BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Bible verses about Sin, Willful
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:7-10

Genesis 3:7-10 illustrates how no one is ever quite the same after sinning with knowledge. Notice Adam and Eve's sin occurs after God had instructed them (Genesis 2:16-17). Nobody had to tell them they had done wrong—they knew! Now they looked at things differently than they had before; a sense of wrong rushed in on them immediately. Just moments before, all had been friendly and joyful. All of nature seemed obedient to their every wish, and life was good. Suddenly, however, they felt guilt and fear, and it seemed as if every creature in the Garden had witnessed their act and condemned them. Feeling exposed, they sought to hide, illustrating that separation from the purity of God began immediately. The virtue of their innocence began to lose its luster.

David writes in Psalm 40:11-13:

Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me!

Sin creates a sense of estrangement from God, leaving a tarnishing film on a person's mind. Paul reminds Titus, "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled" (Titus 1:15). Sin perverts the mind so that one does not look at life in the same way as before. Jeremiah 6:15 describes a sickening end to repeated sin:

"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down," says the LORD.

Some children are adorable because we love to see the beauty of their innocence. But what happens on the trip to adulthood? Sin alters the way a person looks at life and the world. With maturity, people become distrustful, sophisticated, competitive, cosmopolitan, cynical, suspicious, sarcastic, prejudiced, self-centered, and uninvolved. It is sin that drives people apart and creates fear.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Seven): Fear of Judgment


 

Leviticus 4:2

The word presumption does not quite mean in Hebrew what it does in English. In English, it simply means "to assume," to take a matter upon oneself without considering all the factors and doing it. However, in the Old Testament, it carries the idea of acting arrogantly—of rebellion. In fact, it means to do something with audacity or to be headstrong. It refers to those who overstep their bounds or dare to act in a disobedient manner. A willfulness is implied in the word that is not contained in English, making it much more forceful.

In other words, a person who sins presumptuously is fully aware of what he is doing; he is fully educated and not in ignorance either of what he is doing or the potential cost of doing it, and he deliberately sets his mind to do it. It is an act of rebellion, an audacious setting one's will, despite all he knows, to go ahead and do it anyway.

By these usages, the word "unintentional" in Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15 can include within it someone who is conscious of what he is doing but does not act audaciously. He does not plan it. He is not rebellious—but weak. God will forgive that, but He will not forgive the sin that is presumptuous according to usage of the word in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, the word begins very similar to the English usage of the word. It means "to think" or "suppose." Howevver, according to the context in which it is used in the New Testament, it contains the idea of dealing proudly, defiantly, and recklessly. It means to look down upon. A tremendous amount of pride is implied in it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Leviticus 5:15-17

One's blindness does not excuse his guilt. The person is still guilty even though he did not know.

Unintentionally, thankfully, includes more than one might think at first glance. It means "to turn aside, to wander, to err, to make a mistake, to miss the mark." The person misses the real objective in life, which is to obey God and to be holy as He is holy. It includes sins done with a degree of consciousness, that is, an awareness of what one is doing, as well as sins done willingly out of weakness, but not sins done deliberately.

For example, the Bible clearly differentiates between manslaughter and murder. Manslaughter is the taking of a life accidentally. There is no plan to do it—it just occurrs. The head flies off a hammer, hits somebody in the head, cracks his skull, and he dies. Nobody deliberately plans to do that, though there may be some carelessness involved in it.

Murder, however, includes a measure of deliberateness, lying in wait, planning, setting one's mind to do it. It may be a situation in which one burns in anger against someone for a period of time. Though he has plenty of time to bring himself under control, he does not. Then, reaching the boiling point, he murders his "enemy."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Numbers 15:31

Notice these verbs: "Despise," "reproach," "cut off." There is a difference in attitude reflected in the person who sins unintentionally, even though the person is conscious of what he is doing.

There is no forgiveness here. He bears his guilt right to the grave. So, murder, which involves deliberateness, is the willful taking of a life, and to sin presumptuously is to do it willfully.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Psalm 19:12-13

Secret faults are sins that we commit that we do not see or recognize as sins. We commit them not knowing we have committed sin. Nevertheless, we are still held accountable for our actions, and we will eventually pay the penalty. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Presumptuous sins are willful sins, ones we do knowing that they are sin before we commit them. Such willful sins, depending on one's attitude, can be spiritually very dangerous.

