I am so glad that you are taking the time to study the Bible this summer. There is no greater reward than to spend time in the Word of God, because time in the Word is time with God. Before you begin your study, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what you need to learn today (1 John 2:27).
I am going to change the format of this lesson so it will be more eye appealing. Leave me a comment if you like the new format. I will give you some short instructions of what to mark in this lesson and then we will get straight to the heart of 1 John 3.
- Mark the words know, abide, sin, love and ask in a distinct way. Use different colors and shapes to make your marks. If you have been marking these words throughout our study, be sure and be consistent throughout the book of John.
- Mark any verses which state the reason for John’s writing of this letter. We are using a highlighter for this. You will need a total of 3 different colored highlighters.
- Mark any verses which can be added to your Counterfeit Christian list with one of your highlighters. Remember to be consistent throughout our entire study of 1 John.
- Use the last highlighter to mark any verses for your Genuine Christianity list. Here is a picture of my notes.
- If this is all Greek to you, then check out “The Christianity Test – Intro” for details on how to do this.
The Heart of the Lesson
In 1 John chapter 3, John, the author of 1 John, gives us more evidences of a Genuine Christian and contrasts them with those of a Counterfeit Christian. This chapter focuses on sin and love.
Let’s take a look at 1 John 3:4-9. In these verses we are given a comparison of the sin life of a Genuine Christian verses the sin life of a Counterfeit Christian or lost person. Here is what we learn from these passages.
- Genuine Christian
Jesus took our sins away (v. 5)
Whoever abides in Him does not sin (v. 6)
He who practices righteousness is righteous (v. 7)
He who has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him (v. 9)
He cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (v. 9)
- Counterfeit Christian or Unsaved
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness (v. 4)
Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him (v. 6)
He who sins is of the devil (v. 8)
What does all this mean? Is a Christian supposed to live a sinless life? To help us understand what sin means in 1 John 3, we need to know the verb tense of the word sin in the Greek. Let’s take a look at verse 9, because there are two different parts of speech for the word sin. The first occurrence is a noun, while the second is a verb.
“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” 1 John 3:9 (NASB).
In the first part of the verse, the word sin is a noun, so we need to look at the word practices to understand the meaning of how often or when a Christian should not sin. The verb tense here means that “which is occurring while the speaker is making the statement” (p. 867 The Complete WordStudy New Testament). The verb tense of sin in the second part of the sentence means, “a continuous or repeated action” (p. 868).
Therefore, we could rewrite this verse to mean, “No one who is born of God will be sinning right now in the present. . . and he cannot sin on a regular basis because he is born of God”. The apostle John is not saying a Christian will never sin. He means that a Genuine Christian is not capable of sinning on a regular basis, because the Holy Spirit dwells in Him. If a person calls himself/herself a Christian, but lives in a lifestyle of sin, he/she is deceived and not saved at all according to the book of 1 John.
I realize that the though of looking up verb tenses sounds too complicated. As my son said the other day, “Mom, just give me the answers”. Many of us are passive Bible students, who want to float down the lazy river of life on a raft. We would rather the teacher or preacher bottle feed us the Word, rather than dig deeper for ourselves. This is an easy trap to fall into, but it won’t help you grow spiritually. As we studied in the last lesson, The Christianity Test Part 5, the apostle John describes three types of believers: little children, young men and fathers. You will never pass the little children stage in your Christian walk, if you do not know how to dig deeper into the Word. I want to encourage you to wade out a little bit deeper this summer in your Christian walk.
Join me tomorrow as we look at the rest of chapter 3. I will include an updated version of “The Christianity Test” in my post.
Zodhiates, Spiros, Th.D. The Complete WordStudy New Testament KJV. AMG International, 1992.