1 John 5:16-18

In 1 John 5:16-18 John addresses the sin problem that all of us face.  “If you see a Christian sinning in a way that does not end in death, you should ask God to forgive him, and God will give him life unless he has sinned that one fatal sin.” When we see a brother in sin, John tells us the first thing to do is to pray for that person. All too often, prayer is the last thing we do, or the smallest thing we do in regard to our brother having a difficult time. God promised to bless the prayer made on behalf of a brother in sin, maybe because it demonstrates the love that we are commanded to have for one another.

But John stops short in telling us to pray for all sin that is committed.  “But there is that one sin which ends in death, and if he has done that, there is no use praying for him”.  Guzik writes “Apparently, a believer can sin to the point where God believes it is just best to bring them home, probably because they have in some way compromised their testimony so significantly that they should just come on home to God. However, it is certainly presumptuous to think this about every case of an untimely death of a believer, or to use it as an enticement to suicide for the guilt-ridden Christian. Our lives are in God’s hands, and if He sees fit to bring one of His children home, that is fine.”

John reminds us that sin is sin.  “Every wrong is a sin, of course. I’m not talking about these ordinary sins; I am speaking of that one that ends in death”. When he talks about not praying for a brother who is sinning unto death, it is a very specific situation.  Apparently, when a Christian is being corrected in regard to a sin leading to death, there is no point in praying for his recovery or restoration – the situation is in God’s hands alone. There is sin not leading to death which all of us are guilty of on a consistent basis. John takes pains to recognize that not every sin leads to death in the manner he speaks of here, though all unrighteousness is sin and disqualifies us from eternity without Jesus.

So where does sin fit into the life of a Christ Follower?  It doesn’t, or shouldn’t.  “No one who has become part of God’s family makes a practice of sinning, for Christ, God’s Son, holds him securely, and the devil cannot get his hands on him”. In the battle against sin, it is essential that we keep our minds set on who we are in Jesus Christ. If we are born of Him, we then have the resources to be free from habitual sin. John is not teaching here the possibility of sinless perfection. Scripture is clear that all of us are sinners and will continue to sin.  But the difference is the ‘practice’ or ‘habit’ of sin. As true Christ Followers we will not continue in sin but will strive to deal with it in the power of the Holy Spirit and claim God’s victory over it.  We’ll still fall, and wrestle with sin, but it won’t own us.

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