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The sin that leads to death

16 February 2019

The sin that leads to death

REDEMPTION

What the sin unto death is and the impossibility of repenting of it

The apostle John wrote: “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” (1 John 5:16-17).

Brethren, all wrongdoing is sin and we know that “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), as John says. Now, the Scripture says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), therefore, if a son of God commits a sin the transgression of the law will repay him with death, that’s why if a believer sins, after he has sinned, he feels disturbed and unhappy and feels a pain that pierces him like an arrow inside him, because the wages of sin is death. But the apostle wrote: “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” (1 John 5:16), which means that if we see a brother commit a sin which does not lead to death, we must pray God so that he might be made alive; yes, because God gives life to those who commit a sin that does not lead to death and repent of it, confessing and forsaking it. However, there is a sin of which a believer cannot repent, because it is impossible for those who commit this sin to be brought back to repentance and thus it is useless to pray for them, as it is written: “I do not say that he shall pray for it” (1 John 5:17). In other words, for those brothers who have committed this sin leading to death there is no possibility that they may repent and receive life from God. What is the destiny awaiting these people? They will be condemned to the second death (that is, the lake which burns with fire and brimstone), because this kind of sin leads those who commit it to the second death.

Now, since all wrongdoing is sin and there are many kinds of sins, we have to ascertain through the Scriptures what the sin leading to death is, in order to prevent someone among us from saying that a certain brother has committed the sin leading to death for he has seen that brother commit a sin; that is to say, in order to prevent believers from accusing falsely other believers of having committed the sin to death. When we speak of the sin unto death (and not only when we speak of this biblical subject but also when we speak of any other biblical subject) we have to divide rightly the word of truth lest we unsettle the souls of believers and drive them to despair through words that don’t apply to them, because they have not committed the sin unto death. Now, let us see what the epistle to the Hebrews says about this sin in order to understand what it is.

It is written: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:4-8). First of all, let’s look closely at the qualities of those of whom the Scripture says “if they shall fall away it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance” because these qualities can be and are possessed only by true children of God washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb. I say this because some believers pass this sin off as a sin committed by people who had not yet accepted the Word of God completely or people who were approaching the Lord, but that’s not true at all because those persons of whom the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews speak are true believers and not false believers.

Brethren, those who, after they hear the Gospel of grace, approach God recognizing that they are sinners and need to be saved have been enlightened by God who is light; and when they believe with their heart in our Lord Jesus Christ obtaining the remission of their sins and eternal life they taste the heavenly gift, which is Jesus Christ, for Paul says: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23) and John says about the Son of God: “This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).Afterwards, when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit they become partakers of the Holy Spirit because they are filled with the Holy Spirit (however, this does not mean that they did not have the Holy Spirit before, for every man receives a measure of the Spirit when he believes in the Lord). The words “they have tasted the good word of God” mean that they have fed on “the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2 – NKJV) as well as solid food, which “belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14 – NKJV). The words “they have tasted the powers of the world to come” means that they have received some gifts of the Holy Spirit through which believers taste the powers of the world to come. Now, if these persons, who have experienced all these things, reject the Lord and draw back (they are again entangled in the pollutions of the world and overcome), deciding not to follow the Lord any longer and to renounce the Christ (they even don’t want to hear people speaking about Christ any longer), they commit the sin unto death, and we don’t have to pray for them because it is impossible to renew them again to repentance because they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says that the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God, but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and cursed and its end is to be burned; in the same way, if a believer abides in the Lord, the Lord abides in him, he bears much fruit to the glory of God and God blesses him; but if he ceases to abide in the Lord, the Lord will cease to abide in him and he will bear only thorns and briers, and thus he will become a man disapproved concerning the faith, an accursed child, who will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone where he will burn and be tormented forever.

The reason why the writer of this epistle wrote these things to the Jews who had believed in our Lord Jesus Christ was that those believers were enduring a great persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ and they were tempted, in the midst of that persecution, to draw back; and so the writer of the epistle, knowing the sufferings they had to endure for the Gospel’s sake, exhorted them to hold their confidence in Christ steadfast to the end and warned them against drawing back and renouncing the grace to offer again those sin offerings whose blood could not take away sins, because if they drew back they would condemn themselves to the everlasting perdition, they would deserve such a punishment because in so doing they would trample the Son of God underfoot and count the blood of the covenant by which they had been sanctified a common thing and they would insult the Spirit of grace. Here is what the writer of that epistle wrote about the end awaiting those who draw back and about the punishment they deserve to receive from the living God: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31). These words are addressed to all of us who have believed as well, because the writer himself, who was a believer, included himself among those who could draw back to perdition saying: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth … ” (Hebrews 10:26) – we who are children of God have received the knowledge of the truth -, and because we are those people who were sanctified by the blood of the covenant (that is, the blood of Jesus Christ). Therefore, brethren, if those who have known the truth which is in Christ Jesus sin wilfully, that is, sin unto death, they commit a sin that will never be forgiven them (because it is a sin that will pay the transgressors back with the everlasting death) and they will go to perdition because they will lose the good hope (the hope of salvation) they have; only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God is left. They will deserve to be punished much more severely than those who broke the law of Moses and were put to death, because they have trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of Christ with which they were sprinkled a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace, that is, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts and by whom we cry out: “Abba, Father!” (with regard to this last thing, remember that Jesus said: “But he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” [Mark 3:29 – NKJV]).

