We finish the third chapter in John’s letter today with these words:
This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that 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 keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.1 John 3:19-24 CSB
John gives us the secret of a heart at rest: Love in action
He mentioned it in verse eighteen, just prior to this section today. When we love, not in just words but in actions and in truth, then we’ve learned the secret to rest. Living a life of practical love for our brother and sister keeps our hearts from condemning us because we are not guilty of loving in words alone.
A guiltless person is a confident person.
John knows that a person who lives according to the law is able to live and move in confidence within society, while a guilty person, one with something to hide, stays in the shadows. In our relationship with God, it is the same. When we love as he loved, by action and in truth, then we are able to stand confidently before the throne, because we’re living in obedience to his command. Do you remember that new command he gave us? “Love one another as I have loved you.”
We cannot love without first the belief in Christ himself. John makes that clear:
It’s simple, really, like one plus one equals two. Yet, this simple command requires sacrifice, and what is that sacrifice? Self. That’s why we need the Spirit. When we sacrifice self and replace it with belief in Christ, he doesn’t just leave it there. No, he fills us with this Spirit, so we’re not left to our own devices nor is Satan able to fill the void.
Without the Spirit, we cannot complete the equation of obedience. With the Spirit, we’re able to live out that love and rest in the assurance of his presence.
Is your heart at rest today in Christ, or does it condemn you? In the power of the Spirit through belief in the name of Christ Jesus, may you live not with words or speech, but with actions and in truth to his glory.
Grace and Peace