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

LESSON 4 - WHAT KNOWING GOD MEANS (1 John 2:12-17)

     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: Let's review for just a minute. John says, "Want to
have fellowship with God?" If you do, you need to walk on the path
of light, and not the path of darkness. 

     How do we know we are on the right path? You are on the right
     path if you obey. 

     How do you know you are obeying? Obedience means loving your
     brother. 

     How can you "decide" to love your brother?  You can learn to
     love your brother by getting to know God.  

This week we find out how to "know God." 

I. KNOWING GOD

     A. If I asked you, "Do you know so and so," what would I be
     asking you?

          1. Would I simply be asking if you knew this person's 
          name?
          
          2. Would I also be asking if you knew where this person
          lived?

          3. Would I also be asking if you knew what kind of work
          this person did?

          4. Would you have to know the name of this person's wife
          and the name of this person's children before you could
          say, "I know that person?"

     B. What do you have to know about God in order to know Him?

          1. Is knowing His name and the names of His two closest
          "relatives" enough?

     C. If I asked you to tell me what you know about God?  What
     about God impresses you the most? What would you say?

     D. Turn with me to 1 John 2.  Our study this week starts out
     with verse 12, but I'm going to go back and read verses 3-5
     and then verse 12.

          1. What do verses 3-5 say it means to know God?
          (Obedience.)

          2. Why does John say in v. 12 "I write ... because your
          sins have been forgiven?"  

               a. Why are we talking about forgiveness to a group
               that is supposed to be showing they know God by
               obeying?
               
               b. Why are we talking about sins to a group that is
               supposed to be obeying? 

               c. Let's look back at our list of what you said you
               knew about God. Did anyone say that what they knew
               about God was that He forgave us?  That He paid our
               penalty for us?  That He took our place? (The first
               step to knowing God is the first step to obeying. 
               That first step is realizing that God forgave us by
               taking our punishment. Realizing who He is and what
               He has done for us.)

                    (1) Why is the first step to obeying knowing
                    that we are forgiven? (Generally, the more
                    something costs, the more we value it. This
                    matter of sin and obedience cost God His life.
                    The first step to obedience is realizing the
                    seriousness, the "cost" of sin.)

     E. Verse 12 says that we are forgiven "on account of His 
     name." I thought it was on account of His life and death. What
     does John mean "on account of His name?"

          1. Lets go back to this "knowing" issue again. What is
          the first thing you generally know about a person? (The
          person's name. Hold that thought for a minute while we
          continue reading.)

     F. Read v. 13. Do you see the three groups being addressed?
     (Children, fathers, young men. These groups are addressed
     again in v.13b and 14.  The NIV does not reflect the tense
     changes.  The first address is "I write." The second address
     to these three groups is "I wrote.")

     G. Why do you think John means by "children," "fathers," and
     "young men?"
     
          1. Is he speaking about age?
          
          2. Why not mention young women or older women?
          
          3. Is he speaking of levels of spiritual maturity? (I 
          think he is speaking of levels of spiritual maturity.  If
          he is symbolically speaking about maturity, it would
          render unnecessary specific references to the sex of the
          reader.)

     H. If we are right that John is speaking about levels of 
     spiritual maturity, let's look again at his message. If
     children (v.12)  means the spiritually immature, then does it
     make sense to say they are saved "on account of his name?"
     (The spiritually immature do not have a complete knowledge of
     God, and they do not need a complete knowledge of God to be
     saved. The "first level" of knowledge about a person is his
     name! For the "babes" in Christ, this is enough!)

          1. If this is right, why does John also say in v. 13 that
          the children "have known the Father?" (A consistent
          answer is that new Jewish converts would "know the
          Father."  John says that real truth and knowledge about
          the Father is covered by darkness which is being chased
          away by the light that Jesus' life here sheds on the
          Father.(2:8)

          2. (If need additional discussion of "His name" have the
          class consider Ezekiel 20:8-10. God discusses "His name"
          in the context of unbelieving nations.  This context
          clearly seems to refer to His reputation.  Those who
          truly "know God" have gone beyond the simple matter of
          "His name.")