The possibility of repenting for those who commit a sin which does not lead to death

Brethren, I want you to know that both this expression “if they shall fall away” (Hebrews 6:6 – or “if they fall away” NKJV) and this other one “if we sin wilfully” (Hebrews 10:26), apply only to the sin which leads to death and not to all sins, because according to the Holy Scriptures a believer who commits a sin which is not unto death can repent of it and be forgiven by the Lord. Now I will show you from the Scriptures that it is possible for those believers who commit a sin which is not unto death to be brought back to repentance and that we can receive the remission of all sins except the sin unto death.

Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Therefore, a believer who commits a sin which does not lead to death can be restored, that is, he can be exhorted to repent of his sin and be forgiven by the Lord if he repents. When the apostle says ‘in a fault’ or “in a sin” (NIV), he does not include the sin unto death among the sins in which a believer may be caught, because those who commit the sin unto death cannot be restored since it is impossible for them to be brought back to repentance. It is true that “a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16); however, it is also true that if the just falls, committing the sin which leads to death, he will never be able to rise again.

Jesus said: “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). Therefore, a brother who commits a sin which is not unto death can repent and be forgiven. Please note that the Scripture does not say: ‘If your brother sins unto death, rebuke him,’ because – as we saw before – for those who have committed the sin unto death it is impossible to repent and thus it is useless to rebuke them and to pray for them.

John said: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:9-10). Therefore, we can confess our sins to the Lord and we know for certain that they will be forgiven us. If all sins were unto death, we would be hopeless, brethren, and the Scripture would be nullified because we could not even confess our sins to God to obtain the remission of them; we could not say to God: “Forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12 – NKJV), which would mean that God has deceived us. Those who commit the sin unto death will never be forgiven, that’s why the sin unto death cannot be included among the sins that can be confessed to God and washed by the blood of Jesus Christ; bear in mind this always.

James says: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). From the words of James, therefore, we learn that if a brother wanders from the truth he can be converted, thus he still can repent. Therefore, we cannot say that if a brother wanders from the truth, giving heed to some strange doctrines, he has committed the sin unto death and so he cannot repent any longer, for James says that he can be turned from the error of his way and his sins can be forgiven. The point I would like to underline is this: it is possible to renew again to repentance a brother who has wandered from the truth, but it is not possible to do the same thing towards a brother who has committed the sin unto death. Paul also says that a brother who has wandered from the truth can be renewed again to repentance, for after saying to Timothy that Hymenaeus and Philetus were among those who had wandered away from the truth because they said that the resurrection had already taken place, he said to him: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 – NKJV). As you can see, Paul says that the servant of the Lord must gently correct those who oppose the truth (they oppose the truth because they have wandered from the truth) because God may grant them repentance and allow them to escape from the trap of the devil into which they have fallen. The same thing cannot happen if a believer commits the sin unto death because – as we saw before – it is impossible for them to be brought back to repentance.

Jesus Christ said to the angel of the Church in Thyatira: “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:20-23). In the Church of Thyatira there was a woman named Jezebel who taught and seduced the servants of Jesus Christ to commit adultery with her and to eat things sacrificed to idols (that is to say, to do two things which are condemned by the law and are sins). Then the Lord revealed to the angel of that Church that He had given Jezebel time to repent, but she did not want to repent, and so He would punish her by casting her into a sickbed and by killing her children with death; the Lord told the angel of that Church that His servants also would be punished severely if they did not repent of their evil deeds. It is evident that if Jezebel and those servants of Jesus, who had been deceived by her into doing those evil deeds, had committed the sin unto death the Lord would not have given them time to repent because we know that it is impossible for those who sin unto death to be brought back to repentance. So in this case also, even though those persons had committed some sins, it was possible for them to be brought back to repentance and be forgiven.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (2 Corinthians 12:20-21). In the Church of Corinth there were some believers who had practiced uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness, which are all works of the flesh, and Paul was afraid that when he would come again to the Corinthians he would have to punish and judge those who had not repented of their sins. However, they had not repented of those sins, not because they had committed the sin unto death and so it was impossible for them to be brought back to repentance, but because they themselves had not been willing to repent. In this case also, we see how the Lord gives a believer who sins time to repent, but if he doesn’t repent of his sins the Lord will judge him according to his works (that is to say, He will inflict a punishment upon him).

From: The New Way (author doctor Giacinto Butindaro)

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