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  • Writer's picturePastor Bowler


1 John 5:16-21

It is amazing that John concludes with this. Remember, John is the penman, but these are really God’s words. The Lord knew that we would be reading this in our generation. The Bible says in 1 John 5:16, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”

All sin is rebellion against God, but here the Bible says that there is a sin that leads to death. All sins certainly will not lead to immediate physical death, but there are some sinful acts that bring death. God warns us. Early in the book, God tells us that if we sin and confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).

There is a way to deal with our sinfulness on a daily basis. We must keep short accounts with God and make sure that every day we confess our sins to Him. We should bring everything to God so that we might walk in a clean way and live a holy life. We must be separated unto the Lord and from the world.

When we read the Bible, we find that there are things spoken of in God’s Word that can lead to death. We find an example of this in the book of Acts. Take the time to read Acts 5:1-11 about Ananias and Sapphira. Can you imagine a meeting like this? These people lied to God, and immediately they died. Not all sinning, that is sin unto death, brings death immediately.

The Bible tells of another incident is recorded in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5— “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife….And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you….For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,…In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,…To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

The “destruction of the flesh” means physical death. He says, “Here is something that is going to bring physical death.” God warns us about this.

In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul speaks of those who are not serious about the Lord’s table and who do not observe this memorial supper in the way that they should. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 11:23-30, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:…And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me…After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me…For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come…Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord…But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup…For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body…For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”

The word “sleep” in the last verse means physical death. There are some who have taken lightly the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His broken body. There are some who have taken lightly the testimony they should have concerning our Lord’s death and resurrection. They have taken lightly the matter of living the Christian life in identity with Christ and the local assembly of baptized believers. God says that they have suffered premature death because of this. There is no doubt there are times when God removes His children from this world because of the shame and reproach they bring to their heavenly Father and the cause of Christ.

Now notice 1 John 5:16-18—“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it…All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death…We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

God gives a warning concerning sin. You may be a believer and think that you can life as you please, but you cannot. You should live your life the way God pleases. It is a serious matter to take sin lightly. God’s Word declares this. Our God is not a god of wood or stone! Our God is not a god who cannot see or hear! Our God is the true and living God. The true and living God who sees, knows, and understands our very thoughts warns us concerning the seriousness of sin.

The true God warns protects those who are His children. Think about these to whom John is writing and those who will be reading this through the centuries. How often it appears to people that the wicked are winning. 1 John 5:18 says, “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not…” This means to continue in the course of sin. Whoever is born of God does not continue on a sinful course.

1 John 5:18 continues, “but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” God says, “I want you to know that because I am all-powerful, the devil cannot do with you as he pleases.” We know that there are times, as in the life of Job, when God allows Satan to touch believers. When that happens, it happens only with God’s permission. It is a move that the devil makes that God sanctifies. It is a time when the Lord gets glory from the devil’s work. John says, “I want to assure you that the Lord has a ‘no trespassing’ sign on you. The devil knows it is there, and he cannot touch you without God’s permission.

1 John 5:19 says, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” We are “in the world,” as the Lord Jesus prayed in John 17, but we are not “of the world.” We know that the whole world lies in wickedness, but have we forgotten that our God is the true God? He is on His throne, and the reins of this universe are still in His hands. If you are one of God’s children, God has promised to protect you.

1 John 5:20 says, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” If you are one of God’s children, God has given you a spiritual understanding. The Holy Spirit illumines you, teaches you, and gives you an understanding of things. We are not left here as orphaned children, alone to fend for ourselves. We are in Him who is true. We have been placed in the Lord in a place of safety and security.

Notice how John concludes 1 John chapter 5. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” An idol is anything that comes between you and God. Do not make an idol out of your material possessions. Do not make an idol out of your family or your job. Do not allow anything between you and God. Every time we do, the Lord allows us to become terribly disappointed in whatever it is that we have placed between us and God. It must be belittled so that God can be exalted.

I am certain that so much of our disappointment with things and people is of our own making because we have given them a position God did not intend for them to have. The Lord allows the disappointment so that we can see that God must have His rightful place. Nothing in our lives can take the place that only the true God should have. May God by His Spirit deal with us and bring us to this conviction.

“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” Hebrews 1:8

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