Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.


     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: Last week we learned that we are on the path of light
if we do what is right and we love one another. (1 John 3:10) This
week John delves more deeply into the question of what it means to
love one another. So let's delve with him!


     A. Read 1 John 3:11-12. John says we have "heard from the 
     beginning" the message that we should love one another.
          1. What beginning is he talking about? 
          2. The beginning of the apostolic church?  
          3. The beginning of our life?  
          4. The beginning of the world? (The reference point for
          "beginning" is clear: from the beginning of the history
          of man -- the story of Cain and Abel.)

     B. Do you consider the story of Cain and Abel to be a lesson
     on how we should love one another? 

          1. Is this the definition of love: avoid being like 
          someone who murdered his brother?

          2. So as long as we do not kill anyone, we are all right? 

          3. Kind of an extreme (and low) standard, isn't it?

     C. I think we need to read on. Read vv. 13-16. How do we know
     what it means to love one another? (Verse 16 gives us the
     positive side of this: Jesus' example of laying down His life
     for us.)

          1. So why did John start out talking about Cain?  What
          point was he trying to make by starting out with Cain
          instead of Jesus?

          2. Will someone read Hebrews 12:22-24. Does this show 
          that the story of Cain and Abel shows us love after all?
          (Yes! The story is supposed to teach us something for it
          says that Jesus' blood "speaks a better word."  Both
          Abel's blood and Jesus' blood have a message for us. John
          started out talking about Abel's blood first because he
          gave it up first.) 

               a. What is the "word" of Abel's blood? (That Abele
               was in a sense a  prototype of Jesus. We do not
               know the precise circumstances under which he gave
               up his life. We do not know if it was willingly or
               not. But he did give up his life because of his
               obedience. Therefore, we see that from the very
               beginning man has been faced with the two paths
               that John has been consistently talking about: the
               path of light and the path of darkness. Those on
               the path of light are learning the lesson of self-
               sacrifice. The end is life. Those on the path of
               darkness are learning the lesson of self-
               gratification and envy. The end is death.)


     A. In vv. 12-16 John seems to contradict himself. He says 
     three things:

          1. We are like Abel and Jesus if we love;

          2. Do not be surprised if the world hates you (it hated
          Abel and Jesus); and, 

          3. If you have this love you have passed from death to

     B. Wait a minute! Considering these examples, wouldn't it be
     more accurate to say that if we love we pass from life to
     death?  These "guys" got whacked for their love! 

     C. Do you remember in driver's training they teach you to keep
     you eye on the road a half-mile ahead?  Don't just stare at
     the back bumper of the person in front of you. Why do they
     teach that? 

          1. Is John teaching like a "driver's ed. teacher?"
     (John is talking about the "long view," just like in driver's
     education. The "long view" better informs what we should be
     doing in the immediate future.  In Biblical terms, what
     happens "on the path" here is not as important as the end of
     the path.  That is why we must be on the right path. The end
     of the right path is this: "the man who does the will of God
     lives forever." 1 John 2:17  In that way we pass from death to


     A.  Again John clearly lays out two paths for us. (Draw 
     the path of light and the path of darkness.)

     B. What have we learned so far (in these verses we have 
     studied this morning) are the attributes of the individuals on
     each of these paths?

     Light                                   Darkness
     Love                                    Murder
     Possibly being hated                    Hate (Why hate? Matt.
                                             5:22: "anyone who is
                                             angry with his
                                             bother will be
                                             subject to
     Lay down our lives for brothers.

     C. Let's read on to fill in our paradigm chart even further.
     Read 1 John 3:17-20. What else should we add?

     Light                                   Darkness
     Pity on brothers in need                No pity, but ability
                                             to help.
     Active love                             Empty love
     Conscience at rest                      Troubled conscience

     D. Let's explore these further. Verse 17 has a qualifier, it
     says "if anyone has material possessions" he should have pity.

          1. Does this mean that we are "off the hook" if we do not
          have much ourselves?

          2. Just what do you think constitutes "material
          possessions?" (The greek here is interesting. The word
          translated "possessions" is  "bios."  It means "life" or
          the means to sustain life. (For the computer literate,
          this is not "basic input and output system.) The word
          translated "material" is "kosmos" meaning an ordered
          universe.  So if you have the means from the universe to
          sustain life, then you have "material possessions.")

               a. Anybody here not meet that standard? (We are then
               all "on the hook.") 

     E. How far does John say our obligation extends? (John refers
     to "brothers," which he distinguishes from "the world." 1 John


     A. Let's re-read vv. 19-20 and add vv. 21-22. We have
     repeatedly seen that John gives us "reality checks" so that we
     can check ourselves. What is John's "reality check" that
     involves our heart (v. 19-20)? (It seems John is talking about
     our conscience.)

          1. If John is speaking of our conscience, what does he
          mean in v. 20 when he says "God is greater than our
          hearts?" (I think John is speaking of an informed
          conscience. If a person were raised from youth to refrain
          from eating broccoli because it is sin, that person would
          have a troubled heart for no reason. We need to pay
          attention to our conscience, but God is greater than our
          conscience and we need to pay more attention to His word. 
          When God's word and our conscience are working together
          as a team, we have a reliable guide.)

     B. Read 1 John 3:23-24. This is very similar to the way in 
     which we ended our last lesson (1 John 3:10) Last week it was
     obey and love.  This week believe and love.

          1. How do we know we are obeying? (v.24 "by the Spirit he
          gave us.")

          2. Is this reference to the "Spirit," another reference
          to our conscience? (The "Spirit" is obviously the Holy
          Spirit.  A right-formed conscience will be driven by the
          Holy Spirit.)

V. NEXT WEEK: "TESTING THE SPIRITS." 1 John 4:1-6.  John follows up
on this idea of having the right "spirit." Study!
by the Holy Spirit.) V. NEXT WEEK: "TESTING THE SPIRITS." 1 John 4:1-6. John follows up on this idea of having the right "spirit." Study!