These small group studies of 1 John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
1 John 2:15-29 Inductive Bible Study Guide – Do Not Love the World
I. Do not love the world (15-17)
II. Many antichrists are around and want to deceive (18-19)
III. Abide in Him, know the truth, do not believe antichrists (20-27)
IV. Be ready for His coming (28-29)
I. Do not love the world (15-17)
- What does “the world” refer to?
- Does that mean we should not love trees and oceans and animals? Then what?
- Why can we not love this world and God?
- What kind of things are in the world? Give some real examples of ways the world/culture influence people in these areas?
- How does worldly wisdom say we should handle these types of temptations?
- What is the reason given for why we should love God instead of this world?
- What is the result of loving God the most?
- If we love the world still, what does that say about us?
- How can you know which one you love more?
Matthew 10:37-39 – Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Luke 18:22 – When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Matthew 16:25 – For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
1. The world does not mean the animals or trees or the mountains or rivers which God created. To appreciate these things and give God glory for His creation is not what John is referring to. He is referring to the fallen world system. The world was originally very good. When Adam and Eve sinned the world was cursed. Sin came into the world.
Adam’s descendants began human culture with music, art, writing, etc. However, man’s culture is also fallen. Culture places the wrong value on many things. Things the world places value on include money, materials, respect, promotions, achievements, etc. Fallen people love these things because he thinks they can make him feel happy (this happiness is temporary). The world also tries to influence us with many wrong ideas. Some of these are:
A. Look out for number one. YOU are the most important person. Take care of yourself and your needs first.
B. You can do what you want as long as your don’t hurt people. You can live with the opposite sex before marriage. You can be a homosexual if you want. You can take drugs if you want.
C. Live and let live. Don’t get involved in other people’s lives. Tolerate other people’s sin (except they won’t call it sin.)
D. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. This world is all there is. Enjoy yourself while you are here.
E. Religion is OK, but just don’t be too extreme. Go to church on Easter or Christmas. Believe in the concept of God. Just don’t let it rule your life. Have fun.
2. John makes it very clear that we, as believers, have a choice. Love God or love the world. We cannot choose both. Why? Because they are contradictory. Following God will often mean we are going against culture. We must not be too attached to this world. This world is fallen. It is cursed. It is sinful. It is in rebellion against God. Its ideas and values are wrong. Sometimes they sound good because of nice packaging, but that doesn’t make it right. We cannot love God and money. We cannot serve two masters.
3. How can we know if we are loving the world or not? There are several basic tests you can use to perform a “self-exam.”
A. What do you spend most of your time doing? If you have free time, what do you spend your free time doing? Maybe some spend most of their time at parties and going to bars and hanging out with friends and singing karaoke. If so, their idol is perhaps entertainment.
Some spend all their time playing sports, coaching sports, reading about sports, and watching sports. If so, maybe this person loves sports more than God.
Some spend all their time shopping, looking at fashion magazines, reading gossip news about Hollywood stars, or looking at themselves in the mirror. Then they are loving beauty and fashion more than God. But if you use your free time (or at least a good chunk of it) reading Christian books, memorizing the Bible, sharing the gospel, praying, etc. then this is a good sign.
B. What do you spend most of your time thinking about? If you are always thinking about how to make more money, what your stocks are worth, how much your house price has gone up, how much it will cost to fix your car, how many shoes you can buy, etc. then maybe your idol is money. If you spend your time thinking about your favorite sports team then maybe that is your idol. Etc. Or do you think of ways you can grow in Christ? Do you think of ways you can help your family grow? Do you think of ways you can share the gospel?
Application: What do you spend most of your time talking about? When you are with your closest friends, what do you talk about? Do you just talk about money, beauty, fashion, sports, etc. Or do you talk about the things of God?
4. We must realize that we cannot be neutral. We must not be like the world. We must be different. So far we have looked at some of the seemingly harmless worldly things. But there are some that are a lot more harmful: lusts and pride.
A. The lust of the flesh refers to physical desires. For guys it is probable that sex is near the top of the list. For girls it might be more the comfort and emotional support they can receive from the opposite sex.
Disclaimer: Neither of these things are wrong if inside the boundaries of a biblical marriage. However, it is lust if it is outside of these boundaries. The world says lusting like this is OK and normal and reasonable. Fulfill these desires as long as you don’t hurt anybody.
