November 22 — 1 John 2 — Sin Protection. Ten times in this chapter, John tells why he is writing to his readers. The first is, “so that you may not sin” (v. 1). We do sin occasionally, however, but when we do, Jesus provides our forgiving solution (v. 2). One primary temptation to sin is the influence of the world around us with its emphasis on “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life” (v. 16)—wanting what we don’t have and being proud of what we do have. These desired things, however, are temporary in contrast to the permanence of doing the will of God (v. 17). The last reason John gives for writing this chapter is to protect us from “those who are trying to deceive you” (v. 26). We can be protected from that threat by the insight the Spirit gives to us from our standard of truth, the Word of God, and from abiding in Christ (v. 27). Fighting against sin is a constant struggle but God is on our side, helping us to overcome.
November 23 — 1 John 3 — God’s Kind of Love. Nine times in this chapter, John wrote of special love, the “kind of love the Father has given to us” (v. 1). The other kind of love we see in the world around us is primarily an inward-focused love that thinks, “What’s in it for me?” In contrast, Jesus gave us the ultimate example of the uniqueness of divine love: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (v. 16). That is an outward-focused love, asking, “What can I do for you?” John gave an opposite practical example about someone who “has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him” (v. 17). Godly love does not disregard the needs of others. The love God has placed within us motivates us not only to love externally “in word or talk” but genuinely and practically “in deed and in truth” (v. 18). Pick someone today as a divine-love target and try to meet one of their emotional or material needs!
November 24 — 1 John 4 — Testing…One…Two…Three. To see if a microphone is working, it must be tested to determine if the sound is being amplified. I was struck by a repeated testing-expression in this chapter: “By this you know …” The first test is to find out if the spirit one represents is “the Spirit of God” (v. 1). That test is whether they admit that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (v. 2), i.e., is Jesus really God’s Son sent into the world in a physical body? The second test is to discover if people accept the Bible’s message as “the Spirit of truth” (v. 6) or if they disregard it? If they have acknowledged it as being true, they will listen gladly to its message. The third test is to determine whether we have an abiding relationship with God or not: Have we been “given … his Spirit”? (v. 13). The indwelling Spirit of God confirms to us that we know God and that He is in us. Do you pass these three tests?
November 25 — 1 John 5 — Our Live-in Threat. The world we live in is our enemy, in a sense, because “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (v. 19). But this world of sin can be conquered by the believer. We have been given what is needed to “overcome the world—our faith” (v. 4). First of all, faith is what brought us into a relationship with Christ. We faith-stepped out of the world of darkness into the light of eternal life (v. 12). Another world then opened to the Christian. That overcoming faith is also that which guides and empowers us throughout each day. Our relationship with Jesus must remain consciously active in fellowship and prayer. He is the one who gives us the strength to overcome. We must continually remind ourselves that the sinful world we live in is a dangerous threat to us. “All wrongdoing is sin” (v. 17) and “everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning” (v. 18). We keep from sinning by our faith-connection to God.
November 26 — 2 John 1 — Walking in Truth. It is unclear whether John wrote this letter to a literal “lady” (v. 1) or figuratively to a “church” (a feminine word in Greek); it doesn’t really matter as far as the message is concerned. That message is basically the need to know and to be “walking in the truth” (v. 4). John used the important word “truth” five times in this short letter. “Walking in the truth” is further defined as walking “according to his commandments” (v. 6), and the primary commandment in view here is, “that we love one another” (v. 5). Christians who walk in this way are also referred to as those who “abide in the teaching of Christ” (v. 9). We need to first know the truth, which we discover by reading the Word of God. Then, we need to “walk” or “abide” in that truth by continually living in obedience to God’s commands, like the command to love others.