1 John 3:19-20 ESV By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
B1 1 John was written for us to be assured in our salvation. 1 John 5:13 WEL I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God.
B2 But all Christians go through periods of doubt. Doubts about salvation:
C1 Before salvation:
D1 We think we are good: Isaiah 5:20 NIV Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
D2 But God knows we are not good: Psalm 14:1-3 ESV To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
D3 Two examples of personal opinion versus the truth revealed by the Lord Jesus, God the Son:
E1 Matthew 23:27-28 NIV "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
E2 Luke 18:9-14, we quote Luke 18:11-14 NLT The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don't cheat, I don't sin, and I don't commit adultery. I'm certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.' 13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.' 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
C2 After salvation:
D1 1 John 3:19-20 ESV By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
D2 Acts 15:9 ESV and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. [Emphasis is mine]
D3 Hebrews 10:10 NLT For God's will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
D4 John 17:19 NLT And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
D5 1 Corinthians 6:11 NLT Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
B3 Before salvation there is little conviction for sin (breaking God’s laws as listed, for example, in Exodus 20). Note, the Sabbath is for the Jews (Exodus 31:17 NLT It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed.), the principle taught is one day of rest every week for physical rest, emotional rest, and to worship and fellowship with God and His people.
B4 When a person becomes a Christian, then the devil and his agents (spiritual or human) come to remind us of our failings, sins (even though forgiven by God, no less), doubts, etc.
C1 Paul experienced this:
D1 1 Corinthians 15:9 ESV For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
D2 Acts 8:3 ESV But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
D3 Acts 9:1 ESV But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
D4 1 Timothy 1:13-14 ESV though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
C2 King David of Israel: Psalm 51:3 NET For I am aware of my rebellious acts; I am forever conscious of my sin.
C3 Indeed, all Christians
B5 The truth is that God does not remember our sins any more: Hebrews 10:17 NIV Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Note: when God states that He does not remember sins, it does not mean that He has a memory hole or is lacking in perfect memory. It does mean that God’s interactions with us are as if we had never sinned.
B6 Those who have not placed their faith into Jesus may not acknowledge their sins, but God has a different perspective: Hosea 7:2 NIV but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.
B7 Knowing all the above we can say the following:
C1 I have sinned.
C2 I have placed by faith into Jesus Christ. I did pray to Him for salvation and forgiveness. I am justified by the blood of God’s son, Jesus Christ.
C3 The devil tries to discourage our faith by causing us to remember our sins. His purpose is for us to give up the faith and be condemned. He works diligently to hear from us, “It is no use. I cannot make it. I give up,” sometimes even to the point of denying the Lord Jesus. He has rendered us ineffective in doing God’s work.
B8 Knowing 1 John 3:19-20, we can understand this and have comfort from God.
C1 We feel condemned by God.
C2 In reality, we are not condemned, rather we are saved from God’s wrath.
C3 A doubt does not bring loss of salvation. The devil and others use our past life to render us ineffective in living as Christians in an evil world.
C4 God is greater than our heart means that our heart “knows” we are condemned, but God being judge knows we are redeemed and justified. God is greater in knowledge, in truth, in discernment, in judgment, etc.
C5 We were cleansed from sin. 1 John 1:9 CSB If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
C6 We take comfort and shelter in God Himself, who gives us peace and rest. For example.
D1 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
D2 The devil and his agents may trouble us but God gives us peace: John 14:27 NLT I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.
B9 Some sins do render us ineligible for some Christian service. Some of these are domestic abuse, sex molestation, etc. A couple of examples are listed. (See 1 Samuel 2:22-25 also),
C1 1 Timothy 3:7 NLT Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil's trap.
D1 Meyer’s NT Commentary has this: In the choice of a bishop [that is pastor—editor], care is to be taken that he is a man who has led an irreproachable life even in the eyes of those who are not Christians.
D2 Ellicott writes: For such a one, bringing with him into the new society his unhappy reputation, earned in the old thoughtless days—if placed in the new society in a prominent position of authority—would draw down upon himself and the brotherhood over whom he presided many a reproach, many a sneer. Those who once knew him among other associations living a very different life, would be only too ready to attack the blameless character of the congregation, through the stained and scarred reputation of their minister. The temptation to fall away and deny his Lord in such a case, would be overwhelming. The man might be in earnest, might be wishful to lead a new and better life, but the risk that one with such connections, with such memories of old days, would of necessity run, must be very great. Weakened and disheartened, such a presbyter [that is pastor—editor] would be likely to fall an easy prey into some snare skilfully laid by the Enemy, and, by his fall, cause a terrible and damaging injury to the Church of Christ. For these weighty reasons St. Paul charged Timothy to be very watchful when he chose his presiding elders, to elect only those who, in the dissolute society of Ephesus, had known how, even in old days, to preserve their good name stainless, their character unscarred.
C2 Arrogance: Proverbs 16:18 NLT Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.
C3 Teaching error: Romans 16:17-18 NLT And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people's faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. 18 Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.
C4 Loving money (and power, etc.): 1 Timothy 6:9 NLT But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.
C5 Problems with their heart in the past or present: Mark 7:21-22 NLT For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.
C5 A example given of those who have a good reputation and qualified: Acts 6:3 NASB Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
Be encouraged by brother and my sister. We have assurance. We are confident in His knowledge of us. We are in this fight together: 1 Peter 5:8-10 NLT Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.