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1 John 3:19-24
Reassuring Ourselves Before Him
Well, yesterday was pretty tough. Once again, we saw where we fall short. The word has a way of doing this to us. We live between two poles. The one is what we might call our “stand” before God in which we are forgiven, cleansed, and righteous in His sight, because of the blood of His dear Son. The other pole is what we might call our “walk” before God, which is anything but righteous. And so we find ourselves walking before God in a pretty lousy way, not following his commandments with a perfect heart, because we cannot. But we try, at least we say we do – and maybe we are – but we still know we could try harder. We can’t win, because, as Paul said, we are “sold under sin,” and “when [we] want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (Romans 7:14, 21). That’s when we run to the arms of God, receive forgiveness, trust in His saving grace, and reclaim our right standing before Him again in Christ Jesus.
John seems to be aware that loving one another in deed and in truth might be a recipe for failure for wayward creatures like ourselves. He doesn’t lower the standard because of that. The Bible never does. We still are supposed to love one another the way Christ loves us. But John realizes that such failure on our part is going to lead many of us to doubt our salvation. That’s where verses nineteen through twenty-one come in. He writes: “Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” Now this is truly beautiful. John is saying that though our heart condemns us, God, who knows us inside and out, who sent His Son for our redemption, will forgive us. And then he says that if our heart condemns us not, then we have confidence towards God. It’s a win-win situation. We are either forgiven or confident; either way, we are reassured before Him.
This gives us further confidence in our prayer life, for if we are keeping his commandments and receiving forgiveness for our failures, we have what we ask. God answers those who walk with Him and humbly ask forgiveness. The blessing for keeping His commandments (believing in Jesus and loving one another) is abiding in Him. The proof that He abides in us and we in Him is the Spirit He has given us, what was called the “anointing” in an earlier chapter. He is the Spirit who grieves within us when we sin, calling us to repentance, and rejoices within us when we are walking before Him in righteousness. Either way, we are reassured before Him, and God wants us to be at peace.