The godly man is not only concerned about avoiding committing sins willfully, but also with extracting those hidden sins that are committed unknowingly. Because we so often allow our carnal natures to dominate us, we remain blind to many of our sins and character flaws until God reveals them to us through the Holy Spirit.

Martin G. Collins
Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves


 

Ezekiel 18:24-28

There is an individual responsibility. God never condones sin nor grants license for anyone to disobey His commands. This is not speaking about our transgressions done out of weakness or ignorance. These are transgressions that are done as a way of life with knowledge that one is doing wrong. However, God always allows the sinner to repent. He will always chase after the sinner with His Word, giving him the opportunity to turn around. We see that in the lives of the kings Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah. God always leaves the door open for a sinner who desires to repent. If he does not repent, his mind eventually becomes set, seared, and over time, repentance becomes impossible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Three Kings Are Missing From Matthew 1


 

Luke 12:47-48

The evil servants fail in their responsibility because they are not looking faithfully to Christ and hopefully toward the Kingdom. The penalty tells us that Jesus is speaking about Christians who are not ready either because they ignore their calling or because they neglect to produce fruit worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8). Faithless Christians will be judged more strictly than those who, though wicked, do not understand about the coming of the Son of Man. Professing Christians with knowledge of God's revelation will have to answer for their lack of response to God.

Their punishment seems severe until we realize that the servant who knew his master's will represents those who sin arrogantly or presumptuously (Psalm 19:12-13). Even though the servant who was ignorant of his master's will sins unwittingly, it was his business to know his master's will. In either case, each holds personal responsibility for his actions and therefore comes under judgment. All have some knowledge of God (Romans 1:20-23), and He judges according to the individual's level of responsibility.

The parable finishes with the warning that knowledge and privilege always bring responsibility. Sin is doubly sinful to the person who knows better (Numbers 15:27-31). We who know better would like God to find us with our work completed upon His return, just as Jesus was able to say to His Father, "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do" (John 17:4-5). It would be wonderful for God to find us glorifying Him and at peace with our brethren when Christ comes.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Faithful and Evil Servants


 

Luke 13:1-5

The problem of human suffering and sin raises serious questions, and in His reply to such a question, Jesus' speaks of repentance and judgment (Luke 13:1-5). He continues with the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree (verses 6-9), which refers to tragedy among the Galileans (verse 1). History fails to record the exact incident, but the revolutionary activities of that time made anything possible. Galileans, says Josephus, were especially susceptible to revolt.

In His discussion, Jesus does not attribute tragedy or accident directly to any person's sin as the Jews did—instead, He affirms the sinfulness of everyone. A person who flagrantly sins can expect judgment to come eventually, though it may be long delayed (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13). Victims of calamity die physically, but anyone who does not repent faces spiritual death.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Barren Fig Tree


 

Romans 1:18-19

Not only does Satan's deception play a part in man's separation from God, but God's Word also shows that there is a willfulness involved in man's choice of the direction in which he is headed. Men "suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest to them"!

In his deception, Satan has been so forceful, his argument so "good," that sincere men will argue and fight against God, thinking they are serving God. Jesus prophesied that people will kill in the name of God and think, sincerely, that they are doing God a service (John 16:2). How effective Satan has been—and is—with his deceptions!

If he has been that effective in deceiving people, how wide is the gulf that separates mankind from God? It is so wide that in the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16, it is described as "impassable," and so it is. Sin brought death, and for humans to bridge the gap to eternal life is impossible.

Mankind is in a horrible state when one looks at it from the evidence that God has on His side. We deserve every bit of pain, torment, hurt, and anxiety that might come our way. We have no basis at all for complaining to God that we deserve His mercy and forgiveness. God has every right, based on our sinful activities, to do what He could do, but in His mercy, will not do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

Romans 3:20

Presumptuous sins are normally committed by those who know better but willfully commit them anyway. The Hebrew word describing these sins, pesha' (Strong's #6588), is translated as "transgress," "transgressions," "transgressors," or "transgressed" many times.

