And this is the confidence that we have toward him,
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask,
we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
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.
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
I John 5:14-17
Now we have come to the P.S. part of I John. The essence of the book, according to James Montgomery Boice, was completed with last week’s passage. Now we’re reading the P.S.’s.
For those of you who grew up in the days when we wrote letters, you know that often, the best part of the letter is in the P.S.! It contains information the author wants to either underline or forgot to tell you!
Since these topics have all been mentioned before, at least once, we know he didn’t forget to mention them! So we would be wise to look once again at what he has to say, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as he adds the P.S. with these topics.
The main purpose of the book was stated in 5:13.
I write these things to you
who believe in the name of the Son of God
that you may know
that you have eternal life.
I John 5:13
That is how the last passage ended. According to JMB, it was the perfect end for the Epistle!
Hopefully, the book clarified for you that you are part of GOD’s family. If it showed you that you aren’t, you know how to remedy that problem. Particularly by reading the book of John and becoming acquainted with Jesus Christ!
The P.S. sections are for those who know they are “in Christ.”
Confidence in prayer
This portion on prayer today is interesting because of the aspects of prayer it discusses. First, it reminds us of the confidence we have as those who know they have eternal life, to come to the Father in prayer. We can come confidently (the word for assurance is also translated confidence) because we are “in Christ” as those who are trusting in Christ alone for our salvation.
It has nothing to do with us and anything special about us. It has to do with Jesus. The fact that it is based on His record that we are “in”, not ours. We don’t do anything to earn it. It is all provided for us. We just have to admit we can’t do it. How un-American is that?
That is why you have so many who profess to be Christians…and may be, who work and work to try to be the kind of people they know they need to be. But it has already been done for them by Jesus! He already lived the perfect life for us. It was not possible for us to do. GOD knew it and we come to Him because we finally realize it. I know this is a bit of a ramble, but it is an important one so I’ll leave it in!
We come boldly to GOD in prayer because as people who are dressed in the righteousness of Christ, we are promised he not only hears us but He answers our prayers. The promises are bold. cf. John 14:13-14; John 15:7,16; John 16:24.
The promise is first, that He hears us and second, that when He hears us, He answers.
Prayer is a place where we talk to GOD and listen and watch for His answers. No, it isn’t with an audible voice, but often He brings to mind truth from Scripture to guide us in the way we need to go.
Prayer is where the relationship is developed with GOD. It is where we share what is on our heart. Can you be totally honest with GOD? That has been a struggle for me. Yes, I know He knows my heart. But being able to be honest, especially in times of failure or disappointment has been extremely difficult.
Remember, I was a good little soldier for Jesus. It affected me in many ways and on many levels. Especially my relationship with GOD. You can’t be a little on the robotic side in one area and not have it affect you in others. So I tended to compartamentalize many aspects of my life. At times, live in denial, and numbly walked through life trying to find some happiness on the side.
Then, one day I crashed into reality in a big way. I was in a car accident that resulted in chronic pain that I needed help for…but that must be another story for another day too. I’ve been bumping into a lot of those lately!
Prayer for others
This latter part is emphasizing the importance of our prayer for others…particularly relating to their sin. Our natural tendency is to focus in on ourselves and those in our close circle. He is asking us to focus in on others and their needs.
Particularly, we are to pray for their sinful areas as we see them or know in them. Knowing others are praying for me & with me is very encouraging. Hearing another person pray for me? Is anything more encouraging? That is how others feel when they hear you pray for them…or know you have been praying!
I wonder if we would be more effective if we prayed more for the sins of others and spent less time talking to them about how offensive they are to us? Yes, there are times we are to confront. But often, we see trends that our prayers would more effectively help than our direct words would. It is a fine line for sure. But one to consider.
It is easy to be critical of others and see their sin through a magnifying glass and our own through a minimizing glass (if such a thing exists!) The log/splinter concept is certainly a vivid one that illustrates that. There is a place for both things: prayer and confrontation. Out temperaments incline toward one or the other. Work at the opposite…the thing that goes against your nature. Develop that part of your spiritual muscle. See how GOD uses it.
And then there is the last part of this P.S. What is that all about? JMB had 4 explanations. I won’t list all of them here. You can look them all up in the book noted earlier above.
I will share with you the one that he came up with that he felt was most applicable in this passage. First, we must realize this is an exception to the rule of praying for those in sin. This isn’t the rule. It is an exception. So we don’t spend a lot of time on it. It affects very few situations.
The view is that this involves those involved in sin that is causing death like Ananias and Sapphira did against the church. (cf. Acts 5:1-11) There were others who did this as well. But that is one clear illustration. These are believers who are rebelling against GOD in such a way that He has to “take them out.” They aren’t repenting and He is unwilling to allow them to tarnish His name. (cf. I Corinthians 5:5, I Corinthians 11:30).
I’m touching on this lightly, but that is the basic jist of what is being said. There is much more about that passage to read. I have just gone on too long here today.
The point is that we need to be afraid…not in a paralyzed way, but in an awed way. Tolerating sin in something we aren’t to do easily or lightly...especially in ourselves!
How we deal with it in others is to pray for them first! Confrontation, if it takes place, needs that context. But we must realize that there are certain sins that our prayers won’t help. They are rare and the exception, but they exist!
This P.S. is encouraging us to pray BOLDLY.
As GOD’s children, we can come boldly to Him!
We must do it!
For many of us, that is not characteristic of our prayers.
What do you need to do this week to pray more boldly?
How will your awareness of who you are in Christ affect your confidence in coming to GOD in prayer?