1 John Bible Study

Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up ~ Lesson 9: Wrap Up

1 John Study

Am I Really Saved? A First John Check Up
Lesson 9: Wrap Up

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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

It’s been quite a journey through the book of 1 John! I hope you have taken the time to honestly examine your heart and your behavior against Scripture to discover whether or not you are truly in Christ.

I want to be sure that I stress once again that the checkpoints we’ve covered in the previous lessons are not things to strive to accomplish in order to earn salvation or to work your way onto God’s good side. You can’t do that. It’s impossible. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone. All of the things we have looked at are the naturally occurring fruit of a person who has already been born again. (Remember our little oak tree/apple tree illustration from lesson 3?)

If you think you might be unsaved or a false convert (someone who thought she was saved, or claimed to be saved, but actually isn’t), you can know Christ as Savior today. Confess to God that you are a sinner, and turn away from your sin. Ask Christ to forgive you for your sin. Believe in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as payment for your sin so that you would not have to pay for it yourself with an eternity in Hell, and ask God to save you. You might wish to watch this video and the “Good News” video in the sidebar to your left. And, of course, you’re welcome to contact me with any questions.

I also want to be sure to stress to those who genuinely are born again that you are not going to be perfect in any of these areas this side of Heaven. And that doesn’t mean you aren’t saved. John’s intent in writing this letter was not for you to freak out over the sin you committed yesterday or the fact that your progress in one area seems to be slower than in other areas. He wants you to look back over the direction of your life since you were saved and see if you’re generally growing in holiness and towards more Christlikeness.

I’ve mentioned before that, when I was a kid, a popular question for youth leaders to ask was, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I think that’s a good schematic to use for 1 John. As you come to the conclusion of the study, realize that you aren’t “convicted” on the basis of one or two isolated checkpoints. Rather, ask yourself, does the preponderance of the “evidence” gleaned from the checkpoints point me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to a verdict of “saved” or a verdict of “not saved”? How would you vote if you were on the jury that was deciding the case of “Am I Really Saved?”

Here, for your convenience, are the 19 checkpoints we’ve looked at in the previous lessons:

Checkpoint 1: Do I walk in the light or the darkness? (1 John 1:6-7)

Checkpoint 2: Do I confess or deny my sin? (1 John 1:8-10)

Checkpoint 3: Do I keep God’s commands? (1 John 2:3-6)

Checkpoint 4: Do I hate others? (1 John 2:9-11)

Checkpoint 5: Do I love worldliness? (1 John 2:15-17)

Checkpoint 6: Do I want to be faithful to a doctrinally sound church? (1 John 2:18-20)

Checkpoint 7: Do I believe in the Jesus of Scripture? (1 John 2:21-25)

Checkpoint 8: Do I practice righteousness? (1 John 2:29)

Checkpoint 9: Do I make a practice of sinning or righteousness? (1 John 3:4-10)

Checkpoint 10: Do I love my brothers? (1 John 3:10-15)

Checkpoint 11: Am I bearing the fruit of love? (1 John 3:18-22)

Checkpoint 12: Do I keep the ultimate commandment? (1 John 3:23-24)

Checkpoint 13: Do I follow false teachers? (1 John 4:1-6)

Checkpoint 14: Is my motivation for love Christocentric? (1 John 4:7-12)

Checkpoint 15: Do my words and actions confess Christ? (1 John 4:13-15)

Checkpoint 16: Am I afraid of God’s judgment? (1 John 4:16-21)

Checkpoint 17: Do my love for God and my love for His people testify to each other? (1 John 5:1-3)

Checkpoint 18: Have I “overcome the world”? (1 John 5:4-5)

Checkpoint 19: Do I have God’s testimony of Christ and eternal life in my heart? (1 John 5:6-12)

It’s my prayer that, as you walk away from this study today, you will do so in full assurance and joy that you do, indeed, know Christ as Savior. Remember, that’s the whole point of the book of 1 John:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

Additional Resources:

How can we know if our faith is real? by John MacArthur

How Do You Know If You’re Really Saved? by Costi Hinn

Assurance: “How Can I Know I’m Really Saved?” at Things Above Us

1 John Bible Study

Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up ~ Lesson 8: Testimony

1 John Study

Am I Really Saved? A First John Check Up
Lesson 8: Testimony
Please Read: 1 John 5

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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 5:1-3

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 17: Do my love for God and my love for His people testify to each other?

