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Opening Questions and Prayer

  • Growing up, what were you known for?

  • How did your reputation change as you got older?

  • What reputation should followers of Jesus have?

  • Talk to God about what He wants you to learn and apply from His word today.

Read 1 John 4:1-3 NLT

1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

  • How does John want us to approach those who claim to speak for God?

  • What are some ways you can discern God’s voice amongst other voices?

  • What is the truth about Jesus?

  • What are some false teachings out there about Jesus?

Read 1 John 4:4-6

4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

  • What are some false teachings the world gives that John is warning us about?

  • Why is the world’s viewpoint appealing to many people?

  • How does John say we will know if someone has the Spirit of truth?

Read Matthew 7:15-20

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

  • How does Jesus say we will know if someone has the Spirit of truth?

  • What would be an example of someone with good fruit? Bad fruit?

  • If someone that didn’t know you well was going to judge you by your actions, what kind of fruit would they say you have?

  • Give some examples of why they might draw that conclusion.

Read Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

  • How does Jesus describe wise people and foolish people?

  • Why is it important to apply what you learn and not just listen to Jesus’ teaching?

  • How does following Jesus’ teaching bear good fruit?

  • When you read God’s word, how do you apply it?

Read 1 John 4:7-8

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

  • What does John mean by these verses?

  • What is the difference between Godly love and the way the world loves?

  • How would watching the way someone loves another show what fruit that person bears?

  • How can you show others the love of God this week by the way you love them?

Read 1 John 4:9-10

9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

  • How does John describe real love?

  • Why is sacrificial love considered real love?

  • Besides the Lord, how has someone shown you sacrificial love?

  • How have you shown sacrificial love to others?

Read 1 John 4:11-16