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Bible Study
The First Epistle of John
Lesson One


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Bible Study
The First Epistle of John
Lesson One


I John Chapter One

Walk in the Light

Course Instructions

This Bible study on The First Epistle of John is intended to do a work in your life. Take these lessons into your prayer closet, and let the Word search the depths of your heart (Hebrews 4:12). Gaining a mere head-knowledge of this epistle will not profit you at all.

As you progress through the study, review previous lessons before continuing. Keep reviewing memory verses as well as learning the new ones. Let them become part of you, renewing your mind and cleansing your ways (see Romans 12:2, Psalm 119:9).

NOTE: The words "he" and "him" are used when referring to a person in general.

Lesson Overview
In this first epistle (letter), the apostle John wanted to make sure that those he was writing to — i.e., professing Christians — truly had eternal life. He declared that those who possessed eternal life would live righteously, not in sin, and their faith would rest firmly in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God and Saviour of the world.

In chapter one, John jumped right into these issues. He writes that the eternal life (i.e., Jesus Christ) had been made manifest to him and the other apostles, and he wanted his readers to enjoy the same fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus, God's Son, as they did. He made clear that God is light, so to have fellowship with Him, we must live in the light (righteousness) and not in darkness (sin). If we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

In following chapters, John reemphasizes, in various ways, the truth that we must walk in the light. Also, because God is love, we must walk according to God's love if we're to have fellowship with Him and obtain eternal life. Living a holy and righteous life is proof that we're God's children and will give us confidence in the day of judgment. John also warns of seducing spirits that would try to deceive us into denying Jesus as the way to eternal life.

Detailed Teaching

Verses 1,2

I John 1:1,2
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us . . .

The Apostle John had been eyewitness to many wonderful things. He wrote this epistle to assure the readers' hearts about the things he had witnessed, because he had personally seen, and heard, and handled the Word of life. He knew the apostles were obligated to bear witness to the world of all they had been witness to: the fact that eternal life has been made manifest unto us.

Obtaining eternal life is the key issue
This is the one thing we want to be absolutely sure of. It should be the thing we place most emphasis upon in our lives.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus came preaching eternal life to this world. This life is in the Father and has been made manifest unto us through His Son.

What a great promise God has given us, wanting us to have eternal life with Him: and this life is given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is made manifest unto us through the new birth, when we have been born again of the Spirit of God. Yes, eternal life is manifest unto those who will believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins, rose again from the dead, and is alive today.

Romans 10:9,10
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

It is a matter of believing and confessing: One must reach out to Jesus, believing the Gospel as the means of his salvation.

One must stand in faith, believing that the finished work for one's salvation was accomplished by Jesus Christ's death on Calvary's Cross, His resurrection, and the cleansing power of His shed blood. This is what one must put his faith in for his eternal salvation.

Ephesians 2:8,9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.


SUMMARY of verses 1 and 2
a) John was an eyewitness of Jesus' life upon this earth. He had personally
    seen, heard and handled the Word of Life (Jesus) — John 1:1, 14.

b) John wrote this epistle to bear witness to the fact that eternal life
    had been made manifest unto us:

John 3:16
  • God's love for the world provided eternal life.
  • God gave His only begotten Son.
  • Whosoever believes in His Son will gain eternal life.
  • Whosoever does not believe will perish.
Romans 10:9,10
  • Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus.
  • Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.
Ephesians 2:8,9
  • Eternal life is a gift of God.
  • Eternal life is received through faith, not works.
Eternal Life is:
  • a promise from God.
  • found in receiving His only begotten Son.
  • manifested to all who will believe in Jesus Christ and in His death and resurrection.
  • provided through the shed blood of God's Son at Calvary.
  • in the Father, and made manifest unto us through His Son.

Verse 3

I John 1:3
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

The apostles had found true fellowship with the Father and with His Son. They knew the way; they knew the truth; and they knew the life, because they knew God's Son, Jesus Christ, whom He had sent into the world.

John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me (italics mine).

