Introduction: This past week I have been corresponding with a
Christian who argues that keeping the Ten Commandments does not save
you. I agree. This Christian then builds on that argument by saying
that you can pick and choose which of the Ten Commandments you want
to keep and still be in a right relationship with God. Now I’m
doubtful. Does John say anything about this issue? I think so. Our
study of 1 John 3 this week looks at this issue of the relationship
between righteousness by faith and right living. John tells us that
sin is serious stuff. Let’s dive into our study and see just how
serious it is!
- Children of God
- Read 1 John 3:1. Think back to when you were a child. Did
you wish you had been born to a different family?
- If so, why? (I had a wonderful family. But, I
remember being invited over to this home and finding
that the boy who lived there had a whole attic that
was filled with wonderful electric trains! These
model trains were set in all sorts of miniature
landscapes. Plus, I learned they had a yacht. I
recall thinking what it would be like to be part of
- Why do you guess John likes being called a child of God?
(If God is the most important Being in the universe, and
has all sorts of stuff, what could be better?)
- Do you think my explanation reflects John’s thoughts?
(John seems to focus on the love instead of the
“stuff.” By the way, about a year after I visited the
“train,” family the mother committed suicide. I was
grateful to continue to have a loving mother and not
just a great train. I think that is John’s point. God
loves us to the point of calling us His children.)
- What sense do you find in John’s statement about the world
not knowing us? What has that got to do with the first
part of the verse which says that God lavished love on us?
- Imagine three concentric circles. In the smallest
circle are your children. In the middle circle are
all the children you personally know. In the largest,
outside circle are all the children in the world.
Which children do you love the most? (Your own
children! As the circles get bigger your love gets
less. John tells us that when it comes to love, the
world puts us in the biggest circle because it does
not know us. But, God puts us in the smallest
- Why does John throw in the comment that the world
does not know God? (We need to trust God and not
others. If the world treated Jesus terribly, why
should we expect good treatment? God’s relationship
with us is like the relationship between loving
parents and their children. The world’s relationship
with us is (at best) like our relationship to
children we do not know.)
- Grown Up Children
- Read 1 John 3:2-3. I wrote a study on this same text ten
years ago. My children were not yet teenagers. At the time
I wrote “I wonder what the future will hold” for them.
What do you think I was I hoping for then?
- What parallel is John drawing to our Father God?
(Just as I hoped for the best for my children, so God
is hoping for the best for us as we walk the path of
light. My daughter is now finishing up college and
my son is finishing medical school. These are the
kinds of things I was hoping for them ten years ago.)
- Am I wrong about this and John is talking about us
wondering about our future? (Just as we wonder and
hope for the future of our children, so our children
should be concerned about their future.)
- Notice that John writes “everyone who has this hope
purifies himself.” In my comparison to earthly parents, I
was the one hoping for my children. Why are the children
doing the purifying? (I’m hoping for my children, but
their life is not mine. They have a work to do in being
successful in life. John says be diligent about the work
of purifying yourself and the outcome will be good.)
- I’ve mentioned education for my own children, what is our
goal as the children of God on the path of light? (To be
like our Father God.)
- Let’s get back to the fellow who was writing to me
about the Ten Commandments. If you intend to purify
yourself (as John says every true Christian is doing)
where would you start?
- Would the Ten Commandments be a good place?
- Read Matthew 22:36-40. What does it suggest
about where we should start?
- Are you nervous about talking about how “we”
purify ourselves? (I am. But, I do not know how
1 John 3:3 can otherwise be read. I have no
doubt that the Holy Spirit must do the heavy
lifting here ( Acts 15:8-9), but I must set goals
and make decisions.)
- The Standard
- Read 1 John 3:4. What does it say about you, sin and the
Ten Commandments? (If you want to know what sin is, John
says consult the law. If you are breaking the law, you are
sinning. The essence of sin, according to John, is not
paying any attention to the law (lawlessness).
- Read Galatians 4:21-26. Can Paul (writing in
Galatians) and John be reconciled?
- Read Galatians 5:13-14 and Galatians 5:24. Does this
show that John and Paul are playing the same tune?
- Read 1 John 3:5-6. What does John argue is the reason for
Jesus coming to earth, living a perfect life, dying for us
and then being raised to life? (To take away our sins.)
- If that was Jesus’ purpose in coming, what should be
our purpose in living? (To live without sin. This is
one of those “I get it” moments. The people who say
that Jesus’ atonement means we are freed from
concerns about sin are missing the main point. The
main point is that Jesus came to cure the sin
problem. So, if you are on Jesus’ side, you are
going to be very intentional about not being involved
- Let’s go back and read 1 John 1:8 and compare it with
1 John 3:6. The same man, inspired by the Holy
Spirit, wrote both verses. How do you reconcile
them? (We are sinners, but our goal to be without
sin. This is why we so desperately need Jesus and His
righteousness. He takes away our sins. But, at the
same time we realize that sin is a terrible thing. We
do our best to turn away from it.)
- Read 1 John 3:7-10. How do we tell the bad guys from the
good guys? (Based on works.)
- Again, look back at 1 John 1:8. How can this be true?
People on the path of light are carrying around sin.
If they carry around sin, then they are bad guys,
- For a few minutes think back over what we have
studied so far about the epistles of John. What would
you say is his overall theme? (John starts with an
explanation that in life we have a choice of paths to
take. Either we take the path of light or we take the
path of darkness. People on the path of light are not
perfect, but they have two very important attitudes.
First, they know that if they sin they have Jesus
speaking for them in their defense. Second, they
understand the work of Jesus was to put an end to sin
so they have a burning desire in their life to be
done with sin.)
- On what path does that put the people who say
the Ten Commandments (and the law of love) are
irrelevant? (It is difficult to have a burning
desire to be done with sin and at the same time
be lawless. People on the path of light pay
serious attention to the Ten Commandments. Not
to be saved, but to live like a child of God.)
- Friend, what about you? Will you take sin seriously?
Will you catch the vision about Jesus’ mission and seek to
live a life free from sin? How about making that
commitment right now?
- Next week: Loving Brothers and Sisters.