I love to study the Bible but there are times when something I read doesn’t make much sense to me. That’s when I usually turn to others for help. Recently I was reading in 1 John something that didn’t make sense but then I went to Sunday School and my teacher was great at explaining it even though he had no idea that he did so! Isn’t that the way it works sometimes, you have something you don’t understand and then you go to church and hear a message similar to what you were just studying and that message clarifies the subject you were struggling with! So what was the passage I didn’t quite understand?
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. I John 5:13-15, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
By breaking this down I learned that what John was about to tell his readers was intended for a specific audience. In other words he was writing to Christians and not those who don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That is important to the context of what he is about to say. He explains that if we who believe in Jesus Christ ask anything from the Father, God, then we will get what we ask for if it is within the will of God. We can be sure that God hears our prayers. That is a comfort to me and I hope it is to you as well. This is a prelude to what he is going to explain and so he reminds those who read this letter that we can pray and be assured we will get what we have prayed for because God hears our prayers if we are praying within the will of God. I take this to mean that if I pray and ask God for a million dollars so that I can be happy I won’t get it because that is not within God’s will for me. He wants me to learn to be happy where I am and with what He has provided for me. On the other hand, if I were asking for a million dollars to keep a ministry going that was doing the work God intended for it to do, then I would get the money because that is within God’s will. Believe it or not there are ministries today that operate on such a large-scale! Praise God they exist! But the next part is where I felt confusion.
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 1 John 5:16-17, (NASB).
What does this mean? That is where my Sunday School teacher clarified this for me even though his lesson was not on this subject. He talked about sin and how there are three sins that are not covered by the blood of Jesus, three sins that God won’t forgive and that means three sins that believers can’t pray for others because God won’t hear the prayer. What are the three sins? The first is the sin of unbelief, (Hebrews 3:12 & 19). Every human being is guilty of this sin and only those who come to Christ have been forgiven this sin. If you believe in God but not in Jesus Christ as God’s Son then you still are guilty of the sin of unbelief. The second is the sin of blasphemy, (Matthew 12:31, Luke 12:10). Every unbeliever is also guilty of this sin because it is the Holy Spirit that bears witness that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. John tells us in 1 John 5 who Jesus Christ is and in verse eight John states clearly that there are three who are witnesses to the fact that Jesus in the Son of God, the Holy Spirit, the water of baptism, and the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. So the sin of blasphemy cannot be forgiven by the blood of Jesus because unbelievers do not believe the Holy Spirit. The third sin that is not covered by the blood of Jesus is the sin of unforgiveness, (Mark 11:25-26). This means that if a believer in Jesus Christ, a Christian, holds a grudge or sin against another Christian then he needs to deal with that sin and forgive his fellow Christian. I personally believe that for the believer this means that even if a non-Christian has brought about a situation in which you are hurt or cheated or whatever then you are to forgive that person as well. The Lord’s prayer is also a good reminder that we are to forgive those who sin against us, (Matthew 6:9-13).
Then there are prayers that we can pray for others, right? Yes! For instance, if I see my sister-in-Christ, a fellow believer, who is struggling with some sin, then I can ask God to forgive her of that sin and ask God to help her overcome that sin. In fact let me be even more clear in this example, I see my fellow believer angry and she vents her anger to me so that she can get it out of her system. I know that she is sinning but her sin of anger will not lead her to physical or spiritual death. Therefore I can pray and ask God to forgive her of the sin of anger and ask Him to help her overcome her anger. We pray these types of prayers all the time and God hears and answers those prayers. John encourages us to pray this type of prayer.
All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:18-20, (NASB).
John reminds us that all sin is unrighteous or as he stated All unrighteousness is sin. The sins that we as Christians commit are sins of the flesh and just because we have turned our lives over to Christ and have been made holy because He is holy (Hebrews 10:10, 1 Peter 1:15-16) doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle with our flesh. Oh that we could never have to struggle against the sin in our bodies but that struggle never ends until our fleshly body dies a physical death. Christ sees his disciples, we believers, we Christians, as holy and God sees us as holy because Christ sees us as holy. I am so thankful for that, aren’t you? Our hearts and minds are renewed and the more we read and study the Bible and then apply it to our daily lives the more we can overcome our fleshly thinking. But Satan and his legions cannot touch us as we are protected by Christ. The world thinking aligns with Satan and not with God so we have a constant struggle with the world around us as well. But hang in there because Christ gives eternal life and that is something marvelous to look forward to! The struggles of this life are many, but they will only stay in this short speck of time while our physical bodies live on earth. There will be eternal life in which we no longer have our earthly fleshly sin filled bodies to deal with because we will be given a new body (1 Corinthians 15) and live in a new heaven and a new earth, (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1)! I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty terrific to me!