(What Does “If Our Hearts Does Not Condemn Us” Mean?) Bible Question
“Would you please explain what is meant in 1 John 3:20, 21? I have asked several people and I’m still confused.”
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” – 1 John 3:18 – 22 (New American Standard Bible)
The writer is speaking of our assurance that we are right with God. Back in 1 John 1:7, he wrote, “if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Many seem to go through life doubting their salvation. That is what John is writing about.
We can have assurance that we are right with God. The apostle Paul wrote of the conscience. . .
“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” – Romans 2:14 – 16
The purpose of the conscience is to “accuse” us when we err and “defend” us when we do right. But there is a higher court than that. The apostle Paul also wrote. . .
“it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 4:2 – 4
God is the supreme judge of us all. Other people may judge us, but that is not all-important. We may judge ourselves (either to condemn or to justify) and that is not all-important. But the judgment of God is perfect, final and absolute.
We can know we are saved, by looking at the Scriptures and our own lives. As John wrote later in this book, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
We cannot depend on our consciences to save us, nor the approval of other people. Our goodness will not save us, for we can never be “good enough”. We must be saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. And if we are “in Christ” then we are in fellowship with God and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).