1 John Lesson Six

1 John Lesson Six: 1 John 3:11-24 – Another Demand for Right Attitude

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, 12 unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 

16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him? 

18 Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.  19 This is how we will know we belong to the truth and will convince our conscience in His presence, 20 even if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience, and He knows all things. 

21 Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight. 23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him. And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us. (HCSB)

This passage deals with relationships. John talks about four levels of relationships, which is how I’ll be splitting up this lesson.

  • Murder – verses 11-12.
  • Hatred – verses 13-15.
  • Indifference – verses 16-17.
  • Christian love – verses 18-24.


Murder is the lowest level of any relationship. It’s the level on which Satan exists. John 8:44a, “You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer  from the beginning and has not stood in the truth.” John goes on in this letter to talk about Cain. Let’s consider some facts about the passage in Genesis 4:1-16.

  • Cain and Abel were brothers.
  • They had the same parents.
  • They both brought sacrifices to God.
  • Cain is not depicted as an atheist but as a worshiper of Yahweh. 
  • This is the point of the passage.
    • Children of Satan often appear as true believers.
    • They attend church.
    • They may bring offerings.
    • None of these actions are proof of being born of God.
    • The real test is loving each other.
  • Each person has both a physical and spiritual lineage.
    • Our physical lineage comes from our parents.
    • Our spiritual lineage is linked to whether we follow darkness or light.
  • Cain murdered his brother and then lied about it.
  • The reason Cain’s sacrifice was rejected is that, in some way, Cain didn’t follow the proper instructions for worship. He rejected God and wanted to do it “his way.”
  • Cain’s envy of his brother turned to anger and hatred, and eventually murder.
  • Thousands of years later, the Pharisees did the same thing to Jesus, and Jesus called them children of the devil.


While we may have never actually murdered someone, John makes it clear in verse fifteen that “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” The only difference between murder and hatred is the outward act of taking someone’s life. The inward intent is the same. Let’s take a closer look at this issue.

  • Maybe we haven’t killed anyone because of the consequences.
    • The fear of arrest and shame.
    • The possibility of spending a long time in jail.
    • The possibility of the death penalty.
  • The issue isn’t “what did you do?” but “what did you want to do?”
    • If you had the liberty to do what you wanted without the fear of consequences, what would you have done?
    • Jesus equates hatred with murder (Matthew 5:21-26) and lust with adultery (Matthew 5:27-30).
  • This doesn’t mean that hatred or lust does the same amount of damage to others as murder and adultery. It won’t carry the same level of guilt. But in God’s eyes, it’s just as bad.
  • There are three options for the interpretation of what John is saying in verse fifteen.
    • The face-value view: If you hate another person to the point of being willing or actually killing them, you are not a Christian.
    • The abiding view: The Christian, as long as they are living in a conscious relationship with Jesus, would never kill anyone. If they do, it’s because they are not abiding in Christ.
    • The continuing-to-hate view: A Christian may hate or murder someone, but if this happened, they would be filled with remorse. If they harbor continual hate or have no remorse for their feelings or actions, they are not a Christian.
  • The passage isn’t saying murderers can’t be saved. Paul was involved in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:57-60) and admitted he had voted to put innocent people to death (Acts 26:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:12-15). But he was saved by God’s grace.
  • The point isn’t whether or not a murderer can become a Christian. The point is whether someone can continue being a murderer and still be a Christian. Verse fifteen emphatically states the answer to that question is “no.”
  • The continuing-to-hate view is the proper understanding of verse fifteen.


The test of Christian love isn’t simply avoiding doing evil to others. Love involves doing good to others. In a way, Christian love is both positive and negative. Christian love involves stopping activities of evil and doing what is good (Isaiah 1:16-17).

