Is There a Sin That Leads to Death? If So, What is It?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Apostle John writes there is a sin which leads to death, but what is the sin that leads to death?

Unforgiveable Sin

The Apostle John writes there is a sin which leads to death, but what is the sin that leads to death? One sin that we all know leads to death is to reject Jesus Christ as Savior. When Jesus came to introduce the gospel, He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The kingdom of God was at hand or near to them because the King of that kingdom where there in the flesh; Jesus Christ, but we are all called to repent of our sins and then believe in the gospel, which means believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ. To believe enables us to stand before God because of Jesus’ righteousness, but to reject Him is to incur the wrath of God (John 3:17-18; Rev 20:12-15, 21:8). God will not forgive even one sin of ours…ever…unless we trust in Jesus Christ. There is no other way to be forgiven. Sin is breaking God’s Law (1 John 3:4), but thankfully we can have Jesus’ own righteousness imputed to us (2 Cor 5:21) because He kept the Law and never sinned.

Which Sin is Unforgiveable?

Too Late for Me?

No one needs help sinning. We are all carried away by our own lusts (James 1:14), but God’s Spirit reveals our wickedness and our need for the Savior (Rom 8:2), but many people today live in fear because they believe they’ve committed the unpardonable sin. People who contact us asking about this are people who likely have not committed it. Why do I say that? An unsaved person could not care less about the things of God. Why would they worry about their sin and their fate before God? They are reveling in their sin, not worried about their sin. Of course Christians still sin (1 John 1:8, 10), but we fall into it more often. The sinner dives in and does the backstroke and enjoys it. We too sin…but we don’t enjoy it for long, usually. Unbelievers are not convicted by their sin like we are because the Holy Spirit tells us in our hearts when we’ve sinned and drives us (should at least) to repentance and to seek forgiveness (1 John 1:9). If you’re worried about committing the unpardonable sin, it’s been my experience that you have not committed it. There is still time for forgiveness. There is no sin which God will not forgive except failing to trust in Christ.

The Unpardonable Sin

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch (1877). Publicl Domain.

Jesus told the religious leaders that they were in danger of committing the unpardonable sin. Why? It was because they were accusing Jesus of using satanic powers to perform miracles (Mark 3:22). They had seen Jesus’ miracles. They should have known the Scriptures too because they clearly testify about Jesus Christ (John 5:39), but to blaspheme the Holy Spirit by attributing the miracles of Jesus through the Holy Spirit to Satan is unforgiveable. In their particular case, they are “guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit” (Mark 3:29b-30). Most scholars (and I agree) believe this sin cannot be committed today because we cannot be in the physical presence of Jesus and seen His many miracles. There is only one sin today that God will not forgive; rejecting Jesus Christ. That’s it.

Sin Leading to Death

So what is this “sin that leads to death?” The Apostle John tells us that “There is sin that leads to death” (1 John 5:16), so what is it? To help us understand what this particular sin is that leads to death, John gives us a hint by stating that “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death” (1 John 5:17), so some sins do not lead to death. Otherwise, we’d all be dead! Perhaps the sin that leads to death is a premature death John writes about. Sexual immorality could be that sin because it is the one and only sin that is against one’s own physical body (1 Cor 6:18). The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee said it could be different for each person. We all sin and the wages of those sins is death (Rom 6:23), but we’ve been freed from sin and its penalty, but we must face the fact that we will all still sin this side of heaven. A serious sin that is ongoing and un-repented of could be that sin that leads to death. John does not tell us precisely what that sin is, probably because it’s different for each person.

Famous Bible Verses

We All Fall Into Sin

We all have our weak spots, and of course, that includes me…perhaps, especially me, but from my many years of counseling sinners, most believers “commit sins that do not lead to death” (1 John 5:16). That sin which does lead to death is likely a very grievous sin before God (adultery, murder, robbery), and this sin might be continuous, and never repented of and never confessed before God. Other than that, we just cannot nail down what that sin is which leads to death that John writes about. If there was a specific sin that leads to death, John surely would have mentioned it….but he doesn’t.


If you have still not trusted in Christ, then you are committing a sin that God will not forgive. There is still time to trust in the Savior. We are called to salvation today, not tomorrow (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow may not even arrive or Jesus Christ might and then it’s too late to repent. Jesus Christ will forbid you from entering into the Kingdom (Matt 7:31-23; Matt 25:41-46). I plead with you today my friend, repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ. If you refuse and sin this sin that won’t be forgiven, then you surely will face God’s judgment after death (Heb 9:27) or at Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), whichever comes first in your life.

Here is some related reading for you: What Does Being Free From Sin Mean?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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