Q. Hello! Thank you for your website and your insightful views on things.
Can you tell me please what you think of 1 John 5:16-17? What do you think the sin is, that leads to eternal death? And is he implying that we shouldn’t bother to pray for the brother or sister who is committing this “unforgivable” sin?
A. John’s letter was a written as a warning against Gnosticism, a false teaching that denied the doctrine of Salvation by Grace and held that a person could only be saved through the acquisition of secret knowledge. The sin that leads to death to which John referred is the sin of rejecting the Lord’s Gift of Grace in favor of Gnosticism. We can (and should) pray that a person who is not saved would repent and become a believer, but we can’t pray that the Lord would forgive someone for rejecting Him because the very act of rejection puts that person outside the Lord’s forgiveness.
Since John is talking about praying for a brother, he’s admonishing us that when we see a fellow believer sinning, rather than condemning him as is our natural tendency, we should ask the Lord to forgive him. In verse 18 John clarifies that a person born of God will not commit the sin of rejection because the Lord Himself will protect him from doing so. It’s another of many Biblical confirmations that once we come to the Lord, He assumes responsibility for keeping us.