The word contains a sense of expansion, of breaking away, or of continuousness, thus leading to its meaning "to revolt or rebel." It is translated as "transgressions" (plural) 48 times in the Old Testament, and interestingly, ten of those 48 occurrences—almost 20% of them—are in one book: Amos, which prophetically describes modern Israel.

Notice Amos 1:3: "Thus says the LORD: 'For three transgressions [pesha'] of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron.'" It may be surprising to realize that God makes this charge against a Gentile nation—those who are supposedly without the law and therefore somewhat excusable. Yet He charges them with "transgressions"—rebellion. In other words, on some level, they really did know better.

God's charge indicates a sin so bold, so vicious, so in-your-face, and so continuous in its revolting attitude that it cannot be passed over on the basis of ignorance or inadvertence. Of special note in this level of sin is its continuous nature. In other words, the sinner is not really fighting it. I Kings 12:19 says, "So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day." "In rebellion" is translated from pâsha', the root of pesha'.

Amos 2:4-6 carries God's charge against both Israel and Judah:

Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions [pesha'] of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies after which their fathers walked. But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem." Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions [pesha'] of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals."

In contrast to the Gentiles, it is not so much the vicious intensity of Judah's and Israel's sins, but their continuous, revolting, grasping nature that so incenses God. In other words, the Israelitish people give every impression from their long history that they made little or no effort to stop sinning. Israel's problem is not so much an in-your-face willfulness, but a persistent, casual, hardheaded, self-centered, "I'll take care of it later" attitude.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sin, Christians, and the Fear of God


 

Romans 5:13

The apostle makes it clear in the next verse that sinning in the "absence of law" brings about the same penalty as sinning with full knowledge of the law.

David F. Maas
Is All Fair in Love and War?


 

Romans 10:1-3

It is not so much a lack of the availability of true knowledge as it is a lackadaisical, careless, "it really does not matter all that much," "any way is as good as any other," "sin is not really all that bad" approach. It at first might seem to be a gentle form of stubbornness, but the real problem here is two major spiritual sins: pride and covetousness. In effect, Israelites are guilty of telling God that He does not know what He is talking about. As a nation, we are somewhat like teenagers who tell their parents that they are "out of it" old fogies, but it is far more serious than this.

Generally, Israelites are not a particularly violent people. However, our pride influences us, as Amos shows, to be deceitful and sneaky and to take advantage of those weaker than ourselves. We are masters of competitively seeking advantage, not for the purpose of sharing, but to get for the self. Consider Jacob's characteristics in his dealings with Esau and his father-in-law, Laban.

However, these sins are just as much deviations from God's standards as the violent and vicious sins of the Gentiles. Sin is sin is sin. God nowhere says, "This level of sin is passable"; sin will always be failure. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The continuous nature of these pesha' sins (presumptuous transgressions) strongly indicates that they will not be repented of.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sin, Christians, and the Fear of God


 

Hebrews 4:12-13

Depending on our motivation, God's ability to "see" into our heart can be either good or bad. He will see whether our sin was one of weakness, whether we went down fighting with all our being, or whether we just casually gave in to a self-centered impulse and deliberately proceeded along the course of sin (James 1:12-16).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Innocent Victims?


 

Hebrews 10:26-29

This is what the unpardonable sin ultimately accomplishes. Through willfully practicing sin, the sinner rejects the very basis of his covenant with God, the blood of Jesus Christ. If one deeply appreciates and values His sacrifice, he will not willfully practice the very actions that made that sacrifice necessary. God forgives with the understanding that the one forgiven has turned from sin and will continue to overcome it.

When God designed this creation, He considered His purpose along with our free-moral agency. He concluded that He had to devise a payment for sin so profound in its implications that the heirs of salvation, out of overwhelming gratitude, would drive themselves from sin. Such a price of redemption could not be the death of any common person or animal, for these have neither the worth nor the ability to pay for all sin. Only the sacrifice of the sinless God-man, Jesus Christ, could meet these qualifications.

