Would you say this is a decent statement by Wm. Barclay of what John calls the “sin unto death” in 1Jn 5.16-17?
It is a fact of experience that there are two kinds of sinners. On the one hand, there is the man who may be said to sin against his will; he sins because he is swept away by passion or desire, which at the moment is too strong for him; his sin is not so much a matter of choice as of a compulsion which he is not able to resist. On the other hand, there is the man who sins deliberately, of set purpose taking his own way, although well aware that it is wrong.
Now these two men began by being the same man. It is the experience of every man that the first time that he does a wrong thing, he does it with shrinking and with fear; and, after he has done it, he feels grief and remorse and regret. But, if he allows himself again and again to flirt with temptation and to fall, on each occasion the sin becomes easier; and, if he thinks he escapes the consequences, on each occasion the self-disgust and the remorse and the regret become less and less; and in the end he reaches a state when he can sin without a tremor. It is precisely that which is the sin which is leading to death. So long as a man in his heart of hearts hates sin and hates himself for sinning, so long as he knows that he is sinning, he is never beyond repentance and, therefore, never beyond forgiveness; but once he begins to revel in sin and to make it the deliberate policy of his life, he is on the way to death, for he is on the way to a state where the idea of repentance will not, and cannot, enter his head.
The mortal sin is the state of the man who has listened to sin and refused to listen to God so often, that he loves his sin and regards it as the most profitable thing in the world.
Many today are like the unbelieving Jews who rejected Jesus. They were looking for a Messiah to change their circumstances, instead of transform their lives. They wanted rescue from Rome, rather than deliverance from their sins. They wanted freedom from the oppression of foreign armies, instead of freedom from their own desires and from the destiny due to their rebellion.
Many reject what Jesus came to do, and thereby reject him. They are not willing to come to him to have eternal life, Jn 5.40, because he wants to save us all from sin, Jn 5.34.
Today, many want freedom from circumstances, problems, conflicts, illness, and financial constraints. They want to live for themselves. Jesus will not permit it. So they invent Jesus the problem-solver, Jesus the health-and-wealth magician, Jesus the bring of heaven to earth, where there is no pain, no tears, no dying, no suffering.
And because Jesus is none of these, he quickly fades from their view as they remake and remold and twist him into an idol of their own making. They adapt him to their reality and their vision. Scripture becomes a tool, religion a crutch, prayer a heavenly pull chain.
The soul that refuses to be converted converts the Savior into his own image. And it is not a pretty sight.
Are you discouraged by society’s evils?
The request of the righteous. The sin of society sickens the soul of the saints. We are tired of hearing about crime. Where is virtue? Where is truth? Because we yearn for right, we grieve over the presence of wrong. We pray for God to “cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue” Psalms 12:3. We live in a difficult time. We weep over the corruption in the world, Psalms 73:16. Evil people flaunt their wickedness. They claim victory because they think they have a right to say whatever comes to mind, Psalms 12:4. In spite of their brash claims, however, a man does not own his tongue, Psalms 100:3; I Corinthians 6:19,20. Rather, because of the tongue, he possesses “the power of life and death,” Proverbs 18:21. For he will “give account on the day of judgment for every careless word” he has spoken, Matthew 12:36,37.
So writes Ed Mathews in today’s devotional, based on Psa 12.7.