God says, “NO!” You must not fulfill these desires outside of marriage. If you do, you are hurting yourself, your relationship to God, your Christian testimony, and your future marriage.
B. The lust of the eyes. This one ties closely in with the one above. Coveting or desiring something that you look at that is not yours. Again, modern culture accepts this. Many ladies encourage it by wearing immodest clothing. Movies portray as normal and “funny” when a group of guys stare at a beautiful girl’s figure and ogle. We must be different. How? Get accountability. Pray. Make a covenant with our eyes like Job.
C. The boastful pride of life. This refers to prideful desires. It includes desires for respect, for power, for flattery, compliments, praise, etc. What kind of actions demonstrate this boastful pride? Generally someone with this kind of desire will do things (maybe even good things) because they want to be seen by others. They want to impress others by their actions. They maybe even manipulate conversations to get people to praise them.
Can you think of any biblical examples of people with this? (The disciples when they debated which one was the greatest.) This is completely the opposite of the wisdom we learn in the Bible. Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first. Jesus, who was the Son of God, became a servant to give His life for others. God wants us to be humble, to think of others and not ourselves.
5. John gives a very compelling reason for why we should toss away the desires of this world. The reason is that this world is passing away. All of these things above are temporary. Take for example, the lust of the flesh. If a person goes outside of marriage to satisfy this, he may have physical pleasure for a short time, but even in this world that pleasure will be gone soon and replaced with guilt.
And what’s more this whole world is passing away. All the things done in the flesh will be judged by God and punished. They will not be remembered. They will have no eternal value. However, the things done for God, these things do have value. These things will make an eternal impact. Do you want your life to mean something? If so, love God and not the world. Don’t waste your life following temporary, meaningless, and sinful things.
II. Many antichrists are around and want to deceive (18-19)
- What does John call his readers in verse 18? Why?
- What does he mean that it is the “last hour”?
- How could he call it that since that was almost 2000 years ago and Jesus still hasn’t returned?
- Who is “that antichrist”?
- Who are the “many antichrists?”
- Who went out from who?
- Why should they not be considered believers (although they may still espouse some Christian sounding doctrines)?
- Can this “test” be applied to modern day false teachers?
Revelation 13:3-18 – Read this whole passage for a description of the Antichrist in the tribulation.
Daniel 8:23-25 – In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
Matthew 24:15 – So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand
1. The last hour – This seems a little strange to say considering it was almost two thousand years ago. That is 17,520,000 hours ago, give or take, that this was written. But to God a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. There are several stages in the progression of the world (dispensationalism). The one we are in now is the last one before Jesus returns, the church age. His coming is imminent. It is closer and closer all the time. The world is passing away. Satan and his demons are getting more and more desperate. Mankind is getting more and more sinful. We must be alert and ready.
2. John is actually the only writer in the Bible that uses this word “antichrist.” His word is the most popular one used to refer to the world leader possessed by Satan who will make a one world government in one more rebellion against God before second coming. He is called the Antichrist, because he is against Christ. While there is only one person fulfilling some of these prophecies about the antichrist, there are many antichrists. That means that there are many people who rise up in this world, some great and some small, who hate Jesus and will do everything they can to lead believers astray and convince others not to become believers.
3. These false teachers during the time of John went out from them. That means they were members of the Christian churches and fellowships. But then they left these churches and fellowships. John says this is proof that they were never believers to begin with. If they were true believers, they wouldn’t have left the other Christians. This is an indirect way of affirming eternal security. Its not that they were Christians and then weren’t. They never were Christians. They may have had many different motivations for going to church, but they hadn’t truly given their lives to God.
III. Abide in Him, know the truth, do not believe antichrists (20-27)
- What does the anointing of the Holy Spirit have to do with antichrists and false doctrine?
- How do you think the Holy Spirit will keep us safe from false doctrines?
- How can we know the truth?
- What should you do if you hear a pastor/preacher/brother/sister sharing something that doesn’t sound quite right?
- What does John call people who deny Christ? Is that word strong? How can we reconcile this strong word “liar” with modern day culture, which tells us to be tolerant and understanding of people with other beliefs (Hint: we can’t. Also, those people are generally tolerant of anyone who agrees with them, but intolerant of anyone who believes in Christ.)
- Who is the first liar?
- What are some of the common lies that he propagates?
- What is a test to know if a person is a false teacher or not?
- What does the anointing refer to in verse 27?
