1 John 2:3-17 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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This is How We Know
Comments for Study 2

1 John 2:3-17
Memory Verse: 5


2:1-2 Review

1 John 2:1 "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."

* "My dear children" -John wants to indicate that he is writing these letter with the affection of a good father.

* "so that you will not sin" -John intent in writing this letter is clear, he wants to prevent us from sinning. He does not attempt this by simply stating, "Do not sin!" Rather, he provides facts so that we may be kept from sinning (i.e. Revealing Jesus identity in chapter 1.)

Not sinning is a very important part of the Christian life to John. So, important that this was one of the main intentions of his writing this letter. I must not put down my guard no matter what. Rather I should "Keep alert" as Jesus warned Peter in the garden.

* "But if anybody does sin" -Even though we are not to sin, we Christians still do. In the past, I went through several stages where I was (or at least I felt as if I was) strong spiritually. So I would be "gung-ho", ready to achieve a life free of sin. But I was not. I failed rather quickly, even though I did have victories that I would have failed at in any "normal" time. Now, I do not feel so youthful gung-ho. I am more "mellowed out" in my feelings and wiser in attitude. But this does not mean that I don't and shouldn't struggle to overcome the temptations to sin. I do work at it (although I admit sometimes I don't "really" try). Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I do still sin.

Billy Graham in his book World Aflame wrote on the subject. After sections titled “Holy Spirit and “Strength to Resist Temptation is the section “The New Man Not Perfect. He writes, “There is one problem that Christians face immediately upon conversion. Some people get the idea that they become perfect right away, and then they find themselves tempted, in conflict, and even on occasion yielding to temptation It is true that the Christian possess a new nature, but the old nature is still there. It is now up to us, day by day, to yield to the reign and control of the new nature, which is dominated by Christ. Because we are a new creation for whom all old things have passed away and all things have become new, we no longer practice sin. We may fall into sin, but we hate it.”

* "we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense" - This reminds me of the book of Job, where Satan is speaking to the Father against Job. Satan is there accusing us. But Jesus is also there, defending us. Jesus is my heavenly attorney.

* "Jesus Christ-the Righteous One" -This is a great title for Jesus. The meaning of Christ is great, and said of many places. I have written about it in the past. But the title "Righteous One" is not as common.

Jesus is right, in the past, present, and future. What he did is right as he was in the body. Jesus being right is pure and noble. Therefore, Jesus is a very good one to speak for me, for he has a lot of credit.

1 John 2:2 "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."

* "atoning sacrifice" -Atoning is a translation of a Greek word that, at first, had no English counter part. It means "At one with". So the translator wrote "At One Meant". Thus, a new word was made, atonement.

Jesus' sacrifice made us at one with the Father. How did he do this? His sacrifice was for my sins.

* "for our sins" -Even though I may sin now, after being a Christian for so long, after initial forgiveness and atonement, Jesus' sacrifice continues to work in deleting my sins.

* "of the whole world" -This is not the first time that the Bible has this passage. What does it exactly mean? Does it mean all mankind is saved? No, for that would be inconsistent with other passages (i.e. The Bible says the unforgiven will go to hell. Obviously, this is said, taken for granted, some will.) What it means is that not just Jews are going to heaven, but also Greeks, Romans, Americans, Russians, Chinese, Brazilians, Australians, Egyptians, German, etc.

This Study

I. This is How We Know We are in Him (3-14)

1. Why was it important for the author to emphasize knowing God through obedience to his commands? How should we test ourselves regarding whether or not we have a right relationship with God? How does this refute the folly of the intellectualism that was prevalent then and these days too?

1 John 2:3-4 "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

* "know him" -"Know" is repeated forty-two times in this letter. Greek people loved to know a lot of things. They valued knowing. So philosophers were held in high regard. But knowledge without practicing is not what Christianity is about. Yet some come to know about Jesus, without knowing him. What then does John mean by knowing Jesus?

"Know" here is not just to know that he was a person who lived as a man some two thousand years ago, such as you know George Washington lived some two hundred years ago. And "know" here is not that you know a lot of facts about him, such that he is the Son of God, and even God. For as James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." And we know that the demons are against God and are not saved from eternal punishment.

Rather "know" here is to know Jesus personally as Savior, Lord, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. To know Jesus as John is writing about is to have a personal, interactive, growing, maturing, love relationship. To know Jesus is to experience him, not from afar, as we would experience a president on the television or radio. Rather, this is to know and experience him as we would a spouse, parent, sibling, and/or son or daughter. The greatest example would be to know Jesus as a husband and wife can only know each other when they come together in love.

* "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands" -At times in the Christian life, especially in the beginning, the early days and years, Christians wander if they really know him. That is, that they have found true salvation in him, and he is really known to them, as I described above in the "know him" section. We question the heart experience and decision. This is not an uncommon experience. Nor is it necessarily unhealthy. As human children we often wondered if our parents really love us, either when we did wrong, or were punished, or were directed to do something that we did not want or like to do.

