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1 John-Detailed Outline
A. Introduction
1 John 1:1-1:4 John remembers it all started with Jesus. John asserts the reality of the total personality of Jesus:
1. “We have heard” (ear gate) — apostles heard His voice;
2. “We have seen” (eye gate) — apostles saw Him;
3. “Looked upon” is literally gazed upon.
“Handled”… John reclined upon the bosom of Jesus in the upper room. He heard the
Heartbeat of God! Jesus is the Word of life. Eternal life comes to us from GOD in the person of Jesus.
B. God is Light
1 John 1:5-1:7 Walking in light: Christian fellowship means sharing the things of Christ. Paul used koinonia when speaking of praying, teaching the Word of God, the Lord’s Supper, and giving. Joy for the believer is one of the purposes of this epistle. “God is light”. The holiness of God searches out and penetrates the darkness of sin and evil. Sin cannot exist in His presence as darkness cannot exist in the presence of physical light. Light is life giving. Light speaks of the glory, radiance, beauty, purity, and stainless holiness of God. Darkness is more than the opposite of light. It is hostile to God. It is evil and denotes chaos. Any believer who walks in the light of the Word of God discovers sin in his life. As a believer, he knows that the blood of Christ can cleanse him from sin, as it did when he first came to Christ for salvation.
1 John 1:8-1:10 Confessing sin: While some try to bring God down to man’s low level, others attempt the opposite. They attempt to lift themselves to God’s level. They say that they have no sin. They claim sinless perfection and total sanctification. These actually deceive themselves. They are guilty of self-deception and lying. Since God cannot be brought down to man’s low level and man cannot attain to God’s exalted level, man finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. What can he do? The solution to the problem is confession. Confess means to say the same thing that God says. God says they are acts of sin. Tell it to God as it is…the sin should be spelled out. God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us if we confess our sins. “He is faithful” — we might deceive ourselves. “Just” (righteous)…“The blood of Jesus Christ…cleanseth us from all sin”. We make God a liar when we say we do not sin. He says we do sin.
1 John 2:1-2:2 The advocacy of Christ: This is the third factor in having fellowship with God and Jesus. God’s arrangement for a believer not to sin is perfect, but our entrance into it is imperfect. An advocate is an attorney called to the side of a client in trouble. He is a comforter. The Lord Jesus Christ is in heaven to defend the sinning believer from the charge of the accuser of the brethren. Without His defense, the sinning saint would be in deep trouble. He is the sacrifice that makes the throne of God a mercy seat. We need mercy — He is rich in mercy. God is a propitiation for us “Propitiation” is a payment, the basis on which God extends mercy…Jesus payment for our sin.
C. God is Love
1 John 2:3-2:14 How the dear children may have fellowship with each other by walking in love. Obedience to Christ is the basis of assurance. Disobedience to Jesus is a proof that we do not know Him. This is plain and direct language. Disobedience to Jesus on the part of a professing Christian is tantamount to being a liar. The life is a lie. Jesus is manifest in the believer when he keeps the word of Christ. Full commitment is to love Jesus. The question is not, “Are you committed” but, “Do you love Jesus?” Love one another is the commandment that the Jesus gave to His apostles when He was with them on earth…which He repeated many times It is a new commandment to believers today who are regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Believers are to do the will of God. “The darkness is past” …rather, is passing. Look around you. It has not yet passed. The fog of ignorance of God’s Word is still much in evidence. The Law says: “If a man do, he shall live.” Grace says: “If a man live, he shall do.” Loving a fellow believer is the test of genuine faith. Hatred of a fellow believer is evidence that a person is not in the light. Hating a brother is dwelling in darkness; loving a brother is dwelling in light. The Christian life is like a triangle: GOD…light, love and life. Believers are called little children “Little children” is dear children, meaning all believers, regardless of age, whose sins are forgiven on the basis of the shed blood of Christ. Believers are also identified as fathers. “Fathers” are mature saints who have walked with God for years. Believers are identified as young men. “Young men” are not as mature as the fathers but have learned the secret of overcoming the enemy by the blood of Christ
1 John 2:15-2:28 The dear children must not love the world. “World” here means the world system, which is satanic. Man is subject to one or the other. The world consists of the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.