Matthew 7:15-16 – Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Romans 16:17-18 – I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
John 7:24 –Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.
2 Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us
John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 16:13 – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
2 Timothy 3:13-15 – While evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
1. So knowing that there are so many antichrists/false teachers around how can we be careful so that we are not led astray by them? What protection do we have? Firstly, we have the Holy Spirit. He anointed us. He lives in our hearts. He will convict us of the truth. He will sound warning bells off in our head when we here false teachings.
2. How will He do this? He will use the truth that we know, which comes from Scripture, to guide us. The Holy Spirit generally doesn’t work in a vacuum. His ministry is closely tied toward God’s Word. That means if we want to be protected we must first soak our minds in God’s Word. If we know the truth then when we hear false things, we will quickly realize they are not from God.
3. Another test to see who is the antichrist/false teachers (the first one being if they left the church), is to see what they say about Jesus. Most cults get away from the gospel when it comes to the deity, or sometimes the humanity, of Jesus. John says that everyone who says Jesus is not the Christ, the Messiah, is a liar. This is a strong word.
The word “liar” shows that this is a black and white issue. There is no middle ground. Jesus Himself claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Here is another area where the world differs from God. The world tries to bend and twist truth. The world, like Pilate, says “what is truth?” Many claim that truth is relative. But truth is not relative. It is absolute. Any religion, or belief system that denies Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, is a false one, a lie, from Satan. That might sound narrow minded. And it is. Because truth is narrow. Truth is exclusive.
4. As for John’s readers, what should they believe? They should believe and follow what they heard from the beginning, the original, unchangeable gospel. Apostles preached accurately the full gospel, including the death and resurrection of Christ, being eyewitnesses of His death and resurrection. The thing about truth is that it does NOT change. Scientific theories and psychologies, and even what is considered healthy changes. God’s Word doesn’t. The Bible doesn’t change. The gospel doesn’t need to change because it doesn’t need to. John wrote his gospel and 1 John about 40-50 years after some of the other gospels. But it is still consistent with those gospels. If the disciples were telling a made up story, John would have had to correct some inconsistencies. But it wasn’t made up. It was true.
4. We don’t need to know a lot about these false teachers or what they teach. We just need to have the Holy Spirit, maintain strong Christian fellowship, follow the truth which comes from God’s Word, and listen to the promises of God including eternal life. Simple.
IV. Be ready for His coming (28-29)
- What reason does verse 28 give for why we should maintain a close relationship to Christ?
- How will you feel if Christ comes back to find you doing the things mentioned in verses 16-17?
- Are you ready for Christ to come back?
- Will you be able to hold your head up high, smile, and welcome Him back? Or will you be ashamed and embarrassed?
- What is another test mentioned in verse 29 for how you can know you have been born again or not?
Matthew 25:14-30 – Parable of the talents.
1. Because we have the Holy Spirit in us and can refer to the Bible, that is enough. Believers don’t technically need someone to teach them. The Holy Spirit will use the Bible in our hearts to teach us. One of the core teachings of the Reformation is Sola Scriptura, which tells us that Scripture is authoritative and enough to guide our live. Believers didn’t need to rely on priests to interpret the Bible for them.
At that time, the Bible was not normally even in the common language of the people. By translating the Bible into the common languages, normal people like you and me could read it and understand it ourselves. Most passages, and all the basic truths, are pretty self-explanatory, not like the complicated and mystical doctrines of the Gnostics.
If we think about it, we know this is true. Normally we know what is the right thing to do; we just choose not to do it. Right? Start doing the things you know you should do before delving into deep theological doctrinal debates that you might not understand, but don’t heavily impact your life.
2. The reason John gives for us to abide in Him is that we don’t want to be ashamed when He returns. If we are walking in darkness and doing the deeds of the flesh (14-16), then when He comes back we cannot welcome Him with a smile. We will shrink back in shame like my son did when I discovered him eating the candy I had told him not to eat. We must right now be living in the right way so that we can hold our head up high and be excited to see Jesus. Would you be excited if Jesus were to come back now? Will Jesus come back and find you engaging in secret sins?
3. Verse 29 once again says the word “practices.” All of us are to practice righteousness. Why? Because God is righteous and we are to be like Him. This should be our greatest goal. Are you becoming more or less like Christ?
Application: Think of some ways that you can become more like Christ in the coming week. Write one down and resolve to work on improving. Then next week share with your group or partner how you did.
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