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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

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

  • What is John’s proof that God lives in us and we in Him?

  • How does the Holy Spirit help you love others, especially those that have differing views and values than you do?

  • How can you rely more on the Holy Spirit this week to help you to love like Jesus taught us?

Read 1 John 4:17-19

17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.19 We love each other because he loved us first.

  • How can you live like Jesus in your family? Work? Leisure time?

  • Why is God’s love so freeing?

  • What fear are you living under today?

    • How can you give that fear over to God’s perfect love?

Read 1 John 4:20-21

20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

  • Who are some people you struggle getting along with? (Keep this gossip free)

  • What do you need to do this week to show them the love of Jesus?

  • How does your love towards others show you love God?

  • How can you start to develop a reputation of being a Jesus follower by the way you love others?

  • Who is one person you can reach out to this week and help them experience God’s love?

    • Who will help you do this?

Memorize it!

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.

Closing thoughts and prayer

This is a heavy chapter. Basically, the way we show we love Jesus is by how we love our fellow believers, and that’s the way we know if people are fellow followers of Jesus. We have to see their fruit, and make sure what they say about Jesus lines up with the Bible. So bear fruit that shows you love Jesus by the way you love others. And it’s a freeing love because it gets rid of fear and allows us to be in the presence of God because of Jesus.

Thank God for His love right now. Thank Him that He loved us first and gave Jesus to make that love complete. Pray that the Lord would put someone in your life this week to give you the opportunity to share His love.


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