Setting

In the previous study, we contemplated on the marvelous love of God, who has called us His children. We also learned that those who are born of God do not live in sin. They practice righteousness in the likeness of the Father who has given them birth. In this study, we will look at how the children of God also live a life of love.

Key Verse

(3:16)

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Outline

  • Love and Hatred
    (3:11-15)
  • Loving in Deed and in Truth
    (3:16-18)
  • Confidence that Comes from Obedience
    (3:19-24)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Go through the entire passage and record the reasons for loving our brothers and sisters.

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    It is God’s command from the beginning (11,23). We are born of God, not of the wicked one (12,13). We have eternal life (14,15). Christ laid down His life for us (16). God’s love abides in us (17). We will have confidence in prayer (22).

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Segment Analysis

  • 3:11-15

    1.

    Do we sometimes have an attitude like that of Cain? What causes such an attitude?

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  • 2.

    What is the “world” in verse 13?

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    The world refers to those who are of the wicked one, such as Cain (see 12). They are those who do not obey God’s commands and have no love or eternal life.

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  • 3.

    What kind of life and death does verse 14 refer to?

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    Eternal life and death (see 15). The eternal life we have received manifests itself in a new lifestyle today (Rom 6:1-4). Therefore, our actions of love show that we have eternal life.

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  • 4.

    Why is hatred equivalent to murder?

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    Murder is a result of hatred. The Jewish leaders who put Jesus to death committed murder out of their hatred. The Lord attributed their murderous thoughts to the devil (Jn 8:40-44). A person who hates is controlled by the devil and is fully capable of murder.

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  • 3:16-18

    5a.

    How should we lay down our lives for our brethren?

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    We need to be selfless instead of self centered (Phil 2:4,17). This sacrificial love includes giving to the needy (1Jn 3:17) bearing others’ burdens (Gal 6:2) and forgiving others (Eph 4:32).

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  • 5b.

    As we try to love others, we will surely encounter hatred from those who belong to the world. How then can we love in such a hostile world?

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    The greatest expression of selfless love is loving those who hate us or persecute us (Mt 5:43-48). The Lord Jesus laid down His life while we were still enemies of God (Rom 5:10,11). Those who now live according to the ways of the world may one day come to repentance. So although we should not love the world (wicked desires and earthly wisdom), we should still show our love to all people.

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  • 6a.

    Think of some real-life examples in which we only love in word and tongue.

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  • 6b.

    What does it mean to love in deed and in truth?

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    We must love with concrete actions, and our love must be sincere (Rom 12:9). Actions of love done for the sake of gaining praise without sincere spirit of love has little value (1Cor 13:1-3; Mt 6:2-4).

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  • 6c.

    How does loving in deed and in truth fulfill the spirit of laying down our lives for our brethren?

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    While it is easy to “love” in words and tongue, it takes self-sacrifice to love in deed and in truth. We need to give up our own interests, desires, and possessions in order to truly love. In the same way, God does not just say He loves us. His love is demonstrated in His actions of sacrifice.

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  • 7.

    List the needs of those around you that you have overlooked in the past, and that you want to meet through your love now. List as many as possible.

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  • 3:19-24

    8.

    What does this paragraph say about the following: a. Confidence in heart b. Confidence in prayer c. Confidence in abiding

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    a. Whether our hearts condemn us determines whether we can have confidence before God.
    b. If we obey God, we can be confident that God will give us whatever we ask.
    c. We abide in God if we keep His commands. God shows that He abides in us through His Holy Spirit.

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  • 9.

    Explain the teaching of verses 19-21.

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    Interpretation 1: If we love our brethren, we know we are of the truth and we can assure our hearts. But if our heart condemns us because we fail to practice love, how much more will God judge us? On the contrary, if we have a clear conscience because we practice love, we can be confident toward God.
    Interpretation 2: If we love our brethren in deed and in truth, we can assure our hearts. Even if our hearts may not feel confident, we should be assured because our deed of love shows that we are of the truth. We should trust God rather than our hearts. If we have a clear conscience because we practice love, we can be all the more confident toward God. In either interpretation, the emphasis is on confidence that comes from keeping God’s commandments (see 22).

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  • 10.

    Compare the commandments in 23 with Mt 22:34-40.

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    Believing in Jesus and obeying His teachings shows that we believe and love God (Jn 12:44; 14:24). Loving one another is exactly what the Lord taught us to do when He said, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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  • 11a.

    According to verse 24, what are the two ways by which we can know that we abide in God and He in us?

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    Keeping God’s commandment and receiving the Holy Spirit.

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  • 11b.

    How is the Spirit an evidence of God’s abiding in us?

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    When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, it is an experience that we can see and hear (Acts 2:33). Speaking in tongues, which is evidence of receiving the Holy Sprit, is a miraculous sign from God and it allows us to communicate to God in the Spirit (1Cor 14:2; Rom 8:26). Not only so, the Holy Spirit works in our lives to teach us the truth (1Cor 2:10; Eph 1:17; Jn 16:13; 14:26), give us power and courage (Acts 1:8; 4:31), comfort us (Acts 9:31), and transform us into God’s likeness (2Cor 3:17,18, Eph 3:16). When we often pray in the Hoy Spirit (Jude 20) and experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we know that God abides in us.

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