Big Hill Bible Studies
06 April 2018
1 John 3
John wrote this epistle (letter) to a group we know little about. We know only that they were Christians, well known by John, and facing a threat from false teaching. It is believed the letter was written between 85-95 AD by the elder John who had previously written the fourth Gospel. The threat facing the Christians was the growing false doctrine of Gnosticism, a belief that God is perfect yet impersonal. "Gnosis" (knowledge) must be obtained through a mysterious revelation. This belief birthed two false philosophies; Docetism, which teaches Jesus was not human, but a phantom or ghost. The other, Cerinthianism teaches Jesus was a dual personality - at times divine, and at times human. John's readers were facing the threat of this and other false teachings all around. The world around them was teaching Jesus was not who He claimed to be and God was not personal to His believers. Sound familiar? He writes to them to assure them and strengthen their faith. This epistle is just as helpful to us today as it was originally.
As we continue to study our relationship with God, include yourself in John's audience. Be aware that in our attempt to be drawn closer to God we also see Satan at work "prowling about like a roaring lion" seeking to devour us. Consider how we are threatened and tempted. Let's pray God reveals comfort and strength in reading this chapter. Here are a few thoughts to consider.
Verses 1-3 > We often talk about the love God has for us, but I want you to think about it one more time and consider this - while we say we know of His love, what response does it cause in our hearts? Do we just talk about it, or do we actually receive and live in it? We are "children of God," something the world cannot understand, because the world does not know God. Now, as when John wrote this letter, our recognition of this love should cause us to have a hope that works as an agent to draw us closer to Him and makes us more like Him. As a young boy, I remember loving my sports heroes. The more I watched them, the more I tried to be just like them. I'd try to dribble a ball like Pete Maravich, slide head first into the bag like Pete Rose, and tackle a runner like Dick Butkus. I'd try to be just like my favorite, depending on the sport in season. Read verse two - John tells us we don't know exactly what we will be, but we know that when we see Jesus, we will be like Him. Stop and think about that for awhile - say these words out loud, "I will be like Jesus." How do you respond to that?
Verses 7-13 > John calls us "little children" because we are God's children. I believe he states this to help us remember we belong to Him and not the world. He says, "Little children, let no one deceive you." No one! How often are we tempted to fall away by the culture, our co-workers, and maybe even our friends and family? How many times a day and how many people in our daily life cause us to come to a point we must decide to stand firm or fold? John shows us two kinds of people; those who practice righteousness and those who don't. Those who do imitate Jesus. The rest are of Satan. Seems pretty simple when you think of it that way, doesn't it. I believe it is that simple - and it is that difficult. But the more we practice righteousness, the more it becomes a part of our life - to the point it hopefully becomes a way of life. I believe we should live in such a way we strive to be like Jesus and see Him lead, guide, comfort, protect, and direct us through the Holy Spirit within us to the point we instinctively know what He would have us do.
Finally, in verse 13 we see what I believe vital in today's world. "Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you." As you continue on in this passage read how this describes the Christian. Can you see the world around us? Why are we surprised when we see the hatred and death taking place all around us. Not just the physical death by evil people in the world, but moral and spiritual death in families, leadership, and even churches. John is echoing Jesus' words that he recorded in his gospel account, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." (John 15:18-19). Does the love of God and the example and promises of Jesus Christ mean more to you than the favor of man in a fallen world?
Let's "remember His words." We are to live for Him because He died for us. How are you living for Him?