1 John 5:16-17 - Intercessory Prayer

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Seeing Your Brother Sinning A Sin not leading to death (v.16)

Last week we studied on (vv.14-15), “praying according to God’s will”.  Here John continues his discussion of prayer & illustrates praying according to God’s will with the specific example of the “sin leading to death.”  Before we look at the interpretation of the sin leading to death, lets look at what we are to do & not to do when we see our brother sinning a sin not leading to death,  & leading to death

Intercessory Prayer is our Responsibility.

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.

The Observation—The Bible does not say ‘if anyone hears about his brother sinning a sin’ but if anyone sees his brother.  The point is that many like to gossip and this is a method of the devil (Eph.6:11).

q        Not To Gossip (Prov.6:16-19; 16:27-28; 26:20-22).  Gossip takes a sender and a receiver

q        Not To Condemn, Criticize, Or Judge—we do not know the total situation.  If you are going to talk about another Christian, do your talking on your knees to God in prayer.  Jesus knew Peter was going to fail Him, but Jesus gave us an example of what to do He said "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.   "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." (Luke 22:31-32).    

q        Not To Rejoice (1Cor.13:6)

q        Not To Condone (1Cor.5:11; 2Thess.3:6; 1Thess; Matt.18)

q        We Are To Pray For Him-This Is The First Step.  Our prayers can rescue a man or woman from losing their testimony and possibly losing their life!  “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1). 

Jesus Is Presently Engaged In The Ministry Of “Intercessory Prayer”

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)…  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34)…  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5 )…  For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; (Hebrews 9:24)…  My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

       This ought to encourage us to know that we do not have to live in our own strength. 

q         We have an advocate in our heart, the Holy Spirit, who gives us power to live from within.

q         We have an advocate with the Father, the Lord Jesus, who makes requests for us.

q         We can enter into a wonderful ministry on behalf of others, the ministry of intercession. 

q         Revelation 1:6 says, “He has make us kings and priests”…  We are a priesthood privileged to go to God on behalf of others…  we can offer up spiritual sacrifices

q         1 Samuel 12:23 says, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.

Abraham Intercedes For Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33); Abraham & Abimelech (Genesis 20:7, 17); Moses Intercedes for Israel (Exodus 32:1-14, 31-32); (numbers 11:14-21; 2 Ch 30:18-20.; Ps.106.23)

God Is Seeking For Those Who Will Stand In The Gap, Men & Women Who Will Pray

God Said To The Prophet Jeremiah, go & tell Israel that, ‘You are a land that is not cleansed…  they have devoured people… Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things…   Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 

Then The Lord Said, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Jer.22:23-30)

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

James says, Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.   And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (James 5:14-15 NKJV)

We Must Do More Than Pray—Seek To Restore Your Brother (Galatians 6:1)

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted (Galatians 6:1)

1)        The Setting—a person is caught in trespass.  He may have actually been seen doing the sin, or overtaken, stumbled by, he failed to be on guard, or tried to live life in his own power.

(a)      The Command – restore: “to mend, as a net, or to restore a broken bone” (Heb.12:12-13)

1.         The woman caught in adultery – Jesus did not want to destroy but to restore her (Jn.8)

(b)      The Qualification - those who are spiritual. 

1.         Spiritual believers are those walking in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit.

2.         The spiritually and morally strong have a responsibility for the spiritually and morally weak. “We who are strong,” Paul says, “ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Rom. 15:1). Spiritual believers are to “admonish the unruly encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men” (1Thess.5:14).

3.         Matt.7:1-5—Jesus was talking about a self-righteous, condemning person who acts as judge, passing sentence on others, since he sees only the best in himself and the worst in everyone else. If such a person confesses and is cleansed of his own sin, the Lord went on to say, he then is qualified to confront his brother with the purpose not to condemn but “to take the speck out of [his] brother’s eye” (v. 5). He is then spiritual and has the right and even obligation to help his brother overcome a trespass.

4.         James 4:11-12 has a similar warning about judging others: “Who are you who judge your neighbor?” This person is judgmentally speaking condemnation “against a brother”. A Christian who “speaks against a brother” is proud, self-righteous, and cruel. He seeks only to exalt himself by pushing down others.

