“If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.”
he will ask,
Asking here is intercessory prayer for a backslidden believer (5:14,15). Spiritual Christians are not indifferent to the spiritual needs of carnal Christians. Intercessory prayer does not concern itself simply with personal problems or needs but with the needs of others.
and He will give him life
The spiritual Christian who asks God to intervene for the carnal Christian may save his spiritual life. “Life” here is fellowship with the Lord. Sin separates us from fellowship. Christians can effectually pray for the spiritual condition of believers out of fellowship.
This is a case in which prayer is effectual. Any sin not involving the sin unto death is amenable to God, answering prayer. It is difficult to distinguish between those who commit the sin unto physical death and those who do not. The spiritual life of the person who does not commit the sin punished by death is salvable.
for those who commit sin not leading to death.
By changing to the plural “those,” John expands the issue to include any Christian out of fellowship.
It is permissible to pray for any carnal Christian who has not committed the sin unto death.
God offers no stay of execution to believers under the sin unto physical death. They are under a death warrant.
We cannot do anything for carnal Christians until we first pray for them. Christians who love fellow Christians care when they fall. Love cannot be indifferent to spiritual need, so spiritual Christians offer prayer on behalf of the carnal Christian. Christians are to pray for others rather than for “Us four and no more.”
Eph 6:18, “…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— …”
Jas 5:16, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Everything we do and say reflects on God’s character. Our behavior reflects on His reputation. It is impossible to fellowship with God if we have unconfessed sin in our lives. That is why God introduces divine discipline into our lives.
God is in the business of disciplining His children (He 12:5-6,10-11). The purpose of all discipline is to bring the believer back into fellowship. God never punishes the believer for punishment’s sake. Sometimes God brings believers to the point of physical death because they will not deal with the sin in their lives. Living with unconfessed sin invites divine discipline.
1 Co 11:29-32, 29 “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep [die]. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened [divine discipline on the Christian] by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
God’s answer to prayer is always in His perfect timing. It is never too soon or too late. Once we make our requisition and submit it to the sovereignty of God, God puts it into His schedule for answering. This is especially true in divine discipline.