I John 5:16-17 CONCLUSION

I. Introduction

A. There is no doubt that this is a difficult and puzzling passage of scripture

1. It speaks of a sin which ends in death

2. The RSV translates it mortal sin

B. The Jews distinguished between two kinds of sin

1. There were the sins which a person committed unwittingly - which he committed in ignorance

a. this would include some moment of strong emotion when his passions were to strong for the lease of the will to hold

b. on the other hand, there are the sins of the high hand and haughty heart, the sins a man deliberately commits against the known Will of God

C. It 'was for the first of these that sacrifice was used to make atonement

D. For the sins of presumption (the high hand) there was no sacrifice

II. Three Suggestions

A. Plummer lists three suggestions as to what this sin unto death is all about.

1. It is a mortal sin - a sin punishable by death

a. Paul writes to the Corinthians that because of their unworthy conduct at the Lord's Table many among them have already died

(I Cor. 11:30)

b. it was a sin so serious that God Himself made it punishable by death

c. I am of the opinion it need not be the same sin in every case

d. for Moses it was disobedience

e. for Anania it was deceit

f. for Onan it was the refusal to raise up seed for his dead brother

2. From John's epistle we can deduce that the most deadly of all things was to deny His incarnation

B. Let's try to fix more closely the meaning of "sin unto death"

1. The Greek is pros thanaton

a. the sin that is moving toward death

b. the sin that tends toward death

C. There are two kinds of sinners

1. The man who sins because he is swept away by passion or desire

a. he sins not so much because he chooses or wills to do so- but because his desires for the moment are too strong and overcome him

b. on the other hand, there is the man who sins deliberately, well aware that it is wrong

III. These Two Began by Being the Same Person

A. The first time anyone sins he does it shrinking and in fear

1. After he has done it, he feel grief and remorse

2. But if he allows himself to repeat it over and over again on each occasion the sin becomes easier and easier to commit

a. on each occasion the remorse and regret becomes less and less

b. finally you reach a stage where you can sin without even a tremor of concern

c. it is precisely at that point that you are committing the sin which leads to death

B. So long as in your heart of hearts, you hate sin and yourself for sinning you are never beyond repentance and forgiveness

1. Once - however, you begin to revel in sin you are on your road toward death

2. The reason this is so is because the idea of repentance will not be allowed to enter the heart

C. The mortal sin is the state of the man who has listened to sin and refused to listen to God so often that he loves and enjoys his sin.

IV. The Certainty of the Believer

A. John draws to the end of his letter with a statement regarding the certainty of the believer

1. The Christian is emancipated from the power of sin

a. it does not mean the Christian never sins, but it does mean he is not the helpless slave of sin

b. the Christian is one who may lose one battle but he can never lose the war

c. because the Christian is human, he will sin, but he will never experience the utter moral defeat of the unbeliever

2. The reason for the believers ultimate victory is the fact that he is born of God and as a result of that, God keeps him (5;18)

a. Beck translates vers 18 thusly - No child of God goes on sinning but God's Son protects him and the evil one doesn't touch him

b. Westcott says, The Christian has an active enemy but he also has a watchful guardian

c. the non-Christian is one who has been defeated by sin and has accepted it

d. a Christian may sin but he never accepts defeat

3. A saint is not one who never falls - he is one who gets up and goes on every time he does fall

V. The Constant Peril (5:21)

A. In Creek, the word IDOL has in it the sense of unreality

1. This may mean as Westcott has it - keep yourselves from all objects of false devotion

2. An idol is anything in this life which men worship instead of God and allow to take the place of God

3. A person can make an idol of their money, of their business, of their pleasure

B. An idol then is anything which occupies the place due only to God

1. Beloved, we must keep ourselves from the infections of every and anything which would steal God's place in our hearts

2. We can only do that when we keep Christ first and have a consistent walk with Him.