Understanding 1 John 5:16-19

Q. Thanks for a wonderful site. Please explain or give your view on the verses in the above mentioned Scripture regarding sins not leading to death, sins leading to death and more specifically verse 18.

A. 1 John 5:16-19 reads as follows;

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.

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

Re: 1 John 5:16-17. 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.

Where 1 John 5:18 is concerned there are only two possibilities, since every Christian continues to sin. First is that John was speaking specifically about the sin of gnosticism and second is an idea that Paul also mentioned, that once we become believers God looks upon us as if we do not sin and attributes our post conversion sins to our sin nature and not to us (Romans 7:18-20). That being the case, from God’s perspective no one who is born again continues to sin.

As for 1 John 5:19, Jesus called Satan the prince (ruler) of this world (John 14:30), Paul called him the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), and here John confirmed that the whole world is under his control. This happened when he persuaded our first parents to disobey God. He is responsible for bringing sin into the world and therefore is the author of all the sickness, disease, and injustice that is a part of our life.

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