Living as Children of God
(1 John 3:1-10)
Introduction: This past week I have been corresponding with a Christian who argues that keeping the Ten Commandments does not save you. I agree. This Christian then builds on that argument by saying that you can pick and choose which of the Ten Commandments you want to keep and still be in a right relationship with God. Now I'm doubtful. Does John say anything about this issue? I think so. Our study of 1 John 3 this week looks at this issue of the relationship between righteousness by faith and right living. John tells us that sin is serious stuff. Let's dive into our study and see just how serious it is!
- Children of God
- Read 1 John 3:1. Think back to when you were a child. Did you wish you had been born to a different family?
- If so, why? (I had a wonderful family. But, I remember being invited over to this home and finding that the boy who lived there had a whole attic that was filled with wonderful electric trains! These model trains were set in all sorts of miniature landscapes. Plus, I learned they had a yacht. I recall thinking what it would be like to be part of that family.)
- Why do you guess John likes being called a child of God? (If God is the most important Being in the universe, and has all sorts of stuff, what could be better?)
- Do you think my explanation reflects John's thoughts? (John seems to focus on the love instead of the "stuff." By the way, about a year after I visited the "train," family the mother committed suicide. I was grateful to continue to have a loving mother and not just a great train. I think that is John's point. God loves us to the point of calling us His children.)
- What sense do you find in John's statement about the world not knowing us? What has that got to do with the first part of the verse which says that God lavished love on us?
- Imagine three concentric circles. In the smallest circle are your children. In the middle circle are all the children you personally know. In the largest, outside circle are all the children in the world. Which children do you love the most? (Your own children! As the circles get bigger your love gets less. John tells us that when it comes to love, the world puts us in the biggest circle because it does not know us. But, God puts us in the smallest circle.)
- Why does John throw in the comment that the world does not know God? (We need to trust God and not others. If the world treated Jesus terribly, why should we expect good treatment? God's relationship with us is like the relationship between loving parents and their children. The world's relationship with us is (at best) like our relationship to children we do not know.)
- Grown Up Children
- Read 1 John 3:2-3. I wrote a study on this same text ten years ago. My children were not yet teenagers. At the time I wrote "I wonder what the future will hold" for them. What do you think I was I hoping for then?
- What parallel is John drawing to our Father God? (Just as I hoped for the best for my children, so God is hoping for the best for us as we walk the path of light. My daughter is now finishing up college and my son is finishing medical school. These are the kinds of things I was hoping for them ten years ago.)
- Am I wrong about this and John is talking about us wondering about our future? (Just as we wonder and hope for the future of our children, so our children should be concerned about their future.)
- Notice that John writes "everyone who has this hope purifies himself." In my comparison to earthly parents, I was the one hoping for my children. Why are the children doing the purifying? (I'm hoping for my children, but their life is not mine. They have a work to do in being successful in life. John says be diligent about the work of purifying yourself and the outcome will be good.)
- I've mentioned education for my own children, what is our goal as the children of God on the path of light? (To be like our Father God.)
- Let's get back to the fellow who was writing to me about the Ten Commandments. If you intend to purify yourself (as John says every true Christian is doing) where would you start?
- Would the Ten Commandments be a good place?
- Read Matthew 22:36-40. What does it suggest about where we should start?
- Are you nervous about talking about how "we" purify ourselves? (I am. But, I do not know how 1 John 3:3 can otherwise be read. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit must do the heavy lifting here ( Acts 15:8-9), but I must set goals and make decisions.)
- The Standard
- Read 1 John 3:4. What does it say about you, sin and the Ten Commandments? (If you want to know what sin is, John says consult the law. If you are breaking the law, you are sinning. The essence of sin, according to John, is not paying any attention to the law (lawlessness).
- Read Galatians 4:21-26. Can Paul (writing in Galatians) and John be reconciled?
- Read Galatians 5:13-14 and Galatians 5:24. Does this show that John and Paul are playing the same tune?
- Read 1 John 3:5-6. What does John argue is the reason for Jesus coming to earth, living a perfect life, dying for us and then being raised to life? (To take away our sins.)
- If that was Jesus' purpose in coming, what should be our purpose in living? (To live without sin. This is one of those "I get it" moments. The people who say that Jesus' atonement means we are freed from concerns about sin are missing the main point. The main point is that Jesus came to cure the sin problem. So, if you are on Jesus' side, you are going to be very intentional about not being involved in sin.)
- Let's go back and read 1 John 1:8 and compare it with 1 John 3:6. The same man, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote both verses. How do you reconcile them? (We are sinners, but our goal to be without sin. This is why we so desperately need Jesus and His righteousness. He takes away our sins. But, at the same time we realize that sin is a terrible thing. We do our best to turn away from it.)
- Read 1 John 3:7-10. How do we tell the bad guys from the good guys? (Based on works.)
- Again, look back at 1 John 1:8. How can this be true? People on the path of light are carrying around sin. If they carry around sin, then they are bad guys, right?
- For a few minutes think back over what we have studied so far about the epistles of John. What would you say is his overall theme? (John starts with an explanation that in life we have a choice of paths to take. Either we take the path of light or we take the path of darkness. People on the path of light are not perfect, but they have two very important attitudes. First, they know that if they sin they have Jesus speaking for them in their defense. Second, they understand the work of Jesus was to put an end to sin so they have a burning desire in their life to be done with sin.)
- On what path does that put the people who say the Ten Commandments (and the law of love) are irrelevant? (It is difficult to have a burning desire to be done with sin and at the same time be lawless. People on the path of light pay serious attention to the Ten Commandments. Not to be saved, but to live like a child of God.)
- Friend, what about you? Will you take sin seriously? Will you catch the vision about Jesus' mission and seek to live a life free from sin? How about making that commitment right now?
- Next week: Loving Brothers and Sisters.