Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jesus' Command: Pray on Behalf of Sinning Brother and Sister in Christ (1 John 5:16-17)

If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. All wicked actions are sins, but not every sin leads to death
(1 John 5:16-17, NLT).

If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning… you should pray.” We read that as our faith grows, if it were to grows, we should go beyond the concerns we have about ourselves and pray for others. This is called the intercession prayer. If we pray only about our own needs, as important as these needs may be, we can become quite self-centred and not see how great and privilege it is to be a part of the growth of other people as well. As we learn to pray for others, we become more sensitive about their needs and will keep in touch with them so we know what their needs are.

And not only do we pray about the needs of others; we should be willing to be a means or channel through which God can answer our prayers. In case this is a new thought for you, let me share an example: Let’s say that you find out that a friend is suffering from the loss of job and from an illness. You have heard that he or she have very little food or money at home. So you share these concerns with God, you pray that God will provide for their needs, so they won’t go hungry and thus will not sinning against God for the situations that he or she is experiencing now. After praying such a prayer, you can ask to yourselves, “In what way would God like me to be the way that an answer is provided? How can I become the answer to my own prayer?” You could buy him or her a dinner, or you could help to find a job, or you could offer to care (if need be) until he or she gets better, etc.

What is amazing about this process, then, is that prayer does not become a closet activity in which we withdraw from people and think only ‘heavenly’ thoughts. As we pray about the needs of others we are drawn back into loving others. So, Lord Jesus Christ is the connecting link between ourselves and others. As we feel loved by Jesus and as our prayers are answered, we grow in our ability to love and care for others. This is especially true when it comes to pray for our “Christian brother or sister” whom we knowingly “sinning” and commits “wicked actions” against God. We must pray for and at the same time love and lead him or her back in the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle James was very clear with this: “If someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about many forgiveness of many sins” (James 5:19-20). As we “pray” earnestly and be open to be use by God in this way, He “will give that person life” [This promise is apply in the context of brothers and sisters in Christ]. 

However, the part of this section that may be less clear involves what John calls: “…a sin that leads to death.” Exactly what this means has been debated for centuries until now. But let me try, in simple way: We know that God has promised to forgive us our sins when we confess them and ask for forgiveness (read 1 John 1:9 again). But there is one attitude – only one – that seems to cut oneself off from God. Jesus talks about this sin as being blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (read Matthew 12:31-32 and Mark 3:29). This kind of sin that “lead to death” is the sin that say the work of Jesus is really the work of Satan or origin from Satan, imply that Satan is really more powerful than God, and that evil is more powerful and maybe even is  – preferable to what is good and true. To talk and live like that is to live a life in spiritual ruin. So, John is saying “there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it” – because it is useless to pray for them since they already decided willingly that everything that Jesus did and done are attributed to evil one. Don’t do it!

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