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1 John 1:9 Discussion Guide


John Bunyan wrote at the end of his autobiography:

  1. I am inclined to unbelief.
  2. I suddenly forget the love and mercy shown in Christ.
  3. I keep trying to be good enough rather than relying on God’s grace.
  4. My mind wanders when I pray, and often my prayers are cold and lifeless.
  5. I forget to look for answers to prayer.
  6. I am apt to complain when I don’t have what I want, yet I am ungrateful for what I already have.

He said that these struggles were valuable because:

  1. They help me when I am tempted to be proud.
  2. They keep me from trusting my own heart.
  3. They show me the necessity of running to Jesus.

Q1: What struggles can you relate to, or what would you add?
Have those struggles helped you in some of ways in which Bunyan was helped?


Ps 14:1, “The fool says in his heart “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

Q2: Within this verse, what indicates that the statement is a moral (right/wrong behavior), not an intellectual “atheism”?

Q3: What areas of your life do you find it most difficult to not try to be in control? You do trust Christ as Lord, but maybe you struggle with wanting to maintain your own little “mini-kingdom.” Perhaps you can think of the “left column/right column” model. 

What things that are truly out of your control do you have trouble not worrying about or trying to control anyway?

Read: Mark 9

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 

16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. 

17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 

19 “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 

20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” 

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us, and help us.” 

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” 

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 

Q4: How can you relate to this man’s desperate and honest prayer? When have you prayed this prayer yourself? 

Do you need to pray it more? Why or why not?

Comment:  As we combine 1 John 1:9 and Mark 9:24, we have, “Lord, I believe that if I confess my sins, you are faithful and just to forgive them and cleanse me…help me to believe this.”

Q5: Why is it sometimes difficult to believe the promise of 1 John 1:9?

Read: 2 Corinthians 7

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point, you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.

Q6: What are some differences between genuine repentance and mere remorse? What does this difference look like in your life?  


Godly sorrow:

  1. The Spirit puts his finger on specific sins. You know what to repent of. You know how to turn back to God.
  2. The Spirit condemns your sin, not his son or daughter. What you have done/not done is what is wrong.
  3. When you repent, the Spirit relents. He goes from conviction to comforting. 

Worldly sorrow:

  1. The enemy or your own sinful mind causes you to be dark and vague. You feel bad and unworthy but don’t know exactly what to repent of.
  2. The enemy and your own sinful mind condemn you; you are worthless and hopeless.
  3. When you repent, the enemy does not relent. 

He does not convict, he condemns, and he doesn’t quit.

Q7: Take this framework and examine your life. Have you been living in godly sorrow or worldly? Will you take God at his word and learn to disregard the enemy’s lies?