(c)      The Method - spirit of gentleness-this is a fruit of the spirit.

(d)      The Caution – consider yourself lest you also be tempted

1.         1Cor.10:12 - He has an attitude of humility because he realizes his own weaknesses.

Luke 9:51-56 - Remember if “the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them”, how much less do His followers have the right to be destructive rather than helpful?

Sin leading to death (v.16)

1.       Sin Leading To Death (v.16)

There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 

What Is The ‘Sin Leading To Death’?  We do not know exactly.  Different Views Concerning This Passage. 

1)        Spiritual and Eternal Death. But all sin leads to spiritual death:

(a)      God told Adam that he would die (Gen.2:15-17; Rom.5:12); God said the soul that sins will dies (Ezek.3:18-20; 18:4,13,32; 33:8,14); The wages of sin is death (Rom.6:23; James 1:15) & all have sinned (3:23); Sin … brings forth physical death, separating the soul from the body; spiritual death, separating the soul from God; and eternal death, separating both body and soul from God forever; The second death (Rev.20:11-15).

(b)      If this means spiritual death, then this passage would read this way:

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to [spiritual death], he will ask, and He will give him [spiritual life] for those who commit sin not leading to [spiritual death]. There is sin leading to [spiritual death]. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to [spiritual death].


2)        The Unpardonable Sin-Blaspheme of the Holy Spirit (Matt.12:31,32; Mk.3:28,29; Lk.12:10)

(a)      But we are told that he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will be guilty of eternal judgment or damnation, which is the ultimate fate of unbelievers.  The sin against the Holy Spirit is refusal to accept the conviction of the Holy Spirit unto salvation.

3)        Physical Death

(a)      A Christian who continues in an attitude of rebellion against God, allowing sin to dwell in his life, hindering his testimony & effectiveness, that God will take his physical life [dishonorable discharge].  The failure to repent of and forsake sin may eventually lead to physical death as a judgment of God.

(b)      The examples: of Moses’ death (Deut. 32:48-52); of Israel and the golden calf (Genesis 32:1-35); of the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath right after the Sabbath was instituted (Numbers 15:32-36); of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2); of Korah (Numbers 16:31-34); of Achan (Joshua 7:16-26); of Uzziah (2 Samuel 6:1-7); of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11); of the man who had slipped into a shameful immoral sin (1 Cor. 5:1-5); of some who had slipped into sin and were mocking God by partaking of the Lord’s Supper without repenting (1 Cor. 11:27-30); of David’s act of adultery leading to the death of his son (2Sam12:13-15).

2.       What is the Reason For This?

What Reason Can We See In God Brining About Physical Death To A Believer 

1)        The longer he lives, the more sin he will have to account for in the day of the judgment for rewards (2Cor.5:10).  This actually is God demonstrating His love and grace to the believer. 

2)        God seeks to preserve the purity of His church (1Cor.5:5-7).  God knows how far this cancer of sin might spread if allowed to continue among believers. 

3)        Under the Old Covenant, a son who was totally rebellious to his parents, was to be stoned to death (Deut. 21:18–21). This punishment was severe in the extreme, but shows us how seriously God takes a child’s obedience to his parents. A Christian’s persistent rebellion against God’s discipline can cost him his life.  A Christian who continually rejects God’s discipline, who refuses to profit from divine correction, can lose his life because of his stubbornness.

4)        God says “do not pray for this person-leave them alone. 

(a)      In book of Jeremiah, Judah was not inclined to repent, they were unrepentant, they were into idol worship & persistent on not hearing, therefore, the Lord said do not pray for the people (7:14; 11:14; 14:11-12; 15:1)

(b)      Their own prayers, as long as they rejected God, could not gain the answer they desired (v. 11; Ps. 66:18), and the same was true of another’s prayers for them.  Prayer was ineffective at this point, it was useless to intercede for the nation. Even prayers by Moses (cf. Num. 14:11–25) and Samuel (cf. 1 Sam. 12:19–25; 2:25), eminent in intercession, would not defer judgment, where unrepentance persists (cf. 18:8; 26:3).  

3.       The Application.

1)        1Corinthians 9:26–27

2)        Matthew 5:29-30 

3)        Hebrews12:1-11

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