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: Let's review for just a minute. John says, "Want to have fellowship with God?" If you do, you need to walk on the path of light, and not the path of darkness. 

     How do we know we are on the right path? You are on the right path if you obey. 

     How do you know you are obeying? Obedience means loving your brother. 

     How can you "decide" to love your brother?  You can learn to love your brother by getting to know God.  

This week we find out how to "know God." 


     A. If I asked you, "Do you know so and so," what would I be asking you?

          1. Would I simply be asking if you knew this person's name?
          2. Would I also be asking if you knew where this person lived?

          3. Would I also be asking if you knew what kind of work this person did?

          4. Would you have to know the name of this person's wife and the name of this person's children before you could say, "I know that person?"

     B. What do you have to know about God in order to know Him?

          1. Is knowing His name and the names of His two closest "relatives" enough?

     C. If I asked you to tell me what you know about God?  What about God impresses you the most? What would you say?

     D. Turn with me to 1 John 2.  Our study this week starts out with verse 12, but I'm going to go back and read verses 3-5 and then verse 12.

          1. What do verses 3-5 say it means to know God? (Obedience.)

          2. Why does John say in v. 12 "I write ... because your sins have been forgiven?"  

               a. Why are we talking about forgiveness to a group that is supposed to be showing they know God by obeying?
               b. Why are we talking about sins to a group that is supposed to be obeying? 

               c. Let's look back at our list of what you said you knew about God. Did anyone say that what they knew about God was that He forgave us?  That He paid our penalty for us?  That He took our place? (The first step to knowing God is the first step to obeying. That first step is realizing that God forgave us by taking our punishment. Realizing who He is and what He has done for us.)

                    (1) Why is the first step to obeying knowing that we are forgiven? (Generally, the more something costs, the more we value it. This matter of sin and obedience cost God His life. The first step to obedience is realizing the seriousness, the "cost" of sin.)

     E. Verse 12 says that we are forgiven "on account of His  name." I thought it was on account of His life and death. What does John mean "on account of His name?"

          1. Lets go back to this "knowing" issue again. What is the first thing you generally know about a person? (The person's name. Hold that thought for a minute while we continue reading.)

     F. Read v. 13. Do you see the three groups being addressed? (Children, fathers, young men. These groups are addressed again in v.13b and 14.  The NIV does not reflect the tense changes.  The first address is "I write." The second address to these three groups is "I wrote.")

     G. Why do you think John means by "children," "fathers," and "young men?"
          1. Is he speaking about age?
          2. Why not mention young women or older women?
          3. Is he speaking of levels of spiritual maturity? (I think he is speaking of levels of spiritual maturity.  If he is symbolically speaking about maturity, it would render unnecessary specific references to the sex of the reader.)

     H. If we are right that John is speaking about levels of spiritual maturity, let's look again at his message. If children (v.12)  means the spiritually immature, then does it make sense to say they are saved "on account of his name?" (The spiritually immature do not have a complete knowledge of God, and they do not need a complete knowledge of God to be saved. The "first level" of knowledge about a person is his name! For the "babes" in Christ, this is enough!)

          1. If this is right, why does John also say in v. 13 that the children "have known the Father?" (A consistent answer is that new Jewish converts would "know the Father."  John says that real truth and knowledge about the Father is covered by darkness which is being chased away by the light that Jesus' life here sheds on the Father.(2:8)

          2. (If need additional discussion of "His name" have the class consider Ezekiel 20:8-10. God discusses "His name" in the context of unbelieving nations.  This context clearly seems to refer to His reputation.  Those who truly "know God" have gone beyond the simple matter of "His name.")

     I. With this same perspective, what do you think John means when he says the "fathers" have "known him who is from the beginning?" (It could be two things: 

          1. These are people who actually knew Jesus during His ministry.
          2. These are people who "know" Jesus well enough to understand His true nature: that He is fully God (as well as fully man) since He is from "the beginning." John 1:1:In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God...)

     J. Read v. 14. What then does John mean by "young men?" (Those who are on the middle ground between simple forgiveness and a "settled" understanding of God's character.)

          1. Notice how these "young men" are described (v.14):

               a. strong;
               b. word of God lives in them; and,
               c. overcame the evil one.

          2. Is this consistent with the description "young men?" (These are those who are growing in Christ and have vigor to carry on the fight against the devil.)


     A. Read 1 John 2:15-17.  Notice the pattern here. On one side of the blackboard we have "love of the world."  On the other side we have "love of the Father."  If you love the world, v.16 says, it has certain results in your life. This love will return to you in very specific ways. On the other hand, if you love the Father, it also has certain results in your life. The love of the Father will return to you and fill you.  So we have a choice here.

     B. Now, what does John mean in v. 15 when we tells us not to love the world or anything in the world?  The only things I have ever seen or touched are "in the world." (He defines what he means in v. 16: 

          1. cravings of sinful man;

          2. lust of the eyes; and,

          3. boasting of what he has done.)

     C. Are these "things?"  How can John say in v.16 "For everything in the world..." and then refer to craving, lust and boasting? (Clearly these "things" and the "world" are not a place or an item (ie., the things we have seen and touched), "the world" is an attitude.)

     D. Let's examine each of these in turn. By the way, it is the same Greek word in v.16 that is translated "cravings" and "lust."  It means "longing" according to Strong.  The Greek word translated "sinful man" in v.16 literally means "flesh." (Which is how it is translated in the KJV and other translations.)

          1. What is meant by "the flesh" in v. 16? Craving for the flesh? (A focus that does not go beyond man.  The person's field of vision is not "high" enough to take in God. These are people whose primary concern is themselves and what is best for them.)

          2. What is meant by "the lust of the eyes?" (You want what you see.  In that sense, consider the impact of television -- both in viewing evil and provoking jealousy.  Most of my "insight" into wealthy people and a wealthy lifestyle comes from television.  Generally people are only close to those whose lifestyle is like their own.  Television lets you into the lives of people who are "way above" (and "way below") your lifestyle.This applies to both material things and evil doing.  How many people have seen a murder (other than on television).  Can you imagine how much more peaceful your life would be without having seen all of this other "stuff?")

          3. What is meant by "boasting of what he has and does?"

               a. "Has" is easy. What about "does?" (You boast of your job!  Or how you do your job! Or your superior attitude! This is so easy.  You want people to think you are important. The natural heart does not want to be unimportant. So you want to brag about the good things about yourself.)

     E. Do you see attitudes are brought to view here? F. F. Bruce quotes C. H. Dodd as calling these attitudes "sensuality, materialism and ostentation."

     F. What is wrong with these things? (Verse 17: the world and its desires pass away.  As my friend Matt likes to say, "Its going to burn."  The Christian who has eternity in mind is not going to be focussed on the things that are temporary.)

III. Next week: "The Last Hour!" Study 1 John 2:18-29!