Tonight we start a new letter written by John to a Christian lady. In it we will have many of the truths we learned in 1 John repeated and demonstrated.
“This epistle is more remarkable for the spirit of Christian love which it breathes than for anything else. It contains scarcely anything that is not found in the preceding; and out of the thirteen verses there are at least eight which are found, either in so many words or in sentiment, precisely the same with those of the first epistle.” (Adam Clarke)
When Tim and I attended Providence Church, we went through a counseling course called Equipped to Counsel. At the end of these weekly lessons we would have different real life case studies to read about and review and to discuss that had to deal with that week’s lesson so that we could see how these truths we had learned played out in real life. I think these two small letters 2nd and 3rd John act as case studies for us to apply what we have learned. They demonstrate very well the truths that John would teach us.Continue Reading
Last week we talked about four birthmarks identifying the children of God. The children of God are marked by:
- A belief that Jesus is the Christ. (John 5:1)
- A love for God the Father. (John 5:1)
- A love for all those born of God. (John 5:1)
- A love for God the Father (1 John 5:2)
- Obedience to the commandments of God (1 John 5:3)
- A faith which overcomes the world. (1 John 5:4)
- A belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (1 John 5:1:5)
Once again we are brought back to the foundation of our faith which is centered around the identity of Jesus. Our identity as children of God, is united to Christ’s identity as the Son of God. Those who deny the deity of Jesus as being Christ, the Son of God are called antichrists and are not the children of God.Continue Reading
I made this [letter] very long, because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter.” – Blaise Pascal
I ran across this quote by Blaise Pascal while I was trying to remember something else he had once said that I had read and it made me laugh because this is so true. I made this lesson very long, because I did not have the leisure time to make it shorter! I never have time to shrink down my notes like I want to. It’s nice to know I am not the only one in history that has faced this problem. It takes a lot of time to go back through and cut the fat from my notes and I am always running low on time. So my writing continues to be high in fat. Not sure if that is totally good for you. I know we live in a world of low fat and no fat but in the old days the fat was considered the choicest portion of meat that was offered to God. It’s all the extras and usually contains a lot of good stuff and often holds the most flavor. Some of the best cuts of meat contain a lot of fat in them that keep them from being too tough, dry and give a lot of flavor. I pray my writing even though it is long and contains a lot of fat, would be more like that choice piece of meat. There are some parts we will cut off and push to the side because we don’t have the time to consume them. However, for the most part I hope all the extras add flavor.Continue Reading
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Once again tonight we are back to the topic of love and our calling to love one another. In 1 John chapter 2 we spoke about our duty to love one another and the reason why was because to love one another is to walk in the light and he who does not love walks in darkness.
“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in the darkness. (1 John 2:9)
In this first lesson on loving others we spent much time talking about how sin boils down to being our failure to love God and others as we should love them. The entire ten commandments can be summoned up in the new commandment to:Continue Reading
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
We have talked about a lot of heavy stuff in this letter by John so far about how we should walk as Christians. We talked about how we are called to walk in the light, how we are to walk in obedience, how we are to walk in love for the brothers especially, how we are to walk in the world by not loving the world that is perishing, how we are to abide in Christ and practice righteousness so that we might become righteous as Christ is which is our hope. Last week we turned back to the subject of loving our brothers again and added more detail of what it looks like to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and what it doesn’t look like. We emphasized that love is not just an emotion that we feel but is demonstrated and brought to completion through our actions.Continue Reading
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
For the past couple of weeks we have been studying what the children of God look like and how to tell them apart from the children of the devil. One of the greatest indicators of a child of God is simply one who practices righteousness. One who has an inner desire to please God, their Father. This is natural tendency of a spiritual child of God that is unnatural to the fleshly nature. It shows that God has indeed put his own spirit within us that cries out, Abba, Father!
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15
As adopted children, God has given us of his very own Spirit and our spirit calls out to his spirit, the depths of our heart call out to the depth of his. (Psa. 42:7) There is a new spirit imparted to us, and it is a spirit of love, for God himself is love.Continue Reading
And now little children…
Once again, John refers to those he is writing to tenderly as little children, teknia, is once again the Greek word used here, meaning infants, darlings (Christian converts). John moves from speaking about those who have fallen away to those he is sure know the truth. “I write to you not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” (1 John 2:21)
John is speaking to us as children of God, reminding us that we are children of God.
