Saturday, 2 May 2020
For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 1 John 3:20
This is admitted to be a difficult verse by Greek scholars. Vincent’s Word Studies argues that the opening conjunction should be translated as a relative – “In whatever.” If so, it would say as the NASB – “In whatever our hearts condemn us.”
No matter what the translation, the verse does not stand alone. It must be taken with the surrounding context. John had just noted (verse 18) that we are not to love in word or tongue, but in deed and truth. That was based on how we treat others (verses 16 & 17). He then said (verse 19) that we know we are of the truth, “and shall assure our hearts before Him.” He is tying in our treatment of others to the state of our hearts.
There may be things which condemn our hearts, such as our treatment of others, a hidden sin we cannot shake off, a sudden burst of anger at someone or because of something, and so on. In such a display, our hearts may say, “How can you be saved?”, or “How can God love you?”, or maybe, “You are a miserable excuse for a Christian.”
This is natural thinking, and it is correct. If it were up to our actions, we would lose our salvation. If God was any other than God, He would truly not like us. And if being a Christian meant that we must be perfect in and of ourselves, we certainly would not be Christians. But each of these is an evaluation of the situation based on our own limited perceptions and abilities. God is infinite and has control of the entire universe. He is not stuck on our teeny little part of either time or space. As John says, “God is greater than our heart.”
Our hearts are, as Jeremiah says, “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” He then asks, “Who can know it.” The answer is, “No human can know even his own heart.” But God can, because He “knows all things.” He is not limited to time. Therefore, when a person comes to Christ, that person is given a new direction, a spiritual rebirth, and he is no longer imputed sin for the things he does (such as those mentioned above).
God does not forget the sealing of His Spirit upon the person. He does not forget the guarantee which that signifies, and He understands the limitations and failings that accompany our fallen bodies in a fallen world. If it were up to any person to remain saved, no person would remain saved. But God is greater than that. He has saved, He continues to apply that salvation, and His unconditional decree will continue to do so for all eternity.
Life application: Maybe we are being too harsh on our fellow brothers. Or maybe we are being too soft on them. Either way, our heart – our conscience – is condemning us because of it. Have you ever overly accused a fellow Christian of something and later felt remorse at it? Or on the other hand, have you seen a fellow Christian doing something and not been harsh enough on him? If so, maybe later you felt your conscience attacking you over it.
But maybe you handled the matter exactly as you should have, and yet you still are not even sure about that. In all three of these cases, God is greater than our heart (and our actions which condemn our heart.) He knows all things and looks inside of us, knowing what our true intent was and the love that our action was intended to be carried out with.
Because He knows us, even better than we know ourselves, He is there approving of the correct attitude of the heart, even if the appropriateness of the action we took is uncertain to us. Have confidence that He knows your heart, and your intent, and that He is there to soothe you when you talk to Him about such things. Just like the closest of friends (and even more) He has an ear for our thoughts. Don’t be afraid to talk to Him about them.
Thank You Lord, for knowing us even better than we know ourselves! Thank You for listening to the trials of our hearts as we walk uncertainly in some of the actions we take. You peer deep inside and know the very motives for the things we do, and so we know that we can trust that You are dealing in the fairest way towards us. We love You Lord. Amen.