Many want to fellowship with God but ignore His Son. They don't realize that there is no fellowship with God apart from having fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ.

True Fellowship with God
True fellowship with God is obtained only through receiving His Son and finding fellowship with Him.

Many Jews lost out because they didn't want to receive the fellowship of the Son of God. They excluded Him from their fellowship, wanting nothing to do with Him, fulfilling the Scriptures which say they would reject and despise Him — see Isaiah 53.

But the day will come when they shall look on Him whom they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10), and have to say, "Of a truth, this is the Son of God (Matthew 14:33)!"

Philippians 2:9-11
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

SUMMARY of verse 3
a) We can have true fellowship with God the Father.

b) This fellowship is only obtained when we received His Son Jesus Christ.

c) Few Jews accept Jesus Christ.

d) Most Jews exclude the Son from their fellowship. Therefore, they have
no real fellowship with the Father.


Verse 4

Fullness of Joy

I John 1:4
And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

When you find true fellowship with God and with His Son, you are brought into a relationship that brings you fullness of joy. And what a powerful force that joy has in your life!

Nehemiah 8:10b
. . . for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Yes, the joy which comes into your life when you find true fellowship with the Lord is a source of great strength.

Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Just think of the joy that was set before Jesus: He knew what would follow the cross! He looked forward to the joy of returning to His Father after enduring the cross.

Our Joy
And we, too, will find true joy when we receive Jesus into our hearts: the joy of knowing that one day we will be with Him face to face. When we know that we have really received eternal life, we have every reason to be filled with joy: After all, the fear of death is gone! We know we have passed from death unto life and, therefore, are no longer afraid of dying. We have this joy in our hearts because we look forward to the day when we will meet Jesus in the clouds. We believe that those who have gone into the grave as true Christians, having Jesus alive in their hearts, will rise from the grave to meet Him in the air.

God gives us a dynamic faith to believe in the reality of eternal life. He gives us a saving faith to enable us to believe the Gospel — and to continue on in the faith. Yet, there are many Christians who must sum up their lives and admit there is none of this joy within. They are not really rejoicing in the reality of eternal life. They are not really looking for that day when they will rise to meet Jesus in the air.

I Thessalonians 4:13,14
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.

Yes, every true believer should be filled with joy! Listen, if you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and yet have no joy, you need to snap to! Realize that you have everything to be happy about. Look into the Scriptures, and take them personally. See all that Jesus has done for you. Testify of the goodness and mercy of God toward you: in that He gave His Son to wash away your sins and give you abundant life.

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice (italics mine).

Joy is a vital part of your Christian experience, and you need to allow it to flow in and through you . . . always! Thank God for the joy that is rightfully yours. Get your eyes off of yourself and lift them up to Jesus.

SUMMARY of verse 4
a) John writes this epistle to bring to our memory all we have to find joy in.

b) Fellowship with God and with His Son brings fullness of joy:
  • The joy of the Lord is our strength — Nehemiah 8:10.
  • Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him — Hebrews 12:2.
  • That joy was in being reunited with His Father.
  • Knowing that we, too, shall join them should bring great joy — I Thess 4:13,14.
  • We will have joy as we keep our eyes off self and keep them on Jesus.
  • We are to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS — Philippians 4:4.

Verse 5

The Light

I John 1:5
This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

John had learned this firsthand from Jesus. He had been made to know that when you are dealing with the things of God, you are dealing with light: for God is light. There is no darkness in God, whatsoever. And John was passing this fact on that we might also know this truth.

John 1:6-9
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

John the Baptist was sent to bear witness of Jesus, the true Light: the Light of the world. And here we find Jesus is called the Light.

II Corinthians 11:14b
Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Here the devil is called an angel of light, meaning that he is an angel of deception. In other words, he is the author of false religions that damn men's souls, leading them away from the hope of the Gospel.

So we see that Jesus is light, and the devil is darkness. In Jesus there is absolutely no darkness, and in the devil there is absolutely no light.

