Thursday, October 13, 2016

SHOULD WE BE PRAYING FOR EVERYONE?





We are instructed to pray for everyone:

·       First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

However, John had instructed us to NOT pray for everyone:

·       If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. (1 John 5:16-17)

Is there a resolution for this apparent contradiction? What then would it be? First of all, we need to regard the context, where it seems that it is eternal life that is in view (verses 5:11-13, 18). Also, it seems that these verses are offered as an example of the above principle – We will receive what we ask for if it is in line with the will of God:

·       And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

In view of this principle, we should not think that God will give eternal life to the unrepentant, to those who have made sin into a lifestyle.

Sorry for being so tentative, but these are difficult verses by anyone’s estimation. However, it seems that verses 5:16-17 refer to the unrepentant sinner. Here’s why:

1.    The next verse (18) bears it out that John had in mind someone who has made a lifestyle out of repentant sin: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning...” in contrast with the one who does “keep on sinning” unrepentantly.

2.    It must be unrepentant sin in view. Why? It seems that God is willing to forgive any sin, no matter how severe.

Paul had written: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

If the worst sins did not lead to death, what then could John have referred to by “sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death” (5:16)? What sins, then could be seen as leading to death if not murder and rape? Only unrepented sins are left!

3.    This understanding then falls into line with the rests of the Scriptures. It means that we shouldn’t pray for the salvation of those who refuse to repent of their sins.

However, I think that it is Scriptural to pray even for the unrepentant. However, we must pray that they will first come to repentance!

This leaves us with a problem. On the Cross, Jesus had prayed:

·       “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:34)

It would seem that Jesus had contradicted John’s teaching. He didn’t specifically ask for confession or repentance. However, it is likely that Jesus also had their repentance in mind as a precondition for their salvation.

The Unpardonable Sin

I mention this sin here because it seems that the “unpardonable sin” should be understood in light of the above. About this sin, Jesus had stated:

·       Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)

What then is this blasphemy, this speaking “against the Holy Spirit?” It seems like it is another instance of purposeful, unrepented sin. The Pharisees had seen many of Jesus’ miracles. Nevertheless, they purposely ascribed them to Satan instead of to the Spirit, clearly the author of these various miracles. Their lives demonstrated an unrepentant commitment to a sinful lifestyle.

However, this account includes one extra element – They would never be forgiven. But why could they not confess their sins, repent, and find forgiveness? Without God drawing them, they simply would not (John 6:44). God had taken His hands off them and allowed them to pursue their own hearts’ desires (Romans 1:24-28). Therefore, they wouldn’t come to Him.

Should we then not pray for them? I think we should. Why? We don’t know who has entirely departed from God’s saving plans and, therefore, from any possibility of coming to repentance.

However, it is important to encourage the many who fear that they might have committed the unpardonable sin. On the basis of what can we encourage them? If they are still concerned about God’s forgiveness, then it seems likely that God is drawing them. This is because those who are not being drawn regard the things of God as foolishness:

·       The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

In contrast, there is always hope for those who wish to hope in God.

2 comments:

  1. My understanding of SIN LEADING TO DEATH is what Matthew 12:31 says as: “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.”

    This is not EXCUSABLE as if Jesus of Nazareth himself has said it, not the apostles. Therefore it must be true.

    This action as you said the UNREPENTANT SINNER who mocks God using His name in vain yet do not feel a reproach in him and continually does it. It grieves the Holy Spirit as God was grieved to see man continually thinking evil.

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  2. It seems like you agree that the "sin that leads to death" is the sins which we refuse to confess and repent.

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