1 John 5:16-17
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God[a] 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. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
We know that, “the wages of sin is death,” so why is John sounding like some sins leads to death rather than others? My belief is that the sin which leads to death spoken of in this passage is the rejection of Christ.
Hebrews 2:11;12 says,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
If someone is “a brother” (or sister as the case may be) then they have already accepted Jesus as their savior. When a brother or sister in Christ stumbles in sin, they will be forgiven. The only way their sins won’t be forgiven is if they reject Jesus as their savior.
The word, “life” in the Bible can refer to righteous living. As Christians it’s part of our duty to pray for our siblings in Christ to walk in accordance with God’s will.
Tragedy struck at the end of this spring when a friend of mine committed suicide. Our community was devastated, but our comfort was that he knew the Lord and was saved. This is the peace in knowing that God forgives the sin of all those who are in relationship with Him. And all means ALL; even the sin of suicide.
Those, however, who are not in a relationship with Christ are not our brothers and sisters. That’s why rejecting Christ and blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the only real sin which leads to death.
A Christian can’t “accidentally loose their salvation,” for a real blasphemy or rejection requires a conscious decision.
I also dare believe that even if a person has previously committed the sin which leads to death they will always have the chance for repentance as long as they live in this world. God’s will is that none should perish.
It won’t do much good to pray that God will give spiritual life to those who have rejected Him, because only the Holy Spirit can change hearts. A person’s attitude and behavior won’t really change for the better unless they allow the Holy Spirit to help them. That’s why John says, “I do not say that one should pray for that.”
But please note he doesn’t say, “Don’t pray for them at all.” Still as we feel called we may pray that those we know who are unsaved would become our brothers and sisters in Christ.