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Sabbath School Lessons on 1, 2 & 3 John
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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 38 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 8: Loving Brothers and Sisters *
Introduction: This week we all get to think like "common law"
lawyers. They started the idea that the law did not consist of a
set of rules, but rather the rules were derived from a set of case
decisions. In the former you would find the right rule and have
your answer - assuming you asked just the right question. In the
latter, you find the right case examples and you figure out your
answer. John gives us some "cases" for us to figure out how to live
as we continue our journey on the path to light. Let's plunge right
into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about Biblical
- Cain v. Jesus
- Last week we ended our study with John's summary of how
we tell the good guys from the bad guys. Good guys do
good things and bad guys do bad things. That left us
with the question, "What, exactly, is a good thing?"
Let's continue John's discussion by reading 1 John 3:11.
Imagine that I gave you one rule: "love one another."
Would you know how to live?
- Would you face a problem with taking love (an
attitude) and transforming it into some concrete
- A number of years ago I defended the religious
liberty of a Wiccan. That taught me that Wiccans
have one main rule (the Wiccan Rede) which
essentially says "Do what you want as long as you do
not harm anyone." Is that the same as loving others?
(I would be grateful if everyone followed the rule
that they should not harm me, but to require love
adds positive requirements.)
- Read 1 John 3:12. John now gives us an example (a case)
as opposed to a rule. What definition of love do you get
from this? (Sounds like the Wiccan Rede - don't murder
- Is that the standard? We love others if we refrain
from murdering them?
- Notice that John writes about Cain's motives. Why
does the Bible discuss Cain's motive for murder?
(Instead of specifically identifying Cain's motives,
John relates his evil actions to murder.)
- What evil actions on Cain's part led to murder?
(Disobedience to God.)
- We are left to figure out for ourselves the
likely motives. What do you think they were?
(Jealousy of Able and covetousness of Able's
standing with God.)
- Why does that lead to murder? (Evil motives
lead to evil actions which lead to murder. The
idea is that sin is progressive.)
- Is avoiding murder John's standard for love?
(No. By looking at a case, instead of a rule,
we see that John's negative case example packs
in a lesson about motives and the nature of
- Read 1 John 3:13. Is Cain a negative case example for
us, or it is an example representing the world? (At a
minimum, John is showing us what love is not. It is not
murder. He then says that the attitude of the world is
hate, and hate leads to death. You can expect the world
to hate you.)
- Let's make this current. "Haters" is a term used by
homosexuals to describe Christians who believe what
the Bible says about homosexuality. A common "gay"
bumper sticker says "Hate is not a family value."
Do they have a point? Or, is part of the world's
hate toward Christians reflected in them calling us
- Is John writing about love towards fellow
Christians? (I think so.)
- Does that make the issue easier? We are told
to love those who are behaving themselves? (Our
relationship with homosexuals is made more
difficult because we say the behavior is sinful
and they say it is normal. But, even when we
deal with our fellow Christians we have the
problem of sinful behavior.)
- Read 1 John 3:14-15. What test does John give us for
knowing that we are on the path to light? (We love our
brothers. Are we making any progress here? We are back to
figuring out what "love" means when we try to convert it
- Read Matthew 5:21-22. Jesus says "anger = something
like murder." That does not seem reasonable at
first. Is John explaining Jesus' statement? (I think
John is on the same logical track. Anger leads to
hate which leads to murder. Don't get angry and you
will never murder. If you substitute love for anger
you are on the path to light.)
- Have we any concrete points on which to measure our
love? (Yes. Anger is not love. Hate is not love.
Murder is not love.)
- Read 1 John 3:16. Now we get the positive case example.
What is love? (Giving up your life for someone else.)
- Are you willing to give up your life for your fellow
Christians? (It sure was a lot easier when I only
had to avoid murder!)
- How is the abortion debate resolved in light of this
basic rule? (Abortion is taking the life of another
for our benefit. Jesus' example is just the
opposite: giving up our life for another.)
- Abortion is an easy logical call when measured by
Jesus' example. What about other aspects of life,
such as time and money. Are you willing to give
these up for other Christians?
- Read 1 John 3:17. What does John say about love and
helping our fellow Christians who are in need? (He says
helping them logically follows from Jesus giving up His
life for us.)
- Why is it logical to have to help someone if Jesus
gave us the example of giving up our lives for
others? (What would you trade for your life?
Whatever it might be, giving it up is less difficult
than giving up your life.)
- Read 1 John 3:18. What does John mean when he says to
love "in truth." (Actually doing something to help
someone shows that you love them. Talk might not reflect
any truth at all.)
- Consider where we have gone. The negative example of
Cain tells us not to murder, hate or get angry. Avoiding
murder and hate seems pretty easy. The Old Testament is
filled with condemnation for rich people who plunder and
take advantage of the poor. That seems to be reasonable.
Our discussion so far is "Wiccan Rede" territory: don't
harm others. But now we are told we have to give our
stuff to those Christians in need. Why is this so hard?
(We are selfish. Not only do we not want to give up our
life for others, we don't want to give up our stuff. We
think "let them get their own stuff!")
- Is there any hope for us? (Yes. This is what is
great about learning about grace, the path (John's
path of light), and case law. First, we are saved by
grace ( 1 John 2:1-2). The saved are on the path away
from Cain's negative case and towards Jesus'
positive case. We should have murder, hate and anger
behind us, and our sights set on Jesus' example. His
example is our goal.)
- Heart Problems
- Read 1 John 3:19-20. What do you think John means when he
writes about our hearts condemning us? Has your heart
ever condemned you? (This is the role of Satan and his
helpers - to condemn us ( Revelation 12:10).)
- How can we distinguish Satan's condemnation from the
conviction of the Holy Spirit? (God forgives us of
our confessed sins, but Satan keeps bringing them up
to discourage us. I think John is saying that if you
examine your actions, and see that you are moving
forward towards Jesus' example of love, then you can
have confidence you are on the path of light. You
have "proof" your life is moving in the right
- Read 1 John 3:21-22. Why is John making any reference to
getting stuff? I thought we just decided that we needed
to give stuff to those Christians in need. (The total
picture is now revealed - if Jesus was willing to give us
His life, He is willing to give us stuff. John teaches
that if we open our hearts (and our wallets) to those in
need, God will open His wallet to us.)
- Read 1 John 3:23-24. After all of this discussion about
helping others, why does John say "His command" is "to
believe in the name of His Son?" (As we discussed, Jesus
is the ultimate example of sacrificing for others. Jesus
is also the ultimate example of being honored for this.)
- Friend, how about you? Will you determine today that you
will help your fellow Christians who are in need? Will
you share your time and your stuff with them?
- Next week: Believing in the Son of God.
* 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.