Saint Paul Church MKE Sunday School

LESSON 11 • November 15, 2020

CONFIDENT LOVE

BIBLE BASIS: 1 John 3:11-24

 

BIBLE TRUTH: Christians are identified by their love.

MEMORY VERSE: “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24, KJV).

 

LIFE NEED FOR TODAY’S LESSON

Hatred toward others sometimes seems far easier to attain than love. How can we show love for others? The willingness of Jesus to die for us and His command that we live for others brings that confidence.

 

BIBLE LEARNING

John teaches that obedience to Christ is demonstrated by our actions.

 

LESSON AIM: By the end of this lesson, we will EXPLORE the many dimensions of loving others according to 1 John 3, EMBRACE God’s commandments to love with obedience and expectation, and IDENTIFY ways to grow in our faith.

 

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: 1 John 3:11-24; 2 John 1:4-11; 3 John 1:5-8—Read and incorporate the insights gained from the Background Scriptures into your study of the lesson.

 

BIBLE APPLICATION

Christians will love others and forgive just as Jesus loves and forgives us.

 

STUDENTS’ RESPONSES

Believers obey God because His Spirit lives in us.

 

 

 

LESSON SCRIPTURE | 1 JOHN 3:11-24, KJV

 

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

 

12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

 

13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

 

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

 

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

 

16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

 

17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

 

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

 

19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

 

20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

 

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

 

22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

 

23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

 

24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

 

BIBLICAL DEFINITIONS

A. Laid down (1 John 3:16) tithemi (Gk.)—To place, to put, to set or appoint

 

B. Beloved (v. 21) agapetos (Gk.)—Dearly loved one

 

 

LIGHT ON THE WORD

Cain. The eldest son of Adam and Eve, Cain became the tiller of the soil while his brother Abel was a keeper of sheep. Both had brought a sacrifice to the Lord (Genesis 4:3–4). Abel acted in faith by bringing a sacrifice more suitable than that of Cain (Hebrews 11:4). The latter’s rage burned out of control against God’s rejection. In retaliation, he slaughtered his brother, whose gift had been accepted (Genesis 4:5–8). The Lord confronted Cain with his guilt, judged him, and marked him, sending him out of the land.

 

Commandments to Love. In the Gospels, our Lord had already charged His disciples to love their enemies (Matthew 5:43–45) and love their neighbors as themselves (Luke 10:25–37). The “new commandment” required that Christians love each other (John 15:12, 17). This did not overrule the other two love commandments. Jesus’ command to love those within the church was initiated to create persuasive evidence for those outside the church. It would provide discernible proof (1) that His followers were Christ-like in their love toward one another, (2) that the foundation for vigorous human community could be found in Christ, and (3) that, by extension, Jesus’ declaration about Himself in concert with the miracles He accomplished was really true (John 13:35, 17:20–23, 21:24–25).

 

LIFE NEED FOR TODAY’S LESSON

AIM: Students will respond to the love of Christ by loving others.

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Love In Action

In Jesus’ day, many assumed that by obeying the commandments, they could show themselves worthy of God’s blessings (Galatians 3:2). However, Jesus made it very clear that love was a natural result of God’s blessing, not a pre-condition for it.

 

This letter was written to members of the churches in Asia Minor. The epistle served as a reminder to the children of God to love one another. The Apostle John is prepared to show the church how to put the love of God into action. The commandment to love is an expression of how Christ’s disciples should act. This love has been shed abroad by the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Without actively demonstrating love toward others, how can one really say that he or she loves?

 

 

BIBLE LEARNING

AIM: Students embrace love as a mark of true Christianity.

 

I. LOVE IS SPIRITUAL LIFE (1 JOHN 3:11-16)

The early Christians were persecuted to the point of death simply for their love for Christ.

