HERE has been some confusion in Christendom throughout the centuries about which perspective is correct concerning the sanctification of the saints. There are basically two views that seem at first to be mutually exclusive. 1. True believers demonstrate the authenticity of their conversion by doing right things. 2. True believers should do right things, but too often we fail to do so. Actually, both views are true. And John addresses both & from multiple angles. Right from the start he instructs us not to sin, but he admits immediately that he we will sin (vs. 1). He gives us a solution for when we do (1st John 1:9 & 2:1-2). But he turns right around & lists obedience as a basic proof of our conversion (vs. 3). So again, one might ask, "Which one is it? Is obedience a sure thing in the life of every Christian, or isn't it?" To this, we answer, "Yes!"
It is part of the plague of having two very different natures existing within one body. Our human nature (inherited from Adam) is absolutely incapable of victoriously holy living (Romans 7:18). On the other hand, our spiritual nature (inherited from Jesus Christ our Savior - see 2nd Peter 1:4) is absolutely incapable of defeat (1st John 3:9). Morally, I'm schizophrenic and so am I. As I allow myself to be filled by the Spirit, I can do no wrong. On the other hand, as I fail to yield to the Spirit, I can do nothing right. This is the awful conflict of which Paul wrote in Romans 7:25. It is the struggle that Peter had in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:38). It is the frustrating dilemma that every honest believer has had since time immemorial.