Eternal Life – 1 John 5:13-21

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Scripture for Today: 1 John 5:13-21

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death 18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

Reflections:

John concludes this incredible book with a reminder as to why he wrote these words.  “I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (v. 13). Throughout the book John made a compelling argument for why we should surrender our lives to God’s plan in response to His love.  We have learned that when we surrender to God’s plan, we truly begin to live.  However, in closing, John expounds on this a little more.  Following God’s plan does not merely allow us to live an abundant and incredible life here on earth.  John peels back the fabric of eternity and lets us know that the life we receive through following God’s plan is actually eternal life.  Amid all the blessings and benefits we receive here on earth as children of God, John wants us to know that nothing compares to the benefits of eternal life.

John goes on to mention several other benefits of living in line with God’s plan and experiencing the eternality of the life He provides.  In verse 14 we see that we have “confidence… before Him… to ask anything according to His will.” We don’t need to be embarrassed, or ask with apprehension.  We can approach God confidently as His children.  In verse 15 we read that when we ask things that are according to His will, “we know we have the requests we have asked from Him.” In verses 16-19 we see that God has given us power to overcome sin and the ability to support others who struggle. And finally in verse 20 we read that “He has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true.” The benefits and blessings of receiving the eternal life God has promised are truly remarkable.

John concludes His teaching with this statement, “This is the true God and eternal life.” To remove all ambiguity, John declares that there is only one God capable of providing true, fulfilling, sustaining, abundant and eternal life. This God is the one who sent Jesus Christ, His own son, to die on a cross so that you and I, through love, could be restored to relationship with God.

My NEXT Step: Write down the reasons, based on specific scripture from 1 John, that you know you have received the gift of eternal life from God?

Questions to Catalyze Growth: 

  • Why did John write this book, according to verse 13?
  • According to this passage what do we learn about “eternal life?”
  • According to this passage what do we learn about sin?
  • What are the benefits of receiving eternal life that John describes in this passage?
  • After finishing the book, what do you think are the top 2 or 3 main ideas John is trying to communicate?
  • After writing about love and God’s plan for our lives for the entire book, why do you think John ended with the phrase, “guard yourselves from idols?”
  • Identify one action you can take today, to practically live out the last line of this book today; “guard yourself from idols?”
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Evidence of Love – 1 John 5:1-12

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Scripture for Today: 1 John 5:1-12

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

Reflections:
John has spent this entire book articulating the intentions God has for a relationship with you and I. Intentions to help us live an incredible life with Him based around receiving and giving His love. This entire relationship has been made possible, according to John, by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, John recognizes that people may not believe him, and so he identifies three things that testify to the veracity of his claims about God and Jesus. He essentially is saying, “you don’t have to believe me, here is the proof!”

The evidence that John speaks of are the Spirit, the water and the blood. The Spirit of God testifies first in the heart and mind of every human who hears the plan that God has for us. As you have been reading through the book of 1 John, you have inevitably found words jumping off the page with profound truth and relevance. This, I would suggest, is one way the Spirit testifies to the message of Jesus Christ. He makes the truths of scripture come alive as we read them. The exact meaning of the second two things that testify to the truth of this message, the water and blood, have been debated by Christians for many years. Some suggest they are reference the humanity of Jesus, others suggest they refer to his birth and death. One scholar, William MacDonald, argues that they most likely refer to the baptism (water) and crucifixion (blood) of Jesus. This suggestion is powerful, as those events marked the beginning and ending bookends to the public ministry of Jesus. John may be saying that those two public acts were further proofs to the authenticity of the message of Jesus and support the idea that Gods plan for our salvation and life through Jesus is true. Either way, John is pointing out that there was tremendous physical and spiritual evidence to support what he was saying.

John goes on to suggest, that as powerful as these three testimonies are, there is a far more powerful proof to the plan God has for us. He says, “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself” (vs. 10). Once we have accepted God’s plan, we are transformed by Him. In the previous passage we learned that as a result of abiding in God, the Christ follower actually has “God abide in him” (1 John 4:12). If God is living in us, we have the ultimate testimony to the truth of God’s plan. Our lives will begin to take on the very character and nature of God. In short, we will be characterized by love, the love of God. A changed life is the best proof of all.

