Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

1 John: True, Fulfilling Fellowship With God
Part XVIII: Identifying True Fellowship With God By Its Loving Intercession For Sinful Brethren
(1 John 5:16-17)
  1. Introduction
    1. One of the ways true fellowship with God is displayed is by one's action toward other Christians who sin.
    2. If we truly love one another, there should be love expressed toward even sinful fellow Christians, and 1 John 5:16-17 teaches us about this activity (as follows):
  2. Identifying True Fellowship With God By Its Loving Intercession For Sinful Brethren, 1 Jn. 5:16-17.
    1. The Apostle John had written in 1 John 1:10 that if we believers say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and His Word is not in us. Thus, all of us believers have sinned as Christians.
    2. Well, all sin, if left unrepented, eventually ends to a premature death by God's discipline, James 5:19-20.
    3. Accordingly, a godly Christian will express loving concern for fellow believers in generally interceding for them that they might repent and have their lives prolonged, not shortened by discipline, 1 J ohn 5:16a.
    4. However, a believer can commit a sin that in God's viewpoint requires that his physical life be cut short in premature death. In other words, there is a sin that results in premature physical death, 1 John 5:16b.
    5. In such a case, God does not direct us to pray for the sinning believer, for doing so violates the will of God that the believer involved be disciplined by experiencing premature physical death, 1 John 5:16c.
    6. In summation, John wrote that all unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin that does not end in premature death so that we who truly fellowship with God are to pray for the believer who commits such a sin that he might repent before he has his life eventually cut short because he has never repented, 1 John 5:17.
    7. This passage has raised significant questions in Church History, so we address them here (as follows):
      1. Some have wondered if the "sin unto death" is an "unpardonable sin," the sin that will not be forgiven as explained in Matthew 12:31-32. However, clarifications are needed on several levels (as follows):
        1. Jesus said that a sin that would not be forgiven in this world nor in the world to come was the sin of claiming that the power by which Jesus was performing miracles in His earthly ministry to show He was the Messiah was the power of Satan versus the power of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 12:24, 31-32.
        2. Jesus is no longer on the earth performing miracles by God the Holy Spirit's power to prove He is Messiah, so no one can commit this sin today. (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV , 1978, ftn. to Matt. 12:31)
        3. The Matthew 12 case is also unique: allowance was made for speaking against the "Son of man" as the idea of God living among men in the flesh would be hard for many to accept, but miracles done in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy showed God the Holy Spirit produced them, so blasphemy against the Spirit's work through Jesus was intolerable. (Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 46-47)
      2. Since 1 John 5:16-17 does not define which sins are "unto death" and which sins are not, we may ask how we can know how to pray when we do not know God's will. We answer this question as follows:
        1. John left open the issue of which sins are punishable by death and which ones are not, meaning we are at liberty in accord with conscience to pray or not to pray for a given sinful believer. If we think one has committed a sin that God must judge by a premature death, we are not to feel obliged to pray about it lest we violate our conscience in praying against what we think is God's will.
        2. However, as conscience is the ruling entity here in accord with 1 Corinthians 8:7-13, if we are put in the awkward position of being asked in public by another brother in Christ to lead in prayer for a sinful believer we personally believe has committed a sin unto death, but the one making the request obviously does not think the sinful one has committed such a sin since he is makes the request, we should heed the request and lead in prayer for the sinful one for the sake of the conscience of the brother who makes the request! It is better to err on the side of love in all such difficult situations.
        3. In all circumstances, then, we are obliged to show reverence for God and love for other believers!
Lesson: As some sins God will judge by premature death and others He will not, we must generally pray for sinful believers to repent, but always subject to God's will and sensitive to the consciences of others.

Application: May we intercede for sinful brethren with reverence for God and love for the brethren.