As I pondered Sunday's sermon (see last post), I was reminded of a passage of Scripture I had recently read and been greatly encouraged by. It's not talking about exactly the same thing, but it is a wonderful reminder of the infinite greatness and grace of our Lord.
1 John 3: 19-21 (emphasis mine) John is speaking of love for the brethren:
"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God."
What do these verses mean? I was slightly puzzled as I read it at first. The footnotes in the ESV Reformation Study Bible were a great help.
"v.16-24: Mutual love in the fellowship is evidence of new life. It is based on the love of Jesus Christ, who 'laid down His life' in our place. Measuring ourselves against such an example, our heart 'condemns us' (v. 20) and our confidence can only be restored by someone greater than our hearts - God Himself. God, who 'knows everything', has proved His love for sinners by the gift of His Son. (4:10; Rom. 5:8). Confidence founded on this reality carries with it the assurance that our deeds are also accepted by God (v. 22), and when guilt is dealt with we are relased to pray unhindered (v. 22). Confident prayer is a hallmark of the children of God."
"v. 20 - The Word of God which acquits us must prevail over the word of our hearts that condemns us."
As I read these notes, my heart took great comfort and rejoicing in these verses.
You see, as Christians striving to be like Christ, our hearts can only condemn us because of how greatly we fail to love as He loved. Remaining sin often discourages and weighs us down. (Rom. 7) BUT there is hope. Our hearts need something greater than ourselves. And as believers, we have something Greater! He is the Lord, our Savior, who is infinitely greater than our hearts!
Through the Savior, our deeds are accepted before a holy God. For He lived a perfectly holy and sinless life on our behalf! Therefore He is our only hope, and our only plea before the Father. Rom. 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Let us rejoice in our merciful and faithul High Priest! "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may recieve mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16)