     I. With this same perspective, what do you think John means
     when he says the "fathers" have "known him who is from the
     beginning?" (It could be two things: 

          1. These are people who actually knew Jesus during His
          ministry.
          
          2. These are people who "know" Jesus well enough to 
          understand His true nature: that He is fully God (as well
          as fully man) since He is from "the beginning." John 1:1:
          In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God
          ...)

     J. Read v. 14. What then does John mean by "young men?" (Those
     who are on the middle ground between simple forgiveness and a
     "settled" understanding of God's character.)

          1. Notice how these "young men" are described (v.14):

               a. strong;
               b. word of God lives in them; and,
               c. overcame the evil one.

          2. Is this consistent with the description "young men?"
          (These are those who are growing in Christ and have vigor
          to carry on the fight against the devil.)

II. LOVE OF THE WORLD (KNOWING THE WORLD INSTEAD OF GOD)

     A. Read 1 John 2:15-17.  Notice the pattern here. On one side
     of the blackboard we have "love of the world."  On the other
     side we have "love of the Father."  If you love the world, v.
     16 says, it has certain results in your life. This love will
     return to you in very specific ways. On the other hand, if you
     love the Father, it also has certain results in your life. The
     love of the Father will return to you and fill you.  So we
     have a choice here.

     B. Now, what does John mean in v. 15 when we tells us not to
     love the world or anything in the world?  The only things I
     have ever seen or touched are "in the world." (He defines what
     he means in v. 16: 

          1. cravings of sinful man;

          2. lust of the eyes; and,

          3. boasting of what he has done.)

     C. Are these "things?"  How can John say in v.16 "For
     everything in the world..." and then refer to craving, lust
     and boasting? (Clearly these "things" and the "world" are not
     a place or an item (ie., the things we have seen and touched),
     "the world" is an attitude.)

     D. Let's examine each of these in turn. By the way, it is the
     same Greek word in v.16 that is translated "cravings" and
     "lust."  It means "longing" according to Strong.  The Greek
     word translated "sinful man" in v.16 literally means "flesh."
     (Which is how it is translated in the KJV and other
     translations.)

          1. What is meant by "the flesh" in v. 16? Craving for the
          flesh? (A focus that does not go beyond man.  The
          person's field of vision is not "high" enough to take in
          God. These are people whose primary concern is themselves
          and what is best for them.)

          2. What is meant by "the lust of the eyes?" (You want 
          what you see.  In that sense, consider the impact of
          television -- both in viewing evil and provoking
          jealousy.  Most of my "insight" into wealthy people and
          a wealthy lifestyle comes from television.  Generally
          people are only close to those whose lifestyle is like
          their own.  Television lets you into the lives of people
          who are "way above" (and "way below") your lifestyle. 
          This applies to both material things and evil doing.  How
          many people have seen a murder (other than on
          television).  Can you imagine how much more peaceful your
          life would be without having seen all of this other
          "stuff?")

          3. What is meant by "boasting of what he has and does?"

               a. "Has" is easy. What about "does?" (You boast of
               your job!  Or how you do your job! Or your superior
               attitude! This is so easy.  You want people to
               think you are important. The natural heart does not
               want to be unimportant. So you want to brag about
               the good things about yourself.)

     E. Do you see attitudes are brought to view here? F. F. Bruce
     quotes C. H. Dodd as calling these attitudes "sensuality,
     materialism and ostentation."

     F. What is wrong with these things? (Verse 17: the world and
     its desires pass away.  As my friend Matt likes to say, "Its
     going to burn."  The Christian who has eternity in mind is not
     going to be focussed on the things that are temporary.)

III. Next week: "The Last Hour!" Study 1 John 2:18-29!
o say, "Its going to burn." The Christian who has eternity in mind is not going to be focussed on the things that are temporary.) III. Next week: "The Last Hour!" Study 1 John 2:18-29!