February 19, 2014
I John 3:19-23
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Here is another nose that John has! Actually there are two here in I John 3;19 through 23 – and they are knows, not nose – one from John and one from God! I think that the NIV is clearer and closer to the original Greek than the NKJV in this scripture:
This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our
hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is
greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts
do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him
anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.
And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ and
to love one another as He commanded us.
John has just told his readers in verse 18, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” So he deals with the question of how we can know – be absolutely sure – that we are living our lives according to the truth. He says to look into our own hearts.
Now we have to understand that John is not advocating a subjective approach for us to rest assured that all is ok with our Christian lives because our hearts are not condemning us. After all, Jeremiah 17:9 warns us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? ” Yes, God gives us a new heart when we are born again – when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26 and II Corinthians 5:17). This new heart is pure and trustworthy, but we still have the old heart – the sinful nature – and sometimes we get the messages from these two hearts mixed up!
What John is saying here is that we should not just check our own hearts for right and wrong living, because – according to verse 20 of our scripture – “…God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” So check how He sees it! And the best way to check how God sees things is by what He says about it all in His Word – the Bible – interpreted and taught to us by the Holy Spirit! (see I John 2:27).
Now, when we do this – and find that our lives are being lived out in the truth of God – “…our hearts do not condemn us, [and] we have confidence before God…” (verse 21). But, remember, it is not subjectively based on our own opinion, but on Gods! Paul deals with this issue in I Corinthians 4:3 and 4:
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you, or by a
human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against
myself; yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.
If we can stand before God, look Him in the face, and not be aware of outstanding sins against us, then “…we have confidence before God….” This does not mean we are totally free from all sin, but that God has not yet pointed such sin out to us! A few days ago on January 29, we finished a study on Psalm 139 with a blog called Do We Dare Pray It? The challenging prayer to which I referred is in verses 23 and 24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties;
and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way ever-
If we have the intestinal fortitude to pray this prayer regularly and sincerely, then God – who knows for certain our hearts – will show us our sins, both open and secret. And when we confess them to Him, we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ! (see I John 1:7-9). We will then certainly “…have confidence before God….”
What is the result of such confidence? We “…receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” (verse 22). We will be living according to His will, and John tells us in I John 5:14 and 15:
And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything
according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us,
whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we asked of Him.
Talk about an effective prayer life!!!
“… we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” And what is the Lord’s chief command? John summarizes the Great Commandment (see Matthew 22:37 through 39 and Mark 12:29 through 31) in verse 23 this way: “And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” As Jesus said in Mark 12:31, “There is no other commandment greater than these.” So start here! You can’t go wrong!