  • Cain is an example of false love.
  • Jesus is the example of true love.
    • Jesus laid down His life for others (John 3:16).
      • Jesus didn’t just talk about sacrifice.
      • He willingly died to remove our sins.
    • We are to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16).
      • John isn’t telling us to sacrifice our lives for our brothers and sisters.
      • He is telling us to sacrifice to help those in need.
  • Self-preservation is the first law of physical life, but self-sacrifice is the first law of spiritual life.
  • We can talk about loving other believers, but when we fail to help them in times of need, our actions don’t mirror our words.
  • Christian love is personal and active.
  • As believers, we don’t have to be intentional to hate others. We can do it by ignoring them or having an indifferent heart.
  • To meet the needs of others, three conditions must be met.
    • Have the ability to meet the needs.
    • Know the need exists.
    • Be loving enough to want to meet the need.
  • A believer who doesn’t have the means to help or is unaware of the need is not guilty. But the believer who hardens their heart and chooses not to meet the need is guilty.
  • Meeting the needs of others can be satisfied in various ways.
    • Through monetary gifts.
    • Through material gifts.
    • Through serving gifts.
    • Through time gifts.
  • If we desire to experience and enjoy the love of God, we must love others, even if it requires a sacrifice on our part.
  • When we are indifferent to the needs of others, we rob ourselves of what we need, the love of God in our hearts.

Christian Love

John now goes on to discuss the difference between false and true Christian love. 

  • False love.
    • To love “with word” means to only talk about the need but not take any action to meet the need.
    • A believer may pray about the need but take no action to meet the need, even though they are capable of meeting the need.
  • True love.
    • Not just knowing or talking about a need but taking action to meet the need.
    • It often requires a sacrifice of some sort by the person meeting the need.
    • The greatest love sacrifice was Jesus going to the cross for each of us.
  • The actual test of our Christian love is when we are called on to make a sacrifice for a brother or sister and we willingly take that action.
  • A believer’s relationship with others affects their relationship with God.
    • When our relationship with others is not right, we need to fix that (Matthew 5:23-24).
    • A condemning heart or accusing conscience will rob us of peace.
    • When a believer practices “active love,” they grow in their understanding of God, and their heart is filled with peace.
    • A believer also needs to be careful not to allow the devil to accuse them and rob them of their confidence falsely.
      • Once a sin is recognized and confessed, it is forgiven.
      • They shouldn’t continue to beat themselves up over the sin.
      • Although we shouldn’t treat sin lightly, often, we are harder on ourselves than God is on us.
  • When we love others, and our relationship with them and God is right, it gives us confidence in coming to God with our prayers.
  • This confidence isn’t “earning answered prayers,” but an understanding that when we are living in a right relationship with God, our prayers will align with His will.
    • If believers aren’t obeying God’s Word, their prayer life will be hindered (Psalm 66:18).
    • One of the great secrets of answered prayer is obedience.
    • The secret of obedience is love.
      • John 14:15.
      • John 15:7, 10.
    • We must also remember that the reason why we are obedient is important.
      • Obedience shouldn’t be out of fear or servitude. This was the sin of the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:24-32).
      • Obedience should flow from a spirit of love toward God. When we live to please God, we will find that God will find ways to please us (Psalm 37:4).
  • The last two verses of this passage sum up the obligations of a Christian.
    • Faith toward God and love toward man.
    • Christianity is faith working through love (Galatians 5:6).
      • It’s easy to focus on faith and neglect loving others.
      • At the same time, some may ignore sound doctrine and focus only on love.
      • Both faith/doctrine and love are vital.
    • Abiding in Christ is a key factor in a believer having confidence in God and enjoying answered prayers.
      • John 15:1-14.
      • Jesus is talking about bearing fruit, not salvation.
      • As long as the branch draws its strength from the vine, it will produce fruit. But if it is separated, it will wither and die.
    • When a believer walks in love, it is easy to obey God and maintain a close relationship with Him.
  • The Holy Spirit is also key.
    • The Holy Spirit empowers us.
    • The Holy Spirit guides and directs us.
    • The Holy Spirit reveals the truth.
    • The Holy Spirit will convict us when we stray.


  • Examine how you treat others. Do you exhibit murder, hatred, or indifference to them, especially when there is a need you can meet? Or do you exhibit Christian love? Although none of us will be perfect in this area, an evaluation of how often we fall into each category will reveal the condition of our heart.
  • Do your actions match your words/thoughts/prayers? Scripture is clear that only thinking or praying about a situation is not enough if you have the ability to act and help in a situation. We are called to act when someone has a need. Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal these inconsistencies in your life. 
  • When we realize we have fallen short in meeting the needs of someone. Repent, confess, meet the need if it still exists, and take comfort in the fact that when we fall short, God knows our heart. Those who are followers of Christ are not condemned. Don’t let your past shortcomings weigh you down and keep you from moving forward. When that happens, we fall prey to the traps of the devil.