My NEXT Step: Reflect on the evidence that your faith rests on. Why do you accept what you believe about God?

Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • What do we learn about love in this passage?
  • What do we learn about the children of God in this passage?
  • What evidence does John offer for the veracity of his message? Can you identify other evidence?
  • Do other people see the evidence of God’s love in your life? Who sees it? What do they actually see?
  • The word “life” shows up 4 times in the last two verses. What do we learn about life from these verses?

Defined by Love – 1 John 4:7-14

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Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:7-14

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Reflections:

The defining attribute of God is love. We have seen through out the book of 1 John, that God is motivated by His love, acts out of His love, responses in His love, gives His love and asks His followers to live in His love. Every aspect of who God is, is defined and influenced by His love. Even in wrath and justice, he love of God is present, as He seeks to provide “propitiation for our sins” (appeasement) through the ultimate act of love, giving himself as payment for our sins.

It makes sense that if God is so clearly and concretely defined by love, that His followers would be characterized the same. If we profess to follow God’s plan for our lives, we must be consumed by love for others. If we claim to have received salvation from Jesus’ death on the cross, the evidence is that we will love like He loved. One can not espouse the beliefs and teachings of Jesus and fail to be defined by love. As John writes, “if God so loved us, we ought to love one another” (vs. 11).

John goes on to say that not only should our lives be defined by the love of God, but that “His love is perfected in us” (vs. 12). In some divine cosmic mystery, the love of God reaches its greatest point of power and influence when it transforms a human life and manifests to the world through that person. God’s love is not intended to simply make our lives whole, but to in turn make the lives of those around us better through us. To be defined by the love of God means to receive His love and give it unconditionally to those around us.

My NEXT Step: think of the last person you interacted with that you were not loving towards. How can you chose to show Christ-like love to them today?

Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • Why is love the defining characteristic of a Christ follower?
  • How is the love of God “perfected in us” according to this passage?
  • What does this passage teach us about abiding in God?

Perfected in Love – 1 John 4:15-21

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Scripture for Today – 1 John 4:15-21

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Reflection:

After we acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and accept God’s plan for our lives, we will engage in the life long journey of abiding in Him. As John describes it in this passage, “the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (vs. 15). This means that as we spend more time in the presence of God, he actually begins to dwell in us. This is a concept that is nearly impossible to grasp. The Almighty God of the universe choses not only to be in relationship with us, but to actually dwell in us. The apostle Paul in Colossians 1:27 describes it this truth as a mystery, saying “to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

As John writes about this incredible mystery, he identifies three freedoms that we receive as we journey through life with “Christ in you.” First, we notice in verse 17 that we receive freedom from insecurity. John writes that when we are in Christ “love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence” to face the future. In verse 18, we read that we can have freedom from fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” And in verses 19 and 20 we see that when we are in Christ and He is in us we have freedom from the power of hatred in our lives.

While we are entitled to these freedoms, they are not forced upon us. John concludes this section with a reminder that we are commanded to live in these freedoms and are enabled to do so through our love for God and our love for one another. Several times, John refers to this process as being “perfected” in love. This implies a continual process of improvement. It is a beautiful journey into the life God designed for us to live.

My NEXT Step: In which of the three areas do you need to find freedoms; insecurity, fear or hate?

Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • What does it mean to confess that Jesus is the Son of God? Have you done this? If so, when?
  • Describe the relationship between love and abiding?
  • Do you believe John when he writes, “there is no fear in love?” How is this possible?
  • What does it mean to you to be “perfected in love?”

Overcoming False Teachers – 1 John 4:1-6

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Scripture for Today: 1 John 4:1-6

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we knowthe spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Reflections:

The pace of life in our modern world is frenetic and intense. A continual cacophony of voices vie for our attention. Advertisements, social expectations, work demands and numerous other pressures scream for loyalty. While we assume that this craziness is a product of modernity, there has actually been this type of competing for the minds and devotion of people for thousands of years.

