eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 2.12-17

This coming Sunday (Dec. 28) at 9:00 a.m., some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue in a study entitled Eluding Our Idols. This study focuses our attention on the letters of John (1, 2 & 3 John). To help you prepare for this encounter with God’s word and our discussion of it, you’ll find the below: (a) the text of 1 John 2.12-17 and (b) twenty questions and exercises. Dig in!

receiving the word

Little children, I’m writing to you because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus’ name.  Parents, I’m writing to you because you have known the one who has existed from the beginning. Young people, I’m writing to you because you have conquered the evil one.

Little children, I write to you because you know the Father. Parents, I write to you because you have known the one who has existed from the beginning. Young people, I write to you because you are strong, the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

Don’t love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see, and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world and its cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

wrestling with this word

1. What three metaphors are used in vs. 12-14 to describe a spiritual household with varying levels of spiritual maturity?

2. Note the past tense: “your sins have been forgiven.” (2.12). How real/final is that to you?

3. What does the phrase “through Jesus’ name” mean (vs. 12b)?

4. Spiritually speaking, what do “parents” do for “young people” and little children?”

5. How do “young people” and “little children” relate to, and what do they do for, “parents?”

6. Elsewhere in 1 John the phrase “little children” refers to all of this letters recipients, no matter their spiritual maturity (cf. 2.1,28; 3.7,18; 4.4; 5.21). To whom is the phrase referring in 2.14a? Why? What difference does it make to understanding 2.12-14 (or all of 1 John)?

7. Compare what’s said of parents (2.13a,14b) with what’s said of the letter’s author (1.1-4).

8. Notice the three phrases spoken to the “young people” (2.13b,14c). Why emphasize such?

9. If 2.14 is this letter’s thesis statement, what is the letter’s main point to the original readers?

10. Read Jeremiah 31.31-34. What portions of that text do you see correlate with 1 Jn. 2.12-14?

11. Again: what does John mean here (vs. 15-17) when he says “the world?” Hint: vs. 16.

12. The word used for “love” in vs. 15 is agape. What sort of love is this? How does it act?

13. What exactly is “the love of the Father?” (1.15b)?

14. “The world” is a trinity of evil. (2.16). Is this meant to be comprehensive list? Explain.

15. Compare 2.16’s rendering in paraphrased versions (e.g. – J.B. Phillips, The Message, etc.).

16. Compare this three-fold definition of “the world” (2.16) with the three temptations of Jesus. (Matthew 4.1-11). Do you see any correlation? Explain.

17. Try to rank the three aspects of “the world” (2.16) as to commonality and deadliness.

18. “… the world and its cravings are passing away …” (2.17a) How so? Do you believe this?

19. To do “the will of God” (2.17b) is to do the exact opposite of 2.16. What would that be?

20. The one “who does the will … remains forever.” (2.17b) How does “forever” appeal to you?

sum of the sermon – love is a battlefield: be strong in the Lord (2)


“Well now way back in the Bible, temptations always come along. There’s always somebody tempting, somebody into doing something they know is wrong. Well they tempt you, man, with silver, and they tempt you, sir, with gold. And they tempt you with the pleasures, that the flesh does surely hold. They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple, but man I ain’t going for that. I’m goin’ for the …”

Perhaps you recognize those lyrics. They make up the middle verse of the song Pink Cadillac by Bruce Springstein.

Or maybe you recognize those lyrics because that’s the song you sing every day. Every day you’re goin’ for the ________ (you fill in the blank).

This is part of being human, a fallen being, isn’t it? No responsible person gets a pass. We all are tempted in many ways and at many times. Sometimes blatantly; sometimes with subtlety. But, as Christians we know, no matter in what form it comes to us, we’re called to:

… be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Eph. 6.10)

We know what our Lord expects of us regarding temptation. His special messenger to us, James, puts it concisely and with some serious motivation for us:

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1.12)

The question now, of course, is how to resist temptation. How to be strong in the Lord by turning away from darkness and toward light, toward him.

James doesn’t leave us wondering. He laid out a captured copy of our Enemy’s battle plans against us and spread it out on the table for us to see. Here they are … with his word of warning to us at the end:

… one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved. (James 1.14-16)

We need to take a good, hard look at what’s being said here. If we’ll do so, we’ll find a great deal of help for us to be “strong in the Lord” in our resistance of the darkness that would have its way with us.

