Remaining Confident in Love
Topic: Sunday Message Verse: 1 John 2:1–2:11, John 13:34–13:35, John 14:15
A 13-week message series in the book of 1 John
John was there
1 John is a letter written toward the end of the first century by the Apostle John to Christians under his pastoral care. In his earlier years, John was a faithful follower of Jesus and a first-hand eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry and miracles, both before and after the crucifixion and resurrection. John saw it all, including a brutal cross, an empty tomb, and a risen Lord. The book of 1 John essentially begins with John recounting his impressive “I was there” credentials as a way to say “you can trust me.”
1 John 2:1-2 NIV
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
So who's telling the truth?
John continues to press us toward the truth to make sure we can tell the difference between the real thing and a worthless imitation when it comes to genuine Christian faith. It was a challenge back in the first century and that same challenge exists today, where it seems like everybody claims they have all the answers.
1 John 2:3-6 NIV
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
John 14:15 NIV
15 “If you love me, keep my commands.
The Test of Obedience
So you can say you love God, but obedience is the proof. It's not just can you "talk the talk," but can you also "walk the walk"? That to live in Christ is to live like Christ. Our behavior needs to bear some kind of resemblance to our Savior--things like His priorities for God’s kingdom; His patience with people; His passion for the truth.
1 John 2:7-8 NIV
7 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. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
John 13:34-35 NIV
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 John 2:9-11 NIV
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
The Test of Love
Our obedience to God’s commands is the true test of faith. But with Jesus' new commandment, John also tells us that love for our brother and sister in Christ is ultimate test of faith. For John, moral inconsistency is bad enough, but hatred is the final proof of dwelling in darkness. Those who love will walk steadily and securely in the light.
True faith isn’t about how much you know or how convincing you sound; rather; it’s about how much you obey God and how well you love others.
DISCERN YOUR INFLUENCES (look into the microscope)
We all have people who influence us spiritually--teachers, leaders, speakers, authors, pastors, priests, mentors, ministers, you name it. John knows how easy it is (… and how incredibly dangerous it can be) for us to fall for someone who’s really compelling and claims to have all the answers. And so he tells us: “Discern your influences. Look at their lives. Do they practice what they preach? Do they themselves obey what God has commanded us in His Word? Is there more consistency or hypocrisy?" John's not asking for perfection from our influences, but if you see something strange or sense something's off, then pay attention because that’s a problem.
DIAGNOSE YOURSELF (look into the mirror)
It’s not just enough to look under the microscope at our influences, but we also need to look into the mirror at ourselves. How well do we fare when it comes to the two tests “obeying God” and “loving others”? Is the practice of our faith consistent with the profession of our faith? Or do they contradict each other? Again, we’re not talking perfection, and there is a difference between “being upset with someone” versus “having hatred toward someone” because people are going to rub us the wrong way at times. But what do we do beyond that initial reaction? Do we continue to harbor hatred and hold grudges? That’s not the way of Jesus and His new commandment to love another as He has loved and forgiven us.
1. Do you remember when you first learned something about Jesus? What did you learn and how did it strike you at the time?
2. Jesus claimed to be the way to God (John 14:6). Review the definitions and other verses below. How should we respond to friends and coworkers who doubt the exclusive claim of Jesus?
• One who speaks to the Father in our defense (our advocate,mediator, intercessor) - Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:24-26
• The Righteous One (the sinless, holy one) - 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21
• The atoning sacrifice (the once-for-all payment that satisfied God’s righteous wrath toward our sin) - Romans 3:23-25; 1 John 4:10
3. What do you believe about Jesus and His role in your relationship with God? What questions do you have about the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life?
4. How can we be confident that we truly know Christ according to verses 3-10? What is it about obeying His commands, living as Jesus did, and loving others that gives us assurance that we belong to God?
1 John series start page
Check out this link for more information about our 1 John series Discussion Groups. You can also access the electronic version of our 1 John journal here.