Believe it or not, Jesus’ commands are pretty easy to summarize: Love God and love others. These are not separate things. Loving God means obeying Him. It means living as He created us to live. A necessary part of this is showing love toward others, because that’s exactly what God does! He loves people. But while the Christian message is easy to summarize, it is far harder to live out in the real world.
Read 1 John 3:21-24. Ponder verse 23.
Does verse 22 mean that God will just give me anything I want? What might “because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight” have to do with our receiving what we ask?
Why is it important that Jesus commands us to love others?
What are the major roadblocks you face in loving and trusting God?
What are the roadblocks you face in loving those around you?
We know that God lives in us by His Spirit. How do we know the Spirit lives in us? (See Gal. 5:22-23.)
How much of your life is a reflection of the fruit of the spirit? Are you loving, joyful, kind, and so forth?
It is difficult to take people seriously when they pretend that it is easy to love God and love others. It is far easier to talk about it than to do it. This does not give us an excuse though. Loving God and loving others is the absolute heart of the Christian life; it’s not just a nice idea or a pretty thought. It is a command of Christ to those who follow Him.
The closer we are to God, though, the easier it gets to see the world—and the people in it—the way that He does and begin to love them as we’re commanded. Getting close to God means spending time with Him. It means digging into Scripture. It means praying and listening and waiting. Draw close to God and ask Him to give you His eyes and open your heart. You may just be surprised at the love you begin to feel for others in this world!
Unfortunately, far too many of us experience this in our relationship with God. After the “newness” wears off, it’s hard to maintain the same level of excitement.
Today’s passage is an important reminder and warning: do not lose sight of the magnitude of God’s gift to you.
Read 1 John 3:13-15, thinking carefully about verse 14.
Why, according to John, should we expect the world to hate us?
When have you experienced the world’s hatred? Explain.
According to these verses, how do we know “we have passed from death to life”?
What does John say about those who do not love?
Has your love toward others grown cold? Why or why not?
Many Christians think of salvation in terms of a one-time experience. We pray a prayer, say the magic words, and God gives us salvation. Then, we think we just stick that insurance policy in our back pocket and live however we want to.
Unfortunately for such people, the Bible presents a very different message. Christians are continually reminded and warned of their need to be attentive to the gift of salvation that we have through Jesus. Today’s passage says that we who have a relationship with Christ have passed from death to life—and a good indicator of our salvation is the love we have for others. It’s time to take a hard look at yourself. What does the way you love others say about your relationship with Christ?
There is no single verse in the whole Bible that troubles me more than when Jesus says that if we love Him, we will obey what He commands (John 14:15). It presents a stark and troubling reality: it does not matter one bit what I say about how much I love God. What really matters is my obedience.
Today’s passage makes one very important element of obedience clear: we are to love other believers.
Read 1 John 3:7-12. Go back and focus on verse 10.
What principle is at work in verse 9? If you had to summarize that verse for another person, what would you say?
According to this passage, it should be as plain as day who is a child of God and who is not a child of God. What are some examples of things that are “right” in God’s eyes?
What are the two “sides” that John presents in this passage?
If you had to take a long hard look at your actions, whose side are you on? What do your actions show?
If you had to list the loving things you have done for your fellow Christians recently, what would those be?
Anyone who claims to be a Christian—a follower of Jesus—must walk in the way that He did. That means that our lives look like His. That we care about the things He cares about and do the things He thinks are important. That’s what being a follower is.
In this passage, we’re called to holiness in the form of love. That’s a key theme in Scripture: God is looking for followers who will obey Him. The Scripture makes it clear: the person who really belongs to God does what is right. And according to Scripture, loving your fellow Christian is the right thing to do.
Now let me ask you this. What kinds of fruit should a Christian bear?
Read 1 John 3:4-6. Focus on verse 6.
What is the law being referred to in the passage?
How did John define sin?
Who is the sinless One who was revealed to take away your sins?
What did John mean when he wrote that anyone who sins has not seen God?
In what ways has your life changed since you became a Christian?
Do Christians never sin? Is that what John is trying to say in today’s Scripture passage? Not quite. We may belong to God’s family now, but we’re still in this world. Sooner or later, we’re bound to mess up. But we know for certain that when we became God’s children, we were also freed from sin’s tight grip. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, we can choose to stop sinning and start following Him.
So it is a problem when you can’t (or won’t) stop sinning. Think about it. As God’s child, you’ll genuinely want to leave old, sinful habits behind. Of course that’s not easy—but God knows that. But that’s why He gave you the Holy Spirit. He never expected you to escape from sin in your own strength. Instead, He has provided the way out and the means to stay out. What great love is that!
Read 1 John 3:1-3 twice, stopping to think about verse 1.
What is the promise found in this passage?
What does it mean to be called a child of God?
Why is it so important that Christians know God loves them unconditionally?
According to these verses, what should your motivation be for becoming pure? Why?
How does being God’s child change the way you look at and treat others?
Nothing beats being God’s child! If you’re a Christian, that’s your identity. Let’s face it, where else can you go to find unconditional love and acceptance but in His arms? He is the Holy God who knows and has made everything. Yet He is willing to take us for His own!
And it doesn’t stop there. In today’s passage, John assured us not only of our identity in God but also of the future that lies waiting for us. And although he doesn’t tell us exactly what it’ll be like, one thing’s for sure: we’re going to be with our Father! That alone should convince you it’s going to be more awesome than anything you can ever imagine!