Summary: Three wonderful blessings are promised in these verses to those that continue believing in Jesus and loving the brethren. These blessing are assurance in God's presence, answered prayers, & the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
1 JOHN 3: 18-24
THE ASSURED HEART
There is a warm assurance, a sound persuasion of heart, that loving people in deed and truth gives the believer. Such love provides us with a confidence that we can go into God's presence and ask and receive whatever we need. These requests, of course, must be in accordance with His commandments and will. The Holy Spirit in turn will confirm to us that we are abiding in Him and enables us to live in God's will and keep His commandment to believe in Jesus and love the brethren.
We learn here that true belief will produce obedience to God’s commands. When you examine a bush in your yard & find a tender green bud, you know it has survived the winter. The roots must be alive for a bud to appear. In the same way, love for others reveals we have truly believed in Jesus.
Three wonderful blessings are promised in these verses to those that continue believing in Jesus and loving the brethren. These blessing are assurance in God's presence, answered prayers, and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
I. ASSURANCE IN GOD'S PRESENCE, 19-20.
II. ANSWERED PRAYERS, 21-22.
III. THE ABIDING PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, 23-24.
[Outline assistance from Weirsbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor Books, 513]
Verse 18 helps provide the context for this section so let’s read it also. “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” Verse 18 informs us as to what the “this we know” in verse 19 is. It refers to the acts of love which meets the needs of other believers. Then verse 19 pledges that practical acts of love in which the needs of others are met grace Christians with a basic assurance that they are living in the truth. Let’s read verse 19. “We shall know by this (v 18) that we are of the truth, and shall assure (persuade) our heart before Him.”
John declares that obedience to the commandment to love one another is the basis for knowing that we belong to the truth. By loving in deed and in truth we shall attain to the knowledge that we are children of the truth. This sustaining truth is confirmed in God's presence. It is before God that the truth is realized. Only when we are in God's presence is the fullness of truth of our spiritual condition realized. The self-deceiver who walks in darkness hating his brother can quiet his heart because the darkness has blinded his eyes, but he cannot do it in God's presence. Maybe that is why Satan moves us to quench or resist the Spirit when the Holy Spirit attempts to bring us into God’s presence. If Satan can keep us out of God’s presence we will not experience the realization that we are out of God’s will (3:20).
When you come before God you can receive assurance that your love has integrity because it is confirmed by the deeds of a true heart. This knowledge revealed before God comes from God persuading an individual to recognize his true self. A Christian who practices love grows in His confidence before God.
How do we have an assured heart? By loving the Lord and His people, not in word and tongue, but in deed and truth (3:18).
This assurance that we walk in the truth should not be supremely dependent upon our own perception of ourselves, but on God’s perception as verse 20 helps us understand. “In whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”
A condemning heart or an accusing conscience (καταγινωςκω, against knowing) is one that robs a Christian of peace and assurance. Sometimes our heart or conscience accuses us wrongly because it is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9). If you are practicing good deeds done in truth, you should go into God’s presence and challenge your heart to change its condemning self-opinion. More than one Christian has accused himself falsely, or been harder on himself than necessary. A Christian who walks in love with a heart open to God should go into God's persuading presence and ask Him to take away false opinion or devilish condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Because God is superior to our conscience we may, when our love is sincere and fruitful, persuade our conscience when we are in His presence to acquit us.
Let me mention two incidents from Jesus' life on earth that illustrate this important principle. When Jesus visited Bethany, He stayed at the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Martha was busy preparing the meal, but Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him teach. Martha criticized both Mary and Jesus, but Jesus knew Mary's heart and defended her.