THE SIN UNTO DEATH
August 21, 2017
The following conversation ensued with a reader seeking counseling about the state of her salvation after having fallen into a serious sin over a significant period of time. This rendition shares only key “book end” highlights from a lengthy series of more penetrating personal letters. May these counsels help those struggling with knowing if they have “crossed the line of no return” with the Lord.
------ Original Message ------
" littleflock "
It appears you are asking me to provide some personal counseling. I can provide some limited personal counseling. But in order to do that, I would have to ask questions. …
Before you tell me anything about your situation, let me just share a few things in general which might be of some help, because these are things I would tell you anyway. And you may find they might be enough for you without you telling me anything further about what you have done.
One outstanding area of debate in Christian faith is what is it that marks true salvation and what if any kind of sin is forgivable under what conditions? To what degree can a believer be found in any kind of sin under what conditions and still be considered a saved believer. Can a believer be saved and then lose salvation due to sin?
Two things have to be understood regarding the believer and subsequent sin. First, there are two levels of salvation. One is forgiveness for sins with cleansing through the blood of Jesus. The other is actual conversion of the inner man by the word of God into a new creation, called new birth. A man can receive initial forgiveness and cleansing by the blood of Jesus without actually becoming converted into a new creation.
The difference is that one who is initially cleansed by faith in Christ but not reborn may eventually revert to a life of continued willful sin. But one who is born again, even though he will struggle with sin in certain areas and find himself lapsing through unconquered weakness, maintains an inward determination not to sin and perseveres in his faith until he finds what he needs in the Lord to overcome.
Meanwhile, to the appearance, it can be quite difficult to tell the two kinds of sinning believer apart. For the one believer is still lost, while the other will finally prove that He is truly the Lord's newborn. If he has strayed, he will return. The other can never return.
The other thing that has to be understood is that there are three kinds of force involved regarding the process of sinning and successfully turning from it. One is the force of one's own natural life which tempts him to sin and yield to his lusts.
The second is the force of demonic oppression, obsession and possession that has taken root in the soul. This kind of force compels a man to sin beyond any will power to "just say no." Demonic force may be at work in the life of the born again believer as well as the merely forgiven believer. Where demonic force compels a man to sin, deliverance ministry is required to evict that force.
The third force is the force of the full baptism of the Holy Spirit that evicts the root of sin from the believer and indwells Him with the fullness of Christ's righteousness for power over all sin. Many people that have been born of the Spirit have never been saturated by the Spirit's indwelling for victorious power over sin, and therefore do not find victory over certain besetting sins.
Whatever it is you may have struggled with or continue to struggle with, you can evaluate through the grid of these two larger dimensions. You need to ask yourself what kind of commitment not to sin / backslide characterizes your heart. Are you a superficial believer who may have been forgiven and washed in the blood of Christ, but without a commitment to the dethroning and overcoming of sin in your life? Have you made only a superficial non-transparent surrender of all things in your life to Christ, but at heart are holding onto certain cherished idols or behaviors?
OR are you a determined believer who hates sin even though you find yourself at war with it to where it still gets the better of you & you have not fully overcome it in your thoughts and bloodstream by the power of the Spirit? Have you made Christ lord of every area of your life by a determined unconditional surrender of all things? Where is your heart in relationship to the sin against which you struggle?
And then you have to ask yourself if the backsliding struggle you face is one of nuisance temptation or forced compelling to where no matter how much you surrender the thing to the Lord, you just cannot overcome it and keep getting drawn back into it? If you find yourself so compelled, you need to consider that you require deliverance ministry for demonic eviction. Confession of sin and willpower to say no is just not enough. You also have to ask if you have only superficial experiences with the Holy Spirit without having been fully baptized in His abiding victorious power to prevent satan's further encroachments upon your soul?
At all times, no matter where you are on this grid, the Holy Spirit is convicting you as the Spirit of Truth to illumine you to all truth necessary to the saving and perfecting of your soul. He is convicting you of sin, righteousness and judgment. He is showing you what pleases Him and what does not. He is showing you if you have more need of His loving infilling where you need to cry out for more of Him to gain victory. His power of internal revelation is sufficient to teach you all things regarding His holy will for you.
The Spirit will unmistakably reveal what is what to the one who is transparently surrendered, having held nothing back in his life from the Lord's spotlight. When He convinces, He shows you what must be done to change the situation. He shows you if you need deliverance ministry. He shows you if confession of sin is enough. He shows you if there is more you must do than confess to Him. He shows you if you must confess to another. He shows you if you must forgive another. He shows you if you must make restitution in an area. The Holy Spirit shows you all these elements required for dealing with sin.
Satan is also active with his voice. He is constantly accusing, bringing up thoughts of self-accusation, self-doubt, doubt of the Holy Spirit's sufficiency, second guessing of past issues and things that Jesus has already cleansed and forgiven and taken care of. Satan is ever instilling thoughts of fear and trouble and worry. So the two powers are always at contest over your soul.
