Bullseyes and Dirty Hands: a Free Lesson in First John


Opening to Small Group

Have everyone share a mistake of some kind they have made sometime in the past several weeks. What was the mistake? What, if any, were the consequences?

The Bible

Read 1 John 1:8-10

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.


This passage from 1 John 1 gives us two ways we can react to sin. What are they?
(if the group has trouble, the 2 reactions are: 1. We can confess them. 2. We can deny them.)

For each of the 2 ways we can react to sin, there is a result. What are the 2 results?
(if the group has trouble,the two results are: 1. If we confess them, God is faithful to that and we are forgiven and purified. 2. If we claim we are without sin, then we make Jesus out to be a liar.)

If we claim that we don’t sin, how does that make Jesus a liar?

Let’s talk about Sin

Have everyone pair up with someone else, and have each pair come up with a definition of sin. After a couple of minutes, have each pair share their definition.

After all have shared, read 1 John 3:4.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

Sin is lawlessness. It is breaking the law of God. Simply put, 1 John 5:17 says that anytime we do something wrong, it is a sin. Anytime we break God’s commandments, we are doing wrong.

All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

How do we define right and wrong? Look at Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

What is right and what is wrong, according to the Matthew passage?

Pull out a picture of the Bullseye.
In the game of darts, anytime you do not hit the very center of the dart board (the bullseye) it is called a sin. This is another way of saying, that you have missed the mark (the bullseye). It is the same way in what God expects from us. When we miss the mark of his commandments for our life, we are sinning. And, if you look at the “mark” or the bullseye, you will see that it is a very small space. As with our life, it is very easy to sin!

Cleaning Up Our Sin

1 John 1:9 tells us that when we confess our sins, seek forgiveness for missing the mark/bullseye and for our wrong-doing, God is faithful and purifies us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Let’s try to explore that idea together.

Give everyone in the group a piece of newspaper. Have them rub the newspaper on their hands, getting as much ink as they can on their hands. The ink on your hands represents all of the wrongdoing that you have done in your life.

Now hand each person a baby-wipe and tell them to wipe off their hands. Make sure they get all of the newsprint off of their hands.

The baby-wipe represents Jesus. Jesus took on our sin when He died on the cross. The result…we are purified. Purified is another way of saying that we are back to our original state. We were born sinless, and when we seek Jesus’ forgiveness, we return to that state. Our clean hands (or back to how they were before the ink) represents this.


Spend a few minutes in silence. Encourage the group to think about the ink (sin) in their life that is causing them to miss the mark of what God wants from us. Remind them that asking forgiveness is just as simple as using the baby wipe to clean their hands. Seeking forgiveness cleans the soul! Give them an opportunity to pray for that forgiveness.

After a few minutes of silence, ask them to share prayer requests and celebrations in their lives.

Close in prayer.

Supplies Needed:

Bullseye Picture
Baby Wipes

Image attribution: Kenishirotie / Thinkstock


Scott has served in student ministry for over 30 years, the past 23 years at McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church in Norman, Oklahoma, where he oversees ministries to Kindergarten through 12th grade as the director of student ministries. Having grown up in an incredible and life-changing youth ministry at Pioneer United Methodist Church in Walla Walla, Washington, Scott got his start in student ministry at Simpson United Methodist Church in Pullman, Washington while a student at Washington State University. He will never forget his first official Sunday as a youth director when 2 of the high school students who showed up were older then him! Scott has a passion for missions and leadership develop, and desires to create life-long disciples for Jesus Christ. He and Kristin have been married for 13 years, and welcomed an amazing little girl into the world in May of 2016. You can follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottMeier