Thursday after the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 John 5:10-21 (NKJV)
5:10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.
18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
The distinction between venial and mortal sin is a Scriptural one. St. John distinguishes between “sin leading to death” and “sin not leading to death.” Mortal sin is that continual and ongoing unrepented sin which drives out faith and the Holy Spirit. Venial sin describes the daily sins of the believer. The believer continually fights against it and seeks absolution for it. The Lutheran Confessions state, “Wherefore, the faith which receives remission of sins in a heart terrified and fleeing from sin does not remain in those who obey their desires, neither does it coexist with mortal sin” (Apology IV:144) and “…those who are accounted righteous before God do not live in mortal sin” (Apology IV:48). In verse 18, St. John says, “We know that whoever is born of God does not (continue in) sin…”
Also in verse 18, St. John describes the fruit which faith in Christ produces in the believer. “… he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” Similarly, the Lutheran Confessions state, “But since we speak of such faith as is not an idle thought, but of that which liberates from death and produces a new life in hearts, [which is such a new light, life, and force in the heart as to renew our heart, mind, and spirit, makes new men of us and new creatures,] and is the work of the Holy Ghost; this does not coexist with mortal sin [for how can light and darkness coexist?], but as long as it is present, produces good fruits…” (Apology IV:64-65).
We pray: Lord Jesus Christ, I daily sin much. Forgive me on account of Your atoning sacrifice. Create in me a new heart to fight against sin. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.