Sunday, January 3, 2016

Jesus is Greater than Our Heart: Be Confident, Don't Feel Guilty (1 John 3:19-20)

Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything
(1 John 3:19-20, NLT).

By this we know [without any doubt] that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart and quiet our conscience before Him whenever our heart convicts us [in guilt]; for God is greater than our heart and He knows all things [nothing is hidden from Him because we are in His hands]
(Amplified Bible).

The Apostle John begins by referring back to what he had just said. How we know that we belong to the truth, to God? We use the test of love. As John has said before, what makes the difference is not what we have said or felt or intended, but what we have done. “Our actions will show that we belong to the truth.” Love is the ultimate or most important test that tells whether or not our faith has really sunk in, been understood, and made a difference in our lives. “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another” (1 John 3:11).

The Apostle also talks here about our “feelings.” “Hearts” is better translation. Another word for heart, in this context, is “conscience,” that inner voice which often gives us clues regarding whether we have done right or wrong. Have you ever felt guilty about something? I sure have. I seem to have had an overactive conscience as far back as I can remember. As a child, even as an adult, I often felt guilty about the thoughts I had when I’ve done wrong. I also even felt guilty even if I hadn’t done anything wrong too! What exactly is a conscious? It is simply God’s voice telling us what is right or wrong? Yes, at times. But no, most of the time. No, it seems to grow and develop from the time we are born; the voice of conscious often reflects the feelings and rules we grow up with. Sometimes the conscience is called an “inner parent.” Most often, a conscience says things like, “You shouldn’t do or think that! You naughty person! You will never change!” Seldom does a conscience say, “You’ve done good things! How thoughtful and kind you are!”

Our consciences often reflect the rules and regulations of our families as well as other people with whom we have contact in our early years – other relatives, friends, teachers, mentors, and so on. We need to remember that our guilty conscious may reflect God’s message to us – but they may also be in error. A conscience is by no means perfect – it may be unjust or distorted. Because of their upbringing, some people will do terrible things and never feel guilty about them. So, there is more to God than what our consciences tell us. I hope this is clear. Certainly God can speak to us through our consciences and help us keep from doing wrong. But our consciences also can exaggerate what we feel. So, when we feel condemned or judged by our consciences, we need to remember that “God is greater than our heart” or consciences. God “knows all things” – not only what we do, but what we want and what we intend to do – “nothing is hidden from Him because we are in His hands.

My friends, God may even be easier on us than we are on ourselves!

If we love in deed and not word alone, our standing before God is confirmed.
Our actions [due to genuine love] will show that we belong to the truth,
Because of this, don’t feel guilty but “be confident.”
Jesus is greater than our heart or consciences.
Even better than conscience, the Holy Spirit Himself will guide us to know what’s right or wrong.

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