Light That Conquers Death
Jesus Christ: A Portrait of God
Unit 1: Christ, the Image of God (Lessons 1-5)
After participating in this lesson, each student will be able to:
1.Quote 1 loan J1, t4 from memory.
2.Discuss the personal implications of what it means to walk as Jesus did.
3.Describe one way that he or she will walk as Jesus did.
A. Unresolved Guilt
I. THE WALK OF FELLOWSHIP (1 John 1:1-4)
A. Experiencing the Word of Life (vv. 1, 2)
B. Experiencing Fellowship (v. 3)
C. Experiencing joy (v. 4)
II. THE WALK IN THE LIGHT (1 John 1:5-10)
A. Full Cleansing (vv. 5-7)
B. Full Confession (vv. 8-10)III. T. WALK OF Love. (1 John 2:1-6)
A.Jesus Our Advocate (v. 1)An Advocate
B.Jesus Our Propitiation (v. 2)
C.Jesus Our Standard (vv. 3-5)Keeping Commandments
D.Jesus Our Trailblazer (v. 6)CONCLUSION
A.What Would Jesus Do?
C. Thought to Remember
A. Unresolved Guilt
She sat on the tailgate of a pickup in the parking lot, her body shuddering with silent sobs. In
the nearby park the rest of the church was enjoying the annual picnic, but she didn’t participate.
ne just sat there, hugging herself tightly, staring into nothing.
The preacher sat down next to her and asked.”What’s wrong, dear? Can I help?” She gained control for a minute and blurted, “I take shower after shower, but I still feel dirty.” Her problem? She had recently committed adultery with her
best friend’s husband. Her sin made her feel guilty and unclean, and she felt there was no way to get over it.
Counseling professionals say that unresolved guilt is one of the great problems facing troubled adults. The church knows the cause of unresolved guilt: sin. Some secular counseling theories deal with sin problems by saying, “That’s who you are. Just accept yourself and be happy.”They believe that clients want a therapist who will say that their sin is OK. Actually, no one needs to spend money to hear this. All you have to do is find a bunch of drinking buddies to party with, and they will tell you this for nothing! God, who made us, knows that sin cannot be ignored or explained away. It must be confronted and overcome. Ignoring sin is a sin itself and is ultimately destructive. The apostle John has a strategy for dealing with sin that we will see today. This week’s lesson uses bold symbolic language to guide us into a fellowship with God. This fellowship moves beyond paralyzing guilt to a joyous walk with the Lord.
B. Lesson Background
The apostle John was one of Jesus’ closest associates. Jesus trusted him enough to task hint with the care of His own mother, Mary, at the cross (see John 19:26, 27). Church tradition says that John later moved to the great city of Ephesus, taking Mary with hint. There he ministered for many years, dying sometime between An 95and 100. His exile to Patmos is also well known(Revelation 1:9).
There are five books in the Bible written by the apostle John: the Gospel of John; 1, 2, 3 John: and Revelation. We are not sure who the in-tended audience was for 1 John, but apparently they were confronted with many threats to their faith. Some may have been Jewish believers who had denied Jesus in order to return to the synagogue (see 1 John 2:22). Others may have been foresee pagans who were being lured back into the worship of idols (see 1 John 5:21).
Still others were being tempted by an early form of the attractive heresy we call Gnosticism (see discussion of this in the first lesson of this quarter). For this reason John emphasized his personal contact with the human Christ including seeing and touching (1 John 1:1).
First John deals with both extremes on the issue of sin: legalism and license. On the one hand, John confronts a legalism that refuses to recognize the sufficiency of Jesus to deal with sin. On the other hand, John will not stand for those who think that they have a license to sin because :hey believe that personal righteousness and life-style are unimportant (compare Romans 6:1, 2).John’s solution to both extremes is to combine forgiveness with godly living. If we try to live righteously but do not feel forgiven for those times we have failed, we will be miserable. If we dory in our forgiveness but disdain God’s standards of personal purity and integrity, then we have given up the possibility of a close relation-ship with God. We too will ultimately be miser-able. These issues of John’s day are amazingly current for us today. The message of 1 John still has a place in the church and should be heard.