What we see in Hebrews 10:26-29 is the end of a person who, by the very conduct of his life, reveals his pitiful assessment of that sacrifice. The author makes a three-fold indictment against this person. First, he repudiates the oath taken at baptism. Second, he contemptuously rejects Christ. Third, he commits an insulting outrage against the merciful judgment of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

Hebrews 10:26-31

Most Protestants believe their salvation is assured once they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Many call this doctrine by the very familiar phrase, "once saved, always saved." To them, this means that God's grace eternally covers them, and thus they have eternal security that God will save them. God is bound to accept them and to give them salvation no matter what occurs after they accept Jesus. In his worldwide crusades, evangelist Billy Graham has popularized the Protestant hymn, "Just as I am, Lord," which sings the praises of this doctrine.

To us, this idea of "eternal security" is a completely ridiculous concept. God is pure and holy (I Peter 1:15-16). He will not accept people who are not as He is. He forsook His own Son, Jesus Christ, when the sins of the world were placed on Him (Matthew 27:46)! Why would He accept us, who are far more personally sinful, if we failed to repent of our sins and came before Him demanding Him to save us "just as we are"?

An analogy from the real world may be helpful. Just because a criminal is absolved of committing a certain crime does not mean that he will never again be guilty of another crime. For example, if the governor of a state commutes a murderer's sentence, but the criminal commits another crime later in his life, he is not innocent. The law says he is guilty of the later crime.

In the same way, a Christian who commits sin is guilty even though God's grace has covered him in the past. If he continues in the sin until it becomes a habitual way of life, he is in danger of losing the salvation promised to him. Notice Paul's quite concise statement in Hebrews 10:26: "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."

This is plain. If we sin in rebellion against God, setting our will to go against God and His way of life, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ no longer applies. In essence, we have spit in His face. Paul continues by telling us what applies at that point (Hebrews 10:27-31).

Peter says, "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17), and if we live a life of sin, we will reap the punishment that those sins deserve. Our God is a God of justice. The idea of "eternal security," then, is foreign to the Bible. It is puzzling how theologians could develop such a doctrine when the Bible repeatedly comments, warns, and advises that we can lose it all through sin.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Do We Have 'Eternal Security'?


 

Hebrews 10:26

To "sin willfully" is to break God's law and do it in a rebellious way. It is consistently practicing sin in a bad attitude.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 4)


 

Hebrews 10:26-27

The first thing to note in Hebrews 10:26-27 is the word "sin." Paul is not speaking of sin in general but the specific sin of apostasy from the faith that was once known and professed. The apostasy he has in mind is not so much an act but a state brought on by many individual attitudes and sins, reproducing the original, carnal antagonism a person has toward God before conversion.

Some commentaries insist that the Authorized Version is not quite correct in translating the term in verse 26 as "willfully." These argue that the Greek word, hekousios, will not permit this translation. It appears only one other time, in I Peter 5:2, where it is translated as "willingly." The commentators insist that it should be rendered "willingly" in Hebrews 10:26.

The American Heritage College Dictionary supports their conclusion. To do something willfully is to do it purposely or deliberately. The commentators say all sin is done purposely because human nature is set up to do so, even though weakness, ignorance, or deception may be involved as well. To do a thing willingly is to be disposed, inclined, or prepared to do it. Its synonyms are "readily," "eagerly," "compliantly," "ungrudgingly," "voluntarily," and "volitionally." This sense is contained in the context because, by the time a person reaches the apostate stage in his backward slide, where he has forsaken God and His way, he has no resistance to sin.

The sinner is deliberately, even eagerly, determined to abandon Christ, to turn away from God and His way, having completely become an enemy once again. He sins with barely a second thought, if with any thought at all. He sins automatically, as there is none of God's Spirit left to constrain him. His conscience is totally defiled; he has forsaken God.

Who is in danger of committing this sin? All who have made a profession of faith in Christ but are now neglecting their salvation.

The message of Hebrews is that it does not have to be this way. If the person takes heed and stirs himself awake, if he truly seeks to overcome and grow once again, if he returns to being a living sacrifice and seeking to glorify God, if he truly denies himself and takes up his cross, if he keeps God's commandments to live life as a Christian, he will not apostatize.