John warns the early Christians who received his letter, and us who would read it years later, that competing voices would seek to distract us from the truth of God, and would attempt to blur the focus of faith to which we are called. John refers to these distracting messages as “false prophets” or teachers, and warns us against blindly accepting anything other than the truth of God. He offers a simple test to determine truth from the distracting false teachers. He clarifies that those who speak truth are identified by the fact that they “confess (acknowledge) that Jesus has come in the flesh” (vs. 2). Anyone who teaches or speak about faith, apart from the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus is referred to as an “antichrist,” meaning someone opposed to the truth of God through Jesus Christ.

Identifying someone, or something, as a false teacher is only the first step of overcoming the pressures of the competing messages in our world. John goes on to point out one the most amazing theological truths in all of scripture in verse 4, “greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.” The power of the God of the Universe abides in you, if you are a follower of God and His plan for your life. The same power that conquered death, lives in you. The same power that caused the resurrection of Jesus Christ, lives in you. We have access to this power and can access this it to stand against the voices of false teachers and the pressures of this world, which seek to entice us into straying from the beautiful life God had planned for us.

My NEXT Step: Do I allow myself to be influenced in my faith by anyone who is not inline with the truths of Jesus? If so, how will I remove them from a place of influence in my life?

Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • Based on today’s scripture, what is a “false teacher” and what is an “antichrist?”
  • How can we know the “Spirit of God?”
  • How can we know if we are “from God?”
  • According to the scripture for today, how can we tell the difference between the “spirit of truth and the spirit of error?”

Learning to Love – 1 John 3:16-24

Scripture for Today: 1 John 3:16-24

16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

Reflections:
God demonstrated his incredible love to us when He allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. God did not merely proclaim His love for us. He did not just write about His love for us. He actually acted out His love for us in a costly and painful way.

In today’s scripture we see that the way we know love at all, is through the love of God towards us through this incredible sacrificial act. “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us” (vs. 16a). However, this act of love was not intended to end with us. We are not a dead end repository for God’s love. John goes on to say, “and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (vs. 16b). God’s unconditional love towards us is intended to transform us so that we will in turn love our fellow man with a similar unconditional and sacrificial love. This must have been radical teaching 2000 years ago during the time of Christ. It is equally radical in our day and age as well.

John concludes this section of his letter by saying there are two commandments for those who seek to abide in God. “That we believe in the name of His son Jesus Christ, and love one another. Whoever keeps His commandments abides in God and God in him” (vs. 23-24). Knowing and believing in Jesus alone is not enough if we seek to live the abundant life God has for us. We must respond to those around us the way Jesus responded to us. We must act towards our fellow man in sacrificial love. The only specific example John gives in this passage, of how to “lay down our life” (vs. 17) for others, is to give to those who are in need. However, the implication is clear; if we are laying down our lives for others, we are holding nothing back. We are living as Jesus lived, holding nothing back.

My NEXT Step: Who in your life is a “brother in need” that you can help as an act of love?

Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • Who is a “brother” or fellow man that you should be demonstrating Christ-like love towards?
  • How can you practically demonstrate love to others? Give specific examples.
  • According to the scripture today, how can we “have confidence before God?”
  • According to the scripture today, what is required to “abide in God?”
  • What have we learned about love based on today’s passage?

Barriers to Love – 1 John 3:11-15

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Scripture for Today: 1 John 3:11-15

11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Reflections:

Love, as we have learned, is at the very core of who God is.  God is love.  He desires that we, His children, live lives of love.  John reminds us “you have heard… that we should love one another” (vs 11).  In his gospel, John expounded on this, when he quotes Jesus saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Life works best when we love others the way Jesus loved us… with a self-sacrificing love.

Unfortunately, our actual lives, habits and actions do not always reflect a life of self-sacrificing love. When we choose to live according to a different plan, problems quickly arise. In today’s passage John points to a few of the barriers that will prevent living lives centered on love.  In particular, John points to the destructive power of pride, anger, jealousy and sin.  Referencing the story of Cain and Abel from the Old Testament, he explains how Cain’s self-centeredness created a wellspring of pride inside of him that ultimately manifested in one of the most heinous acts a human can undertake.    Rather then humble himself and live a life inline with God’s plan, like his brother Abel, Cain chose to live a different way.  In the end, through a fit of jealous, pride-filled rage, he killed his own brother.

