1 John–Lesson 4

The first portion of John’s letter was written to refute the deceptive teaching of heretics within the body of Christ.  John also desired to affirm his readers’ faith in the incarnation of Christ and His atoning sacrifice for their sins.  Though the false teachers claimed to walk in the light, their lives were characterized by immorality and a lack of love for others.  John exhorted believers to walk in the light by obeying the Word of God and to grow to know God in an ever deepening intimacy.  In this way, they would reflect His true character–one of holiness.  He exhorted them to be willing to humbly confess specific sin moment-by-moment for restoration to fellowship with God and to express the love of the Lord for other believers.

Serve one another in love.  

Galatians 5:13b

Read 1 John 2:12-17.  In this portion of 1 John 2, John seems to be reassuring his beloved followers that he knows they are truly saved.  He has witnessed or heard of their spiritual attainments.  In verses 12-14, it is possible that John used a progression through different levels of spiritual maturity.  However, some commentators believe these represent the characteristic growth of the body of believers as a whole.

1.   According to verse 12 and 13, what blessing belongs to John’s “dear children”?  (Note: In scripture, “name” represented the essence or nature of the whole person.  In this context, “name” represented the Person of God–all that He is and all that He has done and is doing–the whole “being.”)

2.  According to verses 13-14 and 1 John 1:1, what is known by the “fathers”?  What is the significance of knowing the God “who is from the beginning”?

3.  What was characteristic of the “young men”?  According to verse 14, how did they succeed as overcomers?

4.  Is there anything you need to do to strengthen your spiritual life to enable you to be an overcomer?

5.  Which characteristics mentioned in verses 12-14 best describe your walk with the Lord?

6.  Review verses 15-17.  Now that John has encouraged the believers by recognizing their spiritual growth, he gives them a warning.  From verse 15, what is his warning?  What is true of a believer who loves the world or anything in the world?  (Note:  The “world” in this context means “the morally evil system that is opposed to all that God is and holds dear.”1   The NIV Study Bible adds that the world is, “controlled by Satan and organized against God and righteousness.”)

7.  James wrote about spiritually unfaithful people who loved the world.  Read James 4:4.  What does he write about the believers associating with the world?

8.  Love in this context doesn’t mean the agape love believers should have for other believers.   This “love” is the Greek word “phileo,” which means friendship.  Friendship with the world and the things of the world indicates a strong interest in, enthusiasm for, or devotion to the world.  The world manifests itself as “evil desire or base appetite…. [It is love for the world] that…seduce[s] the believer, and drag[s] him away from love of the Father.”2  Read John 3:19 and John 12:43.  What is characteristic of those who are involved in this type of fleshly, sinful love?

9. In 1 John 2:16, John divides everything in the world into three categories.  List them.

10.  Each of the sin-principles listed below is one of the world’s methods of luring believers away from loving God.  Using your answers to question #9, assign a category to each one.

(1) _____________________   covetousness, materialism

(2)  _____________________   pride, position

(3)  _____________________   sensual pleasures

11.  Now give a specific example from present-day culture of each “lure” in question #10.    (Example: Out of control credit card usage.)

12.  Explain how each of these sin-principles is rooted in selfishness.    How do these sinful attitudes and actions affect a believer’s life and fellowship with God?

13.  Every day believers are tempted by at least one of these desires.  Which one is most challenging for you?  How?  What do you do to resist it and continue to walk in the light?

14.   The missionary martyr Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  Explain how his quote fits with 1 John 2:17.

15.  Is there anything you have given up in order to love God?  Write a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for His love.

“Do not embrace the world’s ways or goods.  When you do, it squeezes out your love for God.  When you live for ‘getting your own way,’ and for ‘getting everything you want,’ and for ‘looking good compared to others,’ you are not living for God but for the world.  This is foolish because it suffocates your relationship with God, and in the end, it will all go up in smoke anyway.”3

—A paraphrase of 1 John 2:15-17 by Max Anders and David Walls 


Journal your thoughts and insights.


1 Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary by Earl Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, H. Wayne House
2 The Expositors Bible Commentary by Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor
Authors Brackets
3 Holman New Testament Commentary by David Walls & Max Anders


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