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When To Pray and What To Pray

1 John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:48
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JULY 28, 2021 STUDY NOTES I JOHN 5:14-17 BIBLE TEACHER: CLIFTON JONES WHEN TO PRAY AND WHAT TO PRAY INTRODUCTION This passage is described by many Bible scholars as being very difficult to interpret One great Bible scholar who wrote in the early 1940’s and 50’s said this: He confesses his utter inability to understand this verse (v. 16) I will not attempt to offer even a suggestion as to its possible interpretation But if we keep in mind verse 13, this passage is not as difficult as it may seem to be, 1Jn 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. A key word in these verses is the word “know” The first thing that we must know, is that we know that we have been saved We must know that we have believed in and received Jesus Christ as our Savior And then we need to know beyond any doubt that Jesus saved us when we called upon Him, Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. We know that because we are saved we have a personal relationship with God, Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Because of our relationship with God, Christians know not to continue to live a life of sin, 1Jn 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: We know that when we sin, we are to confess our sins unto Christ, 1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. John now has a warning to Christians who do not confess sin and continue to live in sin But the question among theologians is, is John really speaking to Christians? If he is speaking to Christians, what is the meaning of the word “death” in this passage? John says, there is a sin unto death and there is sin which is not unto death Is it spiritual death? Is it physical death? Is it the second death which is eternal death? Also, what is the meaning of the term “life?” John says, “he shall give him life” Is it spiritual life? Is it physical life? Is it eternal life? Throughout 1 John we have seen many comparisons, ever since chapter one Comparisons must correspond with one another, here the death and the life must correspond If John speaks of spiritual death, that which corresponds must be spiritual life If John speaks of physical death, that which corresponds must be physical life If John speaks of eternal death, that which corresponds must be eternal life John does not speak of spiritual death and physical life, or of spiritual life and physical death John gave us the assurance of eternal life in verse 13 In verse 14, we have the assurance of prayer, and in verse 15 we have the assurance of an answer In verse 16, we have the need of intercessory prayer (which is too often neglected today) In verse 17, we find the results of intercessory prayer Page 1 of 8 1Jn 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: Because we have an assurance of salvation, we can have confidence in our prayers Assurance of salvation in verse 13 allows us the assurance of prayer in verse 14 The assurance of prayer is only natural in the life of those who have assurance of salvation Because we have the assurance of eternal life, we have the assurance of prayer Because we know that we belong to God we have the freedom to pray to God We are free to pray at anytime, anywhere, and about anything The word “confidence” means a boldness to speak, a freedom to speak In prayer, Christians have the right to speak out what is in their heart and on their mind The reason is, we have confidence “in Him” “In Him” presents a great truth, Christians have the right to approach God Christians are allowed into the presence of God without the assistance of an earthly priest Christ is our High Priest, Heb 10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God; We come before God in full assurance of faith, Heb 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Our faith is not in self or what we can personally accomplish, our faith is in Christ, Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Christians are invited into the throne room of God’s Grace, Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. By the Grace of God, we can ask anything Our “asking” God is based upon who we are “In-Christ” Because we are saved, we have a freedom of speech before God Because we are free to speak to God, we have a freedom to ask of God Our freedom of speech before God is an influence upon our prayer request The word “ask” places an emphasis upon our attitude as we come before God “to ask” The word was used to describe the seeking by the inferior from the superior As we freely speak, we must speak with respect toward God and His superiority Our prayers to God should always be presented as a petition and never a demand We must realize that prayer is not an emergency exit, it is a personal privilege We have the privilege of asking for that which is of personal interest to us We can ask of that which concerns our health, our wealth, our physical and spiritual needs We are to ask of that which concerns us or someone that we are concerned about So how important is it to ask of God? The next part of the verse answers that question for us What is more important to our daily walk of life than the “Will of God?” A prayerful heart is a heart continually set upon the will of God That is why Paul said, 1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing. Praying without ceasing will keep our mind and heart upon the will of God for our life We know that we don’t always do things according to the will of God The Christian who understands his salvation, also understands “according to his will” We must believe that God’s will is always the best for us Prayer therefore is not according to our self-interest unless our interest is in God’s will We do not always know the will of God about certain events of our life We don’t have to know the will of God concerning a certain issue before we pray Because prayer is not a request for God to change His mind, but for God to direct our mind Page 2 of 8 Prayer is asking God to change our mind if our mind is not according to His will Prayer is an adjustment of our will and not the will of God We are not to ask anything that we know is unscriptural, or sinful according to God’s Word Prayer is seeking the “will” of the “Omniscient God,” the all-knowing God Prayer is seeking the “will” of the “Holy God,” the God who always does that which is right He is the “Omnipotent God,” the God who has the power and authority to do what is right Jesus taught us that our prayer should always be, “Thy will be done,” Mat 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Jesus prayed for the Father’s will to be done, Mat 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. A verse of scripture that we like to quote is, Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. But within the context of that verse is praying in the will of God, Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. We are to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit when we don’t know how we should pray, Rom 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Then we have verse 28, which in context means that which is good for us is the will of God The evidence of loving God is the desire to live in the will of God His will is that we keep His commandments, when we keep His commandments, He will hear us 1Jn 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. The Christian life is a constant learning process of knowing what the will of God is for us We learn “His Will” as we study the Bible and learn the Scriptures We need to pray and ask God to help us learn and live the Scriptures Our prayers should always be, “Lord, let me learn the Bible, so that I can live the Bible” We pray and ask according to the promises of the Bible and the promise is, he heareth us: So, why should we pray? Because God is listening, God is always listening We should be as eager to pray as God is to listen, God never turns His ear away from us There is no problem with the hearing of God, God is waiting to hear, God is always ready to hear God does not tell us to take a number and wait our turn to pray, or put us in alphabetical order The problem is that we are not always ready to pray This does not say that God grants every request that we bring before Him His answer will always be according to His Will for our life The promise is that God always hears our prayers And God always answers our prayers that are according to His will God’s answer comes as a result of His will We should be thankful that God doesn’t always give us what we ask for Prayer is not begging for our worldly wants prayer is a request for our desires to be of God Consider the prayer life of Jesus, Jesus prayed in the morning, Mar 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. There were all night prayers, Luk 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Jesus prayed when facing difficulty, Heb 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was Page 3 of 8 heard in that he feared; God the Father answered the prayers of Jesus, we have the assurance of answered prayer 1Jn 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. You cannot pull verse 15 out and claim it as a promise apart from verse 14 Verse 15 continues the thoughts of verse 14, we know that He hears us when we ask So, we have the freedom to ask anything that we want to ask Because we know who we are that is asking, and know who we are asking, we are careful to ask The emphasis is upon the attitude and interest of the one who is asking and what is being asked We carefully examine every request, our request always comes with a very special request We want our request to be according to the “Will of God” and when it is--we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. We have the assurance of receiving the very thing that we asked God for God gives to us the very best for us through our asking Our asking is the channel through which God gives to us But our asking must be according to the “Will of God” Scripture gives us other guidelines concerning prayer: A life of obedience to God, 1Jn 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. We must “Abide in Christ,” Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. We are to ask, “In faith,” Jas 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. From a life of righteousness, Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. With unselfish motives, Jas 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. We are to ask in the name of Jesus, Joh 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. Asking in the “name” of Jesus represents complete trust in who He is and all that He will do A hindrance to prayer is a sinful heart, Psa 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Another hindrance to prayer is a wrong relationship with your mate, 1Pe 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. “Heirs together” speaks to husband and wife God hears our prayer when we pray according to His Will and according to His Word Therefore, it is important that Christians pray And today there is a great need for Christians to pray for one another (intercessory prayer) 1Jn 5:16 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. Verse 16 is an illustration of what was identified in the previous verses as answered prayer John’s example is not that of a personal prayer request Such as praying for things to be better in our life whether physically or materially His example is the Christian duty of intercessory prayer Page 4 of 8 “See his brother” refers to a brother “in the Lord” The one who is praying is a Christian and the one he is praying for is a Christian Some interpret “brother” as a “neighbor” and some say it refers to a “professed believer” Meaning that it refers to one who claims to be saved but is really lost Scripture does not identify a brotherhood of the lost So, the one who has sinned is a believer, he is a Christian, he is not one who is spiritually dead John speaks of a “brother” as one who has passed from death unto life, 1Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. The “brother” who is being prayed for is a Christian who has sinned “Sin a sin” does not refer to a single act of sin but living in a state of sin Living a daily life in a sinful way and not repenting of their sins Christians can identify sin in the life of others because we understand the truth of sin Christians know what sin is, we have the experience of sin in our own life Continuing in certain sins long enough can bring about a premature physical death In this case it is that which is not unto death, John refers to sin “not unto death” three times in this passage Twice in verse 16 and once in verse 17 A “sin unto death” is mentioned only once and is found in verse 16 Since it is a brother who is sinning, death cannot refer to “spiritual death” Before John began to speak of this death, he assured the Christian of an eternal life (13) A Christian cannot and will not experience the “second death” Therefore, “sin not unto death” and the “sin unto death” must refer to physical death But what is John telling us? All sin ultimately leads to death, Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: We will all die physically because of sin, Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Physical death will come to the believer, but eternal death will never come John speaks of a premature physical death because of a Christian continuing to live in sin But don’t miss the emphasis of what John is saying to us Christians are to pray for Christians who are living in sin The emphasis is praying for a brother whose sin does not lead unto death Listen to what John tells us to do, he shall ask, The one who is to ask is the one who sees the brother sin, the first thing to do is “Pray” Christians are to pray for Christians who are living in sin They