We might look at this scripture and think that we cannot relate, and that we would never kill someone out of prideful anger.  Just as this thought settles into our minds, we read the next verse. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has has eternal life abiding in him” (vs 15). John connects the murder of Abel, with the damage and destruction that can occur when we chose not to love our brother. The Strong’s Bible Concordance identifies the original Greek word for “brother” as “adelphos“. One of the definitions for this word is “any fellow or man.” If we have any hatred in our hearts, towards any other person on the planet, we are comparable to Cain, according to the book of 1 John.  We can never live the life God has designed for us to live if we choose to allow hatred, jealous, anger, selfishness or sin to become a barrier to love in our lives.

My NEXT Step: Do you have any barriers to love in your life?  If so, confess it to God.  Ask forgiveness of your fellow man, and chose to act in love towards everyone.

Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • What does it mean in verse 11 when John writes “we should love one another?
  • Why does John compare hate with murder?
  • What does it mean to “pass out of death into life” (vs 14)

Children of God – 1 John 3:1-10

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Scripture for Today: 1 John 3:1-10

1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Reflections: Throughout this book we have learned that God is the source and author of life. We have learned that He is love and that love is at the very core of who He is. As we start reading the third chapter we come face to face with what might be the most profound words in all of scripture… “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” 1 John 3:1God no only loved us, he has “given us” love. He has given us His very self. John is not talking here about the giving of a gift, a kind work, or a bit of time. John is describing the ultimate act of love, the very giving of ones self. The result of this is staggering. The God of the universe bestowed on us the gift of Himself, through the death of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross. He did this in order that we might be come His children. Elsewhere in scripture we are described as adopted by God and heirs to His Kingdom (Ephesians 1:5, Galatians 4:5).

The second verse of this chapter indicates that as God’s children we receive an ongoing benefit, that of continual transformation. John writes, “and what we will be has not yet appeared, but when He appears we will be like Him.” From the beginning of time humanity has longed to be like God. In Genesis 3, Satan’s first temptation to man was the false promise that if Adam sinned he would be “like God.”  From Adam until today men and woman have attempted to be like God. We try to control and rule our own lives outside of the plan God has for us. All of our pursuits, other than the pursuit of God, fail to help us live the life we are designed to live. When we choose to live any other way than that which God intended, we set ourselves up in opposition to God and do not experience life to the fullest. John is explaining that the only way to be “like God” is to live according to His plan, to abide in Him, to become a child of God.

The remainder of today’s section of scripture discusses how we ought to respond to the incredible act of love that God did by allowing us to become His children and to be transformed into His likeness. John writes that if we are truly children of the God of the universe, we will recognize that His plan is best and we will respond accordingly. A child of God is free from the power of sin in their lives and will choose to “practice righteousness.” This means that we will choose to live, act and behave in a way that is on right standing before God. We will choose to obey and follow the teachings of God. We do this not out of obligation, guilt or pressure. We do this out of reciprocating love to the One who has given us life. This does not mean we will never sin, rather that our focus and direction is one that chooses the way of God over everything else.

My NEXT Step: Meditate on the following questions and write down what ever comes to mind in a journal. “What in my life prevents me from focusing fully on God?”

 Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • Are you a child of God?  How do you know?
  • What are the characteristics of a child of God, according to today’s passage?
  • What role does “abiding” play in the life of a child of God?
  • The word “practice” shows up 5 times in these 10 verses.  Why do you think John emphasizes this word so much?

Abide in Him – 1 John 2:26-29

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Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:26-29

26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

Reflections:

Knowing God does not happen by accident.  As we have learned throughout the first two chapters of this book, God is actively in pursuit of us.  He longs for us to know Him and to live the abundant life He has planned for us.  He longs for us to know him as the Word of Life, the Light of the World and the very essence of Love.  He longs to cleanse us from sin and purify us from everything the separates us from Himself. He is intentional about pursuing us. Knowing God, However, like any relationship is a two way relationship.  It is not enough that God pursues us.  We must respond in kind.  We must pursue Him.  This does not mean that we must do works to prove our fealty and worthiness.  Nothing we can ever do will make us worthy.  The one thing we must do in response to God’s pursuit of us is to “abide in Him.”

