Q: What is the sin leading to death?

The apostle John told Christians, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He 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. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death” (1 Jn. 5:16–17).

The word if refers to a hypothetical situation. John revealed nothing about the one praying, the sinner, or the sin. However, he did emphasize the importance and obligation of praying for a Christian who sins.

The apostle told us the result of such prayer: “He [the Lord] will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death” (v. 16). The one interceding for the sinning believer should pray that the sinner sees the error of his way and confesses his sin. God will respond by providing life.

The word life does not refer to being regenerated but, rather, to spiritual restoration and revival, resulting in the wayward Christian’s renewed commitment to live for the Savior.

Three times John mentioned a sin that does not lead “to death” (vv. 16–17) and once, a “sin leading to death” (v. 16). Scripture does not identify the sin leading to death, but commentators have presented various views. Some teach it is a sin that will receive the immediate punishment of physical death. Examples include the swift deaths of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–10) and the deaths of those who profaned the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:30).

Others believe the sin refers to the practice of false teachers who separated from the church and rejected Jesus Christ as the incarnate Son of God. They would be cut off from forgiveness and, subsequently, from salvation. Still others believe the sin may be one particular sin or a state of sin that an individual has no intention of leaving. Thus, the sin “leading to death” is a willful, ongoing practice of a particular sin for which the individual never repents. Finally, some believe it is a sin someone continually commits that will culminate in his death.

John never identified the sin. What we do know is that God alone chooses or determines when an unrepentant sinner should die. He tells us, “I do not say that he should pray about that” (1 Jn. 5:16), meaning, there is no directive to pray for someone in such a situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Features

From the Editor May/Jun 2019

“When that plane touches down at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv,” someone told me recently, “I know I’m in a country that’s a miracle...

Who is a Jew?

For centuries, Jewish people have been asking themselves, “Who is a Jew?” Today a new wrinkle has developed, and it involves Christians...

A Look at Life in Israel

Many of our readers have asked us what life is like in Israel, especially for Jewish believers in Jesus. So we asked Meno Kalisher to answer a few questions for us...

The Battle for Biblical Truth

Modern Israel is a miracle. When Mark Twain visited there in the 1800s, he left thinking it was the most miserable place on the face of the earth...

Israel’s Broken Political System

Many Americans scratch their heads trying to figure out Israel's political system. Here's an overview of it from someone who truly understands it...

Helping Israel’s Lone Soldiers

What do you do when you have no place to go for Shabbat? That’s when the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin becomes a lifesaver—in more ways than one...

Subscription Options

1 Year Digital Subscription

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$9.99 every year

1 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$19.99 every year

2 Year Digital Subscription

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$19.99 every 2 years

2 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$39.99 every 2 years

3 Year Digital Subscription

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$29.99 every 3 years

3 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$59.99 every 3 years

Free 1 Year Digital Subscription

Unlimited Articles

Unlimited Posts

Free