Didn’t we have a great week of lessons in Week 3? The completion of this week brought us almost to the halfway point of our study. Even though the scripture passages were a little longer this week, I felt that the content was so rich that the extra reading wasn’t noticeable. How about you?
“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist- he denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:18-22
Living in a united fellowship didn’t last long among this early community of believers before conflict arose. Some in the church were leading others astray through their differing points of view and persuasive arguments of belief. Kelly Minter identified these people as secessionists and pre-gnostics. They were not holding to the truth that they had learned. John wanted those in the community to be able to discern the deceit as well as how to protect themselves from being led astray. He instructed them that those leading others astray were denying that Jesus was the Christ. We also learned, in an additional reading from 2 John 7, that they were also denying that Jesus came in the flesh. These deceivers were so connected into the community of faith that the rest didn’t recognize that they didn’t belong and believe (in the humanity and deity of Jesus) until they left the fellowship.
“No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us -even eternal life. I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him. And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” 1 John 2:23-29
If you circled every instance of the word remain in the above verses from Day 1 and Day 2, you would discover one of the foundational truths of 1 John. We were introduced to the Greek word, meno, this week. My favorite definition for meno is abide. John teaches that to abide (remain) in Christ is holding to what we know. He encouraged them to abide in the knowledge that the message they had heard from the beginning was truth and transforms the life of every believer. They had received an anointing from the Holy One because they had believed that message. In addition, John exhorts them and us that an assurance of faith comes by remaining in Christ.
The anointing that we receive as believers was the focus for this day’s lesson. We read several cross references about believers receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit and also considered other interpretations of what John might have meant concerning the anointing. Those teaching deceptive ideas in the church were stating that believers needed a special, higher, enlightened knowledge in order to know truth. John wrote emphasizing that the anointing by the Holy One and God’s Word was all they needed to know truth.The anointing distinguished them as the children of God and they needed to remain in its validity.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:1-10
Tough love words from John. Throughout his letter, John addresses the recipients as children and reminds them of their position before God as His children. This lesson dealt with the relationship between sin and being a child of God. Some portions of scripture are universally more difficult to understand than others. 1 John 3 is one of those chapters that scholars debate and try to determine the exact intent of John’s words. The ways in which John is addressing sin in this chapter makes us squirm. His words are uncomfortable. If we delved into the original language of this chapter (Greek), we’d discover that the tense of a verb makes a difference in better understanding John’s intent. Don’t be discouraged by John’s message but rather be encouraged. John is not speaking of one time action sins rather he is writing of habitual, continuous sin. He states that a child of God cannot continue to live a life in that way.
If after working this lesson or the lessons from the entire week, you are feeling uncertain, convicted or even condemned, remember the historical context of the letter and what John was seeking to convey to these believers. Also, consider these two passages that we have studied previously in 1 John. From Week 1 Day 5 page 34, we read these words.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
On Day 1 of Week 2 page 43, we studied these verses.
“My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One.(2) He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours but also for those of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1,2
As believers, born of God, we have Jesus as our Advocate. We will be heard and forgiven of sins upon our confession of them. He is faithful. Go before God in prayer with confidence that you will be heard and forgiven when confessing sin. Bring to God in prayer your confusion over scripture, your tough questions, and your doubts. Ask Him for discernment and pursue righteousness. He will guide you to understanding through prayer, the reading and studying of His word, and godly counsel.
“This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” 1 John 3:11-15
Kelly Minter centered this lesson on what it means to love like Jesus. We began by reading the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis and then we considered what prompted the actions of Cain toward his brother. We next considered how Jesus is the embodiment of love because He laid down His life for us. We reflected through several exercises how loving like Jesus might be manifested in our lives. We considered various ways on how we feel love, practical applications on how we might lay down our life for others, and whether we have understood and grasped the love God has lavished on us.
Questions to Consider
- Have I ever been led astray by a message that appeared to be truth only to later discover the message was false?
- What practical things can I do to develop discernment so that I am better equipped to recognize truth from falsehood?
- Do I live according to the ways of Christ? Does my life show proof of my belief?
- Are there habits in my life that are displeasing to God that I need to confess and walk anew in righteousness?
- How do I love others like Jesus?
Hang in there! You’re doing an awesome job! Begin the lessons for Week 4 this week.