1 John 3:20, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
In continuing with this lesson, I want to remind and reiterate that the beginning of John’s statement is again in direct relationship with the previous verse. John begins with “For if,” meaning that we are continuing the thought left off in verse 19 where the Apostle tells us that acting in love gives us the knowledge of truth and the assurance we need IN that truth. When we act in love, our heart is assured.
But John goes on to say, presumably answering the “but” in a person’s question, what if we feel worthless or feel guilt in our conscience? Okay, John tells us, again following the assurances from the previous verse, that IF indeed we FEEL condemned by our heart or mind, God is greater than our heart! Our feelings and even our conscience, once spiritually renewed can deceive us because of the carnal nature of it.
Remember this, our conscience was developed to help guide us in the paths of righteousness but only in the natural. Remember, in the natural, by itself our works cannot nor ever will be able to save or redeem us, but the conscience was given to man, to allow him to navigate through the natural and social norms necessary to be a part of civilized society.
However, when our spirit has been renewed, reborn, remember what the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17. You see, to have an intellectual knowledge of Jesus, even as more than man, but to recognize Him as Messiah is still in the natural, remember, the devil and his demons believe in Jesus, just not in a saving way. They even know His power, but still, due to their pride cannot accept Him in a redemptive way. (James 2:19). But, since Christ arose and sent His Spirit, the Holy Spirit to not just dwelling with the spirit of man, but is leading and guiding the new man in power and strength. Listening to the Holy Spirit, His prodding and guidance in the directions He wants us to go is a spiritual walk and overcomes the carnality of man. When we “listen to that still small voice,” we are giving ascendance or rise to the new spirit side of us and subjecting the carnal, conscience driven side. The sad truth is, that man’s conscience, being carnal CAN be seared so that it can no longer prove as a worthwhile guide, it can as Paul writes in Romans, be turned over to a reprobate mind, a mind without the use and guidance of the conscience. (Romans 1:28).
So, when the Beloved Apostle tells us that God is greater than our heart, if our heart (or conscience) does indeed condemn us, we have assurance DESPITE how we feel, and according to the Word of Truth, since God, our Heavenly Father already KNOWS all things and doesn’t condemn us, as His children, we can ignore what our emotions tell us and what our carnal intellect tells us.
Consider this also; we are aware of our sins and even in spite of them we are aware of God’s forgiveness when we confess them to Him. But even though they ARE our sins, we only truly know them in part, due to the veil of our carnality while living in this corruptible flesh. God KNOWS the hidden recesses, the obscured motives and every aspect of our sins better than we ourselves! In most cases this should truly frighten us and yet, despite the clarity with which our Heavenly Father sees us, at the core of our heart, He still forgives us when we are faithful to confess and repent and He casts those sins, every aspect of them from His memory as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:12). Now that, should allow no room for doubt about His unconditional love for those He calls His children!
Thus, John leads us into the whole reason for this confidence and assurance when he reiterates, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.” Notice that when he truly wants to emphasize something he reverts back to the parental figure in his writing; beloved. In other words, “those I truly love and who ARE loved, there is no need for your heart to condemn you and thus you CAN have confidence toward God, as your Heavenly Father!”
John loves to lay a foundation in his writing and upon laying that foundation, he continues to add what could be analogous to mortar by repeating the same principle but in slightly different terms, ever making that foundation stronger and stronger until he springs what is truly important to what he is saying. He lays the verbal foundation, then he lays the actual building blocks on top.
Case in point;
Block one: when we know the truth our heart is assured before Him.
Block two: IF your heart (or conscience) DOES condemn you, He is greater than your heart.
Block three: He knows ALL things, hidden and otherwise, so nothing escapes Him.
Block four: He loves you none-the-less.
Block five: Thus you have no need for your heart to condemn you.
Block six: Because of all of the previous we HAVE confidence toward God.
Notice it is not we MAY have, or we CAN have, but rather the emphatic statement we HAVE (as in we DO have already) confidence toward God! Do you see the progression I am talking about? This has always been a style of his writing. As far as a teaching tool, it is one of the most effective. Back in about 1976, I went to a trade school in Yakima, Washington, my hometown to learn Appliance Repair, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning and Commercial Refrigeration. Now I had went previously to a community college for a completely different course, but I was truly blown away by this instructor at the trade school. His practice of teaching, was to give us some basics, then advance to something a bit more elaborate and then right when we thought we had it all mastered, he went back to the basics in the very beginning to make sure we had the very fundamentals committed to memory. It almost reminded me of the childhood game leap-frog. You take two steps forward, one back, two steps forward, one back, but you were always advancing. I ate up that kind of teaching and I excelled in my class. I guess that is why to a degree, I do the same thing when I teach and why I find John’s writings so worthwhile.
