Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 5:16 and 17 John says, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask and he will give life to him, to those sinning not unto death. There is sin unto death; I do not say that he should make request concerning that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not unto death.” These verses indicate that if we see a brother sinning a sin not unto death, we should ask concerning that one and give life to him. But how can we know if a particular sin is unto death? Suppose a brother has sinned and also has become ill. If we do not know whether or not this sin is unto death, how shall we be able to make request concerning the situation?
We have seen that 5:14-17 is related to prayer in the fellowship of eternal life. In the fellowship of the divine life there is the governmental dealing of God according to the spiritual condition of each of His children. In God’s governmental dealing, some of His children may be destined to physical death in this age due to a certain sin, and others may be destined to physical death due to other sins. Whether a sin is unto death or not depends on God’s judgment according to each one’s position and condition in the house of God.
Although we may be clear concerning this matter in principle, how are we to discern whether or not a particular brother has sinned unto death? In order to have this kind of discernment, we need to be a person who is absolutely one with the Lord. Actually, only the Lord Himself knows whether a certain sin is unto death. Therefore, if we are not one with the Lord, we cannot know whether or not a brother has sinned unto death. However, if we are deeply one with the Lord, if we abide in the Lord, and if we are one spirit with Him, spontaneously we shall know whether or not a particular sin is unto death. There will be no need for us to try to know this matter.
We should not think that a particular sin is serious and is unto death and that another sin is not serious and is not unto death. Consider the case of Moses in Numbers 20. Moses was provoked, and as a result he did something that was not according to God’s will: he struck the rock a second time. Striking the rock twice was against God’s basic principle. The rock typifies Christ, and God had no intention for Christ to be smitten twice. The first time Moses struck the rock according to God’s word (Exo. 17:1-6). But the second time that Moses struck the rock was not according to God’s word. God told Moses to speak to the rock. But, being provoked, Moses struck it a second time. Due to that mistake, Moses, although he was so close to God, was not allowed to enter into the good land: “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Num. 20:12). According to Deuteronomy 32:48-52, the Lord told Moses to go up to the mountain and die because he and Aaron had trespassed against the Lord “among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel” (v. 51). We may think that Moses made only a small mistake. But according to God’s governmental dealing, it was a sin unto death. The case of Moses illustrates the fact that in ourselves we are not qualified or able to discern what kind of sin is unto death. We can have such discernment only when we are absolutely one with the Lord.
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