INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THIS LESSON: This lesson took me 2 1/2 weeks to complete. There is so much here in this short book about Christianity. Please take the time to read my End Notes to each day which I have tried to make as condensed as possible to what all this means. Your time put in this lesson will echo volumes in your understanding of the Bible and of John.
Summary of passage: The author makes clear Jesus was a human, one he has heard, seen, and touched. God is light without darkness. If we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness we lie to ourselves and do not live by the truth. We are all sinners and if we confess our sins, we will be purified and forgiven. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We will know Jesus if we obey his commands.
3) Jesus (who is God as His Son, Jesus) because John has heard, seen, and touched him.
4) God is light and if we walk in the light, we’ll have fellowship with one another and Jesus’ blood will purify us of all sin. He writes this to believers so that we may know we have eternal life, have fellowship with others, and with the Father and the Son. He writes this so we won’t sin.
5) Personal Question. My answer: False claims: 1) If you claim to have fellowship yet walk in the darkness. 2) If you claim to be without sin. 3) If you claim you have never sinned. Fellowship: 1) If we walk in the light. 2) If we confess our sins. 3) If we obey his commands. Well, I do sin but I don’t deny it. I do obey and walk in His ways. Do I stumble? Absolutely. But He picks me up. That’s all that matters.
Conclusions: Unsure why we’re reading 1 John at this point in our study right after the Last Supper. I hope the notes will shed some light on this. Great passage of how we are to walk in the light always and not tell ourselves we are when we still dally in the darkness.
End Notes: Much like the Book of Revelation, John does not expressly state that he is writing this letter. However, certain hints and distinctive writing patterns of style make it very likely that John the Apostle wrote this letter at an advanced age. This letter is eerily similar to the beginning of the Book of John and says how he was a close eyewitness of Jesus’ life.
John wrote the Book of John in order to bring readers to a belief in Christ. Here, this letter is directed to those who are already Christians, outlining how that faith should affect a person’s life. John starts with a few simple themes–light, truth, life, love–then builds variations on them. He defines a word, discusses its opposite, and then describes what a life should look like with God as the source of power in the Christian life.
Presumably, the Christian faith has been around for 50-60 years by the time of this letter. John repeatedly begins with the phrase “If we claim” and then proceeds to show what actions must result if we claim to live in the true light and know God.
Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity. The whole purpose of the letter is to bring us to a relationship with God and His son, Jesus Christ.
The beginning John is referencing here is the beginning when there was only God. He came to earth to know him (hence the seen, looked, and touched). At the time John was writing, Gnosticism (from the Greek word for knowledge or gnosis) was gaining in popularity. The gnostics believe Jesus was God’s Son but he never came to earth in a physical body. They believed a physical body was intrinsically evil. They believed Jesus was a phantom, a temporary apparition who only looked human. Some said God descended on Jesus at his baptism but left him before death.
John debated these beliefs in person and he had them in mind when he said he touched, seen, and heard Jesus. Throughout this letter he lambastes those who deny Jesus was flesh.
Gnostics believed all matter was evil. Only the spirit was pure and they sought to rise to this spiritual level. However, this led to horrible ethics as they believed they could act how they wanted since their spirit was pure and could not be tainted by earthly sins.
This is the same Logos (Word) spoken of in John 1:1. For the Jews, God was often referred to as the Word because they knew God perfectly revealed Himself in His Word. For the Greeks, their philosophers had spoken for centuries about the Logos – the basis for organization and intelligence in the universe, the Ultimate Reason which controls all things.
John is telling everyone, “I have seen and heard and touched and studied the Word!”.
John is calling Jesus the “eternal life”(John 5:26, 6:48; 11:25; Micah 5:2) equal to God. He references the eternal relationship as well. This eternal relationship is clearly described in the Scriptures, but we could also understand it from simple logic. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is eternal (Micah 5:2), we understand that love in isolation is meaningless. Love needs an object, and since there was a time before anything was created, there was a time when the only love in the universe was between the members of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Christ is life because he is the living one who has life in himself (John 1:4; 11:25; 14:6). He is also the source of life and sovereign over life. This letter begins and ends with the theme of eternal life.