1 John Lesson Five

1 John Lesson Five: 1 John 2:28-3:10 – Another Demand for Right Action

So now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know this as well: Everyone who does what is right  has been born of Him.  3 Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him  because we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure. 

Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law. You know that He was revealed so that He might take away sins, and there is no sin in Him.  Everyone who remains in Him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him. 

Little children, let no one deceive you! The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works. Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how God’s children—and the Devil’s children—are made evident. (HCSB)

I’ll be dividing this passage into two sections.

  • God’s great love for us – verses 2:28-3:3.
  • God’s children do not live in sin – verses 3:4-10.

God’s Great Love for Us

The end of chapter two, verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine, serve as a bridge from the previous section and chapter three. If we begin our Christian life by believing and trusting in Jesus, what comes next? It’s in this “what’s next” phase that many churches today fail to follow Jesus’ command in Matthew 28, “make disciples.” Although it may appear on the surface that John isn’t addressing the issue of discipleship, when you look at this passage in a “macro sense,” you will see that John is talking about discipleship. Now, let’s take a closer look at this passage.

  • John begins with the phrase “little children.” John is talking about fellow believers.
  • However, there has been much debate in scholarly circles regarding the understanding of the phrases “remain in Him” and “have boldness and not be ashamed.” There are three main interpretations of this verse.
    • John is talking about unsaved individuals being ashamed when Jesus returns. The drawback with this interpretation is that John begins the verse by addressing Christians.
    • If we don’t remain in fellowship with Jesus, we’ll lose our salvation and be ashamed when Jesus returns. This is a main divergent point in the centuries-old debate between the schools of Calvin and Armenius.
      • Armenians teach that a believer can lose their salvation.
      • Calvinists teach that once a person is elected and saved, they can never lose salvation.
    • If we don’t remain in fellowship with Jesus, we’ll retain our salvation but be ashamed of our actions.
      • Each believer will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
      • There, our works will be evaluated, and eternal rewards handed out.
      • 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 – our work will be revealed as either perishable or imperishable.
      • 1 Corinthians 4:5 – the intentions of our heart will be revealed.
      • 2 Corinthians 5:10 – we will be repaid for what we have done, whether good or worthless.
    • The judgment seat of Christ will not be a completely joyful experience for those who have squandered the spiritual gifts they were given or walked in disobedience.
    • However, the shame will be relatively short-lived. Revelation 21:4 – God will wipe away every tear. 
    • It will not be a perpetual experience, but still something to avoid.
  • The end of verse twenty-nine presents a challenge if we read it and ignore the context of the surrounding verses and the totality of Scripture.
    • An example of someone who lived a sacrificial life and met the needs of others would be Gandhi. However, Gandhi rejected Jesus, meaning he couldn’t be born of God. 
    • The context of this letter was to address the false teachings of the Gnostics, who claimed to know God through some special inner knowledge.
      • The Gnostics taught that the spirit was good and untouched by the actions of the physical body. 
      • They believed they could sin without remorse or consequence since the spirit was untouched by sin.
      • They claimed to be Christians, to know God, but they hated real Christians and lived sinful lives.
    • The intent behind the ending of this verse is that if someone claims to be a Christian but doesn’t do what is right, they aren’t a Christian.
  • John now shifts gears and talks about God’s amazing love for us.
    • Those who decide to follow Jesus become God’s children.
      • While every person is “wondrously made,” there is a distinction between believers and unbelievers.
      • Believers become a member of God’s spiritual family.
    • In verse one, the term “know” is better understood as “accept.”
      • Unbelievers don’t accept God.
      • Therefore, they don’t accept believers.
    • Even though believers are children of God, on this side of eternity, we won’t fully grasp what this means.
      • The full extent “has not yet been revealed” to us. 
      • Each believer has a different level of understanding regarding our relationship with God and our transformation through submission to Jesus and empowerment by the Holy Spirit.
      • The transformation, which is incomplete in our physical body, will be instantaneous and complete once we see Jesus.
    • When we begin to grasp the unbelievable wonder of this fact, this will motivate us to live pure and holy lives.
      • We will want to live holy lives because Jesus is holy.
      • Often, our weak commitment to holiness is due to our dim perception of who Jesus is and who we have become through Him. 
      • When we gain a fuller understanding of Romans 8:17 (coheirs with Christ), we’ll understand that we are destined to rule and reign with Jesus in heaven.
    • One of our resources for holy living is to ponder and meditate on who Jesus is, who we have become through Him, and what our eternal existence will be like when we meet Him.

