The Truth about Jesus
1 John 2: 1-11
Additional texts: Rom 8:1-17, 31-34; Heb. 7:23-25; 1 Peter 3:17-22, Lev. 19:18, John 13:34-35; 15:1-17, Matt. 5:43-48; 22:37-40.
In the closing verses of chapter one, John describes our life in Jesus as a fellowship of God, Jesus, and one another, which is characterized as in truth and in light. The basis of this fellowship is the knowledge of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. John causes us to understand that sin is the separating force that breaks our fellowship with Jesus Christ and one another! The consequence of sin is the darkness of separation without the truth and light of Jesus! However, the core of John's message is that fellowship with Jesus Christ and one another is available to all people and not just to a select group of people with “special” or “secret” knowledge, which was part of the Gnostic belief.
As a follow-up to these thoughts, John begins chapter two with the phrase, “my dear children,” indicating his deep affection as a father for his readers. This is the first of eight times he will use this phrase or a variation of it to emphasize his concern that his readers understand the contrasting implications of life with Jesus or a life without Jesus.
Our focus for this lesson is to understand the nature and work of Jesus Christ in relation to our sinful nature. John vividly expresses that we can know our salvation is secured and with that assurance of salvation should follow a life marked by obedience to God.
1. What does John mean in verse one concerning Christians and sinning? Are these contradictory statements? Use 1 John 1:8-10 as a continuing thought for this verse. Also see Rom. 8:1-17, 31-34.
John begins with a term of deep affection, “My dear children.” Such words from an elder and one who walked with Jesus would focus attention to his next statement, which is to avoid sin. John is looking at the ideal, not to sin. Certainly he expects us not to have a life style or a habitual process of sinning. He wants us to avoid sin! He understands that the flesh is weak and we all make mistakes (Rom. 8:32). However, John wants to reinforce that a Christian makes all effort not to fall prey to the traps of the “evil one.”
In the previous verses, John makes clear that we should not make the false claim that we do not sin. Such false claims make God a lair. Thus, we can understand our need to detail those sins in confession to God. Through confession we become more aware of our problems and we strengthen our faith, which helps us to avoid sin.
2. Contrast the Christian view of sin with the world's view of sin? As Christians do we really take our sin seriously?
Our view of the serious nature of sin and the impact of sin on our fellowship with God and with one another is important because our view will determine the price we place on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Since the Gnostics had a low view of the crucifixion, they could not fully understand the effects of sin on Christian fellowship and in their fellowship with God. The type of life we are expected to live as Christians is one in which we avoid sin and “walk” in the light.
For non-believers, sin is not viewed as a problem. Today, sin is even glorified by polar press and news agencies. For example cheating is fully accepted by many people as long as you do not get caught. Remember John said that if we “walk” in the dark we will not have fellowship with God. Sin is the agent or device of that separation from God. In order to avoid this separation and to remain in fellowship with God, we must “walk” in the Light and avoid a life style or habit of sin. Yet, God does have a plan if the ideal of sinless life is not met and that plan is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.
3. In verses 1 and 2, John gives us two major characteristics of Jesus Christ, which allow us to avoid the fate of sin and darkness. Describe how Jesus speaks to God in our defense and the sacrificial nature of Jesus' death on the cross! What is the meaning of “atoning sacrifice” in verse 2? See additional texts: Rom. 8:1-17, 31-34; Heb. 7:23-25; 1 Peter 3:17-22.
We have an advocate (parakletos) before God the Father. Jesus is the one who speaks in our defense. This term can also be viewed as a counselor, a legal defense term for one who is at our side (1 Pete 3:18). Parakletos is uniquely John, occurring 4 times in his gospel (14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:17). Thus as we fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 8:32), we have Jesus at our side for counseling and Jesus speaks to our defense. Yet, Jesus is not just an advocate, he is the power of the advocacy. As our advocate, Jesus does not plea our innocence because we are guilty of sin. Jesus' atoning sacrifice applies to our sins and is the cost of applied to the sins of the world, past, present, and future.
4. How does obedience to Jesus' commandments allow us to “come to know him” as John says in verse 3?
Remember the Gnostics believed in a special knowledge. Yet, John makes clear that all who obey the commandments are in fellowship with God. Such a fellowship brings an intimate understanding or knowledge of God. That knowledge is open to all through faith in Jesus. In addition, our fellowship brings an intimate understanding of the atoning sacrifice on our behalf.
An obedient life is a sign of fellowship with God and obedience gives us the confidence of in God's promise of salvation through Jesus' atoning sacrifice. Again, John is working to make clear that the Gnostic beliefs are wrong and the that the world's view of sin is wrong. An obedient life is a sign of salvation and not that you have a “special” knowledge. The obedient life will include the flesh, which means we cannot allow our bodies nor our spirit to be in a habitual process of sin. God fully expects Christian to live a life of obedience.
We should also connect the previous verses concerning confession to this section because as we openly confess our sins to God, knowing that we do sin, we will develop and deepen a stronger sense of fellowship with God.
5. What is the nature of the old and new concept in the command to love each other? Consider the following scriptures: Lev. 19:18, John 13:34-35; 15:1-17; Matt. 5: 43-48; 22:37-40.
The Greek word used here by John for new is kainos, which means new as in novel or quality. Love is an old commandment (Lev. 19:18; Love your neighbor). However, the novel form of love that John is talking about is defined in the life and work of Jesus the Christ. In light of the atoning sacrifice, Jesus as the Son of God gave us a new (novel) love. A self-sacrificing love. As Christians we are called to the high quality of love. We should show this love to one another and to the world.
6. Why is this commandment important to our Christian walk? If we do not obey this commandment what are the spiritual consequences and the consequences to our fellowship?
John uses the word true over 23 times in his gospel and 1 John. He uses the phrase “true light” here to describe the nature of Jesus along with his previous use of Light. This draws attention to Jesus as light with a quality that separates him from a physical light of the sun or stars. He provides life as the sun does to plants but even more he provides life to our soul because of his love. This is a new type of love, an eternal life giving light.
This true light encourages us to respond by obedience and for us to show our love to the world.
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