The word “with” indicates that this being, who is eternal, and is eternal life Himself, is distinct from the Father. John builds the New Testament understanding of the Trinity – that one God exists as three Persons, equal and one, yet distinct in their person.
The purpose of John’s declaration of the Word of life who is God yet distinct from the Father is to bring people into relationship with both God’s people and with God himself.
The idea of fellowship is one of the most important ideas in this letter of John’s. It is the ancient Greek word koinonia, which speaks of a sharing, a communion, a common bond and common life. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person. It literally means common as in being shared by all. We see this idea in common areas for animals to graze in. We all share in the same resources and responsibilities of God and others. Amazing grace at work!
This was a revolutionary idea in ancient times that man could have fellowship with God! It’s the same idea as when Jesus told everyone to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9). This relationship is only possible because Jesus was human. We can become more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit because of this fellowship of a shared, common life–fellowship. We share our life with Jesus and he shares his with us and we are better able to do life with Jesus.
Fellowships with others often leads to encounters with God.
Joy is optimism and cheerfulness and contentment. John echoes Jesus (John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13). Circumstances sap us of joy and we must fight to stay close to God to maintain it.
Verses 1-4 are one long sentence in the original manuscripts. John sums up perfectly how to live our whole Christian life. God was. He physically manifested. He’s Jesus. Fellowship with Jesus will bring you joy.
Verse 5 begins with John telling us this is what God says, not him. God is light. Darkness is an absence of light. This is similar to saying God is perfect.
Some falsely claim to have fellowship. “Walking” in the darkness is a pattern of life of wickedness and evil, not the occasional lapse we all experience. This is active as we grow with Him. “Walking” in the light is an obedient life–full of holiness and truth. Since God is light, when we walk in the light we walk with God and experience the continual cleansing of the blood of Jesus.
Sin is the hindrance to fellowship and the blood of Jesus, received by faith as the payment for our sin, solves the problem of sin and opens the way to fellowship with God.
Note there is nothing said here about rites, ceremonies, baptisms, sacraments, the Eucharist, communion, etc. It is only the blood of Jesus we need.
We are all sinners. “Making mistakes” or being “only human” or “not perfect” will not get you to heaven. Admitting you are a sinner will because Jesus came to rescue sinners.
We must keep on confessing our sins. By admitting to God that what we have done is sin, and by asking for His divine forgiveness, we will be cleansed based on what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Be truthful and God will be truthful.
This text doesn’t mean go and sin cause God will forgive you. This is not fellowship with God and a right heart. This is an evil heart and God will not forgive that.
If we don’t admit our sin, Jesus (the word) is not in us. We will sin. There is forgiveness in confessed sin. Gnostics denied that their immoral actions were sinful.
God’s desire for us is not to sin, which is possible through Jesus Christ. He is our defender if/when we sin and is our atoner and remover of our sins. God’s wrath against man is satisfied and turned on to Jesus instead. We must receive Christ’s sacrifice through faith (John 3:16). This verse does not teach universalism (that all people ultimately will be saved), but that God is an impartial God and Christ’s sacrifice is open to all.
Summary of passage: Paul urges Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship. He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.
3) He is connecting chapter 11, which ended with his doxology to God, praising His wisdom, knowledge, and how all things are through Him.
4) Here, Paul says to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship. He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.
5) Part personal Question. My answer: We should not conform (to act in accordance with prevailing standards or customs). This is very broad so using what we know from the Bible is we should follow how Jesus wants us to act not the world. Thus, we should be giving, compassionate, prayerful, kind, helpful, loving, generous, gentle, patient, forgiving, etc. We should be living for God, not for ourselves. My pastor has had a profound influence. Seeing his imperfect walk with Christ inspires me when I fail as well. I can still impact others imperfectly.
Conclusions: We will be studying 2 verses alone this whole lesson again. I’ll be interested to see where this goes and if it’s as good as Lesson 20.
End Notes: Chapters 12:1-15:33. Paul now turns to the practical application of all he has said previously in the letter. This does not mean he has not said anything about Christian living up to this point because as we saw Chapters 6-8 touched on this already but now Paul goes into detail to show that Jesus Christ is to be Lord of every area of life. These chapters are not a postscript to the great theological discussions in Chapters 1-11. In a real sense the entire letter has been directed toward the goal of showing that God demands our action as well as our believer and thinking. Faith expresses itself in obedience.
