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Sabbath School Lessons on 1, 2 & 3 John
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: Walking in the Light: Rejecting Worldliness *
Introduction: Living by the ocean means I'm spending a lot more time
at the beach than I have in the past. From time to time I see Muslim
women at the beach. The contrast between them and the regular beach
people is obvious. It reminds me of when I was a young man and
members of my church would show up on Sabbath on the nearby beaches
of Lake Michigan. Church members would often still be wearing suits
and church clothes, while people sunbathing would be wearing
something much different. Our lesson this week is about
"worldliness." Are these two examples of rejecting "worldliness?"
Is sticking out like a sore thumb God's goal for us? Or, is that
making a plain statement to the world? Let's plunge into our study
of the Bible and see what John has to teach us about worldliness!
- Children, Men and Fathers
- Read 1 John 2:12-13. John says he is writing to children,
fathers and young men. Is that why we have three
epistles: 1st, 2nd and 3rd John?
- If so, why is John mentioning the other two groups
in 1 John? (John does not have a separate epistle
for each group.)
- Does John have three different messages depending on
the group being addressed?
- Why are women left out of the message? Are they
- Let's look at the children first. It says that they have
been forgiven their sins and that they have known the
father. Would that not also be true for all three groups?
(I think John is talking about new believers, not actual
children. A new believer would not have an extensive
knowledge of the gospel. However a new believer who was a
Jewish convert would "know the Father," meaning the God
of the Old Testament. A new believer would be at the
stage of understanding that Jesus was the "new" sacrifice
for sins. Reason why John does not mention women is that
he is writing about spiritual maturity, not gender.)
- What message do we have for the fathers - the most mature
Christians? ("You have known Him who is from the
- What do you think this means? (As we have seen
before, this is a reference to Jesus (John 1 and 1
John 1). These are Christians who have an
understanding of Jesus.)
- What message do we have for the "young men?" (They have
overcome the evil one.)
- How can we say that any human has "overcome the evil
one?" (These are the growing Christians. They
understand that Jesus has forgiven them of sin, but
that they have a spiritual walk towards
righteousness. They set a daily goal of obedience.)
- Read 1 John 2:14. What else do we learn about the "young
men?" (The word of God lives in them. They read God's
word. They rely on the Holy Spirit.)
- Let's review: John writes to believers of all different
levels of Christian maturity. He compliments each group
on the progress they have made so far. Next, we turn to
his message for all of them.
- Loving the World
- Read 1 John 2:15. Everything I know and touch and
experience is "in the world." How can I not love it?
- Since we are told that loving the world is the
opposite of loving God, what do you think is meant
by "the world" and "anything in the world?"
- Read 1 John 2:16. What do we find "in the world?"
(Cravings, lust and boasting.)
- Are these "things" "in the world?" (No. These are
attitudes about things.)
- Let's stop and consider this a moment. If John is
talking about worldliness, is he teaching us that
worldliness is an attitude or an outlook?
- If that is the case, what connection is there
between how a Christian dresses and a
- What does this say about the "beach dress"
I mentioned in the introduction? Is
covering up, or wearing different clothes,
a rejection of worldliness?
- If craving, lust and boasting are attitudes about
things, does it mean that people without things (the
poor) can be worldly? (The irony is that those who
don't have things may have more problems with this
than those who do have things and have decided
"stuff" is not all that great.)
- Re-read 1 John 2:16. The phrase "cravings of sinful man,"
is more commonly translated "lust of the flesh." How
does this help us to understand what this means? (A
person who has these cravings (this "lust")has a focus on
- How about you? Do you have a focus on the earthly?
Do you crave certain things? Do you wish you had
- On the way to church last week, my wife and I were
talking about the future. We plan to sell our present
home and we were discussing ideal places to live. The
perfect place for me is this house (presently for sale)
right on the beach over looking the Chesapeake Bay and
the Atlantic ocean. The price? 1.3 million dollars. My
wife would like to live in the Blue Ridge mountains -
about 3 hours away from the beach. I said, "If we had an
extra couple of million dollars we would be set" -
meaning that we could buy the beach house and a house in
the Blue Ridge. Is that the "cravings of sinful man" and
"the lust of his eyes?" (Yes! At least if it gets to the
point of craving and lusting as opposed to merely
considering these things are not possible.)
- What does 1 John 2:16 mean when it refers to the "lust of
his eyes?" (You want what you see.)
- Why is this wrong? (Spiritual things are not
generally seen. Spiritual things are often
relationships. Thus, you are lusting over the wrong
things in life.)
- What does 1 John 2:16 refer to when it speaks of
"boosting of what he has and does?" (This is an arrow
through my heart. I have always loved being a lawyer. I
love to say I'm a law school teacher because it suggests
I'm not just a lawyer, but a smart lawyer. This seems to
be precisely what John is condemning as being worldly. If
anyone wants to save me by suggesting another
interpretation, I'm open to hear it! Right now I'm
- The Long View
- Read 1 John 2:17. What is wrong with those kinds of
desires? This worldliness?
- Is John saying that the focus on the earthly, being
passionate about having "things," is sin? Or merely
a foolish preoccupation?
- If a person does not love God, isn't that an
indication of "sin?" (All of this is very logical to
me. If we are preoccupied with acquiring stuff,
then we are not preoccupied with knowing God.
Matthew 6:24 says that money is a master. We cannot
love and serve both God and money.)
- Have you ever heard the term "it was good while it
lasted?" Does it apply here - to the statement in 1
- What does God offer that is so much better? (Eternal
life! Eternal stuff. I think John is making a
practical argument. What you have and what you are
now is all temporary. When you die, who remembers
or cares? Your money goes to someone else. How does
it make any sense to be preoccupied with something
that you will surely lose? On the other hand, God
offers us eternal stuff and reputation.)
- How much do you know about your great-grand parents? How
much do you know about your grandparents? (As I was
writing this lesson, my wife found and sent me a news
clip about my father's resignation from his final post.
The article had a big headline and a picture showing that
my father was a very handsome man. But it said almost
nothing about his work or his accomplishments. Instead,
it reported he had a heart attack, said how much he
earned, and that they were looking for a replacement.
What we have and what we do is all so temporary!)
- Friend, how about you? Are you focused on the eternal or
on the things of this world? Why not decide today to
focus on those things which will last! How about becoming
"heavenly" instead of "worldly?"
- Next week: Walking in the Light: Rejecting Antichrists.
* Copr. 2009, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.