LIGHT / DARKNESS
Let's focus on these two contrasts:

We see in Jesus that He is all light. He is the true light. On the other hand, the devil is darkness. When he comes as an angel of light, there is no true light in him; it is only deception, something false and misleading. In him there is no shadow of truth.

Now, when we get our eyes on Jesus, we are looking in the right place. We will see no darkness there at all. Yes, Jesus is the true Light of God, shining brightly into this lost and dying world.

SUMMARY of verse 5
LIGHTJohn 1:6-9
a) Jesus is the Light of God.
b) There is no darkness in God.
c) Jesus is the true light.
d) Jesus is all light.
e) The light of Jesus leads to eternal life and to the truth.

DARKNESSII Corinthians 11:14
a) The devil is an angel of light.
b) There is no light in the devil.
c) The devil is a light of deception.
d) The devil is all darkness.
e) The light of the devil is really darkness.
f) The light of the devil leads to false religion and eternal death.


Verse 6

I John 1:6
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth

Many declare they have fellowship with the Lord, that they love Him, that they are serving Him, yet are living in sin! John says they are lying. They are deceiving themselves by continuing to live the old life, walking after the flesh and the devil, while professing to have new life in Christ.

SUMMARY of verse 6
a) It is a lie to walk in darkness while saying you have fellowship with the Lord.

b) New life in Christ brings us into the light and into true fellowship with Him.


Verse 7

I John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth us from all sin.

Walk in the Light
Jesus is the light. If we walk in the reflection of His light, we will fulfil the Scripture that states we are the light of the world — Matthew 5:14.

We are to walk in the light of the love of Jesus. We are to walk in the light of His way. And if we are walking in the light, we will have fellowship with each other, and with the Father and Son.

Psalm 119:9
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word.

Psalm 119:105
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

When we are living something real, when we are living by the light of the Word of God, we will walk by the light of the Scriptures, showing forth the light of God unto this dark world.

The acid test is right there!
Anyone can go around kidding themselves into thinking they are a true believer, yet still live a carnal life. Anybody can claim to walk in the light, while their sinful life proves they are lying.

If we really want to inherit eternal life, we need to walk in the light. If we want to live in the light of eternity with God, then we must live it NOW. We must walk in the truth NOW. We must live after the Word of God NOW.

Many who don't want to walk in the light will make up excuses to ease their consciences: but that is only the skin of a reason stretched over a lie. They can't go around with the idea that grace will cover their sin and carnality. That is only a lame excuse for living the way they want to live, while still professing to be saved.

Ephesians 5:6
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

We want to obey sound doctrine (teaching) as obedient children. This is where we will find that the peace of God is ruling in our hearts and will find the full assurance of faith that we truly are the children of God.

Colossians 3:15
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

SUMMARY of verse 7
a) We must walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light. If we do:
  • we will have fellowship one with another.
  • the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all sin.

b) The Word of God is a light to our path — Psalm 119:105.

c) We cleanse our way by heeding the Word — Psalm 119:9.

d) When we walk in the light, we will BE a light to this world.

e) We are deceived if we say we are walking in the light and yet are sinning —
Ephesians 5:6.

f) When we walk in the light in obedience to the Word, we will find:
  • the peace of God ruling in our heart.
  • the full assurance of faith that we are God's child.

Verse 8

I John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

"For all have sinned . . ." Many claim they have never sinned, that they never did anything wrong; they never robbed a bank or killed anyone. But the truth of the matter is that they are deceived. They see no need to get saved, because they don't believe they ever did anything wrong!

When we walk in the light, abiding in Jesus, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Our sins are all washed away by His blood.

After Salvation
Verse 8 speaks to those who have received Jesus Christ as their Saviour. It is speaking to them after they have gotten saved from their sins.

You see, we need a daily cleansing of the blood of Jesus: a constant, continuous cleansing, to keep us clean. We must admit that our daily life shows the need for that daily cleansing. What day goes by that something doesn't happen which makes us act contrary to having new life in Jesus?

Yes, we need a daily cleansing!