 

John’s audience was no doubt afraid and uncertain of their future because the world hated them. Families had cast them out, and old communities were no longer welcoming to them. But John admonishes the church to be steadfast in the face of opposition. The apostle affirms that the person who has passed from spiritual death to spiritual life will love others. In contrast, the person who cannot love fellow Christians remains in spiritual darkness which, in reality, is spiritual death. No one can claim to be spiritual without having love for his or her brothers and sisters. Since God is love and Jesus Christ is the manifestation of love, how can we abide in Him without loving others? As far as John is concerned, those who do not love are spiritually dead.

 

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

 

John’s message is clear: Love for one another is an integral part of the Gospel message. It is a command that Jesus gave to the disciples during the Upper Room discourse (John 13-14). It is also the command that He declared was the second greatest commandment outside of loving God Himself. From the outset, love was a vital part of Jesus’ teachings. If love for one another is absent in a community, then that community is not following the way of Jesus.

 

In this verse, John states that love should not be an afterthought. Obedience to Jesus’ command to love one another as He loves us is expected of anyone who accepts the Gospel message. Love shows us that the Gospel includes both the benefits of salvation and the responsibility of Christians to love one another. Salvation and love go hand in hand. They are not separate or tangential to the Christian faith. The message of the Christian faith is love, obedience, and imitation of the life of Jesus Christ.

 

12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

 

Cain is cited here as an example of one who did not show love for his brother. Cain is characterized as belonging to “that wicked one.” The word “wicked” (Gk. poneros, poh-nay-ROHS) is also translated as “hurtful” or “evil” and refers to someone who would cause harm. John is explicitly saying that Cain belonged to Satan. Saying Cain belonged to Satan is John’s way of pointing out that the way we treat each other is part of the larger cosmic battle between good and evil. If we are characterized by love, it will affect our behavior. Likewise, if we are characterized by hatred, it will certainly show in our behavior.

 

Cain slew his brother Abel because Cain’s “works were evil.” Notice that same Greek word, poneros (poh-nay-ROHS), translated earlier in the verse as “wicked one,” is now also used to describe the quality of Cain’s works. Cain’s murderous act was most assuredly not motivated by love, but by hatred. From the example of Cain, we see that hatred is the root of envy, violence, and murder. While we may not literally murder people, we may assassinate their character and reputation because of hatred (cf. Matthew 5:21–22).

 

13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hated his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

 

“The world” here is representative of all those opposed to God. John is saying that Christians should not be surprised because the world hates us. However, Christians must love one another in obedience to Christ’s command.

 

Acts of love translate into acts of righteousness. But those who have not experienced the love of Christ are characterized by their lack of love. They are still dead in their sin. Obeying Christ’s command to love one another gives Christians an inner knowledge and assurance of their passage from spiritual death to spiritual life. Love for fellow Christians is a dynamic experience that testifies to the reality of our spiritual journey. John compares brotherly love to a rite of passage. It is representative of a significant change or progress in one’s spiritual life. It is crucial to note that John does not say our salvation is achieved simply by loving others. That would be salvation by works. Rather, his point is that having a love for others is evidence of one’s maturity and the passage from the death of sin to a life based on faith in Christ. Love is the evidence of salvation, not the way to obtain salvation.

 

A nominal Christian who does not demonstrate love has not matured in this spiritual journey. The absence of love for others shows that they have yet to come alive spiritually; they have not allowed the Holy Spirit, who enables us to produce the fruit of love, to act upon their hearts.

 

This is an echo of Cain’s experience from verse 12. John presents the serious consequence of hatred and establishes the parallel between hate and murder. Anyone who, like Cain, hates his brother is also a murderer. Having established this link with Cain, John now concludes that hatred of others is the spiritual equivalent of murder and that no murderer is entitled to eternal life.

 

The word for “abiding” is from the Greek word meno (MEH-noh), which means to remain, last, or endure. As John states, those who hate their brothers and sisters are murderers and do not have eternal life abiding in them. They are not “heaven-bound.” Hatred is the equivalent of spiritual death.

