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21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
1 John 3:21-22
Just as a condemning heart has crushing effects on people, so too, a heart that has been properly assured to a healthy status of confidence has the power to radically transform every area of a person's life, including how they pray.
OUR OBEDIENCE MATTERS
In verse 21 of our text, John now writes this: “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” Then in verse 22 of our text, John makes a staggering statement by saying, “whatever we ask we receive from him.” This bears a striking resemblance to what Jesus told his disciples in John 14:13-14, when he said, “Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” It is important that we recognize there are implied conditions attached to these promises. The Bible never teaches that through our prayers we can make selfish wishes and expect that they will be granted, as though God were some kind of genie in a lamp. To pray “in Jesus’ name” is to pray in accordance with Jesus' will. John makes this helpful clarification in verse 22 of our text, by adding that the reason why we receive whatever we ask is “because we keep [Christ's] commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.”
“To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray in accordance with Jesus' will.”
We must be careful to recognize that the principle we have just discovered does not mean that we can somehow earn favorable answers to our prayers through our own obedience and good behavior. Rather, this simply means that those of us who are striving to keep Christ's commandments will also be those who inevitably pray more righteously and regularly. And those who pray more righteously and regularly will always experience more of their prayers being answered than those who pray selfishly and rarely.
CHRIST'S OBEDIENCE MATTERS MORE
Even the most mature Christian often fails to obey. We all fall short in many ways. We must never forget that the first anchor for our assurance of salvation is not our own obedience, but faith in the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ. The problem was that the false teachers of John's day claimed to believe in Jesus, but by their deeds they denied him. Therefore, throughout this epistle, John gives these three tests of authentic faith: 1) A biblical and personal confession of the person and work of Christ, 2) Obedience to God's commandments, and 3) Love for God and other brothers and sisters in Christ. However, none of us will pass these tests perfectly. The question is simply this: Can we at least say that we are bearing some spiritual fruit? If so, we should rest in the fact that the only reason we possess any evidences of Christ's work through us, is because Christ's work on the cross was truly for us.
If we can genuinely say that we are at least bearing some spiritual fruit, and that we desire to increase in this endeavor, we should possess at least some measure of assurance of salvation. Therefore, we cannot allow ourselves to be led astray by our doubting hearts. Instead, we must learn to contend with our hearts by reminding ourselves that God is greater than our hearts.
1) Can you see any evidences of God's grace working in your life? Can other believers around you see any evidences of God's grace working in your life?
2) Are you being further propelled into deeper love for Christ and his Church? Is this love being regularly displayed in visible ways through a willingness and eagerness to commit to a biblically faithful church?
3) Do you sense your assurance of salvation lessening or growing? Why?
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