Christian Pilgrim


133. The Sin Unto Death

1 John 5:16,17: “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.”

What is the “sin unto death”? How do we know when someone has committed it?

All we can say from these verses is that it is possible in this world to commit an unforgiveable sin, and still be alive.

I used to think that as long as men have breath in their bodies, we can pray for them. Only when they have died do we no longer need to do this, then committing their judgment to the Lord. But after thinking upon these verses, I now think that it teaches that there are many people still alive on this earth who have committed this unforgiveable sin, but God allows them to continue in their ways for a time (for His own just and holy ends), there now being no hope of salvation for any of them.

We cannot tell who they are, so ordinarily we are still to pray for all men UNTIL God in His providence takes the burden to do so away from us.

Jeremiah was told not to pray any more for the people:

Jeremiah 7:16: “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.”

Jeremiah 11:14: “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.”

Jeremiah 14:11: “Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.”

There are some people who will pray to the Lord, but He will no longer hear them:

Psalm 18:41: “They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.”

God hardens hearts and fills up people’s sins to the uttermost, but they still continue living for a time:

Exodus 14:4: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.”

1 Thessalonians 2:16: “to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

The "sin unto death" is also known as the "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost":

Matthew 12:31,32 - "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

Mark 3:28-30 - "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit."

Luke 12:10 - "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven."

We are told of certain conditions whereby if a person falls away it is impossible for him to be renewed again to repentance. These conditions are not the same as salvation:

Hebrews 6:4-6 - "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."

cf. v.9 - "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."

Hebrews 10:26-29 - "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?"

cf. v.39 - "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."

2 Peter 2:20-22 - "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."