He may fall back from time to time, but as long as he repents and honestly seeks God when sin occurs in his life, the sin is readily forgiven. I John 1:9 confidently proclaims, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." John 14:23 assures us that as long as we are keeping His Word, we are safe.

Hebrews 12:5-10 explains that God is faithfully working in our behalf, even chastening us if He sees fit, to get us turned around and headed again in the right direction and attitude. He does this faithfully because He does not want to lose us. Christ died for each child of God, thus each child He loves - and He loves them all - represents a substantial investment. Christ did not die in vain for anybody. In Hebrews 13:5, He charges us with the task of putting to work His promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Power: Our Shield Against Apostasy


 

Hebrews 10:26-29

The key phrase here is “sin willfully.” The author is describing an overall mindset rather than a single action. Many times when we sin, we have a willingness to sin because we give in out of weakness and do what we know is wrong. But willful sin occurs when a person expresses deliberate and sustained opposition to God and His law, and his heart has hardened enough that he defiantly refuses to repent. In this regard, the unpardonable sin is not a specific sin. Rather, it could be any sin that is committed with a heart that is against God and that refuses to soften.

The Bible shows a number of sins against the Holy Spirit that still fall short of willful blasphemy. Ephesians 4:20 speaks of “grieving” the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51 mentions “resisting” the Holy Spirit. I Thessalonians 5:19 warns against “quenching” the Spirit. All of these show some opposition to the outworking, the power, and the fundamental nature of God.

But blaspheming the Holy Spirit ratchets up this opposition to the point that the things of God are deliberately despised and denigrated after receiving knowledge of the truth. It has the effect of trampling the very Creator underfoot and belittling the holy covenant of which He is the Mediator. Repentance is impossible because self-confidence (as opposed to faith in God) has hardened into an arrogant and insolent refusal to recognize God's preeminence. The rejection of God becomes so complete that the very idea of repentance becomes ludicrous. By rejecting the Spirit of grace and the forgiveness it allows, the blasphemer has nothing with which to pay for his sins, except his own life.

This condition can come about in a couple of ways. One is through deliberate choice. In this regard, among the biggest dangers to our walk with God is resentment and bitterness because these emotions can poison the mind to such a degree that we can simply stop caring about God and His way. The object or circumstance of resentment begins to take up more of our view—more of our thoughts—than God Himself, and our inclination toward His will becomes overthrown in the internal rage.

A second way is through spiritual neglect, the path these Hebrews were treading. Through neglect, God's truth slips away over time, and the things of Satan's world begin to fill the void. The result is such spiritual weakness that what truly matters is no longer a part of the reasoning process. God's law becomes unimportant, and Christ's sacrifice becomes irrelevant, like distant memories with no immediate value.

David C. Grabbe
What Is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?


 

Hebrews 10:28-30

These are not those outside the church but inside the church who have been justified yet have turned away from God. They are now willfully living their lives in enmity against Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 29)


 

1 John 5:16-17

"A sin which does not lead to death" is one that is genuinely repented of and for which forgiveness is available because the attitude of the sinner is meek and truly sorrowful. A person may have this attitude, yet still sin on occasion out of weakness, ignorance, bad judgment, or even inadvertently. Both greater and lesser sins can fall under this category. Earlier in the book, the same apostle writes:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)

Our genuine confession admits to God that we are guilty of breaking His law and seek to be cleared of it by Christ's sacrifice. This true repentance leads to a fierce desire not to sin and to building righteous character. God thus lifts the penalty of the second death, and once again, we, by His grace, are back on the road to salvation.

The sin that John calls a "sin leading to death" is what others know as "the unpardonable sin." Again, both greater and lesser sins can lead to the attitude that causes someone to commit an unforgivable sin. Such a sin is deeply reinforced by the attitude of the sinner—an attitude that denies Jesus Christ as Savior, that flagrantly hates his brother, and refuses to obey God's laws and statutes. Rebellion and defiance set this sin apart from others!

Martin G. Collins
Are Some Sins Worse Than Others?