Anyway, you can see how John is building a foundation for what is coming next. “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” This is the key to which the Apostle was leading the last few verses too. Notice how John writes “BECAUSE we keep His commandments AND do those things pleasing in His sight!” The first thing that jumped out at me was this last part of the verse.
Here’s why; John has spent all this time building up the readers, encouraging and edifying them, instructing them on how to BE. Remember, our walk is an action, it is never based on feelings alone. Again, I state this over and over again, because of the gravity of the truth in that. You can have confidence, you can have assurance, you can be bold, BUT if you don’t, this is how God Almighty sees you and it has nothing to do with how YOU feel and everything to do with how He SEES His children. So therefore, HAVE confidence, assurance and boldness! What does this boil down too? Think about it if necessary, for it is a basic foundation of a Christian’s journey!
This stood out to me as plain as a flashing neon sign. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6. One of my favorite Scriptures and here’s why; “and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” What is the one thing Scripture is clear about time and time again when it comes to PLEASING God Almighty, the God of Creation, the God of ALL the universe and everything in it? It is FAITH!
I know I repeat this so much, but think of it; the God of ALL Creation, both vast and infinitesimal is pleased by His creation when we have faith in Him and all He does! The Apostle John is reiterating the very things that the Apostle Paul wrote as confirmation, AND he built a foundation first, so that there would be no excuse to NOT walk in faith.
Now here is another exciting thing to me. John states after building the reader up, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because . . .” of all those things that he laid out first and foremost. Here’s the thing; I don’t want to belittle prayer, asking something from our Heavenly Father, because the very act is so very important. John assures us that when we have that faith that allows us to KNOW the assurance, confidence and boldness in our relationship with God, our Father that we can receive what we ask for. Now understand this does not mean getting what we ask in frivolity or selfishness, but rather as we get close in our relationship with God, as Heavenly Father, we KNOW what to ask for and because of that confidence and assurance we receive it.
But here’s the point I really want to make in all this. When we have a relationship with God Almighty, as Heavenly Father, and that relationship is based on confidence, assurance and boldness, then we are walking in faith and in what is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.
I want to ask you at this point; what is the purpose or mission of the Holy Bible, the Living Word of God; and what is ultimately the mission of Christ Jesus as Messiah, Savior and Redeemer. Why did our Heavenly Father, God Almighty, the Creator of All, send His beloved Son, in the form of a man, to come to earth, and to give authority to the Written World and then to ascend back to the Father, aside from His Salvation mission. When you read the Word of God, when you read John’s writings and especially in context with all the other books of the Bible, what do you say was the mission of the Holy Spirit of empowering that Word as well as Christ Jesus as Messiah?
God made man in the beginning to have a relationship with Himself and to share His unconditional love with His creation. But how can man understand unconditional love unless he is able to choose for himself Who to love. Thus:
“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
The death Adam passed on to us was not so much the physical natural death, but rather the death of a spiritual relationship that was meant to be perfection with our Creator. Because disobedience and sin is abhorrent to God, for God is Holy (1 Peter 1:15-16), and God cannot abide in sin, He had a plan to bring man back into spiritual reconciliation based on man’s ability to choose the Gift that God was giving to fallen mankind!
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
Our whole journey, our whole walk, the reason to exercise our faith, to grow in confidence and assurance is so that through Christ Jesus, the Messiah we might have a relationship with God, the Father as God Himself meant for us from the very beginning. God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit was sent to empower and to enlighten us, to illuminate the Living Word of God to our darkened spirit, to reawaken within us the need and to fill the emptiness that sin brought inherently into the world. The Holy Spirit empowers us to see beyond the natural, to catch a glimpse, though for now it is as through a veil, but a glimpse none-the-less of what wonders await us when we stand before the Throne of God with boldness as sons and daughters to a Father!
Jesus came that we might be spiritually reborn, reawakened to our need for the Gift He was offering just so that we might SEE the Father through Him! The Living Word, the inspired written Word has the power of the Holy Spirit behind it, to precisely cut away the cancer of sin and to open our blinded eyes to the truth. The Holy Spirit gives us the power and the tools needed to recognize the Father through the Son. What a glorious thought! What truly unfathomable wisdom! And the beloved Apostle in his writings, in confirmation with the inspired writings of others, brings these things to light!
Confidence in God, assurance in our heart of His love for us, gives us the faith we need to truly please Him while we are still making this journey burdened with our flesh. Yet, God, our Father, sees ALL, beyond that flesh. THAT should be enough to cause one to rejoice!