In 1 John 5:6-17, the Apostle John says this:
“This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for the witness of God is this, that he hath borne witness concerning his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son. And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life.
These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him. If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.”
In this passage, John explains to us how and why to find out if we have eternal life. How? By finding God’s gospel in your faith. Why? To find God’s goodness in His fellowship.
In verses 6-12, John defines God’s gospel, and then defines this gospel in the context of his audience’s faith. He begins by telling them who the One who came through life by water and blood is: Jesus the Supreme Prophet, Priest, and King. What does John mean by water and blood? What is the most important thing that has to do with water in the first coming of Christ? His baptism. His baptism is mentioned in all of the Gospels of the New Testament, and marks the beginning of His public ministry. What about the blood? To anyone familiar with the New Testament, John is clearly referring to the bloody death of Christ on the cross.
After John emphasizes that Jesus not only was baptized, but suffered a bloody death, he says that God the Spirit is the One who testifies of Christ’s coming by water and blood. Why? Because the Spirit is the truth. This means that He is the very Source of the truth.
But how does the Spirit testify? In verses 7 and 8, John says that not only does He testify that Jesus is the Christ, but Christ’s baptism and bloody death also testify to this fact. Then, he says that, if we receive people’s testimony, then God’s testimony is even greater. Why? Because, he says, God’s testimony is the fact that He has testified concerning His Son.
In verse 10, John says that those who trust in the Son of God have this testimony in themselves, but those who do not believe God have made Him out to be a liar because they have not trusted in His testimony about His Son. What is this testimony exactly? In verse 11, John says that it is the fact that God has given those who receive God’s testimony and trust in His Son eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Therefore, John concludes, those who have the Son in them have eternal life, but those who do not have Him in them do not.
In verses 13-17, John tells us why we ought to find out if we have eternal life: to find God’s goodness in His fellowship. He begins by saying that he has written all that he has written in this letter to those who believe in the trustworthy reputation of the Son of God, that they may know that they have eternal life. Assuming that his audience now knows that they have eternal life, John says that this is the confidence they have before God, that, if they ask anything in accordance with His revealed will, He hears them favorably. He adds that if they know that He hears them favorably in whatever they ask, then they know that they have the requests that they have asked from Him.
In verse 16, John gives his audience a command: if they see one of their “brothers or sisters in Christ” committing a sin that does not lead to their death, they should ask, and God will, for the one asking, give life to that sinning person. He goes on, however, to say that there is a sin that leads to death, and that he is not saying to ask God to give life to the one who commits it. Finally, he concludes, all unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin that doesn’t lead to death.
What is the “sin leading to death?” Let’s take a look at these passages to find out:
1 John 2:17: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Here, John says that those who do the will of God (those with eternal life) live forever, and thus, don’t die.
1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death.” Here, John says that those with eternal life have passed out of death, and into life, but that those without eternal life (those who do not love in deed and in truth) make their homes in death.
Hebrews 6:4-6: “For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Who were those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come? Those who may have been close enough to the true church that they were even considered brothers and/or sisters in Christ. What is this falling away? A sin that results in the impossibility of repentance, and is just as bad as crucifying Christ.
Hebrews 10:19-31: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised: and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. A man that hath set at nought Moses’ law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged 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 said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Who are the “we” who sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth? Those who may have been considered “brothers and/or sisters in Christ.” What does this sin result in?
- no more a sacrifice for sins (no more opportunity to trust in Christ’s sacrifice for sins (His death))
- a certain fearful expectation of judgment
- a fierceness of fire (judgment) which shall devour the adversaries (enemies)
What is this sin?
- trodding under foot the Son of God
- counting the blood of the covenant by which one is sanctified an unholy thing
- insulting the Spirit of grace
From these passages, it is clear that the sin leading to death is the unpardonable sin, which the New Testament seems to define as refusing to trust in the gospel with at least experiential knowledge that it is true, and that the death that John refers to is eternal death. This means that any other sin is a sin that God is willing to forgive, and is willing to give spiritual life to those who commit it.
So, do you receive the testimony of God?
Are you trusting in the Son of God?
Do you have God’s testimony about His Son in you, or have you not trusted in it?
Do you believe in the trustworthy reputation of the Son of God?
Do you have confidence before God, that, if you ask Him anything according to His will, He hears you?
When you see your brother or sister in Christ committing a pardonable sin, do you ask God to give him or her life?
Do you understand the trustworthy reputation of the Son of God? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16 and 1:18-32:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13