But if you are truly the Lord's, His fundamental conviction is ultimately clear and convincing to the conscience, so that no man is ever with excuse regarding what he has done and how he lives now and what his Maker requires. As you read through what I have written, I would even expect the Holy Spirit to cause certain words to "jump out" at you and say, "See, this is what I have been telling you all along is at issue."
These are the thoughts I challenge you to run your issues through regarding the sinning against the Lord / backsliding you referenced. If they are not enough, please write out your situation and I will speak more to it as seems appropriate. But let's start here.....
------ Original Message ------
Hello Chris, I hope you are doing well.
We were in a Bible discussion and didn't understand what the sin unto death was. Could you expound if you know what it means.
------ Original Message ------
" littleflock "
The sin unto death is understood by understanding the whole of the letter surrounding it. When we meditate on the whole, then we understand the part within that whole.
In this letter, John is ardently seeking to establish the believer's confidence in his knowing of the Lord in relationship to the mutual knowing and same assurance among all believers, whereby all believers can recognize one another as knowing the same Lord and be assured of their basis for fellowshipping together around that common knowing. That is the theme of the whole letter.
In course of laying out this theme, John has to deal with the problem of sin, which is what separates us from God and in turn from one another. So he wants the readers to understand the role sin plays in preventing that personal knowing and in turn preventing that mutual knowing (fellowship) of the Lord from being realized.
So to do this, John explains the various aspects of sin and how they affect our personal and mutual knowing of the Lord. He tells us several things. He tells us that true believers are bent to persevere in a life of righteousness against sin, but are still subject to potentially sinning even though they have been saved from sin. So he is writing to have them 1) prove their sense of perseverance in righteousness, 2) prevent them from sinning, and 3) yet find a remedy through confession and repentance if they do sin in the course of their perseverance.
To help sort this out, John describes what a persevering believer looks like versus what a false believer look like. He makes it clear there is always going to be this mix of persevering believers and false believers in the midst, which is why he has to write the letter in the first place.
True believers will be those whose bent is to love the Lord and preserve the fellowship of the believers in that same love, even though they may fall into "a sin." False believers will be professors of the Lord whose bent is contrary to their profession, demonstrated chiefly by their failure to preserve the fellowship of the believers (which is hatred), and by their eventual departure from both the faith and the fellowship.
John also says that, given this state of flux, believers always have to “test the spirits” behind what all believers are saying and doing. He says all this recognizing that all true believers already have the inner capacity to know what is true and that what John is writing is true. But he is just writing it all out for their benefit so they can find greater confirmation of what it is their spirits already tell them must be the case in these matters.
All of this is the context for John’s closing comment on prayer and the sin unto death. The praying here has to do with all those things John already said mark the true believer. So it is about believers praying for one another who are trying to preserve and perfect the fellowship of the Lord. It is prayer by believers to prevent other believers from sinning, and prayer in case they do sin to find a remedy through the Lord's forgiveness.
However, because (as he also said) false believers are in the mix, eventually their true colors are going to come out. They are going to prove to be haters of the fellowship. They are going to prove to be deserters of the faith, of the fellowship, even to the point of denying Jesus. This is just the way it is going to be. Such false believers are already in a state of death ("darkness") and are going to remain there and eventually prove what they really are. And no prayer is going to change that.
It's because this is the case, that true praying believers, in their quest to preserve the fellowship and to restore true believers who have fallen into a sin or are struggling with a sin, have to have the discernment to know when the one they are praying for is not really a true believer after all, but is really one covertly abiding in death, cherishing it over whatever the sin may be, and who will eventually depart to prove it. That is the sin unto death. It is really of sin unto manifestation of what one already is.
And so, it is this testing of spirits over prayer for one another John is referring to. He is saying that you can pray to restore true believers from sin they may have fallen into, but you can't pray to restore a false believer whose bent is unto sin and whose life is going to eventually come to a point of proving so. John is saying, once you perceive this to be the case regarding a professing believer, stop praying for him. He is what he is. He is bound for death, and your prayer cannot change the spots on a leopard.
As an aside, this is the meaning of the words in Revelation 22:11 when the angel says, "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy." The angel is calling for the time of mixture to come to an end, and for everyone to manifest as to who they truly are as a true or false believer, so that the righteous may stop trying to restore the unrestorable.
I hope you find this explanation helpful not only as a point of understanding, but as a help to your own self evaluation before the Lord regarding whatever sin you may have struggled with. To know your true state, you need only ask the questions John raises in this letter. Is your heart bent on righteousness? Are you a perseverer in righteousness? And are you one who seeks to preserve the fellowship of those who are likewise persevering in their struggle to overcome sin and the world? It's really a simple yes or no answer. It's an open and shut case. How do you plead?
------ Original Message ------
My dear brother thank you. I am a preserver of righteousness and desire to see my brothers and sisters free from sin. Thank you for your time Chris. This helps me better understand my own problem we talked about. I thought I had crossed the line and I was really afraid there was no forgiveness. When we spoke you made it very clear to me that I had to examine the situation with more depth. Most people were telling me the Lord loves you, ask for forgiveness and keep moving. I knew I needed to get better understanding of the scriptures. When I got your lessons on line I knew you were more thorough and that's why I wanted your counsel.
Original Message ------
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