I. The Walk of Fellowship(1 John 1:1-4)
John begins his letter by outlining a dual purpose. First, he writes to bring about true fellow-ship among his readers. This is fellowship not only with one another but also with God (1 John1:3). Second, he wants his readers to have hearts full of joy from hearing his words (1 John 1:4). John has no joy in knowing that some of his readers lack true, intimate fellowship. He wants to break down the barriers that destroy fellow-ship and cause joy to be stifled.
A. Experiencing the Word of Life (vv. 1, 2)1. That 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, of the Word of life.
This verse contains strong echoes of the first verses of the Gospel of John. In both places the apostle opens with an affirmation of the pre-existence of Christ: He was from the beginning. When the universe was created and time began, He was already there. John identifies the Christ as the Word of life, combining his descriptions of Word (John 1:1) and life (John 1:4). These are Wong statements of Jesus’ deity. (See question.
Also important are John’s eyewitness reports of the humanity of Jesus. Jesus was not a divine being who merely seemed to be human. John employs three of the five senses to confirm how humanly real Jesus was: John heard Him, saw Him, and even touched Him. These things are burned into John’s memory, and he shares them freely with his readers.
2.(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;).
John now explains further what he means when he calls Jesus the “Word of life” from verse1. First, he describes Him as eternal life. In Jesus we both find and receive eternal life. Jesus is life(John 11:25), and Jesus grants life to His believers (see John 10:28).
Second, true life cannot be found apart from a relationship with God the Father. One of the great promises of the Bible is that, in the end, we will be given renewed access to the tree of life that is in the presence of God (see Revelation2:7). Believers, though, don’t need to wait until Heaven to experience life. John wrote to assure us that Jesus brings us life in the here and now(John 20:31). By scathing with Jesus, trusting and following Him, we will experience LIFE in all capital letters!
B. Experiencing Fellowship (v. 3)
3.That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Fellowship is the Greek word koinonia. This word has the sense of “mutual sharing.” Fellow-ship is not a matter of being part of an audience. How much fellowship can you have with strangers while watching a movie in the theater? Koinonia fellowship involves closeness and caring. A church with this type of fellowship will have members who care about one another far beyond the casual, “How are you doing?” on Sunday morning.
John teaches us that fellowship in the church must exist on two levels. First, we must have fellowship with God. God has already initiated this. He has revealed himself through His prophets and, finally, through His Son (Hebrews 1:1, 2,last week’s lesson). We can know the very heart of God if we study the Scriptures.
Second, we will begin to have fellowship that is more authentic with fellow believers when we allow our relationship with God to flourish. Weave much stronger mutual ties and learn to care for each other as God does. Christian fellowship, then, is experienced on both the vertical level(with God) and the horizontal level (with other believers). ,es1 km #2, 144.!
C. Experiencing Joy (v. 4)
4. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
John has no ulterior motives, no hidden agendas, in writing to his friends. He is seeking neither personal gain nor personal vindication over his critics. He simply wants his readers to experience the joy that comes from having a secure relationship with God. That result should control their relationship with others. This is the walk of fellowship. It is the abundant, joyous life (see John 10:10).
H. The Walk in the Light(1 John 1:5-10)
Another powerful theme that 1 John shares with the Gospel of John is the image of Jesus as the light (see John 1:4; 8:12). Walking in His light implies two things for believers. First, it means that we walk without hiddenness, without private sin. We live with integrity, with no fear of public exposure of even the most intimate details of our lives. Darkness for John is equated with sin and ignorance. Walking in the light means we walk in truth and holiness.
Second, walking in the light means walking with God. God allows no darkness in His presence. The great barrier to walking with God, then, is sin. John outlines a two-part process to deal with sin: cleansing and confessing.