 

16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

 

Quite opposite of those who do not love God and who would kill their brothers with hatred, are those who do follow God and are willing to die for their brothers. The Greek word ginosko (ghee-NOOS-koh), translated here as “perceive,” refers to obtaining knowledge. John is saying that we will obtain knowledge of the love of God by looking at the life of Jesus. Very practically, God demonstrated His love to us by sending His Son to lay down His life on our behalf. This demonstration of divine love is the heart of the Gospel. Christ gave His own sinless life to pay the penalty incurred by our sins. He now offers the pardon resulting from this sacrificial act of love to all who will accept it by faith in Him.

 

Divine love is giving love. God gave His Son for love. The Son gave His life for love. The Greek word agape (ah-GAH-pay), translated here as “love,” finds its ultimate definition in Jesus’ unconditional act of giving. If Christians follow this model of divine love, then they too ought to give something of themselves to express their love for others. Jesus says, there is no greater love than this self-sacrificing love (John 15:13). Christians are called to a self-sacrificing love rather than a self-preserving love. As beneficiaries of this kind of love, it is incumbent on us to love others in the same way.

 

SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

 

QUESTION 1

Explain what it means when we say that love is evidence of salvation, not the way to obtain salvation. Use Scripture to support your answer.

 

QUESTION 2

How do we show love to one another? Give examples?

 

 

 

LIGHT ON THE WORD

The Love Test.

The true test of discipleship is that we love one another (v. 11). No one can claim to be a child of God and not have love for another child of God. An attitude like that would be like Cain, Adam’s oldest son who murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8-10). Cain’s actions were motivated by jealousy and hatred. We must carefully guard our hearts against envy and jealousy against one another. God knows what each of us needs and desires, and we should thank God that His blessings are equally available to all His children. There is no place in the Christian life for feelings of jealousy or envy toward other Christians. Just as we get a heart checkup when we go to the doctor’s office, we may need to have a love checkup if we have jealousy or envy in our heart. The test of a true believer is love.

 

 

II. LOVE IS GIVING (vv. 17-20)

 

Our love for others is evidenced by our willingness to give to others. Genuine Christian love gives to others and expects nothing in return. The apostle exhorts us to display our love by doing.

 

We should not just love “in word, neither in the tongue.” This means love should be more than just a matter of speech. It is easy to say we love one another as long as nothing is required of us. That is why John says to love “in deed and truth.” In other words, put your love into action. Action speaks louder than words.

 

Since we know that Jesus’ death purchased our salvation, John suggests that Christians ought to be willing to sacrifice their time, talents and treasure, for the good of someone else, just as Jesus did. This is how to put love into action. Love is more than mere lip service. We cannot really love another without doing something for them. True love is manifested in action.

 

17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

 

John asks the question, “Where is the love?” when any Christian has the material means to help the needy but refuses to help them. Using a rhetorical question, John shows that God’s love does not exist in anyone who can refuse to help those in need. At issue is not whether God loves the person, but whether such a person possesses God’s kind of love toward others.

 

The Greek word splagchnon (SPLANGKH-non) literally means “bowels” or “intestines,” but figuratively means “tender mercy or inward affection.” It indicates that compassion is a quality of one’s inner emotions. We use similar metaphors when we talk about feeling something deep down, in our “gut,” or with our heart. As such, love must be present inside before it can show outwardly. Anyone can perceive a need, but not everyone has the compassion to help others.

 

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

 

Addressing his readers as children not only suggests that John is advanced in years but also that he is trying to create a family atmosphere among God’s people. There is no better institution that reflects the kind of sacrificial love John is writing about than the family. Believers should be aware that blood ties are temporary and end with the death of the relative. Spiritual ties, on the other hand, are eternal and have no end.

 

Including himself in the admonition, he says, “Let us . . .” Like a father giving advice, John is asking them to stop merely talking about love. Show love through deeds and truth. Christian love is more than a feeling: It involves the essential ingredient of giving. Many times when people say they love another, their only real action is from their mouth (i.e., “in tongue”). An expression of love that is backed up by only the tongue is not true love like Christ’s self-sacrificing love. True love engages in actions centered on others. The world is tired of passive love; only active love will attract outsiders and make them want to join God’s family.

