1. In this lesson we are examining the information revealed in 1 John 3:4-12. 2. These verses contain some statements that might be challenging, but keeping certain things in mind will help us understand John's message. a. John wrote this letter to Christians who were being influenced by "the Gnostics." 1) John identified them as "antichrists" (2:22; 4:3). 2) In addition to holding false views about Christ, they believed that a person could live as he pleased and be in good standing with God. 3) John issued a strong warning against these people (2:26). b. In the immediate context (3:1-3), John wrote about a special blessing and a special responsibility given to God's children. 1) He first showed in vs.1 that we are called God's children because of His love. a) We are shown in 4:9-10 how God showed His love toward us. b) A dilemma: If Jesus is not the Christ and if He did not come in the flesh, then God did not show His love to us, and we cannot be His children. 2) (vs.2) God's children enjoy a special blessing. 3) (vs.3) God's children have a special responsibility. 4) God's people cannot live as they please and be in good standing with God. 3. (3:4-12) John made a distinction between the children of God and Satan. 4. A person's approach to sin determines whether he is a child of God or a child of Satan. Discussion: I. TO APPROACH SIN CORRECTLY, WE MUST UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS
A. John showed in vs.4 that "sin is the transgression of the law" [lawlessness]. B. We are shown in Romans 3:23 who is guilty of sin. C. The penalty for sin is revealed in Romans 6:23a. II. TO APPROACH SIN CORRECTLY, WE MUST UNDERSTAND WHY JESUS CAME IN THE FLESH AS GOD'S SON
A. John showed that Jesus "was manifested" for 2 reasons: 1. "to take away our sins" (vs.5) 2. "that he might destroy the works of the devil" (vs.8b). B. When we understand why Jesus came in the flesh, how does God feel when His children sin? III. GOD'S TRUE CHILDREN APPROACH SIN CORRECTLY
A. Those who abide in the Lord do not sin (vs.6, 9a). 1. This cannot mean that a Christian never sins (see 1:8, 10; 2:1-2). 2. John is dealing with a "continual" practice of sin (1:6). 3. The key to avoiding sin is given in vs.9 -- God's seed remains in His children (Luke 8:11). 4. In addition to avoiding sin, God's true children practice "righteousness" (vs.7). 5. While God's true children avoid sin and practice righteousness, . . . B. The devil's children: 1. commit sin (vs.8a; John 8:44) 2. do not practice righteousness or love the brethren (vs.10). C. Cain and Abel illustrate the principles John taught (vs.11-12; Genesis 4:1-8). 1. Abel showed that he was a child of God. 2. Cain showed that he was a child of the devil. Conclusion:
1. The Gnostics were influencing Christians to be children of the devil. 2. John showed in his letter that: a. Jesus came in the flesh to take away our sins b. God has a code of conduct for His true children -- we must avoid making a continual practice of sin, and we must practice righteousness.