Do not be deceived. Keep a good look out. And as you do so …

Look within. That is, take note of what you desire. Just because you desire something doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. What is it you desire to think, say. or do? Why do you desire this? Desire isn’t temptation, and neither desire or being tempted is sin, but we know sin starts with both. Desire coupled with temptation just might not be a green light to go for it, but a flashing warning sign that says: “Bridge Out! Dead End.” So look within and then pray honestly to our Father regarding your desires.

ook ahead. Have you got so caught up with seeing only what’s right in front of your hood ornament that you can’t see down the road? Think seriously about where your desire could lead you. Could it lead you to a place you never would have dreamed of going and would never have wanted to visit? Choices and decisions made in the moment can have huge consequences, consequences that could domino and pile up on you. So, determine to take the long view and allow that to help guide you in the here and now.

And by all means, look beside you, for beside you is Jesus Christ.

… I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age. (Matt. 28.20)

Remember he’s right here with you. He knows your desires. He know what is tempting you. He knows the suffering temptation can cause within you. And he’s here to help you to be strong.

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb. 2.18)

Go now. Go “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

LIFE group discussion guide: love is a battlefield – being strong in the Lord (2)


NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Aug. 31) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.


Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To explore the meaning of, preparation for, and engagement in spiritual warfare.


These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him. (Mark 1.12-13 The Message)

• Jesus … full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.” [Deut. 8.3]

Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”[Deut. 6.13]

The devil brought him into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; for it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.” [Psalm 91.11-12] Jesus answered, “It’s been said, Don’t test the Lord your God.” [Deut. 6.16] After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity. (Luke 4.1-13 CEB)

• Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2.18 NIV)

• … one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved. (James 1.14-16 NRSV)


Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. Which “tempts” you more: chocolate or vanilla?

2. Name a book, movie, or song that speaks of temptation?


These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. There are three accounts of Jesus’ temptation (Matt. 4.1-11; Mk. 1.1-12; Lk. 4.1-13). Differences?

2. Read Hebrews 4.14-16. How does this passage relate to the texts above?


These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. Is there a difference between being “tested” and being “tempted,” a trial and a temptation?

2. What exactly is “temptation” and what makes it so hard to resist?

3. Scripture says Jesus never sinned. But, what if he had sinned; could he still save us? Explain.

4. One confides in you as to their need to resist a big temptation. How do you respond/advise?


These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Think of temptations you have, by God’s grace, fended off. Note what enabled the victory.

2. Set up a daily smartphone reminder to prompt you to pray about a specific temptation.

links: this went thru my mind


Application, Bible interpretation, preaching & teaching: 1 Triangle, 3 Corners, 4 T’s

“Every word of the Bible was written at a certain time and in a certain context. Even the most recent of those times and the nearest of those contexts is at a great distance from us in time and space. Thus, when we read the Bible, we have to determine how those words apply to us today in our very different times and very different contexts. It is not always a simple task. We have all seen situations—and many of us have caused situations—where we have been sloppy in going from the text to today.”

Church, ministry & U.S. trends: MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider

“The next 20 years are going to be a challenge for convictional Christians and churches in many places. … 1. The Word “Christian” Will Become Less Used and More Clear. … 2. The Nominals Will Increasingly become Nones. … 3. Christians Will Increasingly Change Cultural Tactics. … 4. More Robust Churches will Result from the Death of Nominalism.”

Fulfillment, leadership, satisfaction & work: Why You Hate Work

“The way we’re working isn’t working.”

Leadership: 7 of the Hardest Paradigms I Had to Learn to be an Effective Leader

“I had to develop the ability to say no more than I get to say yes. … I have to live with sometimes being unpopular. … I have to move forward sometimes in uncertainty. … I had to get comfortable challenging mediocrity. … I had to lower my pride and admit I can often be wrong. … I had to come to a reality that I couldn’t be everywhere or do everything. … I had to realize that sometimes the best thing to put on my calendar is rest.”

Short term missions: 24 Things World Christians Wish North American Short-Term Missionaries Would Quit Doing …

“… Talk more than you listen. …”

Temptation & testing: A Test and a Temptation—Can You Tell the Difference?

“Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives. But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?”