SUMMARY of verse 8
a) We are deceived if we say we have no sin.

b) All have sinned — Romans 3:23.

c) After salvation we still need a continuous cleansing to KEEP us clean.

d) Tying this in with verse 7, we see that we are to walk in the light.


Verse 9

I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

A Key Verse
This is a key verse in the New Testament dealing with sin in the believer's life.

First of all, note that it says if we sin, not when we sin. IF we happen to sin, we shouldn't let any time pass before going to Jesus in true repentance for cleansing.

Confession of sin brings forth a confrontation with God. It helps us to realize that what we have done was wrong and should be put away ONCE AND FOR ALL. We don't want to return to God to confess the same sin over and over: No, we want to confess AND repent.

Proverbs 28:13
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

The mercies of God are extended to those who go a step farther than confessing their sin: they also forsake them.

I John 1:9b
. . . He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins . . .

Yes, God is faithful and just to forgive. He will forgive every time there is genuine repentance. He gave His Son to provide the way of forgiveness, providing an atonement for sin through His precious blood.

I John 1:9c
. . . and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God has made the way whereby man can be cleansed from all of his sin and from all of his unrighteousness. And He is faithful and just to do just that when we will put our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness of sin is an important issue
This is the only way to take the offenses of sin away, that they be not charged against us on the Day of Judgment.

The blood of Christ takes the sin away, removes the offense, cleanses the heart. And, instead of facing a judgment for sin, we now have pardon and cleansing.

Now, in that God wants to forgive us of our sins, He has to deal with the sin in our life: and He does so through His love and mercy.

Hebrews 12:6,11
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

In His dealings, God is faithful and just to forgive those who will confess and forsake their sin.

Judgment
Think of the multitudes of sinners who will stand at the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the age, when the kingdom age is past and the resurrection of the unjust takes place. On that day, the wicked dead will be raised to be judged for their sins. It will be a judgment day when every sin will be brought to light; every sin will be judged. Yes, every sin in one's entire lifetime will be brought into focus.

On that day, there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Men will find that the wages of their sin is not only death, but is a second death of being cast into the burning lake of fire.

Revelation 20:10,15
And the devil that decieved them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This spells out the terrible penalty of sin. BUT there is a way out! God sent His Son to die for us that we might escape that judgment.

Those who believe in Jesus' atoning blood don't have to go to that white throne to be judged for sin. Their sins have been forgiven and washed away in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 8:12
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Our sins were judged on Calvary's Cross. Our sins were nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ. Our sins were atoned for by His blood. He paid the price for our sins. And He did this for us, in our place, so we could be redeemed from sin and escape the punishment due us.

We ought to rejoice, thanking God for the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses from all sin. We ought to thank God for being so faithful to forgive us from all our sin, and to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.

When we are saved, we believe in Jesus Christ as God's Son. We believe that He died and rose again from the dead. And we believe that His blood was shed to wash every sin from our heart.

Romans 5:9
Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

We must maintain a personal faith in Jesus Christ every day. The only way we can do this, the only way we can maintain a righteous stand with God, is to stay cleansed, to stay covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.

Works have their place after salvation
Works won't cleanse away sin. No matter how much you try to straighten out and do good, you won't be able to cleanse your heart. Works are good in their rightful place but are not a means of cleansing. They are the outcome of a heart that has already been cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (italics mine).

When your soul is washed in the blood of Jesus, you have a right relationship with God. You are able to come to Him in prayer and supplication, because the sin issue has been taken care of. After you receive the cleansing power of Jesus' blood, God sees you through the blood. He no longer sees you as a vile sinner. Instead, through the blood of Christ, God now deals with you as a son of His.