This being the case, and it is important for us to know that John knew of this question, John writes us a clue to know that we have come to know Jesus personally. The point he mentions is "obey his commands". Obedience to Christ is not often easy. Commands like love your neighbor, forgive your brothers and sisters in Christ, teach and preach the good news, make disciples of all nations, pray for your enemies, love God more than family, etc. are not easy commands to obey. Yet those who know Jesus personally do obey these commands and all the rest, not by our own strength. For no person can obey God on his own. Rather, true believers in Jesus obey because God have given them the strength to obey through the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact that is why obeying Jesus is a good test to see if we know him. Because one can not go on obeying Jesus without knowing him. For only in him our we given the power to stop sinning and start and continue to obey him.

Why then is it important for us to know Jesus through experiencing him? Through obeying Jesus we grow in knowing him, we learn faith, and we see his working in our life. Romans 2:17-22 says, "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-- you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?"

* "The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar" -Throughout history people have said they know God, and/or Jesus. Although a confession that one has accepted Jesus, especially a public confession, is good, and in some ways even needed, that alone is not a mark that they are Christians. The Gnostics, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and many more claim to be in Christ; however, they do not obey him and do not accept his words. According to these words of God through John, they are liars. A liar is one who professes something, but he does not embrace what he professes.

In those days the Gnostics, and even many today, believed that it didn't matter what a person did in the flesh, for the flesh is sinful and evil anyway. They believed that the flesh can be separated from the spirit. They believed that a person was actually made up of two persons, a flesh person and a spirit person. And the flesh didn't matter in the long run, and anything done in the flesh didn't matter in the long run. So they sinned. With such thinking they knew a lot of things, but their knowledge was corrupt. The basis of their logic was corrupt, thus the basis of their very self was corrupted.

True believers need commitment to know Jesus. True believers must be committed to following Jesus' way of life. We should not just pursue knowledge, but we need to pursue an active life of day to day, moment to moment obedience to Christ. We should not pursue knowledge for knowledge sake. But we should pursue knowledge so that we can better follow the way of truth and love. One can not truly know Jesus until we live as he did.

* "and the truth is not in him" -Not only are such people liars, but John says that the truth is not in them. They tell lies and they accepted and will continue to accept lies.

On the other hand, from this verse, we can see that the only way for truth to dwell in the heart of a Christian is to obey Jesus. Truth is Jesus. Truth is God's word. Truth is knowing God. Truth is obeying God. Truth is displayed in showing. Truth satisfies man's soul.

I once heard it say that the way of God's is a sale; S - study, A - accept, L - live, and E -experience.

2. How can truth dwell in the heart of a true Christian? What are the sweet consequences of one's obedience to God's commands?

3. What should one practically do if he claims to live in God and to have a right relationship with him? (6)

1 John 2:5-6 "But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

* "anyone" -There is no exception noted here

* "obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him" - Some examples of this that are promised elsewhere in the Bible would be: take up one's cross and receive life, deny one's self and gain eternal life in Christ, humble one's self and be exulted by God, and give freely and gain a heavenly reward.

* "must walk" -There is no grey area on this subject.

* "walk as Jesus did" -What exactly did John mean here? Ephesians 5:2 says, "and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." And Col. 2:6-8 says, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

To walk as Jesus did is to follow his pattern of life. I remember when I was a young lad. In school at Thanksgiving time we were taught how to make a turkey quickly and easily. We were taught place a blank piece of paper on the table. Then were taught to place our hand on the paper with our indexes separated. Then we would take a pencil and trace around our hands. We would follow the pattern that our hands were making on the paper. Then we lifted our hands and placed legs on the bottom we would have made a turkey. By following the pattern an image would appear. In the same way, by following the pattern of Jesus' life, the image of Jesus will appear on our soul.

We need to imitate Jesus as a little boy imitates his father. Often when I work around the house my little son Andrew imitates what I do. He can not hammer, drill, cut, or work as I do. Still, he likes imitating what I do. He gets out his toy tools and do as I do. More than that, he often takes my tools and pretends that he is doing as he does.

How then do we know how Jesus lived? Bible study, applying the word we study, walking in the Spirit, and prayer are key ways to know how Jesus lived.

4. What is the new command that John brings their attention to? (John 13:34) How is the truth of this new command fulfilled by Christ? (John 15:12,13)

1 John 2:7-8 "Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining."

* John 13:34 records Jesus saying, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another."

* Sacrificial love is the example Jesus gave. One must sacrifice one self to truly love. This is the difference between Jesus' followers and other religions. Other types of leaders sacrifice others for themselves. Jesus sacrificed himself for others. Thus true love is sacrificing oneself.

