Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world (1 John 2:15-16).
John did not write that people should not appreciate and care for the beautiful world that God has made; rather, no one should love God’s creation more than they love the Creator. But the world has not remained exactly as God created it, so what God originally made does not point perfectly to the character and wisdom of God. Therefore, Jesus came and taught the truth about God and the world and how to live in the world. In the Bible, “the world” or “this world” can also mean a civilization, culture, fellowship, society, or philosophy that promotes rebellion against God and God’s commandments. So, a “worldly person” follows their feelings or thoughts to gratify themselves supremely instead of loving God supremely and others as the Bible teaches. By doing so, they misuse and damage themselves and others. A “worldly person” can easily become deceived by what they see or hear that someone else has designed to manipulate them, take advantage of them, and lead them further away from God. A “worldly person” can love money so much that they become arrogant and search for “legal” ways to steal from others and further enrich themselves. John warned the followers of Jesus Christ that they can also be tempted to become “worldly persons,” so they must remember that the world is passing away, “but those who do the will of God live forever” (1 John 2:17).
1. How would you define or explain “world” as John uses the word?
2. How would you describe someone who loves the world?
3. How would you describe someone who has the love of the Father within them?
4. What did John say comes from the world and not from the Father?
5. Who does John say will live forever? Do you agree? Why or why not?
I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:14).
John addressed his readers as “beloved;” those he loved as Jesus Christ loved them and him. He wrote to those of all ages and levels of spiritual maturity who followed Jesus, and he commended each believer for their spiritual growth. For example, a new believer may not know much more than the fact that their heavenly Father loves them and has granted them the assurance that their sins have been forgiven and they have received the gift of eternal life. Spiritual children grow into spiritual young people, and John placed his emphasis on them. Knowing that their heavenly Father will protect them, the new follower of Jesus Christ can look forward to becoming spiritually strong through the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells them. The new follower of Jesus Christ can look forward to learning more about Jesus Christ, the Word of God, as they obey the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ that the apostles preached and published for people to study. No evil one can take a believer’s relationship with the Father and the Son from them, and as they follow Jesus and His teachings, they will overcome the evil one. The evil one can be anyone who tempts a believer to sin, but particularly the devil who knows about our human weaknesses, who will exploit them, and who will try to lead people astray; however, by trusting in Jesus, anyone can spiritually overcome the evil one. — L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.
1. What do you think the commandments were that John referred to?
2. If a believer in Jesus says, “I am in the light,” what do you think he means?
3. What can keep a believer in Jesus from stumbling?
4. What can cause stumbling?
5. What did John say about young people who were believers in Jesus?
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1)
Among the gospel writers, none of them expressed the tender love of Jesus Christ for His followers more than John, for he addressed his readers as “My little children.” Everything John wrote expressed the love of Jesus Christ that flowed in and through him. John knew the damage that sin could do to someone and to those they loved. John defined sin as lawlessness, and because he loved his brothers and sisters in Christ, he did not want them to act lawlessly. John also recognized that no follower of Christ will act, live, and speak perfectly until they meet Jesus face-to-face, either when Jesus Christ comes again or when they go to heaven to be with the Lord. John knew that every follower of Jesus would do something lawless sometimes, but lawlessness was the exception to the standard by which they habitually lived. To avoid utterly crushing the spirit of his fellow believers, John encouraged them by writing that if we do sin, we have an advocate, a defense attorney, who will plead for and represent us before God our Father. There will be no better Defense Attorney in our behalf than Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, because Jesus “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:2). Our Advocate will only need to say in our behalf that He justly and mercifully died a sacrificial death for us so we would not suffer eternal punishment. Moreover, the Father and He had agreed to graciously give eternal life to all who would follow Him.
1. Why do you think John called his readers “My little children”?
2. What reason did John give for writing them?
3. If anyone sins, what good news did John give his readers?
4. What did John say was necessary for Jesus to be “the atoning sacrifice”?
5. How can we be sure that we know Jesus?
We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete (1 John 1:4).
John wrote his letters to believers, but he also wanted everyone to find complete joy in Jesus. He wanted everyone to have the everlasting joy that his friends and those in Christian fellowship possessed. John’s letter tells us how we can have everlasting joy beginning with and based on fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. John wrote that Jesus revealed himself as the life that was from the beginning, the eternal life, and the word of life, even as John began his gospel saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John also briefly stated the message of Jesus Christ that he heard and proclaimed: “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Remember how you have felt walking into a totally dark room without light and then switching on the light to see. The light kept you from stumbling into various objects and hurting yourself. The light overcame the darkness in the room, and you walked safely. John’s gospel and letters remind us that moral and spiritual darkness exists in the world; however, there is no darkness in God. Therefore, the Father sent Jesus, the light, into the world to keep us from stumbling into situations the darkness hides. From experience we know that in a lighted room and in the world, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). John’s letter teaches us how to walk in the light that pushes back the darkness so we can have joyful fellowship with God and other believers.
1. What did John declare to his readers?
2. What did John want his readers to have?
3. What was the message that John proclaimed?
4. What did John say is the result of walking in the light?
5. What did John say is the result of confessing our sins?