“Lust of the flesh” — Eve saw that the tree was good for food.
“Lust of the eyes” — Eve saw that the tree was good to look at.
“Pride of life” — Eve saw that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.
This world system is passing away. There is coming a man who will head up the antichrist system. He is Antichrist. “Antichrist” is against Christ (denial) or imitation of Christ (pretense). Antichrist is both. Pseudo-Christians will not stay under the preaching of the Word of God. Their departure is their identification. The Holy Spirit is the Teacher of the believer. The purpose of this letter is not to give them something new. They know the gospel. The mark of any Antichrist is that he denies both God and Jesus. You cannot deny one without denying the other. If the Word does not abide in a professing Christian, he will eventually drift from the truth. Watch out for false teachers. The Holy Spirit is the final authority. It is possible for a believer to be ashamed at the rapture of the church. Obedience and assurance make the coming of Christ a joyful anticipation.
1 John 2:29 –4:21 How the Dear Children May Know Each Other and Live Together
1 John 2:29-3:3 The Father’s love for His children. It is one thing to testify that we know Christ and are in Him; it is quite another to have a life that reveals that He is our righteousness. We recognize other believers by their lives, not their lips. Righteousness is a family characteristic of the Father and His children. “Behold ye, of what sort of love the Father hath given to us, that we should be named children of God, and we are: and because of this the world does not begin to understand us, because it did not know begin to understand Him.” We do not expect to be the sons of God — WE ARE! His is a thrilling fact for which every believer can exult, rejoice, and constantly thank Him. This is not all. We should be like Christ…not identical, but like Him. We do not know how wonderful that is, for we have not seen Him as He is. God sees us, as we shall be some day. This is an incentive for holy living now.
1 John 3:4-3:24 The two natures of the believer in action. Sin is basically that which is contrary to the will of God…insubordination to the will of God. In John’s Gospel, Jesus came to take away the sin of the world; He bore the penalty of sin. Here in John’s epistle, He takes away the practice of sin in the life of a believer. He is without sin, as was the sin offering. He removes the guilt of sin and also provides the power to deliver from the habit of sinning. The believer who abides in Christ does not practice sin. He cannot live a sinful life. To continue in sin means the person was never saved in the first place. The one practicing righteousness is a child of God. The devil sinned from the beginning, and he continues to sin. His is a career of nothing but sin. The Son of God was revealed to unloose the works of the devil. Christ came to make it possible for a believer not to live in sin. A believer gets a new nature at conversion, but he does not lose the old nature. The new nature never sins because it is born of God. The one who practices righteousness produces the fruit of the Spirit. Love one another again mentioned. Cain’s offering was evil, as evidenced from his conduct. He was envious of his brother, and he slew him. Pride was in the heart of Cain. Hate is the norm of the world. The world hates a believer. Love is the norm of a believer. Love of the brethren is proof of salvation. Hate is like murder. We ought to lay our lives don for our brothers. This love for others is proof that God loves us. Love is not a sentiment; love goes into action. When we demonstrate our love in this way, we have a confidence in prayer. If we do not have this assurance, God is greater than our hearts…He still hears our prayer. Love in action gives assurance in prayer. Believe in Jesus Christ and love others…this is the Christian life in a nutshell. The Holy Spirit verifies these things to our hearts if we have not grieved Him.
