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"The Assurance That Comes From the Presence of Love"
1 John 3:19-24

Wednesday AM Bible Study
December 7, 2005

One of the tests of true fellowship with Christ is the presence of love. In this section of his letter, John - as a good pastor - calls his believing friends to look for the presence of Christ's own love within their lives; and by that love, become assured of their fellowship with Him.

A. John says, "And by this we know that we are of the truth . . ." (v. 19a). To say that we are "of the truth" is the same as saying that we are saved and enjoy fellowship with Christ (1 John 1:5-10).

B. John says that it is "by this" that we know we are of the truth. The "this" by which we "know" is told to us in the verses just prior to this one (vv. 10-18); in which we see a description of the same sort of self-sacrificing love that characterized our Savior.

1. It's possible that self-sacrificing love can be found in those who are not of the truth. But it's not the same kind of self-sacrificing love as was found in Jesus. Many unbelieving people have laid down their lives for others; but there was a sense in which those for whom they laid down their lives were considered worthy. Jesus' sacrifice, by contrast, was for those who were His unworthy enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). By His sacrifice, He reconciled His enemies to Himself; and made them into His friends, His family members, His bride, and ultimately HIs co-regents in eternal glory. The unbelieving world knows of no such love as this (Romans 5:6-11).

2. The presence of this same kind of love in us makes it possible for us to "know" that we are of the truth. It's a proof to the world, to be sure. But here, it is presented as a proof to us ourselves! By this, "we" know that we are of the truth!


A. John goes on to say that, by the presence of this love, we "shall assure our hearts before Him" (v. 19b).
1. One way this assurance is experienced is through the conscience - suggested by the word "heart".
a. The conscience serves us in much the same way as a bailiff serves before a judge. It calls us to stand trial before the judge - sometimes saying "All parties rise!" It would be foolish to ignore our conscience when it calls us to task before the judgment of God. God is greater than the voice of our conscience and knows even more than it does. Thus, "if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things" (v. 20; see also John 2:24-25).

b. But if, when we stand before the all-seeing eye of God, it announces, "All parties are now free to go", then we can have confidence before God. Because, "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God" (v. 21). When we look into our hearts before the search-light of God, and our conscience testifies of the presence of Christ-like love, then we have assurance before God.

c. Thus, when our conscience calls us to conviction because of a lack of Christ-like love in us, we should not run from it, but rather confess the truth to God, and plead for mercy and seek His help. As Augustine wrote, "If thou wouldst flee from [God], flee to Him. Flee to Him by confessing, not from Him by hiding; hide thou canst not, but confess thou canst."

2. Another way this assurance is experienced in us is through the evidence of our practical obedience to Christ. John says, "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things which are pleasing in His sight" (v. 22). And what is it that we are to obey? "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He gave us commandment" (v. 23; see also John 13:34-35; 1 John 2:4-6).

a. This is not to say that we will be perfect in our expression of that love. But it is to say that, when we find the evidence of a progressive, consistent, on-going practice of modeling the self-sacrificing love of Jesus toward others, we can take assurance from it that we are of the truth.

b. It might be possible to fool ourselves and think that we find this kind of love in ourselves; when in reality, we see a kind of "selective" expression of that love. We love certain brothers and sisters; but harbor hatred in our hearts for the Christian to whom we're married, or toward the brothers and sisters in our own family. A "selective" expression of love is not a keeping of Christ's commandment. We have no right to draw "assurance" until we are willing to love without selection.

3. A third way that this assurance that we are of the truth is made effective is through the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. John writes, "Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us" (v. 24).

a. There are two ways we can know that the "spirit" in us is truly the Holy Spirit. One is by our confession of faith in Christ (1 John 4:2-3a). Every person who is truly redeemed has the Holy Spirit in them; and no one can call Jesus "Lord" apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). If the genuine confession of our lips is that Jesus is Lord, and if the sincere belief of our heart is that God has risen Him from the dead, then we can be assured that we are of the truth (Romans 10:9-10); and thus, the Holy Spirit assures us that we are children of God (Romans 8:16-17).

b. A second way is by the fact that this same Holy Spirit empowers us to love as Jesus loved (1 John 4:12-16). It is by the Holy Spirit that this love is "poured out in our hearts" (Romans 5:5). The presence, then, of this love in us is proof that the Holy Spirit is in us - and that is proof that we are of the truth.


A. It brings us blessing in that we have confidence before God (v. 21). Those who are not right with God do not have confidence to stand before Him (Revelation 6:15-17); and this is because the wrath of God abides on them (John 3:36). But the presence of love in us assures us that we are right with Him; and that we may have boldness before Him (1 John 4:17-18).

B. It also brings us blessing in that we are granted our requests in prayer (v. 22). When someone is not right with the heavenly Father, He does not hear their requests by honoring them or giving them an answer (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 1:15; 59:1-2). Likewise, if we are disobedient to Christ's command to love - if we are harboring bitterness toward a brother or sister in Christ, the Father will not hear our requests (see 1 Peter 3:7 as an example). But if our hearts are right before God in the matter of love, He gives us the blessing of hearing and answering our prayers (1 John 4:14-15).

C. Finally, it leads us to the blessing of fellowship with Christ Himself (v. 24). Obeying Jesus command to love means walking where He walks (1 John 1:5-7); and He always walks in love (Ephesians 5:1-2).

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