God’s Children Do Not Live in Sin

The next section of John’s letter has generated much debate among scholars and theologians. It’s difficult to find much common ground, even in well-respected commentaries. Therefore, we shouldn’t be alarmed if the average believer struggles with understanding this passage. Now, let’s start to dig into this section.

  • Verse four shouldn’t cause any misunderstanding. When we sin, we break God’s law. Sin is lawlessness. There are several other biblical definitions of sin.
    • Proverbs 24:9 – A foolish scheme is sin.
    • Romans 14:23 – Everything that is not from a conviction is sin.
    • James 4:17 – So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.
    • 1 John 5:17 – All unrighteousness is sin.
  • There isn’t a single overarching biblical definition of sin.
    • Each of the preceding examples is part of the whole sin.
    • Verse four states that sin is lawlessness.
    • Lawlessness is a characteristic of the spirit of the antichrist.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 – Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship,  so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.
  • The man of lawlessness doesn’t reign; he has no power except what we give to him. 
  • Jesus is the one who reigns and takes away the sins of the world.
    • The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are the remedy for sin.
    • Jesus lived a life free from sin.
    • His was a once and for all perfect sacrifice to restore our fellowship with God.
  • Verse six is where it becomes quite challenging, and there is quite a bit of disagreement on the interpretation. This is especially true when the end of verse nine is considered with verse six.
  • Consider the phrases “Everyone who remains in Him does not sin: everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him,” “The one who commits sin is of the Devil,” “Everyone who has been born of God does not sin…he is not able to sin.”
    • These phrases can be quite unsettling to the believer.
    • We know that we sin. We may be wrestling with some type of sin bondage in our lives. 
    • These phrases do anything but comfort us with the assurance of salvation.
    • There are numerous passages of Scripture that tell us that we will sin until we enter heaven.
    • There are several scholarly interpretations of this section.
      • The willful-sin position: The sins are willful and deliberate, not involuntary or unintentional sins. However, even believers can commit major, premeditated sins.
      • The habitual-sin position: A believer can’t live a lifestyle of willful, unrepentant sin. We may sin badly, and we may go through periods of backsliding, but we will never settle into a lifestyle that is characterized by sin. To a certain extent, the Gnostics followed this example.
      • The ideal-character position: A believer should strive for the ideal of living a sinless life, with the understanding that it is unreachable in the flesh. It is better to try and fail than never to try.
      • The new-man position: The “new man” is a perfect creation. The new or inner man is regenerated, and there is no condemnation for him (or her). Until we enter heaven, our inner man will battle our fleshly desires.
      • There are other positions, but they are mostly variations of the ones presented.
    • Although there is much debate on what is said, there is general agreement on what is not being said.
      • John is not saying a Christian will never commit sin.
      • When a Christian commits sin, they will not lose salvation.
  • Verse seven warns the believer not to be deceived. This deception can come from several sources.
    • False teachers who knowingly distort Scripture.
    • Those who don’t understand what Scripture is saying lead others astray without realizing it.
    • The spirits of darkness, often working through others, to lead us astray.
  • The reader also needs to link 3:7 back to 2:29.
    • Doing what is right does not make a person righteous.
    • If a person is righteous, they will do what is right.
    • Righteousness comes from an obedient relationship with Jesus.
  • John makes it clear in verse eight that those who deliberately live in sin, deny the truth in Scripture, and deliberately lead others astray are followers of the antichrist.
    • At the same time, believers need to hear what John is saying.
    • When believers sin, they are temporarily siding with the devil, and they shouldn’t do that.
    • Sin originated with the devil. Sin opposes Jesus.
    • When believers realize they have sinned, they need to confess and repent.
  • Verse nine presents the same challenges as verse six. The same options for understanding verse six equally apply here.
  • What does John mean by the word “seed?”
    • It could refer to the Word of God.
    • It could refer to the Holy Spirit.
    • It could refer to the regenerated spirit when a believer is born again.
  • All three are true statements and are taught in other places in Scripture.
  • John is teaching that sin and salvation are opposites.
    • Wanting to sin is not being led by the Spirit.
    • Wanting to sin is not having a relationship with Christ.
    • If a believer finds themselves in this situation, they need to reexamine their commitment to Christ.
  • Christians make themselves known as God’s children by doing what is right and loving others.
  • Children of the devil make themselves known by refusing to do what is right and refusing to love others.


