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!

  1. Children of God

    1. Read 1 John 3:1. Think back to when you were a child. Did
      you wish you had been born to a different family?

      1. 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
        that family.)

    2. 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?)

      1. 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.)

    3. 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?

      1. 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

      2. 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.)

  2. Grown Up Children

    1. 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?

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. 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?

        1. Would the Ten Commandments be a good place?

        2. Read Matthew 22:36-40. What does it suggest
          about where we should start?

        3. 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.)

  3. The Standard

    1. 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).

      1. Read Galatians 4:21-26. Can Paul (writing in
        Galatians) and John be reconciled?

      2. Read Galatians 5:13-14 and Galatians 5:24. Does this
        show that John and Paul are playing the same tune?

    2. 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.)

      1. 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
        in sin.)

      2. 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.)

    3. Read 1 John 3:7-10. How do we tell the bad guys from the
      good guys? (Based on works.)

      1. 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,

      2. 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.)

        1. 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.)

    4. 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?

  4. Next week: Loving Brothers and Sisters.