A. Full Cleansing (vv. 5-7)
5.This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
We begin to understand personal spiritual cleansing by remembering that the cleanser(God) is without any taint of sin. John’s image God is light means that God is pure and holy in every possible way. We should not understand this as an exclusive, absolute statement that conflicts with John’s other basic declarations about God. For example, John can say “God is light” here and “God is love” later (1 John 4:8), and both statements are completely true.
6.If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.
The church always has had false believers among its members. These are the ones who claim to be God’s children but engage in behaviours that God abhors. We, from our human perspective, cannot always tell who is a true believer and who is a false believer. Sometimes the person with many chronic and visible sin problems is struggling sincerely to change his life every day.
In other cases a person who presents the appearance of great righteousness and piety may be living a secret life of evil and disdain for God. For John this is the person walking in darkness. His or her relationship with God is a sham as life is lived only for self. Jesus labeled such people hypocrites and reserved His strongest condemnation for them (see Mark 7:6). Elsewhere Jesus indicated that such evil persons may coexist with believers now, but they will be condemned at the time of judgment (Matthew 13:30).
7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
John follows the discussion of the hypocrite with a message of hope for the one struggling with sin (and this includes every believer). This is not addressed to the nonbeliever.
How does the Christian deal with sin? First, we maintain a strong relationship with God, walking in the light. (See question #3, page 144.)Out, furthermore, we never lose sight of the fact that our sins have been paid for by the blood of Jesus, shed for us (see Revelation 1:5). [See question #4. paw: I -141
B. Full Confession (vv. 8-10)
8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
It is unlikely that John is dealing with a hypothetical situation here. There apparently are false teachers trying to convince the church that they have no sin at all. We know this is not true, both from our experience and from God’s Word. Even the strongest, most mature believers can still sin. Remember that Paul had to confront Peter on a matter of hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14).
9.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive on our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John offers another key to how Christians can overcome sin problems. We must confess our sins. To confess means to acknowledge our sin before God. It means we are not comfortable nor do we ignore it. We come to God and say, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).We acknowledge our sinfulness and our helplessness. God cleanses us, meaning He forgives us. We who are unrighteous are reckoned by God as righteous because of His cleansing power.
10.If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. John now presents the most awful consequences of falsehood: if we deny our sinfulness, we are calling God a liar. We are saying that we don’t need a Savior and that God didn’t need to send Jesus to die for our sins. This is the complete, polar opposite of confessing our sins.
III. The Walk of Love
(1 John 2:1-6)
Our lives as believers are to be controlled and characterized by love (John 13:35). When we truly understand what God has provided for us in Jesus, our lives will radiate His love to others.
A. Jesus Our Advocate (v. 1)
1. My little children, these things write I onto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
In Christ we have another advantage when it comes to sin. In the heavenly court of judgment, we have the finest defense attorney available: Jesus our advocate. The Greek word for this canalso be translated “comforter,” as it is in John14:26. There this word is used of the Holy Spirit by Jesus.
An advocate was a common practice in my neighborhood when I was a youngster. If you wanted to do something with some of the other kids and you
believed Mom might not approve, you brought in one of the other kids to ask her, “We’re going to ride our bikes over to the park. Can Johnny come with us?” You could ask her yourself, of course, but you knew you had a better chance of getting her approval if one of the other kids asked. We wanted someone to stand alongside as and speak our request to Mom.
The word advocate suggests a lawyer who rep-resents someone in court. Such a one stands alongside, speaks to the judge, and argues the case. The picture that emerges out of all this is that Jesus is our defense attorney, so to speak. Jesus pleads our case. As He does He stresses that we can go free with no penalty, because He has paid sin’s price on the cross. He knows our desire to live right, but He also knows how poorly we have been able to do it. Yet in all this He faithfully represents our best interests. What an advocate we have! —J. B. N.