  • Be careful of false teachings and false teachers. John was addressing a specific problem, Gnostics, the readers were facing. The church today still faces false teachers and teachings; the prosperity gospel, acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and more than male and female genders. These are just a few of the challenges the modern church faces, but they are legitimate threats that must be faced and addressed.
  • If you are a believer and you are deliberately living in sin, you need to reexamine your relationship with Christ. Scripture is clearly warning believers that when believers live in this manner, they are living in opposition to Jesus and aligning themselves with the devil.
  • When believers sin, they need to confess and repent quickly. It’s too easy to slip into a sin cycle. We should also watch out for our brothers and sisters if they are struggling with sin. We need to come alongside of them, pray for them, and support them.

1 John Lesson Four

1 John Lesson Four: 1 John 2:18-27 – The Importance of Right Belief

18 Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. 

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge. 21 I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son can have the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well. 

24 What you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.  25 And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life. 26 I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 

27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as He has taught you, remain in Him. (HCSB)

I will split this lesson into two parts.

  • The Antichrist and false believers – verses 18-23.
  • Remaining steadfast and obedient – verses 24-27.

The Antichrist and False Believers

John’s letter was written to believers who were facing many of the same challenges we face today, false teachers (antichrists) who lead people away from the true Gospel and Scripture. These individuals, both then and now, tear apart the unity which should be present in the church. The antichrists follow and teach heretical Christology and lead believers astray and in opposition to Christ. Let’s look at the challenges facing the readers of John’s letter.

  • The antichrists were secessionists. Instead of maintaining unity, they left the church.
  • They taught a docetic Christology; Jesus’ human body was an illusion. They only believed in the divinity of Jesus and not the human element.
  • There were some who only believed in the human side, not believing that Jesus was also God.
  • Either interpretation is possible depending on how one understands verse twenty-two.

Today there are several false teachings that have risen in the church.

  • The idea of more than two genders.
  • The acceptance of same-sex marriage. 
  • The prosperity Gospel. 
  • Avoiding teaching the holiness of God and the dangers of sin.

There are more, but these are probably the main ones you may face in today’s church. However, John makes it clear these antichrists shouldn’t discourage us or make us surprised. Scripture is clear that in the “last days,” the period after Christ’s resurrection and before His return, there will be false teachers, and people will search after the “truth” that is attractive to them. 

Verse nineteen contains a two-pronged warning.

  • The shallow teaching and lack of discipleship prevalent in the modern church have created believers who will abandon the faith at the first sign of challenges or persecution.
    • Scripture is clear that following Jesus comes at a cost.
      • Believers aren’t guaranteed an easy life.
      • Sacrifice is often required of believers.
      • Believes may be sent to a location they wouldn’t choose.
      • Hardship, at some point, is to be expected.
    • Many modern churches don’t disciple believers, both new and mature.
      • When we look at how Jesus interacted with those around Him, we see a system where He taught, and then they applied the teaching. 
      • Discipleship isn’t a six or twelve-week course; it is a lifestyle that results in transformation.
      • Biblical teaching is often offensive and runs counter to the world. Yet, that is precisely how believers should live.
  • There are antichrists, wolves, in both leadership roles as well as in the general congregation.
    • Those in leadership roles are more dangerous.
      • They use their position to promote false teaching.
      • They will accuse those who disagree with them of being intolerant or not expressing “love.”
      • At times they can bring an entire church down or lead a large group away from the faith.
    • The congregational wolves may not create as much widespread damage, but they shouldn’t be underestimated. They can be just like cancer, slowly spreading their damage through the church.

