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1 John Study

Am I Really Saved? A First John Check Up
Lesson 5: Practicing Sin
Please Read: 1 John 3:1-10

Previous Lessons: 1 2 3 4

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
2 Corinthians 13:5

1 John 3:1-3

The first three verses of this chapter are such a comfort to those who know Christ. John marvels over the love of God and the fact that He chooses to call us His children.

  • How does it impact your faith in Christ to know that you are loved by God and that you are His child?

John then goes on to assure Christians of our identity in Christ and His certain return.

  • What are three ways (v. 1b, 2, 3) that John identifies us with Christ or says we are, or will be, like Him?
  •  Christians tend to long for the return of Christ. Do you? Why or why not?

1 John 3:4-10

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 9: Do I Make a Practice of Sinning or Righteousness?

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; 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 keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Here, John again uses polarizing words to draw a sharp contrast between the saved and the unsaved. Sin and righteousness. Children of God and children of the devil.

John also talks about the “practice” of sinning or righteousness. He has already made clear in chapter 1 (and other places) that Christians will fall into sin, but that they will confess their sin and be forgiven of it. Generally, Christians desire to practice righteousness and make an effort to do so.

Here, John focuses on those who make “a practice of sinning,” meaning a habitual lifestyle of unrepentant sin. He equates the habit of sinning with practicing lawlessness. The word “lawlessness” takes us beyond the surface “wrongness” of the particular sin that’s being committed to a deeper contempt for, and rebellion against the Law and the God who gave it.

  • Does John give any indication of how “big” the sins have to be or how often they have to be repeated to fall under the umbrella of a “practice of sinning,” or is his focus more on the attitude of the heart?
  • What do verses 6, 8, and 10 say about people who practice sinning? Are such people Christians?
  • Who is our standard for righteousness? (v.7) What are some attributes and personal habits of Christ that show us what righteousness is? Can you list some verses where Christ explained what it means to be righteous?
  • What do verses 7 and 9 say about people who practice righteousness? Is John talking only about outward, visible righteous behavior or righteousness that springs from a regenerated heart? How might 2 Corinthians 5:17 help our understanding of these verses?
  • Read Paul’s description of his battle against sin in Romans 7:15-25. Does this war between the desires of the flesh and the spirit seem familiar or foreign to you?
  • Verses 5 and 8b explain the reason Christ “appeared.” What was that reason, and what does the reason for His death have to do with whether people practice sinning or righteousness?

This week we’ve looked at one more checkpoint in our “Am I Really Saved?” study:

Do I make a practice of sinning or a practice of righteousness?

People who are saved look forward to the return of Christ in His glory. As they live day by day hoping in His return, God conforms them to the image of Christ so that they habitually walk in the direction of righteousness.

Unsaved people may dread or try not to think about the return of Christ and its implications on their eternities. They habitually sin – whether those sins are small or big in the eyes of the world – without repenting.

How are you doing so far as you examine your heart against the checkpoints in 1 John? If you think you might not be saved, please see lesson 3 or the “Good News” video (at the top of the left side bar) to learn how to repent of your sin and trust Christ for salvation. Need help? Please feel free to click on the “contact” tab at the top of this page and e-mail me.

Additional Resources:

1 John 3– Matthew Henry’s Commentary

1 John– by Nate Pickowicz

True or False? A Study in 1 John– at Naomi’s Table (lessons 11-12)

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