 

19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

 

The word “hereby” (Gk. en touto, enn TOO-toe, here meaning “by this”) refers to verse 18 and points to an active expression of love that corresponds to Christ’s self-sacrifice. When Christians demonstrate this kind of active love, they know they belong to the “truth” (Gk. aletheia, ah-LAY-thay-ah). This can be defined as “what is true in things pertaining to God and the duties of man, morality, and religious truth.” In the parable of the sheep and the goats, the sheep on Christ’s right were commended for their acts of love toward others and were rewarded accordingly by Christ (Matthew 25:31–46). In the future, when Christ returns, we will all stand before Him to be judged and rewarded according to our deeds.

 

20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

 

The Greek word kardia (kar-DEE-ah) refers to the heart organ, but figuratively denotes the center of all physical and spiritual life or the core of who we are. If the testimony of our heart is negative, then we have not been sacrificially reaching out to love others like Christ. The Greek word for “condemn” is kataginosko (kah-tah-ghee-NOHS-koh), which is a compound word from kata- “against” and ginosko “to know” (as in v. 16). Our heart knows all that can be held against us. Fortunately, God is greater than our hearts and knows our motives for service. We cannot deceive God. He knows (Gk. ginosko) all things, not just that which would condemn us.

 

 

SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

 

QUESTION 3

Why is it easier to talk about love than to actually be loving?

 

QUESTION 4

Verse 20 says, “God is greater than our heart”. What does this mean?

 

 

 

LIGHT ON THE WORD

Blessed To Be A Blessing

God has blessed many of us financially and materially. Our resources and material possessions are not given to us only for self-indulgence. God’s command to love others requires that we use our resources and possessions to obey His command to love one another.

 

Some Christians regard their resources such as financial wealth, or worldly possessions such as houses and cars as an end in themselves. But John says God’s blessings are to be used to express God’s love to others. When a person is truly born again and sees a need, the door of compassion opens in their heart enabling them to tangibly respond to the need by sharing their money or home. They can’t help but be loving!

 

 

III. LOVE IS CONFIDENCE (vv. 21-24)

 

If we fail to love, we may be left with feelings of guilt that hinder our confidence in the Lord. When our actions are motivated by love, we can approach God with boldness and receive what we ask of Him. His is not a magic formula. When we love as He directs and when we engage in those actions that please God, we have confidence that we are in His will. When we obey God’s commands He honors our requests.

 

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

 

As Christians, we must listen to the Holy Spirit so we can have confidence before God. The Greek word for “confidence” is parresia (par-ray-SEE-ah), which means openness, or speaking or acting without concealment. It may be easy to deceive others, but God knows our hearts. Therefore, John says, if our hearts are open and honest, we can go confidently before the throne of grace and petition God. Verse 22 discusses the benefits of a positive testimony of the heart. If we have a confident heart because we keep God’s commandments and do the things that please Him, then we also have the assurance that we shall receive whatever we pray for that is in line with His will. John’s point is that disobeying Christ’s command to love can hinder our prayers, so we should obey Him. When Christians act in obedient, self-sacrificing love, we gain confidence toward God.

 

23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

 

In this verse, John provides the crux of his epistle. Faith in Christ and love for one another bring us into a new relationship with God where we become His children. Believing on the Name of Jesus Christ includes agreeing that He is the Son of God who gave His life to pay the penalty for our sins. Christ’s loving sacrifice reconciles us to God, which means that Christ’s love makes us one with God the Father.

 

The second part of the commandment is to love one another. The sequence is important. The command is that we have faith in Christ and also love one another. Faith in Jesus Christ is the basis of our new relationship with God, and love for one another is the expression of that saving faith.

 

24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

 

To keep God’s commands, which includes loving one another, is to abide in Him and to have Him abide in us. As referenced previously in verse 15, the word “abideth” (Gk. meno, MEH-noh) means to continually be present. This mutual indwelling characterizes the relationship between God and His Son, Jesus, and points to their unity (John 17:21). The believers’ mutual indwelling with God is also a reference to the familial union between God and His believing children.