What do we have to protect ourselves from these dangers? John talks about anointing and knowledge.

  • The anointing clearly points to the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of His ministry.
    • Scripture teaches that Jesus will send the “Spirit of truth” in John 14:17.
    • The Holy Spirit will teach believers all things – John 14:26.
  • The knowledge points to the Bible.
    • We are taught about God.
    • We are taught how to be obedient and what is expected.
    • We are warned about false teachers.
    • The Bible is the sole source of truth and instruction in a fallen world.

When John is talking about the truth, he is talking about Scripture. If we are followers of Christ, we should be immersing ourselves in reading the Bible. If we do that, we are constantly feeding on the truth. When believers don’t constantly immerse themselves in Scripture, they are in danger of falling for lies and falling away from God.

John now switches from believers who know and follow the truth to those who deny the truth contained in Scripture.

  • The main lie John addresses here is the false teaching that Jesus is not the Messiah.
    • Those who deny that Jesus is the Messiah are on the side of the antichrist.
    • John uses the word “liar” as a connotation for the devil.
    • In Johannine theology, the height of heresy is the denial of Jesus as the Messiah.
  • The designation of antichrist has a two-fold meaning.
    • In one sense, it is the specific apocalyptic figure who will arise at the end of time.
    • It also is a designation for anyone who opposes Jesus by rejecting His true identity.
  • In both cases, the end result is both the Father and the Son.
    • While the false teachers may not have denied the Father, their actions created a different consequence for them.
    • By denying that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Father is implicitly denied.
    • Therefore, by denying that Jesus is the Messiah, they demonstrate they never truly knew the Father.
    • Acceptance of denial of Jesus is equivalent to acceptance of denial of the Father – John 10:30 The Father and I are one.
  • A person who denies the Son has no child-parent relationship with God. A believer enters a relationship with the Father through their relationship with Jesus. Matthew 10:32-33 “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.”

Remaining Steadfast and Obedient

As we begin this section, there are two important points to emphasize.

  • John hammers home the point of steadfast faithfulness with the word “remain.” He uses it three times in verse twenty-four.
    • The relationship where the believer remains firmly rooted with God through their relationship with Jesus can’t be underemphasized. It is key to the entire relationship.
    • John highlights the order, first through the Son and then through the Father. As mentioned previously, without a relationship with the Son, there is no relationship with the Father.
    • When the relationship is done according to Scripture, the believer gets a relationship with the Son and the Father.
  • The second point to discuss is the meaning of “what you have heard from the beginning.”
    • There are three possible interpretations of this phrase. Let’s look at each one in increasing relevance.
      • It could refer to Jesus’ preexistence with the Father.
      • It could refer to the possibility of the readers hearing Jesus’ message in person during His time of ministry.
      • It is most likely referring to the original apostolic message prior to and at their time of conversion.
    • This would contrast with the false message the heretics were speaking and which John was warning them about. 

Verse twenty-five begins with “and,” indicating a blessing we receive when we remain in what we’ve heard from the beginning. Let’s look at a couple of things from this verse.

  • The Greek form of the verb is present tense, indicating the promise is available now for those who believe Jesus is the Messiah.
  • Who does “the promise that He…made” refer to?
    • The structure of the grammar allows it to refer to both the Father and the Son.
    • However, from a functional standpoint, the promise of eternal life comes from the Father through the Son.
    • Through this section, John stresses the relationship with both the Father and the Son. Therefore, it makes the best sense to interpret that John is referring to both with the term “He.”
  • The promise is eternal life. The promise should be understood in a two-pronged meaning.
    • It refers to the future promise of eternal life with the Father and Son.
    • It also refers to the present experience of a relationship with the Father and the Son.
    • In both John’s Gospel and this letter, eternal life refers to both the present and the future.
      • The forgiveness of sins has moved the believer from darkness to light in the present age.
      • The defeat of sin and death through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus secures the believer a future dwelling place in the kingdom of God.

As John moves into verse twenty-six, he returns to the warning about the false teachers, the antichrists.