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 

John starts off chapter 5 by reminding us of the central truth of the gospel (which we covered in lesson 4): only those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, as defined by Scripture, are truly born again. Before anything else matters, you’ve got to get that right, or you’re not a Christian.

John then moves our focus back to yet another facet of love that characterizes a Christian: the intertwining, inseparability of love for God and love for His people.

  • According to the last half of verse 1, all who love the Father also love whom? According to verse 2, how do we know we love God’s people? Do these two verses demonstrate circular reasoning or an unbreakable connection between loving God and loving His people? How?
  • What are some ways your love for God is shown by the way you love others, and vice versa?
  • Why is obeying God’s commandments evidence that we love Him and are saved? (3)
  • What does it mean that Christ’s “commandments are not burdensome”? (3) How can we understand this statement in light of Matthew 24:1-4 and 11:28-30?

1 John 5:4-5

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 18: Have I “overcome the world”?

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

  • What does it mean to “overcome the world”? How can these verses shed some light on the meaning of this phrase? Does this mean Christians will always be victorious over temptation?
  • How does our faith enable us to overcome the world? (4) How, and from whom, do we get faith? Who is the object of our faith?
  • According to verse 5, is it possible for non-Christians to live in a condition of victory over sin?
  • Think back over your spiritual history. Can you see evidence of growth in the area of resisting temptation and putting sin to death? Do you give in to the same temptations now, and as often, as you did when you were first saved?

1 John 5:6-12

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 19: Do I have God’s testimony of Christ and eternal life in my heart?

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Think about all the things you’ve read about Jesus in the Bible, particularly, in the four gospels. Whose testimony about Jesus are you reading and believing? For the most part, we’re reading the eyewitness testimony of the apostles – human beings – that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Wouldn’t it be great if we also had some testimony about Jesus’ deity and authority from God, personally, first hand? Well, we do, as John explains in this passage. We find God’s testimony to the deity and authority of Jesus externally, through His baptism (water) and through his death, burial, and resurrection (blood).

Remember what happened right after Jesus’ baptism?

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said,“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17

We see the testimony of the Holy Spirit as His presence rests on Jesus, and we hear the verbal testimony of God the Father authenticating and commending Jesus. The third Person of the Trinity, Jesus Himself, testified to His own deity and messiahship by living a perfect life, dying a perfect death on our behalf, and rising again, conquering death. These are all tangible, observable testimony from God about who Jesus is. Everyone can witness this external testimony from God- both Believers and non-believers. All you have to do is read the Bible. But what about internal testimony, inside our hearts and spirits?

  • Look at the first sentence of verse 10. How does God’s testimony move from the merely external to internal and personal? What does the remainder of verse 10 say about who can experience having the testimony of God about Jesus “in himself”? Does everyone have this inner witness, or only Christians?
  • According to verse 11, what is the culmination of believing in “the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son”? Who has eternal life (12), Believers or non-believers?
  • Do you have the internal testimony of God about Jesus? Are you confident you have received the eternal life God promises Believers? (Note: This is very subjective. Most false converts are certain they are Believers possessing eternal life based on what they “feel” in their hearts or spirits. This checkpoint focuses on the negative aspect of this issue rather than the positive. In other words, if you know you do not believe in the external testimony about Christ and have no internal testimony from God about Christ or security about your eternity with Him, there is no reason to think you are a Believer. The “feeling” that you are a Christian and that you have eternal life, by itself, is not proof that you are actually saved.)

1 John 5:13-20

In these last few verses, John is giving final instructions, wrapping it up, and bringing it on home. He beautifully restates his reason for writing the epistle in verse 13:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

God wants Christians, those who believe in the name of the Son of God, to know that we are safe and secure in Christ. He doesn’t want us to be afraid of His wrath or wonder if we will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. He wants that settled and for us to be at peace.

When we’re settled in that knowledge and peace, we can be confident that God hears us when we pray and answers us when we pray in accordance with His will.

Additionally, when we are secure in Christ, we are able to intercede and intervene when our brothers and sisters are caught in sin. Sadly, sometimes a genuine Believer can be so entrenched or caught up in willful, unrepentant sin that God – at His own sovereign discretion – will take her life in order to protect His holy name, her victims, the church, or for other reasons known only to God. This is the “sin leading to death” that John mentions.

