In This World We Are Like Him

1 John–Lesson 10

In the first chapter of this letter, John referred to God as light, a symbol of His holy nature.  In John 4:24, John wrote that God is Spirit.  In this passage he reveals that God is love.  J. Dwight Pentecost writes that “love is the heartbeat of God, God’s love for sinners brings us into the full experience of His love and into full partnership in His life.”1 Every action taken by God flows from His love. It is God’s nature to love.

“…You may participate in the divine nature…”
“…[you] have the mind of Christ.”
2 Peter 1:4b & 1 Corinthians 2:16b

“Dispossessed of your life, become
…possessed of a Divine Life.”2

Those born of God who choose to live in the light grow to know God through fellowship with Him.  As they progress in their intimacy with God, they increasingly live in love, resembling the Lord’s divine nature in their minds and in their conduct through the Holy Spirit.

“And we…[who] reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18

1.  Read 1 John 4:7-21.  From verses 7-8, what is the origin of love?  Who is capable of agape love?

2.  What prevents a believer from loving?  According to 1 John 1:7 and 1 John 2:3, what is amiss in the life of an unloving believer?

3.  Godly action and a willingness to sacrifice define God’s love.  According to 1 John 4:9-11, what action and sacrifice did God make?  What is clearly the action He expects of us?

4.  What makes agape love far more than just sentiment?  (Note:  Originally, mankind was capable of love, as we were all made in the image of God.  However, love became distorted and self-focused when sin entered the world through Adam.  Human love is no longer pure, and mankind is incapable of loving God or others.  Agape love was initiated by God–He loved mankind first.  Because of Christ, believers can now love God and others.)

5.  According to John, how is God made known?  (Note:  The phrase in 1 John 4:12 “no one has ever seen God” [in His pure essence] may have been stated to refute the false teachers who claimed to have experiential “visions” of God.  No one has seen God, but they can see Him in the lives of believers who show agape love to one another.  The word “complete” in the NIV is translated, “perfected” in the KJV and NASB, indicating the process of sanctification.)

6.  Is the progressive growth of God’s love for others a goal in your life?  If so, what steps are you taking to achieve this goal?

7.  Do you realize that agape love among believers is a powerful testimony?  Describe an experience when the Holy Spirit enabled you, or someone you know, to show agape love to someone difficult to love.

(Note:  When we are born again, we immediately live in Him and He in us, because we are given the Holy Spirit.  This is positional truth.  When were showing agape love to others, our positional abiding is lived out experientially.)

8.   According to 1 John 4:13, how do we know we are abiding in Him?

9.  The “we” in verse 14 refers to John and his readers.  Read John 15:26 and review 1 John 4:14-15.  What can believers testify to?  How are we enabled and empowered to have assurance of our testimony?

(Note:  The word “seen” may be thought of as “seen through the eyes of faith.”)

10.  When believers testify to the truth about Jesus Christ, how is that an act of agape love for others?

11.  According to 1 John 4:15-16, where must a believer’s trust be placed to embrace the truth about God’s love in us?  What phrase proves that this is only possible through abiding?

12. From verse 16-17, explain how confidence in the presence of God indicates that love is being made complete (being perfected, maturing) in us?    What is accomplished by this confidence?

“A person saved by love and indwelled with love must love.  We may have trouble loving perfectly, but there is a big difference between not loving perfectly and not loving at all.”2

13.  An antonym for confidence is fear.  Review 1 John 4:18-19.  What does perfected, maturing love free us from?  Why is there no life patterns of fear for a believer who abides in obedience to Christ, trusting in God’s love for them?

14.  What is true of a believer who doesn’t abide?  How does fear result in punishment for a believer, not only with the loss of rewards at the judgment but here and now?

15.  Fear and love cannot coexist.  Which is most often true of your daily walk, confidence or fear–love or guilt?  Explain.

16.  From a review of this lesson, write what is missing if fear is a believer’s companion.  What changes need to be made in a life suffering from fear?

(Note:  This fear is not the “fear of God” that comes from reverence for God’s majesty and holiness.  A true reverence for God will encourage growth in the area of love for God and others.)

17.  Review 1 John 4:20-21.  For the seventh time in this letter John exposes believers who are pretending to love God but have hatred toward a brother or sister.  What is John’s conclusion?  (Note:  The second sentence in verse 20 may mean, “Love for the unseen God can only be concretely expressed by love for one’s visible [believing sister] or brother.”3)

18.  Why is love for God and love for fellow believers inseparable?   Review 1 John 4:16 to help with your answer.

“In Christ” denotes your position:  where He is, your are.
“In Christ” defines your privileges:  what He is, you are.
“In Christ” describes your possessions:  what He has, you share.
“In Christ” determines your practice:  what He does, you do.
— Ann Ortlund4

Journal your thoughts and insights.


1 The Joy of Intimacy With God by J. Dwight Pentecost

2Bone of His Bone by F. J. Huegel
3Holman New Testament Commentary by David Walls & Max Anders
4The Bible Knowledge Commentary  by Walvoord & Zuck
5Confident in Christ by Ann Ortlund


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