Galatians 4:6,7
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

SUMMARY of verse 9
a) We are told to confess our sins:
  • If we do, God will forgive and cleanse — because He is faithful and just.
  • Note, that it says if, not when, we sin.
  • Confession brings about a confrontation with God.
  • We need to confess and repent — Proverbs 28:13.
  • God is merciful to those who do so.

b) The way has been provided for forgiveness and cleansing of all sin.

c) That way is the finished work of Jesus on Calvary.

d) The blood of Jesus Christ has power:
  • to take sin away.
  • to remove the offense of sin.
  • to cleanse the heart from sin.

e) God deals with sin through His love and mercy, bringing us to repentance.

f) There is a Great White Throne Judgment for those who have not received
forgiveness of sin through Jesus.
  • Every sin will be judged there.
  • It will bring the punishment of a second death in the lake of fire —
    Rev 20:10,15.
  • We escape this judgment through receiving Jesus Christ.
g) Our sins were:
  • judged on Calvary's Cross.
  • nailed to the Cross with Jesus Christ.
  • atoned for by His blood.

h) Jesus did this in our place so we could be redeemed.

i) We must STAY cleansed from sin, staying covered with the blood of Jesus.

j) Works cannot cleanse from sin.

k) After salvation, God sees us through the blood.

l) He deals with us as with a son.


Verse 10

I John 1:10
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.

God does not lie. If you say you have never sinned, then you are trying to make a liar out of God: But God cannot lie!

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

God said that all have sinned — thus, all have sinned!

SUMMARY of verse 10
God says we have sinned, and that's all there is to it.
  • If we say we haven't sinned, then we make Him a liar.
  • His Word states that we have sinned, and His Word is true.

SUMMARY of Lesson One

a) John wrote as an eyewitness of Jesus' life in this world.

b) He declared the fact that eternal life has been made manifest to us.

c) John 3:16, Romans 10:9,10 and Ephesians 2:9,10 define eternal life.
  • This life is in the Father.
  • It has been manifest unto us through His Son.

d) True fellowship with God is obtained by receiving His Son.

e) Fellowship with God and His Son brings fullness of joy — Nehemiah 8:10,
Hebrews 12:2, I Thessalonians 4:13,14, Philippians 4:4
.

f) Jesus is the Light of God — John 1:6-9.

g) Satan is an angel of light — II Corinthians 11:14.

h) When we have true fellowship with the Lord, we will walk in the light.

i) The Word of God is a light to our path — Psalm 119:105.

j) We cleanse our way by heeding the Word — Psalm 119:9.

k) When we walk in the light, we will BE a light to this world.

l) We are deceived if we say we are walking in the light and yet are sinning —
Ephesians 5:6.

m) When we walk in the light in obedience to the Word, we will find:
  • the peace of God ruling in our heart.
  • the full assurance of faith that we are God's child.

n) All have sinned — Romans 3:23, Isaiah 64:6.

o) We need a daily cleansing of the blood to keep us clean after salvation.

p) We are to confess and forsake our sins — Proverbs 28:13.

q) When we do, God will be faithful and just to forgive and cleanse from all sin — I John 1:9.

r) The way has been provided for forgiveness and cleansing of all sin.

s) That way is the finished work of Jesus on Calvary.

t) The blood of Jesus Christ has power:
  • to take sin away.
  • to remove the offense of sin.
  • to cleanse the heart from sin.

u) God deals with sin through His love and mercy, bringing us to repentance.

v) There is a Great White Throne Judgment for those who have not received
forgiveness of sin through Jesus.
  • Every sin will be judged there.
  • It will bring the punishment of a second death in the lake of fire —
    Rev 20:10,15.
  • We escape this judgment through receiving Jesus Christ.
w) Our sins were:
  • judged on Calvary's Cross.
  • nailed to the Cross with Jesus Christ.
  • atoned for by His blood.

x) Jesus did this in our place so we could be redeemed.

y) We must STAY cleansed from sin, staying covered with the blood of Jesus.

z) Works cannot cleanse from sin.

a1) After salvation, God sees us through the blood.

b1) He deals with us as with a son.

Memory Verses
To get the full benefit of this lesson, be sure to memorize these verses before taking the exam.
Romans 10:9,10
Ephesians 2:8,9
John 14:6
Hebrews 12:2
Philippians 4:4
I John 1:7
Romans 3:23
I John 1:9
Proverbs 28:13

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