B. Jesus Our Propitiation (v. 2)
2. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
John uses doctrinally heavy language to state a basic truth: Jesus is our propitiation, meaning our sacrifice for sins. This is the doctrine of the atonement; God’s penalty for our sins is paid by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. The statement here is remarkably similar to the declaration of John the Baptist about Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). See also 1 John 4:10.
C. Jesus Our Standard (vv. 3-5)
3. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
A confused brother or sister may wonder, “Am I really a believer? Sometimes I doubt my own faith.” John says the time for self-delusion is over. You know whether you are a believer by looking at your own life. Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). John says that you can know yourself by your actions as you keep his commandments.
Some years ago a friend of mine mentioned an incident that had occurred in his family. His children had various chores they were to do around the house. His youngest son, Jimmy, was to take the garbage each evening and put it in the garbage can at the back of their yard. His mother usually wrapped it in a newspaper and placed it on the corner of the kitchen cabinet.
One night Jimmy went out to play, and my friend asked his daughter, “Did Jimmy pick up the garbage?” She looked into the kitchen and noticed the garbage was still on the kitchen counter. My friend said, “Tell Jimmy to come back and get the garbage.” She went to the backdoor and yelled out, “Jimmy, come back and get the garbage.” Jimmy yelled back, “Who says so?”She replied. “Dad says so.” Only at that point did Jimmy came back and pick up the garbage! Jimmy had heard his sister’s command, but there was no obedience because he did not respect her authority. When he understood whose authority lay behind the command, he obeyed readily. John says that if we know Jesus, we will keep His commands. Do we? —J. B. N.
4, 5. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word. in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
Why do we keep God’s commandments? Out of fear? To earn heavenly merit badges? No, there is only one valid reason: We follow God’s will because we love Him. Some children obey their parents primarily out of the fear of punishment. Other children obey primarily because they love their parents and do not want to disappoint them or hurt them.
To obey out of love is a godly motivation. for God loves us consistently at all times. When we truly appreciate God’s great love, the enjoyment of sin grows less and less enticing. We are stoning toward what John sees as perfect love. When we achieve this type of relationship with God, we no longer fear Him (1 John 4:18).
D. Jesus Our Trailblazer (v. 6)
6. He that saith he abideth in hiss ought him-self also so to walk, even as he walked.
The section concludes by looking to the example of Jesus. When we don’t know what to do, we should look at the pattern of Jesus’ life. In this His the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews12:2). He has walked before us and shown us how to live.
A. What Would Jesus Do?
Over a century ago Charles Sheldon penned the classic Christian novel In His Steps. The main character, a minister named Henry Max-well, is confronted by an angry poor man who asks, “But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following His steps?”
This challenge sets off a series of events that transforms a town because the people begin to ask themselves, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” They allow the answer to determine their decisions.
The “What Would Jesus Do?” fad passed through many churches a few years ago, accompanied by WWJD? wristbands and other paraphernalia. The question WWJD? doesn’t always work because Jesus did some miraculous things that we cannot; Jesus even died on a cross to pay sin’s price—something we cannot and need not do. But by and large the WWJD? phenomenon was a good thing. Even if it is now out of fashions, the question still is worth asking.
Are you willing to do what Jesus would do, to live as Jesus lived, to walk as Jesus walked? Are you willing to act in a manner that acknowledges Christ’s presence in your life and let Hiss be the controlling influence for your actions? This is the message of this lesson. When we do this, wearer not automatically perfect. But we have yielded to God’s conquering light in our lives, and we are truly walking with Him.
Gracious and merciful God. thank You for loving us in spite of our sin. Thank You for being willing to allow us into Your close fellowship de-spite our weaknesses. And thank You for cleansing us despite our spiritual filthiness. We pray in the powerful name of Jesus, Your Son and our advocate in Heavers, amen.
C. Thought to Remember
Walking with Jesus means living with His presence in our lives.