* The old commandments are the ten commandments and the rest of the Levitical system.

* Jesus says that love sums up the Old Testament commands; love for God and love for neighbor.

* "its truth is seen in him and you," -Jesus' death is evidence of God's love for us. John 15:12-13 records Jesus saying, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down his life for his friends." 1 John 3:16 confirms this.

* How do we feel when we we have sacrificial love for someone else, especially a sinner and enemy?

5. Who does "our brother" refer to? How does our love or hate toward our brothers show whether we are in the true light that is already shining or in the darkness that is passing? What are the terrible consequences in one's spirit life if he hates his brother?

1 John 2:9 "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness."

* "his brother" -A fellow believer in Jesus as Messiah (Savior and Lord) in words, thought, heart and action.

* Those in darkness hates their brothers and sisters in Christ. They don't know God's forgiveness and love to that person.

* Light = Jesus - love.

* "love... hate" -An attitude toward our brothers, not so much emotions. Examples would be: indifferent, contempt, criticism, jealousy, and an unforgiving heart.

* When we love others Jesus fills us with his love.

* Filled with the love of God we want to love others, even our enemies, even those who hurt us, those we love, and our family.

1 John 2:10 "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble."

* "love" -1 Cor. 13:4-7 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

* "stumble" -sin.

* "in him to make him stumble" -within every person born of Adam is the ability to sin. Sin does not come from the outside. It does not come from what we eat, drink, hear, see, feel, taste, and experience. Sin comes from within. The sinful nature is the tendency in us to sin. The sinful nature of all those born of Adam is stronger than the will to do what is right and resist what is wrong.

* "nothing in him to make him stumble" -Living in Jesus the light drives out all darkness. Living in Jesus fills us with love. With the love of Jesus in us we will not sin.

1 John 2:11 "But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him."

* Hate dwells in darkness. Thus a person can't come to God because he can't see where he is going. He'll keep walking into walls and tripping over things in his path.

* Hate invites other sin into our lives.

* Those who hate their brothers in Jesus hurts himself.

6. In what way can the Christian family, the family of faith, be referred to in terms of "children, father, and young men" as we consider the qualities found in each of them?

7. Why was it important for the author to point out that the readers already have forgiveness of sins, the knowledge of God, the word of God dwelling in them, and the victory over the evil one? Why should believers in Jesus always be aware of possessing these qualities? And how should they develop them?

1 John 2:12-14 "I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one."

* Fathers are stable and love dearly. Have have a deep personal relationship with Jesus. They have known him for a long time. They have great stories to tell of how Jesus worked. They are rich in experiences.

* Young men are ambitions and bold in faith and love. They work hard, putting effort into the fight of the flesh. They have a passion for God's word and strive to live according to it.

* Children are full of joy and excitement over the forgiveness of sins and freedom from the fear of death that is found in Jesus.

* John is indicating three stages of maturity in Christ. Paul adds to the list infants which perhaps is equal to John's "children".

* The life found in Jesus is dynamic. we grow in faith and love.

* Physical age does not equate with maturity in christ. Paul's letter the Timothy states this.

* John points out what believers already have through the revelation of the Holy Spirit when the apostles taught them because men calling themselves Gnostics said they had a new and/or better revelation about Jesus. John's pointing out that the apostles, who personally knew Jesus had already taught them all about Jesus. The Gnostics of the John's day were only the first of many who have claimed that they have a new, or revised, or corrected, or complete teaching of Jesus. Many like the Gnostics wrote their own gospel accounts.

* I greatly believe in the power and work of the Holy Spirit when a believe reads and studies the Bible; both Old and New Testaments. No one should take what I or anyone else's words for granted for many have gone astray and teach what is against Jesus' teachings.

* "sins have been forgiven... know him... you have overcome" -Three experiences of believers that are workings of the Holy Spirit.

II. Do Not Love the World (15-17)

8. What does the world in verse 15 stand for? (16, James 4:4) (It is not the world of people as in John 3:16 or the created world in John 17:24) In what way are the love of the world and the love of the Father the two conflicting forces in a Christian?

1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

* James 4:4 "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

* "world" -pagan society, false values, false gods, false teachings, self centered values

* Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

* This world is fading away. God is eternal.

9. What are some of the cravings of sinful man that you know of? Why are the lust of sinful man and the boasting of what he has and does easily attracting and motivate the people of the world? What is the original of these?

1 John 2:16-17 "For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."

* "the cravings of sinful man" -sex, food, drink, drugs, the easy life, partying, sports, power, achievements, fame, materials, anything desired before God can be wrong.

* Being moral doesn't make a person right before God if they crave the world, lust, and boast.

* Paul taught, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.

* Cravings, lust, and boasting has temporary benefits. They can be pleasing for a while and thus seem right.