This whole section that we are studying tonight and next week also, is all about our being children of God. Once John shakes up his readers to knock anyone loose who can be shaken loose in their faith; he then gently reassures those who remain by strengthening their faith. He reaches out to them not only with reason appealing to their minds with his arguments but he also reaches out to them with much endearment and he appeals to their hearts. He also appeals to our hearts tonight as he reminds us of God’s great love for his children and calls us to abide in Jesus.Continue Reading
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
For the last few weeks we have been learning how to walk in fellowship with God. No matter how old you are the remedial lessons that we have been learning since we started 1 John need to be repeated.
We started off the book of 1 John learning and remembering that the Word of God became flesh and walked among us. Because of this and only because of this work of Christ, we are able to now walk with Christ in our daily lives and enjoy sweet fellowship with him and with God the Father. Jesus walked with us and now we are called to walk with Him.
Walking with Christ sounds like an easy thing to do until you try it. Then we learn that we have to develop our spiritual leg muscles and it takes time, effort and perseverance. There are some people who make it look easy, but they have been walking with God for a long time and it does become second nature to them to walk spiritually every day. Things you had to once concentrate on and that took your full attention and all of your energy to accomplish are later done without thought, they become second nature to you when practiced repeatedly. Walking as Jesus walked is something we must first seek to intentionally practice if we would have it become second nature.Continue Reading
Remember What You Already Heard
When we started this bible study in the introduction we talked about our great need to be reminded of truths we have already heard. I shared with you a quote from a book I read during our Christmas break that I am about to share with you again because great truths bear repeating. The greater they are, the more they need to be repeated. Repetition emphasizes their importance and aids in our remembrance of them. The quote was this:
If you are honest, you have to admit that you know far more than you are presently put into practice. If you never heard another sermon, you would have enough biblical truth to work on applying for the rest of your life. You may feel spiritually satisfied by the fact that you go to church every Sunday, that you have your devotions every day, and that you go to the Bible study every week. But if you’re not applying what you are really reading and hearing, then you are only kidding yourself. You’re forgetting the whole point of looking into God’s word in the first place….Every time you hear the word of God preached, you are training yourself to either obey or disobey God. – Ken Ramey, Expository Listening
John isn’t going to share with us any new commands tonight. Instead, John is going to remind us of an old command that we heard from the beginning, Christ’s command for us to love one another. Apart from obeying this command we can’t walk with Christ and say we fellowship with him. That’s how important it is. It takes us right back to 1 John 1:6-7 that we learned near the beginning of this study:Continue Reading
The soul which rises from out of sin to a devout life has been compared to the dawn, which does not banish darkness suddenly, but by degrees. The slow cure is always the surest, and spiritual maladies, like those of the body, while they are apt to come on horseback and express, tend to depart slowly on foot.
So we must be brave and patient, my daughter, in this undertaking. It is sad to see souls beginning to grow disheartened because they find themselves still subject to imperfection after having made some attempt at leading a devout life…to give up in despair and fall back; but, on the other hand, those souls are in worse danger who, through the opposite temptation, imagine themselves purified from all imperfection at the very outset, and who count themselves as full-grown almost before they are born. Be sure, daughter, that these are in great danger of a relapse through having left their physician too soon.
– FRANCIS DE SALES (1567-1622) Saint, bishop of Geneva
To have a new relationship with God and Jesus, is to have a new relationship with sin. We saw this last week in verses 5-10 we learned about the nature of God, God is light and in him there is no, no darkness at all. If a man or woman would have a relationship with God she must put off sin. All sin. Not some but all sin as the Holy Spirit reveals our sin to us through shining God’s light into our dark hearts.
If we would have fellowship with God, we must first come to the light, the light of the knowledge of God’s perfect holiness and our utter wretchedness. We must first have our eyes opened and see that we have sinned and despite our best efforts, we cannot stop sinning. It is our nature to sin and apart from Christ we can do nothing else but sin and perpetuate sin.Continue Reading