Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), by Watchman Nee

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The Bible tells us that there is a kind of sin called "a sin unto death" (1 John 5:16) which believers may commit. The "death" mentioned here is not spiritual death because God’s eternal life will never die. Neither is it "the second death" because the Lord’s sheep will never perish. This "death" is physical death.

We need to specifically look at this "sin unto death" so that we who wait for the rapture will know how to be careful, lest our flesh be corrupted through committing such a sin, and lest we lose the blessing of being raptured alive. If the Lord delays His coming and we have to pass through the grave, our deliverance from this sin will keep us alive until we are "full of days" so that we may work for the Lord before passing away. Because of their neglect, some of God’s children have had their days on the earth shortened and their crowns lost. Many workers might still be working for the Lord today had they paid attention to this matter.

The Bible does not tell us explicitly what kind of sin the sin unto death is, but it is certain that such a sin does exist. According to the record in the Bible concerning the believers’ experiences, we know that this sin varies among people. To some, a certain sin may be a sin unto death, but to another it may not and vice versa. This is because of differences in the grace received, the light obtained, and the position taken by each believer.

Even though the Bible does not say what kind of sin this sin is, we know that anyone who dies from committing a sin has committed a "sin unto death." The children of Israel committed such a sin at Kadesh (Num. 13:25—14:12). Although they had tempted the Lord ten times before (14:22), He tolerated it. But this time He caused their bodies to fall in the wilderness, even though He forgave them for the sin of refusing to enter Canaan (v. 32).

Because he spoke unadvisedly with his lips by the waters of Meribah (Psa. 106:33), Moses died outside the land of Canaan. He was not allowed to enter into the land. This was his "sin unto death." Aaron committed the same sin as Moses, and he also did not get into the holy land (Num. 20:24). The man of God who journeyed from Judah to Bethel committed a sin unto death simply because he disobeyed God’s commandment concerning eating (1 Kings 13:21-22). In the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira were punished with death because they also committed a sin unto death; they kept back part of the proceeds of their land and lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). The believer in Corinth who had his stepmother also committed a sin unto death; therefore, the apostle said that he would "deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh" (1 Cor. 5:5). The Word says that many Corinthian believers slept because they were "guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord" (11:27, 30). They also committed a sin unto death.

To overcome death we should continually overcome sin because death comes from sin. If we want to live until we are full of days or until the Lord comes back, we should be careful not to sin. Many believers who were not careful in this went to the grave before their time. This does not mean that they committed a particularly frightening sin; the sin we talk of here is not the same for everyone. The fornication of the Corinthians was considered a sin unto death, but the unadvised words that Moses spoke were considered a sin unto death as well, for we are told that Moses was "very meek, more than all men who were on the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3). Therefore, we cannot overlook any sin.

Today is the age of grace and God is full of grace; therefore, we can be at peace. Do not let Satan accuse you, suggesting that you have committed this type of sin and must die. Although the Bible does not tell us to pray for others who commit this type of sin, God will forgive us if we examine ourselves and repent. Many believe that the person recorded in 2 Corinthians 2:6-7 was the one who had his stepmother. First Corinthians 11:30-32 also tells us that even though we may have committed a sin unto death, we can still be freed if we are willing to judge ourselves. Therefore, we should never tolerate any sin lest it become our sin unto death. Our flesh may be weak, but we should never lose a heart of self-judgment. We should judge our own sin and never tolerate it. In this life it is impossible to reach sinless perfection, but frequent confession and dependence upon God’s grace are indispensable. God still forgives us. Those who want to overcome death should pay extra attention to this. "Then he showeth them their work,/and their transgressions that they have exceeded./He openeth also their ear to discipline,/and commandeth that they return from iniquity./If they obey and serve him,/they shall spend their days in prosperity,/and their years in pleasures./But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword,/and they shall die without knowledge. /But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath:/they cry not when he bindeth them./They die in youth,/and their life is among the unclean" (Job 36:9-14).

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 42, by Watchman Nee)