Setting

The author has drawn a clear distinction between the false believers and true believers. He also assures the true believers of their knowledge of the true gospel and the promise of eternal life. In this and the following sections, he calls the believers “children of God” and emphasizes again the theme of living a life that imitates Christ.

Key Verse

(3:9)

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Outline

  • Purifying Ourselves for His Coming
    (2:28-3:3)
  • Living a Sinless Life in Christ
    (3:4-6)
  • Children of God vs. Children of the devil
    (3:7-10)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    According to this passage, what characterize the children of God?

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    They hope for the appearing of the Lord and therefore purify themselves (2,3). They do not sin (6,9). They practice righteousness (2:29; 3:7). They love their brothers (10).

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Segment Analysis

  • 3:1-3

    1a.

    What is the tone of 3:1?

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    It is one of marvel and excitement.

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  • 1b.

    What is the author asking his readers to behold?

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    The wonderful love that God has bestowed on us by making us His children.

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  • 1c.

    What significance does the declaration that we are the beloved children of God have on subsequent teachings?

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    Since God loves us so much that He has made us His children, we ought to live a life to please Him. If we are always amazed by God’s great love, we will actively do His will. Furthermore, if we are truly born of God, we would live according to His likeness, having purity and love.

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  • 2a.

    How does the world not know God?

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    The world does not acknowledge Jesus Christ nor accept Him (Jn 1:10- 13; 7:7). Instead of living according to God’s image, the world indulges in lusts and pride.

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  • 2b.

    What does it mean that “the world does not know us”? In your daily life, do you experience this feeling of being a stranger to the world?

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    The world cannot understand or accept the ways and life of believers (1Pet 4:3,4).

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  • 3.

    Explain the teaching in verse 2 about our future likeness.

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    At the coming of our Lord Jesus, we will be transformed to be like Him, having a spiritual body that is immortal and full of glory (1Cor 15:42-53).

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  • 4.

    What is the connection between verses 2 and 3?

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    Since we hope to be like God when He appears, we need to be like God now by purifying ourselves.

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  • 5.

    How can we purify ourselves?

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    If we confess our sins and walk in the light, the blood of Christ cleanses us from our sins (1:7,9). Practicing righteousness is the active way of purifying ourselves in order to imitate God’s purity (7).

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  • 3:4-10

    6.

    Record your observations about the following a. A definition of sin b. Source of sin c. Power over sin d. An example of sin

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    a. Lawlessness (4). This means transgression or rejection of God’s law.
    b. The devil (8).
    c. We need to be born of God through faith in Jesus Christ because He has come to destroy the works of the devil (8,9).
    d. Not loving our brother (10)

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  • 7.

    Isn’t verse 7 contradictory to justification by faith alone? (See Rom 3:20-28)

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    The verse does not say that practicing righteousness makes us
    righteous. In fact, we all need to confess that we have sin (1:8-10). What
    this verse teaches is that if we claim to be God’s children but walk in sin, we are lying. True children of God who abide in Him would surely practice righteousness. By this they demonstrate that they have been born of God.

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  • 8.

    How does Christ destroy the works of the devil?

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    Jesus Christ took the form of sinful man. But because He was sinless, He condemned sin while He was in the flesh (Rom 8:3). By His atoning death, He destroyed the works of the devil and freed us from the fear of death (Heb 2:14,15). Today, those who are in Christ are no longer under the control of the devil because they are free from condemnation.

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  • 9.

    What does this passage say about the children of the devil?

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    They have not seen God or known God. They live in sin (8a). They do not practice righteousness nor love their brothers (10).

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  • 10.

    Does verse 9 teach that believers never commit sin in their lives?

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    If the verse teaches that believers are without sin and never commit sin, then it would contradict 1:8-10. Some versions of the Bible translate “commit” as “practice.” Compare also “abide in Him” with “sin” in verse 6. The context of the epistle shows that those who are born of God will abide in God rather than remain in sin. A person who has received a new life cannot continue to sin, unless he has fallen away from the truth.

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  • 11.

    What is the seed that is in the believer?

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    Generally speaking, the seed refers to our rebirth. More specifically, it may refer to the word of truth. We are born of God through the word of truth (Jas 1:18; Mt 13:23). If we are children of God, His word remains in us so that we do not sin (Psalm 119:11).

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  • Final Thoughts

    12.

    How does the coming of Christ inspire you in your walk of faith?

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