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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 11: Important Themes in 1 John *
Introduction: I like to read books about brains. No one is really
sure how people think or how they process information so quickly.
How long does it take you to recognize a familiar face? How long
does it take to determine a person's relative age? Matching faces
and determining age are tasks which are very difficult for a
computer. One thing we do know about our brains is that repeating
something strengthens our ability to understand it. Have you ever
read a book which had a "review" at the end of each chapter? That
is what we are doing this week. We are going to do something we know
works for our brains: strengthen our understanding of the wonderful
things John wrote. Let's plunge right into our review of 1 John and
see how this all fits together!
- Two Paths
- Read 1 John 1:5-7. What two choices do we have in life?
(We can walk on the path of light or we can walk on the
path of darkness.)
- Can we trust people to accurately tell us on which
path they are walking? (No. 1 John 1:6 reveals that
some lie about it.)
- How can we know which path we are taking? What if we
can't trust ourselves to tell the truth about our
life? (We know we are on the light path if we live
by the truth. We have fellowship with others on the
light path. We are making progress along the path.)
- What about walking on the light path saves us from
sin? Is it the choice, the walk, the truth or what?
("The blood of Jesus ... purifies us from all sin.")
- If Jesus' blood purifies us from sin, then why am I
getting all of this exercise walking along the light
path? Walking is work! Walking takes effort! (John
paints a picture of the progressive Christian life.
We are constantly moving with the purpose of going
in the right direction.)
- Conditions on the Light Path
- Read 1 John 2:1-2. How important is commandment-keeping
for those on the path of light? (John says our goal is
not to sin.)
- How serious a problem is it if we sin? (Good news!
Jesus covers our sins with the sacrifice of His
- Read 1 John 2:3-6. Let me repeat the same question I just
asked. In light of these verses, how serious a problem
is it if we sin? (John writes that our actions are a
polygraph (truth tester) for our claim that we "know"
- What would John say about a person who said they
were saved by grace but then knowingly sinned
because they thought it didn't matter - since they
were saved by grace? (John tells us that person does
not really know Jesus. That person is lying (to
himself and others) about having a relationship with
- Read 1 John 2:9-11. There are a lot of commands out
there. How can I know if I am a commandment keeper - and
thus not lying about being on the path of light? (We love
our fellow Christians.)
- Read Matthew 22:36-40. How does Jesus connect the
law of love to the Ten Commandments (and every other
- We talk about the importance of Sabbath-keeping. Is
that the most important command? (No. It is not the
"foundational" command, which is to love.)
- Does Sabbath-keeping have anything whatsoever
to do with love? (Every command of God has
something to do with love. In this case it is
loving both God and ourselves by taking time
out of our busy schedule to worship God and to
rest from work.)
- Read 1 John 2:15-17. Is there a good and bad love? If we
are on the path of light, are we forbidden to love our
car, our home, our job, our money, or our pet? (This is
not easy to describe, but I have seen John's point played
out in some of the churches which I have attended. In
some churches, your job and your wealth are important. In
others, the people don't seem to care much about that.
John tells us that the attitude of those on the path of
light is that possessions and position are desires
connected with the world.)
- Are we being completely impractical and unrealistic?
After all, money, power, position are all important
as a practical matter, right? (John answers the
"practical" argument in 1 John 2:17. He says that
all of these practical things are going to burn.
They will pass away. So, let's be truly practical
and focus on the things which will not pass away.)
- Improvements on the Light Path
- Read 1 John 3:1-3. Do you (did you) admire your father or
mother? If so, did you try to live up to their
- Why? (You felt an obligation. You felt it was right
to live up to the expectations people had of you.
You did not want to let your parents down.)
- My father used to say, "You are Don Cameron's sons
and I expect you to behave!" What does John say to
us in 1 John 3:1-3 that sounds like my father? (He
says we are children of God and we should work to be
like our Father in Heaven.)
- Contrast that to the person who says "I'm
saved, and what I do does not matter." Would a
person with that attitude really know God as a
- Read 1 John 3:7-8. What is the disputed point on which
John does not want us to be led astray? (Whether or not
our actions matter.)
- What is John's crystal clear point about our
behavior? (Righteous people do right things.
Unrighteous people do sinful things. Want to know
whether you are on the path of light or the path of
darkness? Look at your actions. This is not
- Read 1 John 3:11. What is the ultimate standard for our
right actions? (Again, John hammers the point that the
ultimate standard is whether we love one another.)
- How many of your sins arise because of selfishness?
You love yourself more than others?
- Walking in Love
- Read 1 John 4:7-8. I struggle with this idea of loving
others. I like lots of people. But, to love them like I
love myself is not easy. How do we become more loving?
(The source of love is God. Knowing more about God, being
"born" of God improves our ability to love.)
- Read 1 John 4:9-11. Can you say that you really love God?
Who made the first move in the relationship between you
and God? (God did. He sent His Son to live and die for us
at a time when we did not love Him.)
- Have you ever heard someone say, "I'll forgive that
person when they ask for forgiveness?" "I'll treat
that person with respect when they learn to show
respect?" What does John suggest about this
attitude? (If we are to love as God loved, we love
people before they are loveable.)
- Read 1 John 4:12. Is John saying that it is hard to love
because we have not seen God? Or, is he saying something
else? (I think John is saying that people do not see God,
they see you. If God's love lives in your heart, then you
are the way in which others "see" God's love.)
- How is that for responsibility? The view that others
have of God rests on your shoulders!
- Read 1 John 5:3-5. John tells us this responsibility to
love God and others is not burdensome. Is that a promise?
(We start by knowing God. Reading and studying about Him
and His ways. We then obey Him. Once we get rolling down
this path, continuing is not burdensome. We just need to
- Friend, how about you? If you feel your love is a quart
low, will you commit to making the effort to know God
better and to obey Him? How about asking the Holy Spirit
into your heart today to help move you along in this
- Next week: John's Letter to the Chosen Lady.
* 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.