Introduction: This week we all get to think like “common law”
lawyers. They started the idea that the law did not consist of a
set of rules, but rather the rules were derived from a set of case
decisions. In the former you would find the right rule and have
your answer – assuming you asked just the right question. In the
latter, you find the right case examples and you figure out your
answer. John gives us some “cases” for us to figure out how to live
as we continue our journey on the path to light. Let’s plunge right
into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about Biblical

  1. Cain v. Jesus

    1. Last week we ended our study with John’s summary of how
      we tell the good guys from the bad guys. Good guys do
      good things and bad guys do bad things. That left us
      with the question, “What, exactly, is a good thing?”
      Let’s continue John’s discussion by reading 1 John 3:11.
      Imagine that I gave you one rule: “love one another.”
      Would you know how to live?

      1. Would you face a problem with taking love (an
        attitude) and transforming it into some concrete

      2. A number of years ago I defended the religious
        liberty of a Wiccan. That taught me that Wiccans
        have one main rule (the Wiccan Rede) which
        essentially says “Do what you want as long as you do
        not harm anyone.” Is that the same as loving others?
        (I would be grateful if everyone followed the rule
        that they should not harm me, but to require love
        adds positive requirements.)

    2. Read 1 John 3:12. John now gives us an example (a case)
      as opposed to a rule. What definition of love do you get
      from this? (Sounds like the Wiccan Rede – don’t murder

      1. Is that the standard? We love others if we refrain
        from murdering them?

      2. Notice that John writes about Cain’s motives. Why
        does the Bible discuss Cain’s motive for murder?
        (Instead of specifically identifying Cain’s motives,
        John relates his evil actions to murder.)

        1. What evil actions on Cain’s part led to murder?
          (Disobedience to God.)

        2. We are left to figure out for ourselves the
          likely motives. What do you think they were?
          (Jealousy of Able and covetousness of Able’s
          standing with God.)

        3. Why does that lead to murder? (Evil motives
          lead to evil actions which lead to murder. The
          idea is that sin is progressive.)

        4. Is avoiding murder John’s standard for love?
          (No. By looking at a case, instead of a rule,
          we see that John’s negative case example packs
          in a lesson about motives and the nature of

    3. Read 1 John 3:13. Is Cain a negative case example for
      us, or it is an example representing the world? (At a
      minimum, John is showing us what love is not. It is not
      murder. He then says that the attitude of the world is
      hate, and hate leads to death. You can expect the world
      to hate you.)

      1. Let’s make this current. “Haters” is a term used by
        homosexuals to describe Christians who believe what
        the Bible says about homosexuality. A common “gay”
        bumper sticker says “Hate is not a family value.”
        Do they have a point? Or, is part of the world’s
        hate toward Christians reflected in them calling us

      2. Is John writing about love towards fellow
        Christians? (I think so.)

        1. Does that make the issue easier? We are told
          to love those who are behaving themselves? (Our
          relationship with homosexuals is made more
          difficult because we say the behavior is sinful
          and they say it is normal. But, even when we
          deal with our fellow Christians we have the
          problem of sinful behavior.)

    4. Read 1 John 3:14-15. What test does John give us for
      knowing that we are on the path to light? (We love our
      brothers. Are we making any progress here? We are back to
      figuring out what “love” means when we try to convert it
      into actions.)

      1. Read Matthew 5:21-22. Jesus says “anger = something
        like murder.” That does not seem reasonable at
        first. Is John explaining Jesus’ statement? (I think
        John is on the same logical track. Anger leads to
        hate which leads to murder. Don’t get angry and you
        will never murder. If you substitute love for anger
        you are on the path to light.)

      2. Have we any concrete points on which to measure our
        love? (Yes. Anger is not love. Hate is not love.
        Murder is not love.)

    5. Read 1 John 3:16. Now we get the positive case example.
      What is love? (Giving up your life for someone else.)

      1. Are you willing to give up your life for your fellow
        Christians? (It sure was a lot easier when I only
        had to avoid murder!)

      2. How is the abortion debate resolved in light of this
        basic rule? (Abortion is taking the life of another
        for our benefit. Jesus’ example is just the
        opposite: giving up our life for another.)

      3. Abortion is an easy logical call when measured by
        Jesus’ example. What about other aspects of life,
        such as time and money. Are you willing to give
        these up for other Christians?

    6. Read 1 John 3:17. What does John say about love and
      helping our fellow Christians who are in need? (He says
      helping them logically follows from Jesus giving up His
      life for us.)

      1. Why is it logical to have to help someone if Jesus
        gave us the example of giving up our lives for
        others? (What would you trade for your life?
        Whatever it might be, giving it up is less difficult
        than giving up your life.)

    7. Read 1 John 3:18. What does John mean when he says to
      love “in truth.” (Actually doing something to help
      someone shows that you love them. Talk might not reflect
      any truth at all.)

    8. Consider where we have gone. The negative example of
      Cain tells us not to murder, hate or get angry. Avoiding
      murder and hate seems pretty easy. The Old Testament is
      filled with condemnation for rich people who plunder and
      take advantage of the poor. That seems to be reasonable.
      Our discussion so far is “Wiccan Rede” territory: don’t
      harm others. But now we are told we have to give our
      stuff to those Christians in need. Why is this so hard?
      (We are selfish. Not only do we not want to give up our
      life for others, we don’t want to give up our stuff. We
      think “let them get their own stuff!”)

      1. Is there any hope for us? (Yes. This is what is
        great about learning about grace, the path (John’s
        path of light), and case law. First, we are saved by
        grace ( 1 John 2:1-2). The saved are on the path away
        from Cain’s negative case and towards Jesus’
        positive case. We should have murder, hate and anger
        behind us, and our sights set on Jesus’ example. His
        example is our goal.)

  2. Heart Problems

    1. Read 1 John 3:19-20. What do you think John means when he
      writes about our hearts condemning us? Has your heart
      ever condemned you? (This is the role of Satan and his
      helpers – to condemn us ( Revelation 12:10).)

      1. How can we distinguish Satan’s condemnation from the
        conviction of the Holy Spirit? (God forgives us of
        our confessed sins, but Satan keeps bringing them up
        to discourage us. I think John is saying that if you
        examine your actions, and see that you are moving
        forward towards Jesus’ example of love, then you can
        have confidence you are on the path of light. You
        have “proof” your life is moving in the right

    2. Read 1 John 3:21-22. Why is John making any reference to
      getting stuff? I thought we just decided that we needed
      to give stuff to those Christians in need. (The total
      picture is now revealed – if Jesus was willing to give us
      His life, He is willing to give us stuff. John teaches
      that if we open our hearts (and our wallets) to those in
      need, God will open His wallet to us.)

    3. Read 1 John 3:23-24. After all of this discussion about
      helping others, why does John say “His command” is “to
      believe in the name of His Son?” (As we discussed, Jesus
      is the ultimate example of sacrificing for others. Jesus
      is also the ultimate example of being honored for this.)

    4. Friend, how about you? Will you determine today that you
      will help your fellow Christians who are in need? Will
      you share your time and your stuff with them?

  3. Next week: Believing in the Son of God.