“Sin Unto Death”—1 John 5:14-18.

In 1 John 5:14-15, the Apostle John speaks of confidence in prayer. He says, “Now THIS IS THE CONFIDENCE THAT WE HAVE IN HIM, that IF WE ASK ANYTHING according to His will, HE HEARS US. And if we know that HE HEARS US, whatever we ask, WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE THE PETITIONS THAT WE HAVE ASKED OF HIM.” John teaches a hearing God, Who is willing to grant our requests in prayer. He is deliberate about this statement (in vv. 14-15) because he intends to show Christians a way in which they may engage this “hearing God.”

Since God hears our prayers (vv. 14-15), Christians should pray for one another. Vs. 16 says, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, HE WILL ASK (or pray), and He (the hearing God) will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I DO NOT SAY THAT HE SHOULD PRAY ABOUT THAT.” Christians are to utilize this great privilege (of praying to God and receiving answers) to pray for other Christians “sinning a sin which does not lead to death.

A sin “which does not lead to death” is that which believers commit daily. It does not lead to death FOR THEM because Christ already took their death (Rom 5:8, 15-17, 6:23, 8:2, 2 Corin 5:15), and they are forgiven in Him (Eph 1:7, Col 1:14, Col 2:13). For such a believer who sins in his daily life and falls (“sin not leading to death“), we are to pray for such a one that life (strength) be restored to him (see Gal 6:1).

However, for the sin “leading to death,” John says we are not to pray about this, expecting much result (“I do not say that he should pray about that“). This sin refers to an unbeliever DELIBERATELY continuing in sin and refusing the Gospel. This results in spiritual death for him (John 3:18, 36, 1 John 5:12, Eph 4:18, Rom 1:28-32, 8:13, James 1:15, 2 Thess 1:7-10). We cannot pray to God to grant forgiveness on such (those who incessantly reject the Gospel) and expect an answer, since forgiveness of sins only comes by faith (see Mark 3:28-30, Matt 12:31-32, John 3:16, 8:51, Acts 2:38, 10:43)! As long as a man persists in unbelief, we cannot pray that God grants forgiveness on that sin (of unbelief). This is the limit to our asking in prayer, John says (read more about the unpardonable sin here).

Vs. 17 says, “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.” Although every unrighteous act is sin, there is sin not leading to death (i.e. sins committed by the believer in his daily walk, which will not put spiritual death upon him). Hence, vs. 18, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin (“continue to sin” in the Greek); but he who has been born of God keeps himself (“God Himself keeps” in the Greek), and the wicked one does not touch him.” The believer is delivered and kept from the devil’s hold of death because his sins have now been forgiven (Col 1:13-14, Heb 2:14-15).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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