A Study of 1 John
To Know Him is to Love Him
“How Real is He to Me?”
In the time John the Apostle wrote these three letters, the heresy of Gnosticism was sweeping through the church. Before John died at around 100 AD, he was ministering pastor at the Church of Ephesus which had gone from having a first-love relationship with Christ to a church flooded with programs, many of a social nature and where the Lord was no longer the center focus. The world's habits and cultures began coming into the church, and the church latched hold, in part to water down the message in order to draw people in to the fold.
The Ephesian Christians were a busy bunch, but John could see in that busy-ness they were growing cold.
What was the teaching of Gnosticism? These Gnostics denied that Jesus was ever actually a man (with a physical body). Gnosticism also taught that everything material is evil and everything considered spiritualistic (regardless of what it might be) is good.
In this first letter of John, he wants to set the record straight. Jesus was more than a spirit or philosophy. He was and is and always will be God. What else in the Christian Walk in John's first letter all about?
- Our active relationship with Jesus Christ
- Our faith and whether we are growing and stretching in it
- Gaining a spiritual discernment of what is right and wrong
- Putting in action a growing and developing commitment to God
- Taking a strong stand in where we will place our tolerance of sin and how we respond to it
We know John, the Apostle wrote five books in the New Testament: The three letters, Jude, the gospel of John and the book of Revelation. He died shortly after writing 1, 2, and 3 John. The church that he pastored in Ephesus was founded by Paul. He was saddened to see how tolerant of sin this church had become. In spite of them being busy little bees doing works, they had begun to tread on dangerous ground which threatened their walks. We read the details of the Church at Ephesus in the book of Revelation, where John writes to the seven churches, and the Ephesian church was the first. (Revelation 2:4).
John will show that he had the credentials to share this because he saw Jesus with his own eyes. That Jesus was not just a spirit or philosophy. That HE was a living person who wanted then and now to have fellowship with us.
- From the Beginning1 John 1:1-7That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy maybe be full. This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
- That Personal Experience1:1-4John wrote this letter to the church around AD 85 - 90 from Ephesus. This would be not far from the time he ended up on the island of Patmos in AD 70 which we read about in the book of Revelations (1:9)At that time Jerusalem had been destroyed and a lot of Christians had scattered. The church had faced a lot of persecution too. Some of the persecution unfortunately caused a lot of Christians to not be as strongly committed as they should have been and as they once were. Many in the church were becoming too accepting of the world's standards -- less willing to make stands for their faith and beliefs -- more tempted to compromise.False teachers and counterfeit believers were part of the cause for the church to be on one fast downhill slide.John is qualified to write this letter because
- (He heard the LORD speak)
- (He saw the LORD with his own eyes)
- (He got to Look upon the LORD while He was here on earth)
- (He touched the LORD)
We become qualified to share the Lord because
- We have spiritually seen, bear witness,
We need to DECLARE
- That we have fellowship together because of Christ
- That our fellowship is possible because of our relationship with God
- That if we walk in the light and not in darkness we have fellowship with one another.
- That it's the blood of Jesus Christ that will cleanse us from all sin.Most of all, we too are able to handle the Word of Life today every time we open the Scriptures. We hear the Lord speak in our prayers, we know, see and feel His presence in our worship.
- The difference between the good, the bad, the uglyIn verses 5 and 6 we see the dissimilarity between light and darkness. (In Him is no darkness AT ALL). How we also see it is in verse 6 specifically. (IF we have fellowship with Him AND WALK IN DARKNESS we LIE).Ask yourself: When is it right to be tolerant and when is it unwise or displeasing to God?Though Jesus had tolerance of disciples when they doubted; Jesus tolerated crowds who misunderstood Him. God tolerated David's ups and downs. Jesus has often shown tolerance of our failures, thanks to His Mercy and Compassion, when he's seen hearts are right and his children let Him turn them around. God has no tolerance for blatant sin. According to scripture God cannot LOOK on Sin.Neither the Lord nor John were tolerant when it came to the path to salvation and we'll see that in this letter. When it comes to a person having a relationship with God, Jesus, and later John remained bold and apologetic about what that means. The road is narrow, and the path is fixed. And there are few that will find it.Being truthful as a Christian means an INTOLERANCE of what is counterfeitThe only real thing we have in God is in knowing we can ONLY reach Him by way of His Son. His life has never been hidden from us. It was revealed openly then, as it is revealed openly today through His Word. The more we know about Him the more we realize
- WHY HE CAME
- WHO HE IS,
- WHAT HE REQUIRES OF US,
- WHEN IT'S TIME TO STEP OUT ON FAITH, and
- WHEN WE NEED TO WAIT
- WHERE WE CAN GO WITH HIM LEADING OUR LIVES.
- HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO SERVE HIM WITH OUR WHOLE HEART
If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin.
(If we are wrong about knowing who Jesus is and why He came,
we'll always be wrong about knowing what we need to know about God.)
- Staying in Condition1:6-7Too often many people profess to know God and have fellowship with Him, and yet they are walking in darkness, contrary to the commands of God. These two verses show us the difference once again. We must be walking in the light, and to what is good and holy and true and reliable to be in proper fellowship with God. Only God can guide us out of the darkness of sin.To claim we live for Him and are in fellowship but still live for ourselves is living a hypocritical life. We can't love God and court sin at the same time. It just won't work.Question: How does REAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD CHANGES US FROM WITHIN?Any person can have a wonderful prayer life and feel close to God but still be living a lie if she does not turn away from her sins. Just because we pray does not speak to true fellowship and relationship. Where are our hearts?We know David had his problems with God.
We know Saul wasn’t what he claimed to be
HE WAS NEVER REAL WITH HIS RELATIONSHIP TO GOD even WHEN HE PRAYED AND PROPHESIED
So what are the three principles of true fellowship?
- be grounded in His Word
- keep unity with other believers who are committed to Him
- stay in spiritual interaction with other believers.
We show we have a living active relationship with Christ by wanting to be able to share it.
II. Life's Struggles
1 John 1:8-10
If we say that we have no sine, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
The Gnostics denied the reality of sin. The false teachers were instructing the Ephesians Christians about this and some were falling for this false teaching. But the Ephesians were fooling themselves.
It is the same today, when we accept the changes in society today as if they are okay with God when we figure He has no problem with them. We are only fooling ourselves.
- Where am I willing to compromise?
- Where do I find myself compromising the most?
- How far can a Christian go before she has gone too far?
- What makes life for a Christian more of a struggle? Is it to compromise their faith and go the way of the world, or is it to stand for her beliefs, knowing she may be rejected by some who she thought before were her friends?
We have to make decisions, and one of the most important of those is, where will I stand today and with whom will I stand.
There is nothing more important in our lives today than this: and that means removing every sinful activity from my life that GOD knows shouldn’t be there. We may be making excuses for it, but He does not. He says back in verse one that he writes these things to us so that we may not sin. John expects us to see that a true commitment to the Lord involves NOT to continue in sin.
The Bible makes it clear if we walk in darkness it is impossible to be in right fellowship.
A. The Sin Nature
1 John 1:10
When we sin against God we need to come to the place where we will admit to our sins, humble ourselves and admit our weaknesses then ask God for forgiveness and pray for the strength to defeat temptation to sin again.
It's in our weakness, that He can show Himself strong in our live