1 John 3:11–24: Righteousness
In 1 John 1:5, John writes, “And this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and darkness is not in him, not at all.” Now, in 1 John 3:11, John uses nearly identical language: “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” In 1 John 1:5, John’s message describes the nature of God, but here in chapter 3, John’s message is proclaiming the commandment of God to love one another.
This isn’t the first time John has written about love in this letter. In 1 John 2:7–11, the apostle tells about God’s commandment to love one another. There, John describes the practical implications of love by using the imagery of walking in light versus walking in darkness—imagery he carries over from what he had written in 1 John 1:5–7.
By using in 1 John 2:7–11 the same language of light and darkness he had used 1 John 1:5–7, John is demonstrating that love in our lives is a reflection of God himself. God commands us to love so that we can begin to reflect one aspect of God’s nature. If God is light, and darkness is not in him, not at all (1 John 1:5), and if we have fellowship with one another by walking in the light as God is in the light (1 John 1:7), then our love for fellow believers functions as proof that we abide in God’s light (1 John 2:10). If we do not love other believers, then we betray the fact that we still walk in darkness (1 John 2:9) and that the darkness has blinded our eyes so that we cannot even see our lack of love for fellow believers (1 John 2:11).
So now, John is approaching the subject of love from a different angle, but he is again explaining the commandment to love one another by using language that describes God’s nature. This time, instead of using imagery of light, John describes love with language of purification and righteousness.
1. Do you think it is accurate for John to link love and righteousness as he does in this chapter? How does it change the ways you think about righteousness and love if they are connected as John describes?
2. What worldly goods are you giving up right now for the sake of fellow believers?
3. Do you wrestle with assurance of your salvation? How should John’s message in this section about persecution, persuading our hearts, and confidence change your perspective?