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.
1 John 3.19-22
What do we do when our hearts condemn us? Condemn is strong language and it may not be the way we think because it is all too easy to hold a light view of the seriousness of sin.
Perhaps we need to pray for more sensitive consciences with regards to falling short of God’s standards, so that we are ever more grateful for what he has done for us in Jesus.
There is though, a danger that with such sensitised consciences, we lose our assurance that, as Paul puts it writing to the Romans, ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ Romans 8.1 and the theme of loving the brothers which we have been focussing on over the past few days is just one of the strands of assurance giving truths that John draws attention to in his letter.
The following brief extract from ‘Teaching 1,2,3 John by Melvyn Elof – Christian Focus, is helpful
True assurance before the Lord is based on four inter-related things; first, belief of the truth about Jesus (2:20-27) and thus belief in the name of Jesus (3.23); second, true love for fellow believers, brothers and sisters in Christ (2:9-11; 3:10-23); third, a commitment to doing what is right in obedience to God’s commands (2:3-67; 2:29-3:10); fourth, the inner witness of the indwelling Spirit of God (2:20,27; 3:24)
When these things are in place and remembering that God is greater than our hearts, our hearts are set at rest, so that we have confidence before God.
This confidence comes with a great promise, that if we obey his commands and do what pleases him then we will receive from him anything we ask.
James words in his letter chapter 4.3 ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’ are a helpful rider here but if we are obeying his commands and pleasing him then we will be so in tune with him that the promise of this verse will be found to be true.
What a glorious prospect. Fully assured; clear consciences; no condemnation; obedient and pleasing our God and receiving everything that we need from him.