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1 John 3:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 the one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
The one who practices sin. Habitually, willfully, characteristically. This is living in sin willfully and purposely, and unrepentantly. This is not talking about the Christian who might be struggling with some sin that they keep repeating through human weakness and imperfection.
Is of the devil. This cannot mean that no one who commits any sin, or who is not absolutely perfect, can be a Christian, for this would cut off the great mass, even according to the belief of those who hold that the Christian may be perfectly holy, from all claim to the Christian character. But what the apostle here says is true in two senses: (1.) That all who commit sin, even true believers, so far as they are imperfect, in this respect resemble Satan, and are under his influence, since sin, just so far as it exists at all, makes us resemble him. (2.) All who habitually and characteristically sin is of the devil. This latter was evidently the principal idea in the mind of the apostle. His objective here is to show that those who sinned, in the sense in which it would seem some maintained that the children of God might sin, could have no real evidence of righteousness (holiness) but really belonged to Satan.
Because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The beginning of the world, or from the first account we have of him. It does not mean that he sinned from the beginning of his existence, for he was made holy like the other angels. Notes, Jude 6. The meaning is that he introduced sin into the universe and that he has continued to practice it ever since. The word sinning here implies continued and habitual sin. He did not commit one act of sin and then reform, but he has continued and still continues his course of sin. This may confirm what has been already said about the kind of sin that John refers to. He speaks of sinning habitually, continuously, and willfully; and anyone who does this shows that he is under the influence of him whose characteristic it has been and is to sin.
The Son of God was revealed for this purpose. God promised that the “woman” would produce a “seed” who would bruise that “ancient serpent” in the head, crushing Satan into annihilation. (Genesis 3:1-6, 15; Revelation 12:9, 10; 20:10) As God through his Word gradually revealed his purpose involving the Seed, it became apparent that the Seed would do more than destroy Satan. God’s Word says: “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8) Death came about by sin we inherited from Adam is the principal among Satan’s works that God is resolved to see reversed, or “destroyed,” through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Matt. 20:28) Therefore, Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and the resurrection are indispensably necessary.—Acts 2:22-24; Romans 6:23.
To destroy the works of the devil. All his plans of wickedness and his control over the hearts of men. Compare Matt. 13:39; Mark 1:24; Heb. 2:14. The argument here is, that the Son of God came to destroy all the works of the devil. Christians cannot be his true follower if they live in sin willfully and purposely, and unrepentantly.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews