The Confident Heart

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. (I John 3:20-21)Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail


John says, in the verse quoted above, that if my heart does not condemn me, then I have confidence towards God. Sounds nice. But how can my heart not condemn me?

Searching my heart isn’t always pleasant; sometimes it’s downright mortifying. And sometimes what’s there is OK; sometimes it’s even good. So I’m all for self-examination, which is something I think we could all use a little more of. But I also know that any honest look at my heart reveals a mixture of good and putrid. By God’s grace the love of Christ has been shed abroad there (Romans 5:5) but I also at times see ugly heart problems floating around: bitterness, arrogance, indifference, self-centeredness. So on my best of days, there will be something in my heart which I find condemning.

This is especially problematic when I have decisions to make. I want to know I’m acting with integrity, but I’m also aware that my integrity is never completely pure, 100% grade-A stuff. There’s a mixed bag of motivations going on every time I counsel, speak, write, act, or even breathe. Some of them are noble: I want God’s will done in the lives of my hearers, I want to see impact for the kingdom, I genuinely care. Others are base: I want to look good, I want to be respected, I want to impress. Just a few days ago my lovely wife, referring to a speaking event she has coming up, said, “I woke up in a panic thinking I had no business speaking to anyone. I nearly cancelled!”

And I laughed hard, knowing that feeling so well. I had to admit to her that I’ve never – believe me, NEVER!- spoken at an event without having a last minute panic over the stupidity of me saying anything to anyone. My heart has often had pure elements to it, thank God, but it’s never been without significant, visible and persistent impurities. So in some ways, it never fails to condemn me.

Yet that condemnation drives me back to verse 20 above, a reliable place of refuge and hope. God is greater than my heart and knows all things! After all, it’s His viewpoint of me, not mine of myself, which really matters. He knows all things.

A few of those “all things” I need to keep in mind:

  • He knows my frame, remembering that I’m dust and pitying me in the process. (Psalms 103:14)
  • He knows what it’s like to be tempted. (Hebrews 4:15)
  • He knows the final outcome of my life and sees me, when this is all over, complete in Him, seated at the right hand of the Father. (Ephesians 2:6)

Knowing this and more, He shows me a more gentle, compassionate attitude than would I show myself, if I were Him.

He knows all my sins have been paid for and has no interest in tallying them up (Psalms 32:2) and He can therefore see me as I cannot see myself – complete, justified, even glorified. (Romans 8:30) He doesn’t condemn me, not because He’s a really nice God Guy who overlooks sin, but because He’s systematically, technically and thoroughly judged my sins in Christ and can rightfully see me without them, within Him. My own heart condemns me only because of my limited view of myself. I’ve got part of the picture right, in that I see the sewage. Part of it I glimpse briefly, looking through a glass darkly and barely able to conceptualize the wonderful, holy concept that I am complete in Him. (Colossians 2:10)

And therein lies a confidence I can drop anchor in. I am in Him, and in Him there is therefore now no condemnation. More than ever, even as I say the words, I’m reminded of my need for the Holy Spirit to do just what He said He would do. I need to be guided into this truth, having it quickened to me, and being given the faith to receive it. May that be done in me, and us, today, so we can sing with integrity my favorite lines from my favorite hymn:

By God’s grace at last my sin I learned,

Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned.

‘Till my guilty soul, imploring, turned to Calvary.

Mercy there was great and grace was free.

Pardon there was multiplied to me.

There my burdened soul found liberty

At Calvary.



  1. Your blog posts are always helpful and Biblical. Thank you for taking the time to invest in the lives of people who need to be reminded of these truths.

    On my blog, I address topics like pornography, homosexuality, self-injury, self esteem, masturbation, repentance, and purity. Please check it out:

  2. Yes. (Sigh)

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