John uses the phrase “abide in Him” 52 times across his 4 books in the New Testament.  He uses this phrase 18 times in the book of 1 John alone. Various Bible translators have used different words to try and articulate the response to God that John is instructing of us. Here are a few translations that are listed at the Bible Hub website:

  • Abide in Him (NASB)
  • Continue in Him (NIV)
  • Live Deeply in Christ (MSG)
  • Remain in Fellowship (NLT)
  • Remain in Him (NET)
  • Live in Christ (GWT)
  • Union with Him (WNT)

Each translations provides a slightly different perspective on how we are to respond.  One dictionary described the concept of abiding as, “to remain, to sojourn, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually.” Each of these descriptions and definitions of “abide in Him” describes a consistency of response over time to the person of Jesus Christ. John continually brings us back the fact that knowing God is a journey.  It is a relationship that is built over time.  It is a process that is developed in the heart and soul of the man and woman who are willing to remain in that relationship and be molded by the proximity to the power of a loving God over a period of time.

The promise to those who “abide in Him” as articulated in today’s passage is one of confidence, righteousness and rebirth. Doesn’t that sound incredible? “Abide in Him” and that promise is yours.

My NEXT Step: Memorize 1 John 2:28. “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • What does the phrase “abide in Him” mean to you?
  • What are some practical ways you can “abide in Him” today? This week?
  • How does “abiding in Him” allow us to have “confidence and not shrink away” from God?
  • What is holding you back from abiding in God?

Barriers to Love – 1 John 2:16-25

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Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:16-25

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.

Reflections:

In this chapter, John introduces us to two major barriers to knowing God and living the abundant life He has planned for us.

The First Barrier we face to knowing God is the world.  Everything in our world seems to work against knowing God. In verse 16, John identifies three ways the world inhibits our efforts to know God. The desires of our flesh and eyes as well as the tendency to boast and get prideful shift our focus from knowing God, to satisfying ourselves. Modern media seemingly reinforces this barrier at every turn. The cacophony of voices competing for the attention of our flesh as well as the relentless pressure to live a certain way in comparison to other people leaves us little room to hear what Isaiah referred to as the “still, small voice” of God. If we are to busy with the trappings of the world to hear the voice of God, how will we ever know Him?

The Second Barrier we face in our effort to know God is false teachers. In verses 18-22, John lets us know that along our faith journey we will encounter many people who teach in a way that sets themselves in opposition to God’s truth. John cautions that these false teachers are subtle and crafty in how they communicate. Woven in the fabric of their words are ideas and thoughts that are “anti” the message of Christ. In fact he refers to these false teachers as “antichrist” several times. If we inadvertently listen to and are influenced by those who speak falsely, we will not be able to know God. The difficult thing about these teachers is that they sound similar to the teachers of truth. The message is often only a minor twist of the truth. However, these minor twists introduce doubt, and over time they can pervert and pollute the truth of God in destructive ways. John offers a simple litmus test, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ.” In order to avoid the lies of false teachers, we must constantly ask ourselves the questions, “Does this teaching align with the words and teachings of Jesus and the Bible?”

Today’s passage ends with the reoccurring reminder to “abide in what you have heard… abide in the Son and in the Father” (vs. 24). If we abide in God in this way we will not be thwarted by these barriers as we seek to know God. John then offers a beautiful promise to those who chose to abide in God, “This is the promise which He Himself made us: eternal life” (vs. 25).

My NEXT Step: Take time to day to pray and ask God to give you strength to abide in Him.

Questions to Catalyze Growth:

  • Which of the barriers of the world described in verse 16 are the most challenging in your spiritual journey?
  • In your life who have you encountered that has been a false teacher or influence?
  • What does it mean to you to abide in God?
  • What do you think “eternal life means?”
  • What is holding you back from truly knowing God?