The Sin that Leads to Death (1 John 5:16-17)

1 John 5:16-17

I. Three Major Views

1. Some specific sin so terrible that it warrants physical death—suicide, murder, idolatry, adultery.
2. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—Matthew 12—Spiritual Death—Apostasy.
3. Pattern of presumptuous sin by a believer that results in premature death.

II. Clues from the Context

5:14-15 speaks of praying in the will of God.

5:16-17 offers specific instruction concerning praying for sinning believers.

III. The Sin That Does Not Lead to Death

1. "If anyone sees" Implies a close personal relationship. Implies a repeated pattern of behavior.

2. "his brother" Always in 1 John of true believers.

3. "committing a sin" Speaks to a habit or pattern.

4. "not leading to death" Sins of ignorance, foolish passion, frailty and personal weakness.

5. "He shall ask" "to humbly ask" The believer's role in intercession.

6. "God will give him life." Physical life and restored spiritual life.

"Lord, restore my brother and use me to do it."

IV. The Sin That leads to Death

  1.  "There is a sin that leads to death." "There is a kind of sin." Not specified. Not a particular sin in view.
  2. "I do not say that one should pray for that." There is a time you must turn your face away and say, "God, do what you want, and I will accept it."

V. Biblical Examples of the Sin That Leads to Death

  1. Moses
  2. Nadab and Abihu
  3. Uzzah
  4. Ananias and Sapphira
  5. Believers in Corinth
Harry Ironside notes that in certain cases God must respond to our deliberate sin because his reputation is at stake.

VI. Practical Lessons

1) The church is to be an accountable fellowship where we help each other grow spiritually.

--Relationships crucial

--Ways to make this happen

2) Every believer shares an awesome responsibility for personal intercession for other believers.

--For Spiritual Growth

--For Spiritual Restoration

3) There are times when it is better not to pray for someone we love if by praying we will be going against the will of God!!!
4) Remember that all sin leads to death eventually. Some sins lead to death quicker because of the attitude of the one committing the sin. Therefore, any sin, large or small, can be a sin leading to death.
5) Let us watch our own hearts lest there should grow up in us an obstinate disregard for God's Word.
6) Because God's reputation is at stake in our behavior, we should not be surprised when the Holy Spirit judges us for repeatedly disregarding his warnings.

VII. Why Should We Care About This?

A.  Because of what happened to those who sinned unto death.

1) So hardened spiritually that prayer could not change them.
2) The starved body cannot eat solid food.
3) Spiritual awareness can die.
4) Disregarding the truth destroys the ability to respond to the truth! First you stifle spiritual impulses. Second, you decisively reject the truth.

B) Because of what may happen to us.

1) We may be asking God to show mercy without repentance. We may be asking God to overlook sin, to favor his love over his justice, and thus be asking for that which ultimately dishonors his name.
2) We may slowly drift into spiritual compromise out of love for a sinning brother.
3) Perhaps judgment and death is their only hope of being "saved as by fire."
4) Perhaps God's holiness demands swift judgment.
5) Let us not grow so soft in our prayers that we excuse the sins of others.
6) Sometimes the best thing that can happen is to stop praying, stand back and let God do his work.
We face several dangers if we do not take this passage seriously:
  • Slowly deny the gospel by our prayers.
  • Deny the necessity of repentance.
  • Claim that our compassion is greater than God's.
  • Value our loved ones more than we value God.
  • Place feelings above God's Word.
We may be in danger of asking God to excuse sin—and that God will not do!

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Ray Pritchard

RAY PRITCHARD

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