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Bible Passage 1 John

Believer’s Sin and Loss

  • Tony Raker
Date preached August 14, 2022

1 John 5:16, 17 Believer’s Sin and Loss

1 Peter 5:8 exhorts a believer to be calmly vigilant even as Satan purposely plots and acts to deceive and destroy believers.  What is the nature of this destruction?  To what degree is this destruction?  When a believer sins, what is the loss?  Is there a loss of salvation?

  • Contextual/Comparison: God keeps His Word: God continually uses His Word. God wants us to be sure of our salvation and to know we are His – forever! He does not want us to live in a state of uncertainty, hoping that in the end He will accept us.  Scripture related to salvation includes:
    • Romans 10:9 – confession: Jesus is Lord/raised from the dead = salvation
    • John 3:3 – salvation is essential to see the Kingdom of God
    • 1 John 1:7 – only blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin
    • Colossians 3:3 – believers are safe, hidden with Christ

However, many teach that a believer can fall away and be lost for four basic reasons:

  1. We are weak, we fail, and we wonder if we can endure to the end.
  2. We know some who appeared to be real Christians who apparently have fallen away.
  3. Some scriptures seem to teach the possibility of a believer being lost:

(1) Matthew 24:13; (2) 1 Corinthians 9:27; (3) John 15:6; (4) Galatians 5:4; (5) Hebrews 6:4-6; (6) Hebrews 10:26-29.

  1. Teaching the security of Christians is dangerous as it makes for careless living.

How do we answer these four objections?  With clarity from God’s Word:

  1. Our salvation does not depend upon our ability to keep it; we are kept (1 Peter 1:5; compare Jude 24).
  2. Christians who have fallen away – were they ever truly saved? If so, God has many disobedient children. The Prodigal Son was a son, but disobedient (Luke 15:11-24).
  3. The scriptures mentioned do not teach that a believer can be lost. These either do not refer to true believers, or they refer to service and rewards – not to salvation. (1) Matthew 24:13 refers to the Tribulation period and to the physical salvation of those who endure to the end; (2) 1 Corinthians 9:27, and (3) John 15:6 both have to do with service, and not salvation; (4) Galatians 5:4 does not teach that we can fall out of grace! (5) Hebrews 6:4-6 and (6) Hebrews 10:26-29 were written to Jews and for Jews: the argument is that if we reject Christ there is no more sacrifice for sin.
  4. The teaching of security does not make it easier for the believer to live carelessly but provides incentive to the believer to live more wholeheartedly for God (Romans 6:1-2).

1 John 5:16, 17: “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. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

  • Grammatical Usage: sin” or in the Greek, “hamartia” meaning, “no-share” (or “no part of” referring to God) and “loss” (forfeiture); “death” or “thanatos” meaning, “separation” in the physical and/or spiritual sense.
  • Literal Interpretation: If anyone sees a fellow believer committing an act not of God that doesn’t lead to the forfeiture of physical life, he should ask, and God will give life to him—to those who commit sin that doesn’t lead to physical separation. There is an act of loss (or sin) that leads to forfeiture of physical life. I am not saying he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin that doesn’t lead to physical death.

In view of passages that forbid ultimate damnation for the elect, it is clear that:

  • 16: John affirms there are sins of saints which prove physically mortal
  • There are sins of saints, though unfortunate and dishonoring to Christ, are of a less serious nature which can be forgiven via intercessory prayer
  • “death” referred to is the physical, not spiritual
  • Moses, Ananias and Sapphira and the adulterous Corinthian are examples of God’s children who died physically for disobeying God ( 34:5-7; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 5:1-5) but did not lose their salvation
  • Importantly, the indefinite pronoun “any” applies the same conviction of forgiveness to erring Christians as he does to the individual in the illustration. He has no specific individual in mind.  While not limited; it does suggest pervasive.

John, by distinguishing between sins that are and are not mortal, is NOT looking upon non-mortal sins with tolerance: he hastens to add:

  • 17: No sin of a Christian is to be looked upon lightly
  • Sin is incompatible with God’ righteousness
  • There are sins committed by Christians bringing a penalty less than physical death
  • This is obvious given 1 Jn 1:8-10. If not true, there would be no living Christians

There are seven reasons in Scripture why the believer can never fall away and be lost:

  1. The believer is everlastingly secure because of the eternal purpose of God concerning all His redeemed people (Eph. 1:4, 2:10; Rom. 8:29-30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:2)
  2. The believer is everlastingly secure because the redemption work of Christ is complete, sufficient, flawless and eternal (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Heb. 1:3; 7:24-25; 10:10-14)
  3. The believer is everlastingly secure because salvation is altogether of grace (Eph. 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Titus 3:5)
  4. The believer is everlastingly secure because of the nature of everlasting salvation (John 3:16; 5:24; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 5:9; 9:12)
  5. The believer is everlastingly secure because of the many specific promises and statements that guarantee security (Jn. 5:24; 6:37; 10:9; 10:27-29; 17:2,6,9,12)
  6. The believer is everlastingly secure because of his vital union with the Lord Jesus.

We are “in Him” and He is “in us” (Jn. 1:12-13; 15:5; 1 Cor. 12:13-27; Col. 1:13; 3:3)

  1. The believer is everlastingly secure because the work of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the believer is everlasting (Jn. 14:6; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30)
  • Conclusion: The vital question, therefore is: Am I truly His? Have I truly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and am I trusting utterly and only in Him as my Savior and Lord?