness. When we confess our sins we are assured of forgiveness and cleansing because we have “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1:9; 2:1). By doing so we walk in the light – establish the habit of practicing righteousness – and are “righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 1:7-9; 3:7). As Jesus put it, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).