May 20, 2015
1 John 5:16-17
If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them 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 you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
Today’s text is difficult to understand.
It’s very hard to understand the particular context John is speaking into and the problem he is addressing when he says to not pray for people who are committing sin that leads to death.
John has named three sins that lead to death: disbelief in Jesus Christ, disobeying God’s commands and not loving brothers and sisters.
He is basically speaking of people who are walking in the dark.
According to the tenor of the New Testament, we must pray for persons who are proceeding down a path that leads to death.
What I find most interesting about today’s text is this idea that if we pray for brothers and sisters who are caught in some kind of sin—that doesn’t lead to death—the result is God will give them life.
The bigger, and in this instance more implicit, implication is the incompatibility of Eternal Life with sin and death. As we come to the end of John’s message we need to be reminded of one of the major assumptions of the New Testament: Eternal Life means freedom from sin and ultimate deliverance from death. Sin has lost its power and death has lost its sting. The New Testament repeatedly calls us to live into the new reality of Eternal Life. Here’s another example.
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11.
Today’s text might be practically summarized as follows: “It’s time to get on with the Gospel, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and to claim the promise of Eternal Life, and we must pray for, encourage and help one another to do the same.” That’s exactly what I’m trying to do with the Daily Text day after day after day– to help us get on with the Gospel, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and to live into the promise of Eternal Life.
It does not advance by amping up our commitment. It happens through becoming gut level honest with ourselves (and each other) about our own desires. We must keep asking ourselves the hard questions, like. . . .
Do I really desire to get on with the Gospel?
Do I desire to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit?
Did I desire to live into the promise of Eternal Life, today? How about tomorrow?
How about now.
J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.