First John 5:16 says that “there is sin that leads to death” and in the context of this letter he is dealing with those false prophets that are false to the true Christ. As in the issue is not the magnitude of any given sin, but rather the attitude of those who are false to the true Christ and intent on continuing to deny Him.
So what about the sin that leads to death? I think what we have to do is we have to be honest with the context of the letter. Who is it that is sinning, in the book of 1 John, that’s in real trouble? Real trouble! Like damnation trouble! Well, certainly it’s the false prophets. Certainly, it’s those who went out from us because they were not of us. Certainly, it’s those who are denying the Father and denying the Son. Certainly, it’s the anti-Christ. This is who he’s been talking about through the whole letter. Brethren, the thing is the thing you want to remember is that John is confronting the errors of those who went out. He’s confronting the errors of those who are persisting in sin. They’re not loving the brethren but they’re persisting as well in bad doctrine concerning Jesus Christ. They are denying the Son and in denying the Son they are denying the Father. This is what scripture says.
Brethren the thing we need to get is this, it’s not the magnitude of any given sin like, “Whoa that sin is so great it just the cross of Christ is not sufficient for it.” That’s not how you want to think about a sin that is unto death. What you want to think about what John is speaking about is the attitude, the disposition of the sinner that excludes the possibility of him ever being forgiven. In the context of this little epistle, it’s a person who is intent on denying the true Christ!
Why? Because only the true Christ is the true remedy! And if you persist on going out from among the people of God where the true Christ is being proclaimed. Where the apostolic Christ is being proclaimed. That’s what John is saying through this book. He’s saying, “We touched Him.” “We know Him.” “You that are true,” he says, “listen to us the apostles. You hear us. You give yourself to the apostles’ doctrine. If you deny the Christ of the apostles, if that is your attitude, and if that is your disposition, that is a sin unto death. If you deny the only remedy and you walk out and you dig in your heels. You’re done! You’re done.”
Look, that’s what the letter is about. That’s what’s been going on here. But so many people get hung up about it. What I want you all to get hung up about is not the sin that leads unto death. I think this is what he has in mind. He’s saying to the church to his little children, “Look. I want you to pray for one another when you fall into sin.” And some of them are going to say, “Yeah but we know some people that really have fallen into sin. They were the people that used to be among us and they went out that door and they haven’t come back.” And he’s saying, “Look, I’m not saying . . .” “That’s not who I’m talking about.” is what he is saying here. He’s not being dogmatic. He’s not being emphatic. He’s not throwing this hardcore imperative, “You better not ever pray for those people that left.”
It’s a very mild – he’s just saying, “That’s not who I’m talking about. The ones I have in mind are the ones who are still here, but are falling into sin. The ones that are still staying on with Christ, and the true Christ, and the truth! Pray for them brethren! Pray for one another! Pray! Not the people that have abandoned this thing. Not the people that have gone out. Not the people that are out there propagating the false christ. But those among here, who still adhere to the true Christ and are falling into sin.” Brethren, I’m telling you if we even have three or five or ten people that on a regular basis gave themselves to this, oh what it will do for this church. What it will do.