Sins not leading to death

Many Christians believe that all sins lead to death. However, they are unaware of the sins that does not lead to death.

1John 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

John in his first letter writes about praying for Christians who commit sins that does not lead to death but asks the church to ignore praying for Christians who commit sins that lead to death. In this post, we will explore on what sins that does not lead to death.

Unintentional sins

Lev 4:13,20 ‘Now if the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally, …  the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.

Lev 4:22,26 ‘When a ruler has sinned, and done something unintentionally …  the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.

Lev 4:27 ‘If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally … the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.

Lev 5:15-18 “If a person commits a trespass, and sins unintentionally … the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him.

Anyone who commits a sin unintentionally, he had to sacrifice according to the law and will be forgiven after the priest made an atonement.

Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

John 15:22 “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

Jesus Himself asks for forgiveness for the Roman soldiers who do not know that they were crucifying the Son of God, yet the unbelieving Jews to whom Jesus came had no excuse for their sins.

Silent and unaware sins

(Lev 5:1-6)

  • ‘If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter–if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.
  • Or if a person touches any unclean thing, … he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty. Or if he touches human uncleanness … and he is unaware of it–when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty. Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly … and he is unaware of it–when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.

And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing; ….. (10/13) So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

Just as unintentional sins, sins people are unaware are also forgiven. If someone is silent when he hears the utterance of an oath and he is a witness, he bears the guilt. After he had confessed and the priest had atoned for his sins, he will be forgiven.

Matt 5:33-34 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: … (37) “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Jesus clarifies not to take oath or swear. This avoids anyone being a witness and stay silent.

Sin of stealing and false swearing

Lev 6:2-7 “If a person sins and commits a trespass against the LORD by lying to his neighbor about what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or about a pledge, or about a robbery, or if he has extorted from his neighbor, or if he has found what was lost and lies concerning it, and swears falsely–in any one of these things that a man may do in which he sins: then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore

  • what he has stolen, or
  • the thing which he has extorted, or
  • what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or
  • the lost thing which he found, or
  • all that about which he has sworn falsely.

He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering. And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering, to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any one of these things that he may have done in which he trespasses.”

If a person stole something or wrong fully took for himself, his sin is cleared only if he restores it back by adding a fifth to it, then an atonement will be made by the priest and he will be forgiven.

Luke 19:7-9 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;

Zacchaeus is a good example for us to follow on how to restore things that are stolen or wrongfully taken. Only after he said on what he will do, Jesus said, “today salvation has come to this house”.

Fornication with betrothed slave

Lev 19:20-22 ‘Whoever lies carnally with a woman who is betrothed to a man as a concubine, and who has not at all been redeemed nor given her freedom, for this there shall be scourging; but they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, a ram as a trespass offering. The priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin which he has committed. And the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him.

The law of fornication with betrothed slave actually clarifies the law in Deut 22:23-26 where fornication with a betrothed woman must be killed, except in this case, the punishment is not death since the woman is not free. This is a law for ancient Israel where Hebrew slavery was similar to seven year bond servant and female slaves were betrothed to her master.

Matt 5:28-30 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Jesus clarified that even lusting a woman in heart is adultery in heart and will be cast into hell. Hence, any form of fornication will lead to death.

Conclusion

Not all sins lead to death. Unintentional sins when confessed, being silent for witnesses and sins being unaware when confessed, false swearing when confessed and restoring stolen money along with the fifth of the value will not lead to death. While Christ forgives any true repentant sinner, if they continue to commit any sin that lead to death, God have mercy on that soul.