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Sin that leads to death 1 John 5:13-21
What is “sin that leads to death”? (Verse 16)
16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
Not “a sin” but “sin” or “a kind of sin”
(no indefinite article)
If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. NRSV
If you see a fellow believer sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. (New Living Translation)
For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I’m not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is “fatal,” leading to eternal death), we ask for God’s help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. (Message)
CONTEXT of 1 John – 3 sins he has talked about already
1) The sin of insisting they are sinless, refusing to confess and repent
1 John 1 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
2) The sin of denying the true humanity of Christ
1 John 4 2 This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
If a person does not believe that Jesus is truly the Lord, the Messiah and the Son of God, then they will not be saved.
3) The sin of failing to love brothers and sisters, disobeying the New Commandment and rejecting the Christian community
1 John 3 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 4 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
As long as people persist in these kinds of sin, they are rejecting God’s forgiveness.
jesus’s teaching on the sin of “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”
Matthew 12 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. ….
31 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
In Matthew/Mark/Luke, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit means denying that the Holy Spirit was at work in Jesus’s ministry proclaiming God’s Kingdom
In the context of John’s Gospel
The sin of rejecting the witness of the Holy Spirit
John 14 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever —17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. …
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 15 26 ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
John 16:7 … Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
When people persist in rejecting the Holy Spirit’s witness about Jesus, they close the door to forgiveness.
Romans 6 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
All sin leads to death.
“Sin that leads to death” means all kinds of sin which stop a person from receiving God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
But everybody can be forgiven if they believe the witness of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is Son of God and Saviour, and turn from their sins.
1 John 1 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.