Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Could Use Some Help

"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. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death" (1 John 5:16-17).

How do you handle those verses? I have never completely understood them, and I have no idea how to apply them to my life. How do you know the difference between the sin that leads to death and the sin that does not lead to death? As far as I can tell, the apostle John never defined those terms in his writings. Have I overlooked something? Did his student Polycarp ever mention those terms in any of his writings from the second century of the church? What am I missing?

In addition, how do I know when I'm wasting my prayers on someone? I have seen people become Christians whom I would have written off as unreachable. I have seen people return to Christ who looked like they had rejected him forever. However, the apostle John indicates that it's a waste of effort and time to pray for people who have committed the sin that leads to death. How do I know when I should not be wasting my emotional energy on people who will never turn to Christ for life?

I would appreciate any help my readers could provide. Please leave a comment if you can help me with this in any way. Thanks!


Christy said...

I believe the sin that leads to death is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If I have time later I will look up the verses that have framed my opinion on this. Sorry I don't have that time now.

Terry said...

Thanks, Christy. I think you are probably right. (If someone has another idea, I am open to looking into it, too.) Could you help me in recognizing when someone has committed it? What does it look like when someone has committed blaphemy against the Holy Spirit?

Christy said...

I haven't had time to look this up like I wanted to. Recognizing it? That'd be difficult, I think, unless through the course of conversation and life style you can discern it in someone. In general, though, it's not up to us to judge someone's heart. You've got me thinking again, though. I hope to have time to look into this more.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm - that's a really good question.

I've thought about this one too, and am a bit hazy on it myself. Let me do a little bit of research, then I'll come back here and post what I've found.


Terry said...

Thanks for getting back to me. I understand it's a very difficult question because it seems to require the ability to read someone's heart, as you said. Something in me, though, wants to be able to apply what I'm reading and I don't seem to have the ability to do it. I'm wondering how the apostle John intended for this paragraph to be applied. I don't think we're alone in not knowing how to do it, because I have not found an answer from any commentary, either. If you find something, please let me know.

Thanks for your help. I appreciate any help you can provide. And welcome to my blog!

Christy said...

As you can tell by my commenting here again, I've been thinking about this a lot. I can't say that my thoughts will be awe inspiring or even right, but here's what I think: Reading the verses you highlighted in context with the entire chapter, I think that the verses 10-12 bring clarity:
"Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." To me that says that denying Jesus is the Son of God is the sin that leads to death. Obviously if a person denies that, they are not born again and will die and go to hell. How will we know if someone believes this? By their lifestyle. I may have over simplified it, but that's what I think. ;0) After I shared my thoughts with you, I looked for commentary on these verses. I don't usually read commentaries because I don't want man's opinion influencing my reading of the Bible (does that make sense?). But in this case, the commentator is much for fluent than I am, especially with regards to "how" to pray or "when" to pray for someone who has sinned. I hope the link shows, I'm not that good at technical stuff. Just in case it doesn't come through, I found the commentary on

Terry said...

Thank you, Christy! Both your comments and the commentary from Biblegateway were VERY helpful. I appreciate your help!