We are usually known for something, whether it’s an accomplishment, a character quality, a physical attribute, or the company we keep. My dad is known for being a hard worker. On any given day, he might be roofing a barn or in a board meeting, landing a business deal, or rebuilding the engine of an antique Ford. He is a man of work, and he stays the course from sunrise to sundown. Work is what he knows and where he resides. Simply put, it is his practice, his way of life.
- For what are you known? What’s your practice?
READ THE WORD: 1 JOHN 3:1-12 (ESV)
3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What is the relationship of a Christ-follower with God (vss. 1-2)? What does it mean that non-Christians don’t “know” Christians?
- What event will happen before Christians are fully like Christ, and why (vs. 2)? What kind of behavior should this future hope inspire (vs. 3)?
- In verses 4-10, John specifically addressed the behavior of genuine believers in Christ and those who claimed to follow Christ while simultaneously advocating false doctrine and downplaying sinful behavior. While today some believe this passage to indicate that true Christians are without sin, the whole of Scripture (not to mention the human experience itself) simply doesn’t validate this. In light of these things, consider all John said about the “practice” of a person (vss. 4-10). How would you describe your own practice?
- What is Jesus’ relationship with sin (vss. 5, 8-9)? If a person is born of God and abiding in Christ, what is his or her relationship with sin (vss. 6-7, 9)?
- In verses 10-11, John gave one final litmus test of how to discern whether an individual was living in obedience to Christ. What is it? In your own estimation, how successful are you at both practicing righteousness and loving your “brothers”?
RESPOND TO GOD
According to John, we are either God’s children (and consequently, on the outs with the world around us), or we are not (thus, opposed to his truth and aligned with the desires of the devil himself). The way we live is the evidence of our belief in and intimacy with Christ; our conduct lays bare the closeness of our hearts to his. If our hope is in Jesus, then we hope to be like him. It is a singular motivation to pursue both an abiding relationship with him and a lifestyle of pure living and loving others.
- Prayerfully consider what your practice reveals about your heart. Speak honestly with God about your sin and ask for his forgiveness.
- Pray that God would show you how to practice righteousness and love.