 

God is present in believers through His Holy Spirit, who dwells in them (cf. Romans 8:9, 11). Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, Christians belong in God’s family. By the Spirit, we know we are children of God (v. 16). Since God is love, His children should also be characterized by love. Just as we love members of our earthly family and enjoy helping them, believers will enjoy helping other believers if they have the love of Christ in them.

 

 

 

SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

 

QUESTION 5

Why is John’s message to the Church more relevant today than ever before?

 

QUESTION 6

What is the proof—the evidence—that the love of Christ abides in you?

 

 

 

LIGHT ON THE WORD

Love Isn't Optional

The commandment in verse 23 is stated clearly. It requires that we believe on the Name of Jesus—acknowledge that He is the Son of God and receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. That’s part one of the commandment. The second part of the commandment requires that we love each other, especially those in the Body of Christ. Love isn’t optional. We love God by abiding in Christ, which means we read, study, and obey the Bible and talk to God daily through prayer. And, we stay connected with other Christians and demonstrate our love to them by helping in whatever way we can.

 

When we obey God’s commandments and live in intimate fellowship with Jesus, others will see the difference between us and the world and ask what fuels our joy. There is no greater witness to the unsaved than to see the love of God expressed by the way we treat one another!

 

Our confidence and our love are anchored in the fact that we know Christ loves us and the Holy Spirit lives in us. We love the Lord and we live for Him.

 

 

 

BIBLE APPLICATION

AIM: Students will evaluate how love is expressed in their church.

 

Tragedy dominates media attention. The more horrific the crime, the more news coverage it receives. With this kind of media frenzy, wickedness appears to have an exalted position in our society, leaving many to question the true value of love. It is no wonder so many feel love is trivial and irrelevant. But this lesson reminds us that no matter what happens in the world, we are commanded to love one another. Consider what the Church can do to promote love and unity in a world that seems to be torn by strife, hatred and confusion. Are there answers to these problems, and if so, should the Church or the government be leading the way to solve them?

 

 

STUDENTS’ RESPONSES

AIM: Students will agree that the world needs love.

 

Love is a basic human desire and the evidence that we belong to the Body of Christ. Love is more than a word. It is a repeated commandment from the Lord: Love one another. Christian love for others is shown by what we do for others.

 

List things believers can do to show love for other members of the church, for family members, and for people we don’t even know. Choose one action from each category and commit to fulfilling these acts of love this week. Be prepared to share your experiences with the class next week.

 

 

PRAYER

Father, it’s so easy to say we love one another. But our actions do not often look like love, and our words many times don’t sound like love. Forgive us! You have not commanded us to do anything that Your Holy Spirit doesn’t empower us to obey. May we humble ourselves before You. We repent of our self-righteousness! We will love You and others as You have commanded. In the Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

 

DIG A LITTLE DEEPER

Our churches are full of immature women. If a so-called brother says, “I love you,” some women will do anything—and give anything—just to be “loved.” But as John details, love is not about words. Love is action.

 

If a man loves a woman, he will not dishonor her. He will put a ring on her finger, and he will marry her. He will protect her, and he will provide for her.

 

Nothing short of this commitment demonstrates “love.” Any woman who believes otherwise is . . . silly!

 

HOW TO SAY IT

Cain. keyn

 

Abel. EY-bul

 

 

 

 

DAILY HOME BIBLE READINGS

MONDAY

Example of Faith and Obedience

(1 Thessalonians 2:1-10)

TUESDAY

Then Darkness, Now Light

(Ephesians 5:8-16)

WEDNESDAY

Live by the Light

(John 3:16-21)

THURSDAY

Children of God Love One Another

(1 John 2:28-3:10)

FRIDAY

Walking Faithfully in the Truth

(3 John 1:1-4)

SATURDAY

Imitate What Is Good, Not Evil

(3 John 1:9-12)

SUNDAY

Believe Jesus Christ; Love One Another

(1 John 3:11-24)

 

 

PREPARE FOR NEXT SUNDAY

Read Acts 4:32-5:11 and next week’s lesson, “Sharing Love.”

©2020 by the Saint Paul Church MKE Media