1 John 4:1-4:6 Warning against false teachers: Test the spirits. “Test the spirits” is to prove the spirits. Beware of false teachers. These false teachers are inspired by evil spirits that deny the incarnation of Jesus and all His work of redemption that flows from it. The evil spirit denies the Person of Jesus and His work. This is the final test. The evil spirit resists and opposes Christ. This is the spirit of Antichrist. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer. God in us is greater than Satan and the world. False teachers are of the world. This explains the appeal that many ministers have in the world and their popularity with the unsaved. The supreme encouragement of the ministry is to know that God’s children will hear you if you are a believer. The elect cannot permanently be deceived. Jesus said it is not possible to deceive the elect.
1 John 4:7-4:21 God is love: Little children (believers) will love each other. Believers are to love. The norm is to be the love of God. Love works for the best interests of the beloved. God is light; God is love. God always loved us. We were dead; Christ brought us to life through His death. He gave His life that we might live. God loved us before there was any response on our part. He gave the Son to make payment for our sins. He turned the throne of God into a mercy seat. The giving of Christ to die for us is the norm of love. He is the motivation for our love. God, who is unseen, is revealed today in the lives of believers. He longs to pour out His love through us. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer. No believer can deny the deity of Christ. Love is the supreme test. Do you believe that God loves you? Then confess Him before men wherever your lot in life is cast. The perfect love is Jesus who came down where we are and became the propitiation for our sins. God put our sins on Him; but when Christ went back to heaven, there was no sin on Him…He had settled it down here. This means that we are as secure in the world as Christ is. What security! This gives us boldness in the Day of Judgment. Today we represent Him in the world. Love casts out fear. This removes fear from the saved sinner’s heart. Jesus is “Perfect Love.” His love for us should give us the feeling of belonging to the family of God. We love, because He first loved us.” Our love for Christ is in the same ratio that it is for other believers. If someone says he loves God and hates others he is a liar. We are commanded; whoever loves God loves others. This is a commandment of Christ. There are no options.
D. God is Life
1 John 5:1-5:5 Victory over the world: Faith produces the new birth. The one who is born again will love others who are born again. These cannot be confined to a certain denomination, church, race, clique or group. When we love God and keep His commandments, we love other believers because that is one of His commandments. The commandments of God are not burdensome. Burdensome does not mean that they are difficult to keep, but rather that they do not impose a burden when they are kept. “In keeping of them there is great reward”. Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”. The breaking of them brings misery and heavy burdens. Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. We get the victory by believing not striving. The victory was God’s. We cannot overcome the world by fighting it. Conquest depends upon faith.
1 John 5:6-5:21 Assurance of salvation: There are three that bear witness to the truth of salvation by faith in Christ:
(1) Water — the Word of God.
(2) Blood — the death of Christ for our sins, resulting in forgiveness.
(3) Spirit — truth.
The Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost. (Between the death and resurrection of Christ and the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were not to witness.) The Holy Spirit must work before anyone can be born again. He takes the Word of God and applies the blood of Christ for forgiveness of sins. To refuse to believe God is tantamount to making Him a liar. Either we have Christ by faith or we do not have Him. There is no middle ground. Do you have Christ by faith? Will you believe God? This is the key verse of the epistle. John wrote this epistle that you may believe on Christ and be saved and, having taken this step, that you might know you have eternal life. Do you believe God? It all rests upon whether or not you believe God. If we ask anything according to God’s will we know he heareth us. This promise hinges on the phrase “according to his will”— then we can have boldness, which is better than assurance. How can we know when prayer is in accordance with the will of God? It must be according to the Word of God. Beyond that, we let God make the judgment. Believers can commit a sin for which the Heavenly Father will call them home. It may be a different sin for each of His children. Ananias and Sapphira committed the sin unto death. Absalom did. Moses and Aaron did. Everything that is not right is sin — but not every sin is unto death. The new nature never sins. Believers living in the flesh are living in (old nature) sin. Believers are of God but the whole world lies in wickedness. The Spirit of God is our Teacher to lead us into all truth. Keep yourselves from idols. Anything that stands between Christ and the believer is an idol.

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