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Lesson One • 1 John 1
Dr. Randy T. Johnson

The well-respected preacher and theologian, Warren Wiersbe, entitled his commentary on 1 John, “Be Real.”

The Apostle John (different than John the Baptist) wrote 1 John about 50 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He also wrote the Gospel of John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation. He actually may have written 1 John before his Gospel.

John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20), was a fisherman before he and his older brother, James, decided to follow Jesus.

Professor Zane Hodges gives an excellent summary of this book, “The First Epistle of John is an intensely practical letter addressed to Christian readers. It warns against the dangers of false teaching and exhorts believers to lives of obedience to God and love for their brothers and sisters. Its controlling theme is fellowship with God the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

1. What else do we know about the Apostle John?

2. What thoughts come to mind when you hear the title, “Be Real?”

The first four verses of 1 John say, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

3. What similarities do you see between 1 John 1:1-4 and John 1:1-14?

4. What indicators do we have that this book is real and true?

5. What are the two goals of John in writing this letter (verses 3-4)?

In verses 5-8, John challenges his readers to walk in the light, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

6. What images go through your mind when you read, “God is light?”

7. How is light a good illustration for truth and darkness a clear indicator of sin?

8. What does “fellowship with one another” look like?

9. How could you improve in this area?

John closes off the first chapter with some well-known verses, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Drs. Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas have written a book entitled The Five Languages of Apology. According to Chapman and Thomas, the five languages of an apology are:

  • Expressing regret – “I am sorry.”
  • Accepting responsibility – “I was wrong.”
  • Making restitution – “What can I do to make it right?”
  • Genuinely repenting – “I’ll try not to do it again.”
  • Requesting forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?”

I believe we spend a lot of time discussing forgiveness, but maybe not enough time concerning our own sin and confessing to others. I found these “languages” to be an interesting study where different people “hear” apologies differently. I am typically satisfied when someone says, “I am sorry.” However, I have noticed through years of counseling, some expect something more or different.

10. Do you see any distinctions between these five apologies?

11. When do you think saying, “I am sorry” might not be enough?

12. How should these love languages relate to our interactions with one another?

13. How should these love languages relate to our interactions with God?

Walking in the light does not mean we can live a perfect life. We will sin, but that should not be taken lightly. When we sin, we need to confess our sins to God and others. There may need to be some hard steps in striving to make it right.

Lee Strobel said, “Few things accelerate the peace process as much as humbly admitting our own wrongdoing and asking forgiveness.” If we want to have “fellowship with one another” and “walk in the light,” then there will be times when we need to confess our sins.

“The confession of evil works
is the first beginning of good works.”

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