[1 John 3:21-23]
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”
This is the 34th session of Lectures on 1 John.
I was discussing 1 John 3:21-22 in the last session when the time was up.
The scripture says, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”
This passage clearly tells us how we can receive answers and blessings from God who has created heaven and earth and all things in them and who control the human history, and life and death, and blessing and curse.
If you have a desire of your heart, it should not be easy for you to ask God just because you attend church but you befriend the world and live in sins.
When you are in a desperate situation, you might pray but it would be as if you were clutching at straws. Eventually you will rely on the world because you have no confidence in receiving the answer.
And when the outcome is not good, some foolish believers blame God for not listening to their prayers.
On the other hand, those children of God who live by His word can ask anything of God with confidence.
They have the confidence that God loves them and He will answer them.
Even if they are in a difficult situation for the moment, they believe that God will work for the good of everything.
This confidence is not physical but spiritual confidence, one that is given in the truth.
1 John 5:14 also says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
We can be spiritually confident because we have the assurance that God will hear us when we ask according to His will.
Those spiritual children who abide by the truth will not pray with greed or evilness of heart.
They ask what is right in the sight of God and within His justice, and they ask according to how the Holy Spirit guides them.
For this reason they have the faith that they have already received what they ask.
1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”
When we love God and dwell in the truth, we don’t have fear.
They boldly ask God and receive the answer without worrying or thinking, “What if I don’t receive the answer? What if the things don’t go as I wished?”
And here, asking in the truth does not mean you can never ask for anything personal but only for the kingdom of God.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God the Father wants His children to enjoy abundant blessings.
Those who only ask for their own desires and not for the kingdom and righteousness of God cannot be considered to love God.
If they do not love God, then they will have some awkwardness in their relationship with God and so, for them to boldly ask of God is not easy.
Also, the prayers given with greed or evil hearts are not easily answered.
Suppose there is a person who prays as follows:
“God I lead a diligent life as a Christian, so why do I always have hardships?
If you quickly give me financial blessings, I will give glory to You and I will give a lot more offering.
Let the customers who are going to the neighboring shop all come to my shop and let my sales increase. I believe You will answer me!”
Can you imagine just how taken aback God would be!
He is praying that he believes, but he is praying with words of unbelief, resentment and complaining.
Furthermore, he is praying with evil heartedness and greed.
He cannot have the confidence that he will receive the answer.
Then, how should he be praying?
Consider the following prayer: “Father, You said we will prosper in all things and we will be healthy as our soul prospers.
Let me dwell in the truth and please You Father, and let me glorify Your name through my shop.
Let me supply the products that are good and necessary for the customers, with kindness and faithfulness.
Give me the wisdom so that I will benefit not only the customers but also I will edify my neighbors as well as increasing my sales.”
God will hear such a prayer.
I am not saying you should memorize something like this and pray. It’s just an example of the kind of attitude you should have when you pray.
When students pray for their exams, if they pray with selfish desires, they cannot have the confidence of being answered.
Consider the following prayer: “God, I did not study until now, but I prayed a lot and lived a good life for a month.
So, let me get the highest score on the math exam tomorrow.”
Faith cannot be given when a person prays as above.
But consider the following prayer: “Father, I’ve studied hard to do the duty of a student and give glory to You.
Let me remember everything I studied and adding wisdom to me that I might not make any mistakes.
Let me get the best result I can by relying on the power of the Lord.”
One would have assurance and confidence only when he prays with faith and goodness as above.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the reason why we can be spiritually confident and receive whatever we ask is because we keep His commandments and we do the things that please Him.
To keep the commandments of God is to obey all the words in the Bible not just the Ten Commandments.
Also, it is said love is the fulfillment of the Law, and thus, he who loves God and his brothers is the one who keeps the commandments.
I will explain about this later when we get to verse 23.
Now, what are the things that please Him?
3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” As recorded, God is pleased when we practice the truth.
He is also pleased with worship services, prayers, and offerings that are offered to Him with all our heart.
When Solomon offered one thousand sacrifices with all his strength, God was so pleased that God asked what Solomon’s desired from Him first.
When we offer up to Him praises with all our heart like David did, He takes delight more greatly than when we offer to Him sacrifices of a bull.
God is pleased when we show our faith without utilizing our fleshly thoughts, just like Abraham offered his son Isaac and the sons of Israel who crossed the flooding Jordan River with faith.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him.” As said, God is delighted when we boldly act with spiritual faith, and He is moved to give us blessings.
He is also delighted with unchanging truthfulness and honesty without any falsehood, like that of Daniel.
He is pleased with a person who sacrifices and dedicates himself for other brothers like Ruth did.
He also rejoices with faithfulness for the kingdom of God like Joseph was faithful, and with helping the needy like Tabitha and Cornelius did.
It is also pleasing God when you spread the gospel and take care of souls who have weak faith.
Brothers and sisters, if we love God and the Lord, it is not difficult to keep the commandments.
Also, if we love our neighbors, we will naturally act in goodness to please God.
If we keep His commandments and do the things that please Him, we will receive answers to whatever we ask.
I am a living witness to this fact as you see.
Because I was facing certain death when I met God and afterwards I wanted to know the heart and will of God with all the very best in me.
I was so thankful and I loved God so much that I learned the word of God and obeyed whatever I learned.
If God dislikes anything, I disliked it from the depths of my heart. If God delighted in something, I delighted in it, too, and I did the things that pleased Him.
So, God answered whatever I asked. When I just harbored something in heart, He gave to me even before asking.
God knows the things I will need at certain points in time. So, He prepared everything in advance and gave it to me at the most appropriate moments.
For this reason, I only pray for the kingdom of God and other souls. I do not pray for myself or for my family members.
I believe your faith has increased so much that you are also experiencing these things.
I hope you will keep the commandments with all your heart and do only the things that please God.
In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that, you will be confident before God and receive whatever you ask Him.