Monday, 4 May 2020
And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22
John just spoke of confidence before God when our hearts do not condemn us. In this state, John writes, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him.” Immediately, this seems like an unconditional grant, and that if we want a new Mercedes, it will show up in our driveway in the morning. In fact, this is how certain groups take this verse. To them, God is a cosmic ATM, and wealth comes about by simply claiming it. James dispels that type of nonsense –
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3
One cannot “ask amiss” and expect to get what he wants. Further, it is not only the appropriate asking which brings about what we desire. John next states, “because we keep His commandments.” The verb is in the present tense, indicative mood – “We are surely keeping His commandments.” The word “keep” signifies “to observe.” One may “keep” his word, for example.
John will explain what this means in the verses to come, but it has nothing to do with observing the Law of Moses. In fact, observing the law as a means of obtaining God’s approval is a mark of pride, and thus it excludes exactly what John will say in the next verse. This is because the law is not based on faith, but on works. But works are excluded from the equation as begins to be seen by the final clause, “and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
Again, the verb is in the present tense, indicative mood – “We are surely doing those things which are pleasing in God’s sight.” The word signifies doing (such as the will of God), producing (such as bearing fruit), and so on.
Again, the keeping and doing are based on what God has set forth – keeping His commandments and doing what is pleasing in His sight. Unless those things are being actively tended to, one cannot expect to “receive from Him” whatever he asks. And, as noted by James, what is asked must be in accord with His will.
Life application: This verse is one of great expectation for the believer. John’s words contain a wonderful promise that God hears every prayer and that none are left unattended. However, and as was noted, it is not without conditions attached to it. The believer who receives must first give. He must give of himself by actively keeping God’s –
1) Commandments – those things which are explicitly named in the Bible as expected of believers. These are not options.
2) Those things pleasing in His sight – these are the general things that are implicitly taught in the Bible and that lead to a whole, rounded, and faithful walk in Christ.
If we don’t act faithfully on His commandments and if we don’t do what is pleasing in the sight of the Lord, then how can we expect to receive whatever we ask from Him? Can we expect this from our parents? Can we expect it from a business when we go shopping? Can we expect it from our government agencies? Of course not! Unless we do as we’re asked or told, no one will fulfill our wishes.
And finally (and just as important) – we cannot expect whatever we ask if it is not in accord with His will. It is faithless at best to demand anything of God. He is in heaven and we are on earth. When God doesn’t directly give us what we ask for, it is because He has given us what is best for us indirectly. He has responded according to His glory and according to our needs, both realized and unrealized by us. He knows what they are even if we don’t.
Lord God, may we never claim anything in Jesus’ name, but rather may we humbly ask for those things we desire, and which are in accord with Your will, knowing that You will respond according to our obedience and according to Your glory. Forgive us if we are faithless, and help us to make the corrections in our lives so that we may be pleasing vessels, ready for Your use. Amen.