must be prayed for and not forsaken and not condemned Too often the first thing that people do is criticize and gossip Prayer comes from a loving spirit and gossip comes from a critical spirit Before you do anything else you should pray, use the tongue for praying and not criticism Christians are always concerned about the physical health of another Christian We must also be concerned about the spiritual health of another Christian If God calls upon us to do more than pray, it will be prayer that prepares us for what God wants Praying for a Christian who is living in a known sin may lead us to talk to that Christian, Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. One important part of our spiritual preparation is prayer, first for self and then others What is the meaning of and he shall give him life Page 5 of 8 Remember that comparisons must correspond with one another Here the death is physical, and the life must correspond, “life” refers to physical life Avoiding sin and living for God can add years to one’s physical life, Pro 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened. An excessive sinful life can shorten the physical life Keeping the commandments of God is a keeper of life, Pro 19:16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die. Careless and sinful living will lead to a premature physical death by the hand of God John explains who will gain the life, for them that sin not unto death. For certain, sin that does not lead to a premature death is sin that is confessed Christians who pray for and talk to a Christian in sin will encourage confession A Christian in sin needs to be reminded that God still loves them And that God will still use them in His service, God still has life for them They need to know that the Church loves them and cares for them John makes a strong point, something that is rarely taught today, There is a sin unto death: There are some states that have a death penalty for the conviction of certain crimes God has a death penalty for a Christian who will not confess sin but continues to live in sin That death penalty is not the loss of eternal life, it is the loss of a continued earthly life The sentence of death that comes from God is a premature physical death A premature physical death results in falling short of God’s purpose for that life Moses and Aaron fell short of the Promised Land, Num 20:12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. They were disqualified from the work that God had given them to do There are other O. T. examples, such as Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1-2) The two sons of Aaron the priest died because they deliberately disobeyed God They were guilty of offering profane fire before the Lord in the Wilderness of Sinai Fire came down from the Lord and devoured them, Lev 10:2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Korah led a revolt against the leadership of Moses and Aaron The ground opened-up and swallowed Korah and a rebellious people who opposed God, Num 16:32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. Achan disobeyed Joshua’s orders from God at Jericho and was put to death, Jos 7:25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. Uzzah touched the Ark of The Covenant and was struck dead 2Sa 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. These O. T. references do not present the thought of spiritual death or the loss of salvation They refer to the premature physical deaths as a result of sin, there are also N.T. examples Ananias and Sapphira lied to God, Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Ananias was struck dead, Act 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. His wife Sapphira was also struck dead, Act 5:10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. Page 6 of 8 Unconfessed sin brought judgment upon those who came to the Lord’s Table, 1Co 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. The judgment for some was a premature physical death The discipline of death was pronounced upon a Corinthian Christian involved in a sex sin 1Co 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Our thoughts are not to be centered upon the question of, “Which sin leads to death?” What sin is it that God punishes with a premature physical death? No one specific sin is identified as the sin unto death Therefore, probably any one sin that you continue to be involved in could be a sin unto death Again, the thought is that all prayer should be submitted according to the “Will of God” I do not say that he shall pray for it. John is not absolutely forbidding prayer for one whose sin will lead to a premature death It is not that John forbids our prayer but there may not be the assurance of an answered prayer One reason is that we do not know who that one may be that faces the sin unto death And we have no right to question God’s decision concerning such a person The time will come when you may not have a burden on your heart for a sinful Christian There can come a time when intercession for a person’s sin can cease, Jer 7:16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. There comes the time when the only thing that unconfessed sin can look for is chastisement, Heb 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 1Jn 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. “Unrighteousness” refers to all that is wrong in the sight of God All that is out of harmony with God, all sin is contrary to what is right according to God All sin is the transgression of God’s Law, 1Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. But not all sin within the life of a believer will be judged with a premature physical death John is reminding us of the most important truth of this passage More important than the understanding of the “sin unto death” is understanding prayer John wants us to learn the importance of praying for one another According to what John has said, more often than not, it is important to pray Especially praying for those that we know are living in sin The wrong act of others should lead us to pray CONCLUSION Christians must immediately confess their sins and they will be cleansed, 1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Christians who refuse to repent of their sins and confess theirs sins will be chastised, Heb 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Christians are chastised because they are a child of God, Heb 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Refusing to obey God after His chastisement has come upon us is a refusal of life, Heb 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? Page 7 of 8 Refusing to repent and confess sin after the chastisement of God may result in the sin unto death God will not allow a disobedient Christian who continues to live in their sin lead others astray Christians are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and not to be a disgrace to Christ Page 8 of 8
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