Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: Lets review! John told us in chapter one:

     1. He is a competent witness;

     2. He has testimony for us that will allow us to enter into fellowship with Jesus and the Father. 

     3. This testimony reveals we have two paths we can take in life: 

          a. One trail is in the light (which will lead to fellowship);

          b. The other trail is in darkness. 

     Then he gave us five "reality checks" for us to determine whether we are walking on the "light" path or the "dark" path. Let's continue by jumping into chapter 2!

I. The Goal

     A. Read 1 John 2:1. Last week we learned that those who "walk in the light" have sin in their lives. (1 John 1:7-8)

          1. Is that "OK" with John?

          2. Is it "OK" to walk along the trail of light packing this load of sin along?
          3. What is the goal? (2:1 "I write this so you will not sin."  The goal is to leave sin behind.)

     B. However, if we miss the mark, John says we have Jesus to defend us. (KJV "advocate")

          1. Does Jesus "defend us" before the Father by arguing that everyone sins, God should not be so particular?

          2. Is He arguing that what we did was not really sin? (Compare 1 Jo. 1:6)

          3. Is He arguing that what we do does not matter because nothing is really sin? 

               a. Look again at 1 John 1:10. What kind of people did we say last week were identified in v.10? What kind of people "claim [to have] not sinned?" (These are those who make the most outrageous claims.They claim they are not sinning now and they have never sinned.  These people obviously have a problem with their theology.  So Jesus would not be repeating a variation of their argument!)

          4. Is the crew being described in v.10 the same as John is talking to in 1 John 2:1? (No. In v.1 John starts out "my dear children." He is not still talking to the same group of people he was talking about in v.10. He said those people were making God out to be a liar and God's word had no place in their lives. John is addressing those who are seeking the truth. So we are looking at those who are walking on the trail of lightness.) 

          5. Imagine you are writing Jesus' oral argument before the "Court of Heaven." What does Jesus' argument sound like on behalf of those walking on the trail of light?  

     C. Read 1 John 2:2. Does this reveal Jesus' argument for us?

          1. What if you were hauled in front of a judge for a criminal matter and as you are standing there trying to look your best (and your most innocent) your lawyer starts his argument: "Your Honor, my client is guilty,very guilty...."
          2. Is that Jesus defense for us? (Yes! His defense is that we are very guilty, but He has already paid the penalty. He is not arguing against our guilt.  He is arguing against the penalty being imposed on you.)

          3. In light of this, how do our efforts to cover and deny our sins really look?  Imagine the judge's reaction if you started interrupting your lawyer with an indignant,"I am not guilty! I live a perfect life!  Any problems I may have are not my fault.  It is the fault of the genes I got from my father and mother!")

          4. I suggested a few minutes ago that Jesus' argument is for "those on the trail to light."  Is this consistent with the text? (His sacrifice is "for the sins of the whole world."  His sacrifice may be accepted only by those on the light trail, but He gave his life for everyone.)

     D. Why do you think John characterizes Jesus position as having to defend or advocate our position with God?  Does God the Father need to be convinced?  Is this some sort of debate which we hope Jesus wins? (The lesson quotes John 16: 26-27 where Jesus says, "I don't have to ask on your behalf, the Father loves you ...." I think John's characterization reflects the fact that no words which show that Jesus is responsible for our escape from justice are adequate to describe the extent of our debt to Him.  What He has done gave us our lives, and the lives of those we love most in this world.)

II. Knowing God

     A. Read vv.3-4.  This looks like "reality check" time again. What positive and negative reality checks does John give us now? (At bottom, both ask "Do you obey God?"

     B. Why does John say we obey? (We know Him.)

          1. Why doesn't John say we obey because we know the rules?

          2. Why doesn't John say we obey because we fear God?

          3. Why doesn't John say we obey because we know the downside (the sizzle) or the upside (the temperature-controlled mansion)?

     C. Is this a universal principle?  That we obey what we know?

          1. If you say, "yes," ask yourself how much time you spent knowing God last week as opposed to knowing the dragon speaking through the television?

