Sunday, 3 May 2020
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 1 John 3:21
John now states a truth based on what he just said in the previous verse. There, he said, “if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart.” Now, he begins his obviously truthful statement by saying, “Beloved.” If the believer had a condemning heart, it does not exclude the fact that he is a believer. Thus, John reminds us of this fact. “Your heart may condemn you, but you are beloved still because of Christ.” It is a touching note for one who is facing his own internal accusations.
Next, he says, “if our heart does not condemn us.” The exact opposite proposition is now stated. A person in Christ may have a condemning heart. If so, God is greater than that troubled state. However, a believer may not have a heart which condemns. The conscience is clear, there is no secret sin or hidden failing known to the individual. Such a person lives out his life with the Lord on his mind and at his side at all times. In such a sweet spot, John says, “we have confidence toward God.”
The word translated as “confidence” signifies “boldness of speech.” When one speaks openly, he has confidence in his words. This is the attitude which is possessed by the one who is confident, or bold, toward God. His heart is right with Him, and so when he speaks (out loud, or simply in his heart) to God, there is nothing which hinders his words that is secretly hidden away and that he would be ashamed of.
John is not speaking of deserving such a state, as if “I have earned the right to speak boldly before God because of what I have done.” The humblest person on the planet, who feels he is completely unworthy of God’s grace, may still have this confidence. It is one which speaks not of deserving, but of understanding what God expects and having done those things according to His will.
A person who has been given a car may feel he is undeserving of having been given it. But when he goes to register it, he has complete confidence that he has a right to do so, and that there is nothing wrong in his ownership that should hinder the process of registration.
On the other hand, someone may have stolen a car and is worried that registering it might be problematic. Or, he may have legally bought the car, but fudged on the amount paid, thus the taxes were cheated to some extent. Or, the car may have passed through several hands before it was registered, and in the process, something was introduced into the transfer which was not wholly legal. Or, etc. In such a case, he may actually own the car, but there is no confidence toward the state that the registration process will go unhindered.
This is what John is referring to. Deserving or not deserving the car (or the salvation) is not what is being considered here. It is the state of the believer in his continued walk before the Lord.
Life application: John is making an a fortiori argument, meaning “with even stronger reason.” Such is a situation in which if one thing is true then how much more will a second thing be true?
1) If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart.
2) If our heart doesn’t condemn us, how much more then will we have confidence before God!
We have complete intimacy towards God in our prayers, in our relationship, in our position in Christ. In this verse are the words pros ton theon which are translated as “toward God.” These are the same words used in John 1:1 where it states, “with God.’” It reflects an intimacy as if you were standing face to face with the Lord.
Taking all this in, we can infer that when we act, live, pray, etc., we should do it with a pure conscience and in a manner that keeps our heart from condemning us in the things we do. When we live this way, we have a special confidence that allows us complete comfort and even a sense of restful peace as we live in His presence. As it says in Acts 17:28 –
“…for in Him we live and move and have our being…”
Because we live in the presence of God, because our actions are in the presence of God, and because our very existence is in the presence of God, when we have pure hearts and an undefiled conscience, we have a confidence and an assurance which is unshakeable.
However, let us think back to what it is like when we don’t possess these qualities. When they are lacking, we have the ever-present reminder that we are still in His presence and He is aware of the things we are doing, even apart from His will.
Let us endeavor to be in His will and have confidence towards Him.
Lord, what peaceful assurance we have when we are living in Your will and conducting our lives in a manner pleasing to You. Remind us by convicting our consciences of our need to live in a way which is pure and undefiled all times. We pray this knowing that You will do more than we ask or imagine. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.