I covered a large photograph with plain paper in which I had cut out a square hole to reveal only a small part of the picture. Then I had my students guess what they thought they were looking at. Among their answers were, “a flower,” and “a leaf.” When I revealed the entire picture they were astonished to see that what had been showing in the small opening was part of a pelican’s gullet! So it is with isolating one passage of scripture and building on it a doctrine that could never stand up in the context of the whole of Scripture.
In 1 John 3:5 where it says “and in him is no sin,” (referring to believers) could John be teaching a doctrine of sinless perfection? NO!! Actually, John was opposing a heresy introduced by false teachers who were propagating that the pre-existent Son of God had NOT come in the flesh. This lead to a presumption that one became a Christian in the spiritual sense but it had no effect on the deeds of the flesh – it wouldn’t affect what one would do with the body’s brain, lips, hands, and feet. They said what you did while in your mortal body wasn’t the real you, rather an ethereal sinlessness is what was real.
We know for certain John was aware that even after the New Birth we continue to be tempted to sin. Look at 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves . . .” When we do sin, daily, or every hour, John reminds us we have an advocate with the Father. Those truly born again will not be at peace with ongoing patterns of sinful behavior, but will not delay in repenting. We will desire cleansing and restoration to a clear conscience and joy in the Lord.
So yes, in 3:7 those who practice righteousness are righteous. We confirm our position in Christ by what we do that honors Him, and thus we can have full assurance of our salvation. There is no condemnation for those who have passed from death into His marvelous light.