          2. If Sabbath is "prime time" for knowing God, what place does TV have in it?

          3. If you deny that knowing someone or something means you obey him, why does knowing God mean we obey Him? (It says something mind-boggling about God. His love and character are such that knowing Him compels us to want to obey!)

     D. Friends, this is killer stuff: we cannot obey God unless we know Him. The other side of this equation is equally sobering: we do not know Him if we do not obey Him.)

          1. How do you square John's "if not obey Him do not know Him" with 1 John 1:8 (false claims about being sinless) and 2:1 (if we do sin)? How can John say that those walking in the light will disobey and at the same time say that those who disobey do not know God? (The answer is the walk.  If you know God, your attitude is to obey. The general direction of your life, your "walk" is in the light.)
     E. Read v. 5. What do you think John means when he says that God's love is complete in anyone who obeys? (Christianity is not theoretical.  Is not some abstract knowledge of rules with no practical difference in our lives. God's love becomes complete in us when we let His will transform our actions.)

     F. Read v. 6. You remember that when we discussed "walking" with God last week we learned that Thayer says this Greek word is Hebrew for "to live?"  The Greek word in v.6 which is translated "to live" (meno) is not the same word, but I believe it has a roughly  equivalent meaning. So this text could look like this:

          1. "Whoever claims to walk with Jesus must walk as Jesus did."

          2. What does this mean? Does it mean:

               a. We have no money?
               b. We have no spouse?
               c. We preach? 
               (John is systematically, relentlessly, driving the pointthat obedience is essential. He is not talking about the specifics of Jesus' life, he is talking about Jesus determination to obey His Father and reflect His Father.)

III. The Results Of Knowing God.

     A. Read 1 John 2:7-11.  In verses 7 and 8 John sounds like he is stumbling at first: "I am not writing you a new command, but an old one.  Well, maybe it is sort of new."

     B. Is he writing about an old command or a new one?

     C. How can an old command also be a new one? (What is "old" about the command is that you have already heard it. In fact, he says, you have heard it from the beginning (v.7)  What is "new" about the command is that you have never properly understood it.)

          1. The "key" language is v. 8 "the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.")

          2. Have you ever found an old antique, cleaned it up, and thought it looked completely different?  Completely new?

          3. You do not understand how to obey, John says, until you have seen how Jesus obeyed!  Jesus "cleaned up" the old obedience idea to give us an example of what was really intended.

          4. Can you give me examples of difference between Jesus' understanding of obedience and the religious leaders understanding of obedience? (Withered hand healed on the Sabbath (Matt. 12).  Focus on what comes out of the mouth rather than what goes in (Matt. 15). Focussing on the symbolism and missing the reality (Matt. 26:60).)

     D.  Are vv. 9-11 an example of what John is talking about? (Yes!)

          1. How can vv.9-11 be examples when they speak of "love" when John just said that "obey" was the operative word?

          2. Are vv.9-11 another "reality check?" (Yes)

          3. Look at the structure of vv.3-11 again. At first glance this looks like a "teeter-totter." On end of the teeter-totter are vv.3-6 where John discusses obedience.Then the "fulcrum" is vv.7-8 where John discusses whether this is a new or old idea. John then describes the other end of the teeter-totter by saying we have to love.

               a. Is my "first glance" correct? Are love and obedience opposites which go up and down in inverse proportion? (No!  Love and obedience are not opposites.  This is the perfect example of how obedience is not "man made."  You cannot obey simply by following the rules.  You cannot love simply by determination. Obedience is an attitude.Only by the power of God can love for our fellow man enter our hearts.  This attitude of love (so clearly expressed in Jesus' life that He caused the "darkness" to pass and the "true light" to shine (v.8)) creates true obedience!)

               b. Friend, how do you rate on the vv. 9-11 reality check? Do you hate any brother? Do you hold grudges? What is your attitude towards the family of God?  The answer to these questions shows whether you are on the "light" trail or the "dark" trail.

IV. Next week: "What Knowing God Means." 1 John 2: 12-17. Study!