“Therefore” It is Paul’s pattern to begin a letter with a strong doctrinal section and follow with exhortations to Christian living. Paul begs Christians to live a certain way in light of what God did for them. Here, God gives us all things. Now, how do we show Him gratitude for that? With our bodies and our minds.
“Urging us” reminds us that we still have a choice in how we live for God.
“In view of God’s mercy” reminds us we do this because of the mercy God grants us (Romans 1-11). In fact, we are only able to offer ourselves to Him because of His mercy. Some of the mercies Paul has told us about already:
· Justification from the guilt and penalty of sin
· Adoption in Jesus and identification with Christ
· Placed under grace, not law
· Giving the Holy Spirit to live within
· Promise of help in all affliction
· Assurance of a standing in God’s election
· Confidence of coming glory
· Confidence of no separation from the love of God
· Confidence in God’s continued faithfulness
Think of “body” here as your entire being for your heart, soul, spirit, and mind are in your body. Paul is saying here give God your entire self. God wants you!
Many today let their body rule in terms of engaging in physical pleasures. Paul says no! Our mind is the will and our mind brings the body as servant to God.
Ancient Greeks dismissed the body as unspiritual so this teaching would have shocked them. Paul says God is concerned about our bodies, which were dearly bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).
A living sacrifice is a dichotomy especially in the first century AD where sacrifices involved death. The whole idea is the sacrifice is ongoing. Paul could be contrasting dead animal sacrifices here as well or perhaps “living” in the sense of having the Holy Spirit.
“Holy and pleasing to God”: The standard for sacrifices made to God under the New Covenant are not any less than the standard under the Old Covenant.
Sacrifices in the Old Testament:
· He shall bring a male without blemish (Leviticus 1:10)
· But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 15:21)
The idea of a sweet aroma to the Lord is almost always linked to the idea of an offering made by fire. There is a “burning” in this matter of a living sacrifice. It also shows that Paul has in mind the burnt offering, in which the entire sacrifice was given to the Lord. In some sacrifices, the one offering the sacrifice and the priest shared in the some of the meal, but never in the burnt offering.
Today, the holiness we bring to the altar is a decision for holiness, and yielding to the work of holiness in our life. As we present our bodies a living sacrifice, God makes our life holy by burning away impurities.
“Spiritual act of worship”: This was translated as “reasonable service”. The ancient Greek word for reasonable (logikos) can also be translated “of the word” (as it is in 1 Peter 2:2). Reasonable service is a life of worship according to God’s Word.
Another translation says “true and proper worship”. This is to emphasize not merely ritual worship activity but the involvement of heart, mind, and will in worship and obedient service.
Verse 2: So the world system with all its evil and corruption is opposed to God and His ways and is in rebellion. Paul reminds us we must resist it.
Renewing the mind is the opposite of conforming the world. The battle takes place in the mind. Hence, Christians must think differently than non-believers.
Today the world is based on feelings. Do what you feel is right. Oh, you don’t want to work today. Then don’t. The government will take care of you. Etc. Also, the world is based on doings. Just tell me what to do.
Paul says here we must know what God’s word says in our mind. We cannot blindly follow our whimsical feelings and follow the crowd of doers who are “doing” but accomplishing nothing.
“Transformed”: This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo – describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).
Fun Fact: The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory. Note this is a process, not a single event.
“Then”: After the spiritual transformation just described has taken place.
“Test and approve what God’s will is”: The proof is the live that you live. What God wants from the believer here and now.
“Good”: That which leads to the spiritual and moral growth of the Christian.
“Pleasing”: To God, not necessarily to us.
“Perfect”: No improvement can be made on the will of God.
In sum, from Chapter 11 Paul writes if we keep in mind the rich mercy of God to you – past, present, and future (by the mercies of God) and as an act of intelligent worship, decide to yield your entire self to Him (present your bodies a living sacrifice) and resist conformity to the thoughts and actions of this world (do not be conformed) by focusing on God’s word and fellowship with Him (be transformed by the renewing of your mind) then our life will be in the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. And others will witness this.