1 John (7): Confidence Before God (3:19-24)

Date: 6/13/2010
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Assurance
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You May Know: An Exposition of First John (part 7)
 3:19–24 — Confidence in God’s Presence

The Parallel Outline of First John
A 1:1–4 — Prologue — Eternal Life Manifested   
  B 1:5–2:2 —The Truth Proclaimed
    C  2:3–17 — The Love Commandment
      D 2:18–27 — Antichrists Deny Jesus is the Christ
        E 2:28–3:10 — Confidence as Children of God
          F 3:11–18 — The Message: Sacrificial Love for One Another
        E’ 3:19–24 — Confidence in God’s Presence
      D’ 4:1–6 — Antichrists Deny Christ Came in the Flesh
    C’ 4:7–5:5 — The Love Example
  B’ 5:6–12 — The Testimony Received
A’ 5:13–21 — Conclusion — Eternal Life Assured

1John 3:19–24 -  We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 3:20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 3:22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 3:24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

In 3:19-24, the passage begins with the connection to love demonstrated (“by this”) in the previous passage (love in deed and truth). (“We will know by this that we are of the truth.”) And v24 transitions to the theme of the Spirit and testing the “spirits.” (We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.) John weaves the themes of assurance with truth, love and abiding. Once again I want to draw out two central exhortations around the theme of Confidence in God’s Presence. We have confidence in God’s presence by 1) being people of the truth (3:19-22) and 2) by being people of the Spirit (3:23-24)

1) We have confidence in His presence by being people of the truth (3:19-22). “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 3:20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” Confidence and assurance before the Lord is not the result of resting in our self-condemnation, but in the truth of God. Our heart’s knowledge of our walking in the truth and in love (3:16ff) is fallible, but God “knows all” (3:20). He knows to what extent our loving is in word only or in action and truth (3:18). This clearly goes both ways. A truly humble loving person shows this in ways he/she would never calculate out or take thought of and even if our hearts condemn -  God “knows all things.” God knows the truth. On the other hand for those who “talk the talk” - God “knows” such hypocrisy as well. One means of seeing where we stand with the Lord is our prayer life. Has God answered you? The result of confidence in the truth is power in prayer. A “pleasing life” means that our desires and God’s will are in harmony therefore “whatever we ask we receive from Him” (3:22).

2) We have confidence in His presence by being people of the Spirit (3:23-24). “We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” Keeping His commandments is the link to the next topic in this passage. It is “because we keep His commandments” that God gives our requests. Often the idea of “commandments” conjures up just so much moralism, but not so with John’s teaching. He has been repeatedly clear on the content: “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us” (3:23). These are the two aspects of faithfulness, belief and love. Unfortunately the devil is always tempting us to pull these two apart: right doctrine is often separated almost denominationally from love. But these are the means of confidently knowing that we abide in Him. Both are required and both are connected. True belief in the right Object (the Lord of Love, Jesus) begets love. Belief in Jesus does not produce a warlord, Mohammed. It produces martyrs and missionaries. Not those who seize by mani

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more