CONNECT people to Christ and POUR into their lives His teaching so they'll OVERFLOW for the glory of God

Pray for the Sinner

One of the tougher passages of Scripture is found in 1 John 5:16–17, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.”

If you come from a Roman Catholic context, you might immediately say, “Oh, Apostle John is talking about venial and mortal sins.” You see, in Roman Catholicism, they teach that certain sins are not serious enough to destroy our relationship. They only injure our relationship. These are the venial ones, the ones that do not lead to death. But there are other sins that are serious enough to completely destroy our relationship with God and cause you to lose your salvation. These are the mortal ones, the sins that lead to death.

And that understanding seems very plausible, just looking at this passage, but it doesn’t jive with the rest of 1 John and the rest of Scripture. Remember, we must always interpret Scripture in light of Scripture.

So, what then is sin that leads to death? It’s not any one particular sin. I think he’s talking about a sin that could lead to somebody’s physical death. There are sins that won’t physically, immediately kill you. And for those sins, we are to pray for our brothers and sisters because they have a chance for repentence.

But there are sins that lead to immediate physical death. And for those sins, John doesn’t command us to pray. There’s no chance to repent of those sins. There’s no reason to give our time to praying for those situations. It’s a done deal. God will do what God will do at that point.

That’s a tough teaching, but I encourage you to focus on the first part of that verse there. If you see your brother or sister sinning, pray for them so that they might repent and God might have mercy.

Change begins in you!


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