Summary: If our hearts are really clean, then we love God, but if our hearts condemn us, we don’t love God. How can we have a clean heart
We are in the middle of 6 tests that prove if we really love God. Tonight’s test asks, “Do you have a clean heart?” If our hearts are really clean, then we love God, but if our hearts condemn us, we don’t love God. How can we have a clean heart? Let’s look at what produces a clean heart as we study 1 Jn. 3: 18-24.
The first thing that produces a clean heart is by loving with actions and not only with words. READ 18-19. Most people have some feelings for another person when they see that person suffering or in need. And a lot of people will talk about and express a concern for the needy and suffering.
But if the needy or suffering person has done evil against us, then the feelings of many people change. They no longer feel compassion and no longer want to reach out to those. How many times have you said, “He deserves it. She’s being paid back. God is judging him for his evil. She made her bed, let her lie in it. He’s reaping what he sowed.”
It’s hard to find compassion in any of those statements. Yet while these thoughts are going through our minds, we still profess to love God and to be caring for people.
The Amplified New Testament states verse 18 this way: “Little children, let us not love merely in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth—in practice and in sincerity.” If we only love those who love us, then we love only in theory and in speech.
That’s not loving like God loves. God loves those who do evil as well as those who do good. If we love as God loves, then we know we’re of the truth. Verse 19 says we can then set our hearts at rest in His presence.
It’s one thing to say we love, but to put that love into action is quite another. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13)
It’s easy to understand a mother risking her life, or even giving her life, for her children, or one spouse for another, but it’s a rare act of courage when one is willing to die for a complete stranger. That’s greater love in action. When faced with that decision, Jesus chose others over Himself. He allowed Himself to be engulfed by the dark waters of death, and in so doing He passed on life to us! READ v. 18 again.
READ 20-21. A clean heart is produced by God’s knowledge. It’s produced by God knowing everything. God has made us in such a way that our hearts are sensitive and will sense wrongdoing. Why? So that we will correct our behavior and not destroy ourselves.
Verse 21 says that God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything. That means two things:
1. First, God knows everything about us. He knows when we are good and when we are bad. He knows everything we do and more. He even knows our thoughts. There is nothing that is hidden from Him. God said in the book of Amos (5:13), “For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sings.” So God knows everything about us.
2. Second, God knows how to assure our hearts and how to give us confidence toward Him. In other words, He knows how to deliver us from the sense of guilt and condemnation. And he removes all the guilt and condemnation that weighs on our hearts by love. By loving us so much that He would give His Son to die for us.
And that’s what happens when we receive Jesus as our Savior. Jesus removes the sense of guilt and condemnation; He actually forgives and cleanses us from sin. But something else happens. When we accept Jesus Christ, we discover that we love everyone just as He loves everyone. Our attitude toward others is actually changed; we love everyone, and we want them to know the love of God just as we have come to know His love.
You say, “I don’t feel that way.” Then maybe you don’t really love God like we are talking about tonight.
You see, when we accept Christ, our hearts begin to flow with the assurance and confidence that everything is well with God. You know that God is not going to condemn you or make you feel guilty. We know that we’re forgiven. We know then that we are acceptable to God. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
READ v. 22. A clean heart is produced by obeying the commandments of God and doing what pleases God. If a child disobeys his father, he displeases his father. The only way he can please his father is by obeying him. The same is true with God. If we are going to please Him, we must obey Him.