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!


Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post? If you have a Facebook account, you may comment below:

© Keep Believing Ministries

Permissions and restrictions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and distribute the content on Keep Believing Ministries free of charge. If you choose to publish excerpts from a sermon or article, please provide a link or attribution back to’s version of this article. The content of must not be redistributed at a fee beyond the cost of reproduction.

If you wish to support Keep Believing Ministries, your prayers and donations are appreciated, and further enable this worldwide ministry to distribute all materials free of charge.

Ray Pritchard


Recent sermon features

Latest blog posts

KBM Releases New Booklet: “You Are Never Alone”
Monday, September 28


The Anchor Project
Explaining the Gospel in “Walmart English”

Anchor is a “gospel book” that explains the Good News in a simple and persuasive manner. Read the latest on “The Anchor Project” and how you can be support our work.

Read More
Keep Believing China
Partnering with Chinese pastors and churches

We want to join together with pastors and Christian workers to equip the church in China, broadcasting translated sermons, providing ministry resources for Christians and pastors in China.

Read More

Weekly sermon email
Subscribe for free

Subscribe to the weekly sermon from Keep Believing Ministries. Sign up for our emails and use it to grow in your faith as well as to encourage others.


KBM Podcasts
Weekly audio sermons

Welcome to Keep Believing Ministries’ audio/podcast library. Listen to or download a digital audio version of one of these messages or receive them via our podcast and feed.

Read More

Ebook: Lord of Glory

The Bible contains many names of Christ. His names tell us who he is. His names tell us why he came. His names tell us how he can help us. His names tell us why we worship him. In this devotional series you'll learn of these varied and meaning behind the names, titles and descriptions of Christ.

“Equipping and encouraging people to keep believing in Jesus”

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”