Blessedly, this is usually not the case for Believers – John, again, reminds us that Believers don’t make a practice of sinning – and we can pray for that person, help her get out of her sin (not leading to death), and help restore her to a right relationship with Christ and the church.

Finally, when have assurance of our salvation, we have the understanding that we are from God and that the world is under the power of Satan. Therefore, we should not take part in idolatry, but, rather, “know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

 

This week we’ve looked the final three checkpoints in our “Am I Really Saved?” study (But don’t go anywhere, our last lesson is next week!):

Do my love for God and my love for His people testify to each other?

Have I “overcome the world”?

Do I have God’s testimony of Christ and eternal life in my heart?

Saved people’s love for God is reflected in their love for His people, and their love for His people is evidenced by their love for, and obedience to God. Their God-given faith in Christ, gives them the victory over sin and worldliness. God gives them peace and security by testifying in their hearts that Jesus is the Christ and that they have eternal life.

Unsaved people cannot genuinely love God’s people because they do not love God. Since they have no faith in Christ, they are part of the world’s system, and it is impossible for them to live in victory over sin. Despite any emotional experiences or feelings they may have, unsaved people do not have the testimony of Christ in their hearts or the assurance of eternal life.

Additional Resources:

1 John 5– Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Victory in Jesus by Kevin DeYoung

The Sin Unto Death by John MacArthur

True or False? A Study in 1 John– at Naomi’s Table (lessons 17-20)

1 John Bible Study

Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up ~ Lesson 7: Fear and False Teachers

1 John Study

Am I Really Saved? A First John Check Up
Lesson 7: Fear and False Teachers
Please Read: 1 John 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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 4:1-6

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 13: Do I follow false teachers?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

I’m always dumbfounded when I hear Christian women say – in response to being told their favorite false teacher is a false teacher – something to the effect of, “You’re so negative, judgmental, and nit picky. Jesus just said to love people and not to worry so much about whether their theology is different from yours.”

It always makes me wonder if they’ve ever actually read the New Testament, because that’s absolutely not what Jesus said while He was on earth, and it’s the exact opposite of what God the Holy Spirit spends so much time saying in the balance of the New Testament. This passage of First John is just one of dozens which warn us away from false teachers.

  • Which Spirit is controlling true Christian teachers? What spirit is controlling false teachers according to verse 3? True or false: If you’re following a false teacher, you’re following a demonic spirit.
  • What does it mean to “test the spirits”? (v1) How did the noble Bereans test the spirits?
  • What do verses 2-3 tell us is the first, most basic test of whether or not someone is a false teacher? What does verse 5 tell us is an indication of a false teacher? Are these the only tests for a false teacher?
  • To whom do the words “we” and “us” refer in verse 6? According to verse 6, do false teachers listen to and teach the same things the apostles taught? How does verse 6 work hand in hand with Galatians 1:6-9?
  • According to verse 6, if you willfully disregard apostolic (biblical) teaching in favor of false teaching, are you really a Christian? Do you argue with people who can demonstrate to you from (rightly handled) Scripture that you’re following a false teacher?

1 John 4:7-12

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 14: Is my motivation for love Christocentric?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

If you could state the theme John’s teaching in one word, what would it be? My answer would be “love.” In his gospel, his three epistles, even in Revelation, the concept of love permeates John’s writing. And here again, John draws our attention back to it. The facet of love he focuses on this time is the motivation behind our love for others.

  • According to verses 7-8, who defines, originates, and is the embodiment of, love? How does this tell Christians Who and what is to motivate any love that we might feel or show to others? Is the “love” that non-Christians feel or show to others motivated by God or by other factors such as affection, selfishness, lust, etc.? Can you truly love others if you do not know God?
  • If the love you show others is not motivated by God, are you really saved?
  • In verses 9-10, what is the ultimate definition and demonstration (what action did God take) of the phrase “God is love”?
  • The word “so” in verse 11 takes us back to God’s ultimate demonstration of love for us in verses 9-10. Think about the people in your life. What are some practical ways you can “so love” one another the way God, through Christ, loved you?
  • Verse 12 tells us “no one has ever seen God.” How can the world know of God’s love if they have never seen Him? What does the remainder of the verse tell us about how they are to learn of God’s love?

1 John 4:13-15

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 15: Do my words and actions confess Christ?

