Today is our 10th day of studying the book of 1 John! Today has been chain-breaking for me, and I pray it is for you as well. If you are just now joining, grab a guide here and catch up on the posts: 1 John Reading Guide.
Reading: 1 John 3:19-24
I have a confession. I don’t like to get into trouble. If I feel like I am even remotely breaking a rule I cave. My own conscience can be enough punishment to keep me from disobeying or rebelling. Even as a child I did everything not to get into trouble. I remember the only time I have ever cheated on a test. It was that fateful day in the second grade. My teacher (who will rename unnamed;) had each student go up to the desk in the center of the room to grade our own tests. Torture for a perfectionist child, right? I went up after carefully going through my test but still felt uneasy about an answer on the last page. Palms sweaty and heart thumping in my chest, I walked to the desk to start grading. All when my eye caught a glimpse of my classmates paper. They had a different answer than me. Palms even sweatier, I told the teacher I forgot one thing and needed to sit back down. I changed my answer and walked back up to start grading…only to find that I originally had the correct answer. Tears welled up into my guilty eyes. I walked over to the teacher and told her that I cheated. That is when I melted into a puddle of tears. The teacher had my mom come talk to me (who was also a teacher at the school) after my confession. I will never forget that day. I never cheated again after that. The condemnation of my heart was punishment enough to keep me from doing wrong.
We have all felt the guilt of condemnation. It hurts. It’s heavy. Almost unbearable at times. It paralyzes us. It discourages us. It makes us compare with other women. Condemnation is a prison Satan likes to keep us in. Satan’s goal is to point all things back to our sinful hearts and our failure. If you are like me and despise getting in trouble, condemnation can be a struggle. You can live obsessed with what others think of you, constantly evaluating situations and looking to your own strength for success and affirmation. This cycle only ends in despair – Satan’s goal with condemnation. Condemnation kills joy and confidence in God because it points back to ourselves and not Christ.
This is where the best news comes in. Really, my heart is beating faster even typing this because I want you to understand the immensity of this truth:
The Gospel frees us from the prison of condemnation to walk in the love of Christ.
Romans 8:1-2 tells us “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Did you get that? NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That little word “in” points us back to the theme of 1 John: abide (make our dwelling place) in Christ. The whole point of the Gospel is that it is not of ourselves or our own strength but of Christ. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross frees us from self-condemnation to walk in confidence before God.
The beauty of this confidence that John speaks of in 1 John 3:21 is that God already knows everything. He is sovereign and sees it all. We can’t hide a single thing from God. Verse 20 says that he is “greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” Can you rest in that? Or does that make you want to hide? God sees the good, the bad, the ugly and the uglier. And, get this, He STILL loves us. The love of God is not conditional or based on our doing. The love of God is unconditional and based on the blood of Jesus Christ and what He did for us.
This is the reason we can have confidence before God. This is the reason we can live a life that pleases Him, believe in Jesus and abide in Him. He has set us free from the prison of self-condemnation by His great grace extended to us through Jesus. The will of God is for us to live in that freedom, confident before Him. For a perfectionist like myself, prone to wander and condemn myself into dissatisfaction and discouragement, this is the best news I could receive. As my pastor, Jason Hayes says, “The law says ‘do’, the Gospel says ‘done.'”
Where does this freedom lead us? To obey to God’s commandments. Verse 23 tells us what the command of God is:
1. To believe in the name of Jesus
2. To love one another
The word for believe is “pisteuo” and it means to have “faith that is weight down upon God’s faithfulness.” Faith is our response to the faithfulness of God. Because we believe in the atoning blood of Christ, we have faith that we can stand in confidence before Him. Because we have seen God prove Himself faithful both in the Bible and in our own lives, we have faith that He will continue to do so. Faith constantly looks back to remember God’s faithfulness and rests assuredly on His promises for the future.
- How are you looking back on how God has been faithful? Write down a few ways God has been faithful, both in the Bible and in your own life. In what ways can you apply God’s past faithfulness to current areas of struggle or waiting in your life today?
- Do you struggle with self-condemnation? Reread Romans 8:1-2. God has set you free from yourself and your sin in Christ Jesus. How can this good news change the course of your days?
We have been set free to live for Christ. Stand confidently today before your Creator and live life fully in the name of Jesus, loving others sacrificially, proclaiming the Gospel and living free from condemnation. The Gospel is good every single day. Rest in that, sisters, and abide in Christ.
abiding with you,