Death Sins

So, Jeremiah, do not pray for these people. Do not cry out to Me or petition me on their behalf. Do not plead with Me to save them. For I will not listen to them when they call out to Me for help when disaster strikes them. –

I’m working my way through Jeremiah these days. It’s interesting, to say the least.

Jeremiah was told to reminded the people that the Mosaic Covenant was still in effect and that their refusal to repent meant their certain doom. They would cry out to Jehovah to save them, and He would not listen (v11). They would then run to false gods for salvation, but their gods (who couldn’t hear anyway) wouldn’t save them (v12).

And in all of this, Jeremiah was not to pray for them either, because God wouldn’t listen to righteous Jeremiah praying for the salvation of these wicked people. (v14)

Yikes! Don’t pray for the wicked to not be destroyed?? Where does that come from?

In the Beginning…

If we flip back to Genesis, oddly enough, we’ll see this same thing going on there too.

In , the Pre-Incarnate Christ is eating with Abraham, and give him the promise of Isaac being born the following year. After the meal, the Lord looks down at Sodom and Gomorrah and says something rather odd:

Then the LORD said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? After all, Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using his name. I have chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. Then the LORD will give to Abraham what he promised him.” ( )

I’ve always wondered why Jesus would say that, but in chewing on it (eg, re-reading it), I see that the point of revealing to Abe that He was about to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah was so that Abraham may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. In other words, God was going to demonstrate to Abe what He does about wickedness.

The interesting thing here is that Abe’s response is just like what we see in Jeremiah! He doesn’t pray that God would not destroy the wicked – he prays that God would not destroy the righteous with the unrighteous:

Abraham approached and said, “Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked?” ( )

In the negotiation that ensues, Jesus eventually promises that He will not destroy Sodom & Gomorrah if there are just 10 righteous people there. (Surely Abe knows that there are not 10 righteous people, so I’m sure he’s praying that Lot will be rescued.)

The common connection is this: both Abraham and Jeremiah do not pray for the salvation of wicked people for whom divine judgment has been promised.

Question for us: is this true today? Are we to pray for the salvation of people for whom divine judgment has been promised?

A New Command…

The other day, I mentioned to a friend of mine, talking about how weird it was that God would forbid His prophet from praying for these people. My friend nodded his head and quoted . He memorizes a lot.

If anyone sees his fellow Christian committing a sin not resulting in death, he should ask, and God will grant life to the person who commits a sin not resulting in death. There is a sin resulting in death. I do not say that he should ask about that. All unrighteousness is sin, but there is sin not resulting in death. ( )

I had completely forgotten about this verse because it seems weird. My usual way of treating weird verses is to make a mental note of it, skip it and move on. Yet, here this verse is teaching the same thing we see Abraham and Jeremiah doing. So we can’t say “well, that’s in the OT”, or “But Jesus taught differently”. That would simply not be the case. These 3 instances demonstrate a consistency across the entire Bible – before, during and after the Mosaic Law.

Which means that it applies here and now, and that I (we!) are not to pray for people who have “sin resulting in death”.

Go and Do Likewise

Is there a reason why we don’t teach this Biblical principle?

What is a “sin resulting in death”? (I shudder to think, but .. I’m not sure!) Should I, for example, pray for my cousin who claims to be a Christian, but has recently come out of the closet and is now openly gay ..and still claims to be a Christian? (See & 6 if you don’t think this is problematic). How about a friend who claims to be a believer but gambles his paycheck away, neglecting his family? How about an entire nation that has turned its back on God and refuses to incorporate Him into any of their thinking?

Does all of this dovetail with “shaking the dust off our sandals”? (another Biblical concept that modern Christians reject)

Honestly, I’m quite curious as to how a God-fearing believer should put all this together. It’d be good if we had regular teaching on this from our pulpits.


14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. (ESV)


18:1 And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place. (ESV)


17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (ESV)


23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? (ESV)


11:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, that I may confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day.” Then I answered, “So be it, Lord.”

And the Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”

Again the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. 11 Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. 13 For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.

14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. 15 What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds? Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom? Can you then exult? 16 The Lord once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ But with the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed. 17 The Lord of hosts, who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”

18 The Lord made it known to me and I knew;
then you showed me their deeds.
19 But I was like a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
I did not know it was against me
they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
that his name be remembered no more.”
20 But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously,
who tests the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.

21 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will die by our hand”— 22 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, 23 and none of them shall be left. For I will bring disaster upon the men of Anathoth, the year of their punishment.” (ESV)


16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. (ESV)


16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. (ESV)


5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (ESV)

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1 comment to Death Sins

  • I very much appreciate you writing about Biblical concepts that modern (post-evangelical) “Christians” reject. A disturbing but frequent occurrence (if not the norm) in modern churches is to only focus on the happy aspects of the Bible and ignore the rest. This obviously creates a very skewed view of who God is and how He demands to recognized, defined, and worshipped. The God of the Bible is a jealous God, so says the Bible. His intolerance to getting Him wrong is displayed throughout the Bible. If the God of the Bible is being skewed to make him palatable to modern churches, the god (small g intended) being worshipped is not the God of the Bible, but a god made in man’s own image. Is that part of the “sin resulting in death”? I believe it is, and the sermon on the mount found in the book of Matthew would seem to concur.

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