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

  • How do we know, according to verse 13, that we belong to Christ? How can we tell if we have the Spirit? In what ways do our actions show that we have the Holy Spirit?
  • John says he and his fellow Christians testify about Jesus. (14) They verbally proclaim salvation through Christ to others. This is a mark of the Christian. Do you share the gospel with others? If not, are you really saved?
  • Does verse 15 mean that anyone who says the words, “Jesus is the Son of God,” is a Christian? What does it mean to “confess” Jesus? Is it just the words we say or is there more to it? What role does the heart play in this confession?

1 John 4:16-21

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 16: Am I afraid of God’s judgment?

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Verse 16 makes an interesting statement: “we have come to know AND to believe the love that God has for us.”

  • What is the difference between knowing God’s love for you and believing God’s love for you? Do you both know AND believe God’s love for you?

Verses 17-18 talk about “perfect” love and being “perfected” in love, but will we ever love God perfectly, or perfectly know and believe His love for us? Not this side of Heaven. Thank goodness these verses aren’t about our imperfect love for Christ, but, rather, Christ’s perfect love for us! The Greek word translated as perfect or perfected means to accomplish or consecrate, to carry through completely, to add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full. In other words, Christ’s love is accomplished or made full in you when He saves you.

  • What does the perfect, saving love of Christ give us, according to the middle part of verse 17? What does the last part of the verse, “as he is so also are we in this world” mean? Who is “he”? Why would this give us confidence for the day of judgment?
  • What word does verse 18 use to convey the opposite of confidence (17)? While Christians will have confidence and face God’s judgment without fear because we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, how will lost people feel about facing God’s judgment? What do they fear according to the first part of the second sentence of verse 18? What punishment will lost people face?
  • What does our love (or lack of love) for others say about whether or not we truly know God? (20) What does verse 20 call people who claim to love God but do not love others? Are such people saved?

 

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

Do I follow false teachers?

Is my motivation for love Christocentric?

Do my words and actions confess Christ?

Am I afraid of God’s judgment?

Saved people don’t cling stubbornly to false teachers. They can usually sense when a teacher is “off” in some way, even if they can’t quite put their finger on what’s wrong. They welcome, rather than argue against, people who show them, from Scripture, why a false teacher is false. Their love for others springs from Christ’s love for them, and their words, actions and attitudes confess the Christ who lives in their hearts. They have no fear of God’s judgment and long to see their precious Savior.

Unsaved people are drawn to false teachers and angrily fight against those who try to warn them away. They may demonstrate actions and feelings that seem like love for others, but because God is the definition of love, and they don’t know Him, they can’t truly love others. Rather than confessing Christ, their words and actions testify that they don’t know Christ, and because of this, they are fearful and uncertain about God’s judgment and the punishment they face in eternity.

Additional Resources:

1 John 4– Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Herein Is Love– by Charles Spurgeon

True or False? A Study in 1 John– at Naomi’s Table (lessons 15-16)

1 John Bible Study

Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up ~ Lesson 6: What is Love?

1 John Study

Am I Really Saved? A First John Check Up
Lesson 6: What is Love?
Please Read: 1 John 3:10-24

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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 3:10-15

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 10: Do I love my brothers?

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. 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Here, John circles back to love versus hate, but he looks at it from a bit of a different perspective than he used in chapter 2. John draws a parallel between the two different types of brothers-  familial and spiritual – and uses these relationships to explain true brotherly love, and why this is a characteristic of Christians.

  • Which phrase in the first sentence of verse 12 compares non-Christians to Cain? How does verse 15 make this comparison?
  • Why, according to verse 12, did Cain murder Abel (his brother)? Was it because Abel provoked him or was evil in some way? Verse 13 indicates that the world will hate us for the same reason Cain hated Abel. What is that reason? How does John 3:19-20 relate to this concept?

God’s righteousness, shining through Abel, reflected Cain’s sin back at him. He felt guilty, convicted, and he wanted to get away from those feelings of condemnation. This is the same foundational reason the world hates Christians today. They hate the Christ who lives within us because, in Him, they see their own evil deeds reflected back at them. They feel guilty and convicted, and, wanting to suppress the truth about their sin, they hate us or do whatever else they can to escape those feelings of condemnation.

