This passage is what some might call a “hard saying” of the Bible. In it, John tells believers to burden themselves with praying for believers when sin doesn’t lead to death. But it becomes confusing when he notes that we do not need to pray for it when it does lead to death. The context of this passage must be taken in light of John’s view of Antichrist in the body. There are those who are of God and those who are not. For all the indicators, John has spoken harshly of sinful attitudes and how they lie about our status as Christians. But here he clarifies. A habitual sin that hasn’t culminated in judgment is to be prayed for, rather than being a completed indicator of allegiance. Even believers sin and our salvation is determined by our faith and not our perfection. We are not to judge our’s or another’s salvation on these terms. We are to love, but also to pray that God will remove the habituation of sin in our lives. And while we can mourn the loss of those whose sin lead them to death, we do not need to be confused about it or waste energy trying to dissuade God or them from harvesting the hardness of their hearts. We are to pray for our own consistency but we do this in the faith, by the strength of Christ and power of the Spirit.
This post first appeared at JoshMcGary.com