“We approach God imperfectly,” admitted Gretchen Ronnevik in Ragged: Spiritual Disciplines for the Spiritually Exhausted. “We approach him as sinners wearing the covering of Christ. There cannot be any pretense about it. Pretense is in opposition to intimacy. We are who we are, and God is who he is. Don’t flower it up or try to be impressive.”
This is one reason we can and should pray for sinning brothers and sisters in Christ (vv. 16–17). We know where they’re coming from because we’ve probably been there. Our prayer is, of course, that they will confess, repent, and be forgiven (1 John 1:9).
But what is the “sin that leads to death” for which no forgiveness is possible? Within the context of 1 John and the New Testament as a whole, this sin is unbelief in Christ, also called blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31–32). The Spirit, after all, testifies to Christ’s redemption (see Feb. 21). To reject Christ and to reject the Spirit’s witness to redemption are practically the same thing. To call God a liar in this way is blasphemy.
We can pray for our sinning brothers and sisters in Christ with confidence, because genuine believers don’t and can’t continue sinning (vv. 18–19). If they’re truly members of God’s family, they will return to Him. The new spiritual life inside them cannot be extinguished. Christ Himself “keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” Even though Satan has dominion over the world, he has no power over the kingdom of light.
True believers “know him who is true,” the Father (v. 20). This knowledge and relationship cannot be lost, for it was given to us by the Son Himself. We are “in” both of them, for both are God.
>> Spend some time today praying for any brothers and sisters in Christ you know who have sinned or who are living a sinful lifestyle. We can pray with confidence, knowing that repentance is God’s will.
Today we pray for once-professing believers who have embraced sinful lifestyles. In Your mercy, convict them of their sin. Remind them who You are and what You have done for them. Restore them to lives that glorify You.