1 John 5:16 – 17: Standing in the Gap

I John 5:16-17 “If anyone sees a brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.”

Have you ever found yourself doing something you ought not be doing, and before you know it, you just want to make it right? Perhaps you were on the brink of making some disastrous mistakes, and you felt pulled back to your senses, pulled back to what is right.

Well, we know that was the Holy Spirit, working on our behalves, wooing us back to Himself. But what we often fail to recognize is the fact that perhaps somebody, somewhere has prayed for us. Perhaps it was our parents or our friends. Or perhaps, when we were still knee-high to grasshoppers, our grandparents prayed for us.

prayer & devotion - hands 3

In his previous verses, John told us that we should pray for ourselves, and assured us that when we pray in God’s will, our prayers will be heard. Here, John reminds us that we should not only pray for ourselves; we need to stand in the gap for those who have strayed, who are not praying for themselves. When we see a Christian brother or sister heading down the wrong path, we need to pray that God’s Holy Spirit will lead him back. We need to beg God to pursue that straying soul, to do whatever it takes to bring him home! And we also need to pray that, should we ever be the ones to stray, our Christian brothers and sisters will stand in the gap for us!

John makes reference to a sin that leads to death. Scholars have long debated the meaning of this, but apparently John’s early readers were clear on his meaning, for John did not really explain himself. He may have been talking about people who have rebelliously denied Christ and turned their backs on the Holy Spirit. He may have been talking about people whose sin is leading them into some premature death. Whatever the case, John does not forbid praying for these people, and he does not encourage it. Perhaps he is just saying he isn’t really sure what to do in such cases. But one thing is certain, we need to pray for each other.

All too often, we stand in judgment over our brothers and sisters. We shake our heads and whisper to one another. We like to share our “concerns” with one another, but let’s be honest! That is really just plain old gossip. Instead of discussing our concerns with other people, who are powerless to save anyone, we need to take our concerns to God, who is all-powerful and wants to save everyone!

Dear Father, Please be with _________________________. Please bring him/her back into Your perfect will.

2 Responses to 1 John 5:16 – 17: Standing in the Gap

  1. July 17, 2009 #

    Dear Renae

    The ministry that God has given to my husband and myself is very great! And this is not boasting, this is literal. We need much prayer for the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit before judgement comes. Please, keep us in your prayer’s! You are welcome to our site, and please join us. After all, I would enjoy meeting you since I do have morning coffee with you!!

    In His Service,
    Mrs. Dawne Rodela

  2. July 17, 2009 #

    Hi Dawne! Yes, I will keep you and your husband’s ministry in my prayers. Thanks for sharing!


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