Interpreting 1 John 5:16-17

Q. I’m having some difficulty understanding what’s being spoken of in 1 John 5:16,17. What is the sin leading to death? Why should we not pray about it? What is meant by there being sin not leading to death? Any help you could give me would be appreciated. God bless your ministry.

A. The only sin that leads to death is rejecting the pardon the Lord has purchased for our sins with His own blood. The focus of John’s letter was Gnosticism, a view holding that it isn’t the Lord’s death that brings us forgiveness but the acquisition of secret knowledge. The Gnostics adamantly and persistently denied both the deity of Jesus and the need for His death on their behalf. They believed that Jesus was an ordinary man, teaching that the Holy Spirit came upon him at the beginning of His ministry and left Him before His death. There are several cults and even some liberal denominations that adhere to parts of the gnostic error even today.

I believe John was saying that those who insist on this view are beyond prayer because they’ve rejected the most fundamental tenets of the Christian faith.

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