"...not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith" - Philippians 3:9
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Greater than our hearts!
"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God." (1 John 3:18-21, ESV) God is greater than our heart! 'There can be no faith where there is not conscience . . . I cannot look God in the face if I cannot look myself in the face' 'It is peace, immediate, full, free, unreserved, that you are eager to have. No truce or compromise will content you now. You cannot be too completely reconciled to God, or brought into friendship too intimate, or fellowship too close and confidential, with your Father in heaven' ~ Robert Candlish, 1 John, a Geneva series commentary (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1993), p. 318, 322.
How can a weak level of assurance be increased? Does this passage help us? Please let us all be clear - we are not talking here about guilt, actual guilt and condemnation that prevents us from being saved. We are talking about that reserve, that sense of holding back from a full, free dealing of our souls with God and with other believers, that robs us of the peace of our salvation.
God is greater than our hearts. We need to have our eyes lifted far above the state of our hearts and to see how freely and graciously he has worked our salvation. We need release from a spirit of servile bondage to our own dull and gloomy frames of mind, and to receive the Holy Spirit's energies and freedom. The Lord in his grace ministers to us when we are in this state. He comes and reminds us that he is infinitely greater than our hearts. He reminds us that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses and purifies us, even our troubled consciences. He heals the backslider; he restores poor fallen Peter. We must never say that the Lord himself desires to keep full and free assurance and peace from us. Aren't all the promises of Scripture designed to lead us into that peace? God is not a crumbling bridge that we might not be able to trust!
How are things in your own individual spiritual life? How are you conversing with God? Are you full and free, keeping short accounts, leaving no stone unturned? You know how it is when you have a wholly genuine and meaningful relationship with another human being. You can talk about anything in the confidence that this person will be warm, accepting, unconditionally loving. That is how we must be before the Lord as well as before one another. There must be no stiffness, no false pride, no sense of self-justification, but a casting of ourselves into his grace. This way of thinking and acting needs to become habitual practice for us all. This is how our hearts will be assured and strengthened in the love of God. We need to open up the dark and brooding recesses of our hearts to him.
What is the cure for a troubled conscience? It is, as it says here, that God is greater than our consciences, than our hearts – and to acknowledge that before him. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that we can hide from him. To act in this way is not to walk in the light, but to deceive ourselves. This takes us back to the beginning of the letter. We cannot claim that we are without sin, for if we do that ‘we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us’ (1 John 1:8).
~ Paul Yeulett, Pastor of Shrewsbury Evangelical Church