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Overcoming Anxiety: Finding Peace, Discovering God


Optimized for Growth
1 John 2:3-11

Optimized for Spiritual Growth

– Spiritual Foundations of Growth –

Paul J. Bucknell

The Profession Based on Spirituality (1 John 2:9-11)

Optimized for Growth (1 John 2:3)
A. The Profession Based on Confession (1 John 2:4-5)
B. The Profession Based on Relationship (1 John 2:6-8)
C. The Profession Based on Spirituality (1 John 2:9-11) 
Study Questions on 1 John 2:3-11

C.) The Profession Based on Spirituality (1 John 2:9-11) –I am in the ligh– is the last part to a series 1 John 2:3-11 Optimized for Growth which shows how many people put their faith in knowledge rather than in Christ for salvation. Careful consideration is given to the two kinds of knowledge that gives a false confidence: inward and outward. Chart included

This is part '4/4' to a study entitled 'Optimized for Growth' on 1 John 2:3-11.

C.) The Profession Based on Spirituality (1 John 2:9-11)

"I am in the light"

Problem: modernists

Confidence: They know the truth.  “I believe.”
Fault: Special experience and illumination is the same as truth. 
Danger: Pride. We think we are better than others and despise them.
Affirmation: Our love for each other shows that we really know God and there is no vain confidence in us.
9 The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Confidence in knowledge

This person that John describes here in 1 John 2:9 can be quite vocal about what he believes. Their confidence is in this new sense of spirituality that is commonly heard. These people have a great confidence on what they experience. They profess to have a good understanding of what needs to be understood. Because they sound so spiritual, they can easily convince others. They say the right thing; they are ‘in the light.’

This phrase ‘in the light’ could have two references both referring to knowledge of truth or light: 1) It could refer to a right knowledge. They know. In this case it could refer to people who have a knowledge of doctrines. 2) But it can refer to an inward knowledge–an experiential knowledge. See the chart below.

In His light – Spirituality

“I’ve studied that!”
“I know.”
Mind comprehends
Spirit feels is right

The problem with these individuals is that because of their special confidence in what they know, they often think they are better than others, perhaps more privileged. God gave a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to the apostle to protect him. Pride enables a person to be blind to his own faults and certainly find fault with others. They feel they are better than others.

“Many a man’s knowledge is a torch to light him to hell.  Thou who has knowledge of God’s will, but doth not do it, wherein dost thou excel the devil, “who transforms himself into an angel of light.”  Thomas Watson

Once a person feels enlightened, then he tends to despise others. Pride’s natural outcome is the despising of others. It creates the “We” and “they” mentality.  Would you rather err on being too right or too loving? Both are crucial.  Neglect one and you don’t have the other. Christ both knew the truth and loved one another. There has never been a greater example of the two together than in the person of Christ.


Walks in Darkness

We must remember the alternative to walking in the light is walking in the darkness. This results in a stark contrast to living in the holiness of God.

  • What is a dark marriage like?Too prideful to forgive?  = darkness
  • Too greedy to care for others?  = darkness
  • Too angry to be sensitive?   = darkness
  • Too selfish to love?   = darkness

The key for spiritual growth is to love our brother.  We must force ourselves to love one another. True knowledge of the light will always humble us. Light means a moral absoluteness and revealed truth.  If we are closer to God than others, then we are even more responsible to love others.  The greatest proof of walking in God’s Light is that you love one another. Hating a brother is proof that God’s love has not yet impacted your life. 


Knowing the truth strangely seems to separate people into schisms more than into a fellowship. One person stresses this truth and another that one. Then there are those who react against these truths and blame the knowledge of doctrine or truth causes the problems. Of course then you have a generation that doesn’t stress doctrine and they end up living by their feelings. Others react and end up focusing on strong doctrine and legalism. Truth are expressions of what God has made. It is not the truth that is wrong, if indeed it is true, but the foolish confidence that ‘we are in the light’ that we get tempted with.

I personally have resolved to be preoccupied with knowing God more than foolishly thinking I have got there. I feel like I am just at the beginning of a race that runs into eternity.

Secondly, I stress biblical teachings rather than the names people latch onto. 

Thirdly, I remember that the teaching or doctrine of love is one that must shape whatever else I know. I cannot tolerate teaching that does not include loving my brother. This gets rough sometimes. One person might be offended at how I don’t stress a certain truth and say bad things about me. I still need to love and pray for him. Remember people are made in the image of God. They are important. We need to love them as Christ loved us.

I don’t like the individuality that people have today.  It stems from pride rather than the true knowledge of God. They think they know enough about God to live out their spiritual lives alone in their dorms or apartments. God designed us to work as a fellowship where we are committed to one another.  Some of you have not dared to get involved in a church.  You keep your relationships superficial so that you don’t get involved.  

The light will break the “we” and “they”.  The light will create fellowship by the willingness to give ourselves to others.  Light cannot be separated from Love. If it has been, then let it be known that it is not God’s light that you have found.  Jesus overcame the world’s hang-ups of power, fame, money and influence so to concentrate on the needs of those of different sexes, languages and races.  His love penetrated to the needs of the sick, the ill, the powerless, the oppressed and the rejected.  His uncompromising love, His deep commitment, brought Him His not so swift execution.  Everyone here is so important that we must care for them.  They are part of us.

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Summary on 1 John 2:3-11

Subjective experience is important but by itself is insufficient and opens the path to many wrong teachings.  When our profession is substantiated by a life after Christ than we see several special things:

  • 1) Our subjective experience is important. Our true beliefs will always affect our life choices. When we really know God, then it will truly have an awesome effect on our lives.

  • 2) The love of God is perfected.  We see God working in our lives like never before.

  • 3) We do not have to convince everyone to believe our way is the right way so to bolster our confidence.  Our confidence is derived in the security of our relationship with the Lord and the confirming testimony of our lifestyle.

  • 4) Our assurance of salvation grows stronger and stronger, and our testimony of the Lord’s greatness is easier and easier to share.

The world needs men and women who know what they say and say what they mean.  We need people who live lives of integrity.  Their outward profession stems from their inner beliefs rather than through what others around them do and believe.  Do you know that it is more important that you have a good relationship with God than man?  That relationship with God will help shape all your other relationships right into eternity.  The friendship of man without the friendship with God will at the most last a few short years.  It is clear that real genuine relationships will develop only as much as we know and live by God’s principles.  Real love comes from God not from our joint fascination of life.

Path of Spiritual growth

Real life produces the growth that is good, lovely and holy. See the diagram on the path of Spiritual Growth. Without it, we have death, darkness, despair and depression. If we constantly are not loving the things of the Lord, then we will not have the principle of life surging up within us producing the signs of life. We can attend discipleship classes and church but not be changed because we are spiritual dead still.


Optimized for Growth 1 John 2:3-11

Introduction to 1 John 2:3-11
Premise (1 John 2:3)
A. The Profession Based on Confession (1 John 2:4-5)
B. The Profession Based on Relationship (1 John 2:6-8)
C. The Profession Based on Spirituality (1 John 2:9-11) 
Study Questions on 1 John 2:3-11