 

1 John 5:16-17

There are at least two applications for these verses: the first for people who, for one reason or another, have left the church of God, His truth, and His way of life; and a second for those who are still actively in the church. The most common misinterpretation of this verse is the claim that it proves there are some sins a person can commit and not incur the penalty of eternal death. Can this be true?

In short, no! It cannot be true. We know very well that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). To this, there can be no exceptions! God does not categorize sins this way. Instead, the Bible distinguishes sins differently. Through the author of the book of Hebrews, God shows us that "willful" sin brings the second death - eternal death:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26-27)

Please hold onto the word, "willfully." We will come back to it presently.

Of course, any sin can be forgiven if it is sincerely repented of, and if it is "confessed," not to a human priest or minister, but to our merciful God: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Conversely, any sin can also lead to eternal death if it is not confessed and repented of, and if it is allowed to continue repeatedly in a person's life. A "sin not unto death," then, is one that is confessed, repented of, and does not involve a willful violation of God's law.

On the other hand, a person has "sinned unto death" if he has willfully turned from God's way. It is gradually becoming clear that this whole matter revolves around this word "willfully" from Hebrews 10:26. The Greek word is hekousios, and it means "voluntarily" or "willingly." The English adverb stems from the adjective "willful," which means, according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

» obstinately and often perversely self-willed;
» done deliberately;
» intentional;
» unruly.

An extensive and profitable Bible study could be conducted just on these four alternate renderings of the word "willful." The first three meanings generally speak for themselves, but the fourth and last one seems to show willfulness in its true shade. Those who are unruly are continuously unwilling to obey the rules, in this case, God's rules! They unceasingly refuse to accept God's government and His laws.

Sin unto death may not necessarily include all those who have apparently left the church, nor even all those who have been disfellowshipped, but only those who have willfully rejected God's way to the extent that it is no longer possible for them to be brought to repentance. However, this is certainly not suggesting that it is acceptable for a person to take God's loving mercy for granted, to think that he can leave God's church to "enjoy a little sin" for a while, then simply jump back in at a convenient, later date. Such devices or actions carry with them some obvious and very real dangers, bringing to mind another well known but somewhat fearsome biblical passage:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

This should be an arresting, solemn, and even terrifying warning for any who might consider leaving the church. Obviously, it is often very difficult for any fellow human being to determine who has and who has not "crossed the line." In fact, it is probably because of the extreme difficulty of discerning when this is the case that the apostle of love writes in our difficult scripture, "I do not say he shall pray for it" rather than the sterner alternative command, "He shall not pray about it."

John's open-ended statement allows for a Christian's natural desire to hope that the person has not gone too far - to hope that he will repent - and he does not prohibit intercessory prayer, even in such a case. We should rather err on the side of praying for our errant brethren than not praying. John implies that our prayer may be futile, but he does not say that it is a sin to pray even for a seemingly hopeless case, as long as we do not know for sure that it is totally hopeless.

Finally, let us bring this subject around to include those who are still in God's church. If any of us sees or hears of a fellow church member who is normally striving to obey God "sin a sin which is not unto death" - often out of ignorance or weakness - we ought to ask God to help the member recognize his error and repent of it. When we do so, God will hear and answer our prayers and may, according to His will, "give him life": "And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (I John 5:15). This is the kind of concern we must have for all of our spiritual brothers and sisters, and it is one way that we can "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

Through our deeper study into a relatively complex scripture, God reveals two simple conclusions: Should we pray for a fellow member if we see or hear of him sinning? Yes, we should. And should we pray for friends and loved ones who have left God's truth? Again, yes, we should, for "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).

Staff
A Sin Unto Death


 

Jude 1:4

Licentiousness or lewdness is not a sin of weakness but one of willful disobedience. Licentious people do things that are really wild. Some look upon God's grace and kindness as an excuse to sin, saying, in effect, that His kindness does away with law, so we are free to do as we please. Essentially, they suppose that, somehow or another, the government of God is done away.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 140,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   
Leave this field empty

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2019 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.
Share this on FacebookEmailPrinter version
Close
E-mail This Page