  • The false teachers believed and were teaching a false doctrine.
  • Their goal was to drag others away from the faith.
  • Not only was this a danger in John’s time, but it also a danger we face today with false teachers. Believers need to be on guard against false teaching, challenge it, and warn others when they identify it.

As John moves into the final verse of this passage, he tells the readers to remain rooted in the teaching and illumination of the Holy Spirit.

  • John is referring to a linking of the Spirit and the Word in this verse.
    • The Word is the source of absolute truth, and the Spirit enables us to understand this truth and gives us the strength to put it into practice.
    • When the two are combined, it gives the believer the ability to discern and avoid false teachers and teaching.
  • The reader might misunderstand and think John is telling them they don’t need human teachers.
    • John does not deny the importance of sound human teaching.
    • The fact John wrote this epistle to the readers is proof that John values human teaching.
  • John ends this passage with the phrase, “remain in Him.” This reminds us of Jesus’ words in John 15:4, “remain in Me.” To remain in Jesus is only possible when the believer has a close personal relationship with the Father through the Son.


  • Believers need to cling to the truth that Jesus is the divine Son of God. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, died, was buried, and on the third day, He rose and sits at the right hand of the Father.
  • Let the Spirit lead your life. The Spirit should both illuminate you to the truth in Scripture as well as those who spew false teaching. 
  • When we identify false teaching, we need to confront it and warn others about it. It’s not enough to do only one. Suppose we saw a criminal but didn’t warn others; that wouldn’t be right. The same idea applies to false teachers. It’s not enough to identify them. We also need to warn others, so they aren’t harmed by them.

1 John Lesson Three

1 John Lesson Three: The Urgency of Loving One Another – 1 John 2:7-17

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 

The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 

12 I am writing to you, little children, 

because your sins have been forgiven 

because of Jesus’ name. 

13 I am writing to you, fathers, 

because you have come to know 

the One who is from the beginning. 

I am writing to you, young men, 

because you have had victory over the evil one. 

14 I have written to you, children, 

because you have come to know the Father. 

I have written to you, fathers, 

because you have come to know 

the One who is from the beginning. 

I have written to you, young men, 

because you are strong, 

God’s word remains in you, 

and you have had victory over the evil one. 

15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever. (HCSB)

As we continue our study of 1 John, I’ll split this lesson into three parts.

  • Light and dark – verses 7-11.
  • Fathers, young men, and little children – verses 12-14.
  • Misplaced love – verses 15-17.

Light and Dark

At first glance, verses seven and eight may appear confusing and contradictory. John first says he isn’t writing a new command but then says he is writing a new command. What does he mean?

  • In its most fundamental understanding, it is both an old and a new command.
  • Understanding it as an old command.
    • It’s found in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:18 – Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.
    • The command to love others applied before the incarnation of Jesus.
  • Understanding it as a new command.
    • It’s found in the New Testament.
      • John 13:34 –  I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.
      • John 15:12 – This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.
    • The reason it’s also a new command is that there is new evidence and new power to fulfill this command.
      • The evidence is that Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the grave. This gives us a better understanding of what love looks like.
      • The power is the Holy Spirit indwelling believers.
        • The Holy Spirit enables believers to live out the commands of Scripture.
        • The Holy Spirit also enables believers to support each other through love and good deeds in the spiritual community called “the church.”
      • Through our lives, we demonstrate the “light of Christ” to a dark world.
  • John then goes on to contrast the difference between light and darkness.
    • If we hate our brother, we walk in darkness. If we love our brother, we walk in the light.
    • We also need to understand what John is not saying.
      • John is not saying we need to like every fellow believer or have an emotional bond with them.
      • John is using the word agape for love.
        • To have “agape” love for someone is based upon sincere appreciation and high regard.
        • We steadily extend goodwill to others.
        • We are not commanded to “feel” a specific way to others.
        • But we are commanded to “act” a certain way to others.
      • When we understand agape love this way, we see the command is to act properly to fellow believers out of a desire to be obedient to God. In this way, we demonstrate agape love.
  • Some scholars have criticized John for not teaching here the idea of loving our enemies. However, we need to remember the context of this letter. John was addressing a specific challenge the readers were facing, those who professed to be a believer but refused to love fellow Christians.

