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Summary: A sermon answering a parishoner’s question regarding the "sin that leads to death".

TOUGH QUESTIONS: BIBLE ANSWERS

Sin Will Kill You! Maybe?

I John 5:16-17

Tonight’s topic comes from a question concerning 1 John 5:16-17. What is sin that leads to death and what is sin that doesn’t lead to death. It is a question with an unclear answer because the writer doesn’t explain and the language doesn’t give us any definitive clues either. I will attempt to answer the question with the various possibilities and then we will look at the scope of the greater passage to see John’s overall points of emphasis.

Let’s look at each verse individually:

I John 5:16

If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him 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 he should pray about that.

• What kind of sin doesn’t lead to death? Satan told Adam and Eve that there actions wouldn’t lead to death…but we know the death was spiritual death. Is John only talking about sins that don’t lead to spiritual death? Maybe but let’s keep thinking.

• Prayer from someone other than the sinner could be offered up and life could be restored. Can we pray for other people’s sins to be forgiven?

• What kind of sin leads to death? Is it spiritual death, physical or both? It is possibly the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. We’ll deal with that in a minute.

• Whatever sin it is, we are not to pray about that.

• What’s the cultural/spiritual climate of John’s day. The Zondervan commentary states:

o Judaism distinguished between deliberate sins--sins of open rebellion against God that were punishable by death--and inadvertent sins that can be atoned for (Lev 4; Nu 15:22, 29). First-century Judaism retained this pattern. In the Johannine community some such distinction was presumably made, hence the limitation "sin that leads to death."

o Basically, some sins were punishable by death still—those of willful disobedience. But others could be forgiven.

o In this instance of willful rebellion it would have been deemed to be of no use to pray for someone who had sinned in this way and was to be stoned.

o This brings us to the point of this first verse: Our prayers are meant to invoke the Holy Spirit’s convicting, correcting, comforting presence into the lives of God’s children. We are a community of faith. We are to care about our brothers and sisters. This is the height of intercessory prayer—praying for the lost and the backslider.

I John 5:17

“All wrongdoing is sin and there is a sin that does not lead to death.”

• John removes all wiggle room. Anything that is wrongdoing is sin and sin is the mark of separation from God.

• He says there is sin (not “a” sin) that does not lead to death. What is that? Again, he is not specific but the background would lead us to believe it to be sin that isn’t willful disobedience. We might know we’re committing sin but we don’t set out to sin and don’t outright refuse our God’s conviction.

What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? I believe it is refusing/rejecting the Person of the Trinity that is convicting us of sin and calling us to faith. If we refuse this movement of God it is impossible to forgive this sin of unbelief.

I knew a girl that went to Asbury College. She had grown up in a stern, legalistic home and felt she had committed the unpardonable sin. I and other friends would tell her, No! Any conviction and sorrow for sin was evidence that God was still reaching out.

What is John’s overall point of emphasis?

1. We can have assurance of our place in Christ

a. John wants the reader to know they can be sure they are God’s children! He was writing in a time of false teaching where people needed some reassurance. Notice all the things he tells them they could “know”:

i. God hears and answers prayers prayed in His will.

ii. No one born of God continues in sin.

iii. Jesus keeps believers safe and the devil cannot harm us--Bill and Gloria Gaither have written many wonderful Christian songs. One that Gloria wrote in the late 1960’s came while she was expecting a child. The couple was going through some terrible problems. Bill had been seriously sick, their music had been attacked as not being spiritual. On new years eve night, Gloria sat in a dark room experiencing a time of torment and fear. She said, “I sat alone in the darkness thinking about the rebellious world and all of our problems - and about our baby yet unborn. Who in their right mind would bring a child into a world like this?” She was at the height of her fear and then something happened. She said, “I can’t quite explain what happened in that next moment, but suddenly I felt released from it all. The panic hat had begun to build inside was gently dispelled by a reassuring presence and a soft voice that kept saying, ‘Don’t forget the empty tomb, don’t forget the empty tomb.’ Then I knew I could have that baby and face the future with optimism and trust for I had been reminded that it was all worth it just because He lives.”And she wrote: “How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives; but greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because He lives. Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.

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