The Mortal Sin
1 John 5:16-17
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not to death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not to death…

In very deed there is no sin that is not unto death, in a momentous sense of the words, although the inspired penman, when viewing the subject under another aspect, affirms that "there is a sin which is not unto death." Alienation from God is the essence of sin; and since God is life, the slightest estrangement from Him is a tendency to death.

1. The sin unto death appears sometimes to be a single deed of extraordinary wickedness. It seems to extinguish conscience at a blast, and to rob the moral sense of all its energy and discernment. It breaks down the barriers which had hitherto restrained the vicious tendencies of nature; and forth they flow in a vast irrepressible torrent. In a moment it produces an impassable gulf between God and the soul. It turns the man into a bravo: it makes him desperate and reckless. He has taken the leap; he has made the plunge; and on he goes, wherever unbridled concupiscence or malignity may urge him, "as a horse rusheth into the battle."

2. Still more common is that ruin of the soul which grows out of the long indulgence of comparatively small sins. When people go on sipping sin, although abstaining from a large draught; when, in spite of a reproving conscience, they persist in practices to which the lust of gain, or of pleasure, incites them, not pretending that these practices are altogether right, but only that they are not extremely wrong; when the protest of the inward monitor against this or the other misdeed is put aside with the base apology, But, "is it not a little one"; it may well be feared that the Holy Ghost, disgusted with such double dealing, will leave the heart a prey to its own deceitfulness.

3. Habitual carelessness in matters of religion is also a sin against the Holy Ghost, which, after a certain continuance, "bringeth forth death." If absolute, irretrievable ruin is no rare fruit of careless indolence, in the business of this world, or, I should rather say, is its natural consequence, why should we deem it unlikely that everlasting ruin, in another world, will prove the consequence of having neglected in our lifetime religion and the interests of the soul? To slight the message, and hardly give it a thought, seems to me an outrage even more atrocious than that of rejecting it after examination.

4. Unprofitableness under means of grace, there is reason to suspect, becomes in numerous instances the sin unto death. A dull insensibility steals over the soul that has repeatedly been plied in vain with spiritual incentives, till at length a lethargy possesses it, invincible to human urgency, from which it will not awake till the day of judgment.

(J. N. Pearson, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

WEB: If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for those who sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death. I don't say that he should make a request concerning this.

The Christian's Prayer for His Brethren
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