Fathers, Young Men, and Little Children

These three verses need to be connected in context to what came before and what will follow.

  • In the preceding section, John gave a warning about false teaching and false believers.
  • In this section, John gives reassurance to genuine believers.
    • John contrasts the spiritual status of believers with the self-praising false teachers.
    • The false teachers claimed ordinary believers didn’t know God because they hadn’t received special knowledge of Him through mystical means.
  • John addressed three sets of readers; little children, fathers, and young men.
    • Among scholars, there are three interpretations of these divisions.
      • The first is a chronological division by age.
      • The second is a division by spiritual maturity.
      • The third is that divisions apply equally to all readers as “fathers” appears out of sequence with the other two. There is support for this position as in other sections of the letter; John addresses all the readers as “children.”
        • 1 John 2:1, 28; 3:7, 18; 5:21.
        • Additionally, often in the Bible, the author connects ages as a figure of speech to denote everyone across the spectrum. 
        • Joel, quoted by Luke in Acts 2:28, mentions old men having dreams and young men seeing visions. This is another way of saying that dreams and visions are experienced by young, old, and everyone in between.
        • If we apply this principle to the current passage, then whatever is said for each age category applies to all age categories.
        • As children, each of them experienced the forgiveness of sins.
        • As young men, each had engaged in spiritual warfare and overcame the evil one and had grown strong in the Word.
        • As fathers, each had known Yahweh from the beginning.

Misplaced Love

In John’s summary of this section, he makes it clear the readers were Christians.

  • They were his “little children.” – 2:1
  • They were his “dear friends.” – 4:1.

After having reassured them of their salvation in the previous three verses, John now warns them again about the dangers of false teachers and the seduction of worldly desires.

  • They are not to love the world. The Greek word used here for the world is kosmos. In the context of this passage, it refers to attitudes and values that disregard God or are blatantly against God.
    • It does not refer to God’s natural creation or humanity.
    • It does mean we are to love the people in the world but not their sinful attitudes and the values they support. 
  • There is some debate over the understanding of the phrase, “love for the Father is not in him.” Scholars interpret this in two ways.
    • If we love the world, God doesn’t love us.
    • If we love the world, we don’t love God.
    • From the context of the passage, the second interpretation makes better sense. If we love the things of the world, we are not loving God. We can’t love the world and God at the same time. James 4:4 would support this view, “Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.”
  • John goes on to explain that the world’s values are in opposition to God.
    • The lust of the flesh is the interests and desires that draw us away from God.
    • The lust of the eyes is a sinful desire that corrupts us.
      • The eye is often used in Scripture as a figure of speech referring to sinful passions.
      • Matthew 5:28 – But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
      • When Eve looked at the forbidden fruit, it was “delightful to look at.”
      • David’s sin with Bathsheba started when he saw her taking a bath – 2 Samuel 11:2.
    • Pride in one’s lifestyle refers to arrogance and pride that can consume us when we try to get ahead of others in material possessions or when we rely on ourselves than on God.
  • Following the values of the world is foolish for two reasons.
    • First, they don’t come from the Father. This means they interfere with our fellowship with God.
    • Second, all of us are going to die, and what we’ve been living for will be worthless.
  • This passage could be paraphrased  in this way: Don’t embrace the ways or goods of the world. When you do, it suffocates your love for God. When you live for yourself, acquire everything you desire, and look good compared to those around you, you aren’t living for God but for the world. This is foolish because it destroys your relationship with God, and in the end, it will all pass away.


  • Do you extend love to your spiritual brothers and sisters? Let’s be honest; there are probably some that you don’t like. However, Scripture is clear that we are to extend them love. We may not like them for various reasons, but they are still part of our spiritual family. We are called to honor these relationships and, if they are damaged, to mend them.
  • Never forget your relationship with God and the price it cost for Jesus to pay for your sins. We might be at different stages in our walk with God, child/young person/elder, but we are called to stay rooted and to grow spiritually.
  • Where are your priorities? Are they focused on the things of the world which will pass away? Or are you focused on God and the things which are eternal? It’s clear that Scripture calls us to focus on God and our relationship with Him. The ways of the world can be attractive and tempting, but they will never satisfy us or draw us closer to God.