  •  How is hatred by the world for being Christlike evidence that we belong to Christ?
  • If hatred is characteristic of the world, what, necessarily, must be characteristic of Christians? (v. 14)
  • How do you feel when you’re around someone you know is a Christian? Do you enjoy open, easy, godly fellowship with her? Do you ever feel guilty or convicted just by being around her? Does talking with her about the things of God make you feel threatened, defensive, or argumentative?

1 John 3:16-17

OK, the Christian’s life is characterized by love for her brothers and sisters in Christ, but what, exactly, is love? Is it just being nice to people? Being a doormat? Never getting angry? Turning a blind eye to sin? How do we know if we’re acting in love or not?

John gives us a very simple definition: he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

Christ sets the standard for what love is. He defines love. Not our feelings. Not our opinions. Not the world’s definition of love. The cross is the measuring stick against which we measure anything we might call “love.” Anything that falls short isn’t love. This is how we know that things like homosexuality, abuse, sinful jealousy, pedophilia, cohabitation, universalism, living vicariously through your children, adultery, and tolerance of sin are not love. Any “love” that doesn’t look like Christ’s holy, righteous, biblical, dying to self love isn’t love.

He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. Did you notice John didn’t say “He died for us and we ought to die for our brothers”? I wonder if that might have anything to do with the fact that there’s more than one way to lay your life down for someone. Certainly, Christ demonstrated His love for us by dying for us on the cross, and, that same love should compel us to willingly die for others if circumstances call for it.

But Christ didn’t just lay down His life for us in death, He laid down His life for us in life, too. Every temptation He resisted, every time He put his own wants and needs aside to put someone else first, every time He humbled Himself to serve others, He was laying down His life for us. And in the same way, we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. We serve people. We provide for people. Even when it comes at a personal cost. We don’t just talk the talk, John says, we walk the walk.

1 John 3:18-22

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 11: Am I bearing the fruit of love?

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

  • What does the word “this” in verse 19 refer to?

Let’s face it, there are going to be times when we sin big or again, and it’s easy to give in to those thoughts of, “How could I possibly be saved if I act like that?”. But whenever our hearts condemn us that way, John urges us to look back over the general direction of our spiritual lives. Not so we can feel good about ourselves or because our good deeds somehow make up for our sins, but because God says when our emotions are getting the best of us, that’s a good, objective way to calm down and get some reassurance of our salvation. Is it the desire of my heart to act in love for God and love for others? Do I generally carry that desire through with action? God says we can look to these things as evidence of our salvation.

God knows everything. He knows whether or not you belong to Him, and He wants you to know, too. And if the objective evidence shows you’re saved, you’ll have the confidence to put aside those feelings of condemnation, and boldly approach the throne in prayer, knowing that you keep God’s commandments and do what pleases Him.

  • What does verse 20 mean when it says “God is greater than our heart”? How does this show us that God is the judge of whether or not we are saved, not us or our feelings?
  • How do keeping God’s commandments and doing what pleases Him (22) impact the way we pray?

1 John 3:23-24

Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 12: Do I keep the ultimate commandment?

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

  • What is the commandment in verse 23? How many parts (notice the second “and”) are there to this command? What does verse 24 indicate about the person who keeps this command?
  • How do we know that God abides in us? (24b)
  • Do you keep this commandment? Is your belief in Christ a simple mental acknowledgement, or have you staked your life and eternity on Christ?

The two parts of the ultimate commandment are inseparable: we are to believe in Christ for salvation and love one another. You can’t have one without the other. Those who keep this command can be certain that they are in Christ. The Holy Spirit bears witness to this.

 

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

Do I love my brothers?

Am I bearing the fruit of love?

Do I keep the ultimate commandment?

Saved people may be hated by the world, but they love their brothers. They can look back over their lives and see evidence of their Christlike love, in word and deed, for others. They keep the ultimate commandment of staking their lives on their belief in Christ and loving their fellow Christians.

Unsaved people often feel guilty, convicted, or defensive around Christians as Christ reflects their sin back at them. They do not have a track record of showing Christlike love for others, and, while they may proclaim belief in Christ, their profession is only lip deep.

Additional Resources:

1 John 3– Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Can I Be Sure I’m Saved?– by R.C. Sproul

True or False? A Study in 1 John– at Naomi’s Table (lessons 13-14)

1 John Bible Study

Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up ~ Lesson 5: Practicing Sin

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)