Incapable of responding?



“When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it!” (Col 2:12-15)


Do you think that there’s a condition when someone is truly incapable of responding to the grace of God?

You read of those awful situations when a decision has to be taken whether it’s ‘worth’ keeping a family member alive. They’re in a” vegetative” state, incapable of responding.

Should we turn the machine off?

The Bible contains some odd moments that seem to suggest the answer “Yes”! Jeremiah 11:14 reads: “Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.”

And what do you make of this passage in 1John?

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. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.” (1 Jn. 5:16,17)

So we’re talking about observable behaviour (“If anyone sees…”)

And we’re talking about two kinds of sin: (1) sin that does not lead to death, and (2) sin leading to death.

The most obvious explanation is that “Sin that does not lead to death” is sin that is repented of! Look back at 1 Jn 1:9:  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 Jn 1:9).

So does that mean that “Sin leading to death” is sin that is not repented of?

“I do not say that you should pray about that.” Why? Because God will not give life to one who continues in sin. The prayer of one human being can never cancel another’s free-will. If God’s will does not override man’s will, neither can a brother’s prayer.

The Pulpit Commentary refers to the “willful and obstinate rejection of God’s grace and persistence in unrepented sin.”

Is it time to switch off the machine? Are they incapable of responding?

Jeremiah gave an explanation (in chapter 7) why prayers might be a waste of time. His conclusion is “Therefore, do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you,” (Jer. 7:16).

Why? The preceding passage contains a list of their wrongdoing in verses 6-11. They were guilty of oppression, shedding innocent blood, theft, murder, adultery, lying, idolatry and other sins.

But during all this wrongdoing they would “come and stand” before God in His house and claim they were permitted to do such things (see verse 10). God spoke to them about their rebellion, but they did not listen or answer (verse 13). God said to them, “I will cast you out of My sight.”

After such wilful and obstinate refusal to listen, God finally spoke the chilling words said, “Do not pray for this people.”

Their condition was beyond hope of restoration. It was too late.

What we ask God must always be in harmony with His will. We can’t ask God to compromise; or to overlook sin in which we persist. How can we ask Him to do something He has said is against His will?

It’s a sobering thought, a cold-water-in-the-face wake-up call. Watch yourself. Think about how you live. Do you have some “blind-side” to the grace of God? Are there areas of your life that you just refuse to have come out into the open?  Are you nursing an area of rebellion?

Stay real. Stay fresh. Stay alive to who you really are. Stay repentant.

Don’t be among those who fall back and are lost.


But there is a “But”.

The whole incarnation is the “But” of God. It is the reaction of God the outraged family-member who simply will never turn off the machine. For God so loved that He responded…

It was when we were still sinners that Christ died for us.

And as this wonderful verse puts it:

“When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it!” (Col 2:12-15)

Think of it 🙂





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