1 John 3:19-24
This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Philosophers have a special word for the study of knowledge: epistemology. How do you know what you know? Can you prove that what you know is really true? What is the connection between knowledge and belief? A classic example is how you can know that a chair will support you if you sit in it. Maybe you have sat in that chair before, so you have knowledge based on personal experience. Maybe you have closely examined the design and craftsmanship of the chair, so you know it is sturdy based on observation. Maybe you have sat in thousands of other chairs, so you trust this chair because those other chairs held you up. There are many ways to verify our knowledge or to prove a scientific fact, but when it comes to our faith, we might struggle to find evidence that proves what we believe is actually true. It’s one thing to say you believe Jesus is God’s Son, but it’s a whole different issue to prove it.
John understood how our hearts might wrestle with what we believe and that we might face moments of uncertainty about our relationship with Jesus. We can’t see or touch God. We can’t talk to Jesus face to face. Even John, who knew Jesus personally, must have dealt with doubt sometimes. We all do. What is remarkable about our faith is that, while what we believe is based on Biblical truth about God and Jesus, we have to believe before that truth can become evident in our lives. For us, it isn’t that seeing is believing, but rather that we must believe in order to see the reality of God in our lives. John says that if we believe in Jesus and follow his command to love one another, then we will come to know that He lives in us “by the Spirit.” It’s our faith that unlocks this relationship with God and invites the Spirit to dwell within us, and in turn, the Spirit’s active presence in us proves the reality of God. We know by faith, and by knowing, our faith finds assurance.
If epistemology and theology are not your cup of tea, don’t worry. Faith doesn’t have to be complicated, and we don’t have to express it with big words. The best faith is simple faith. The central, comforting truth of this passage is that we can trust that our relationship with God through Jesus Christ is real. The Spirit gives us that confidence. We all deal with doubts and fears, but you can know for sure that God loves you and that Jesus is your Savior.
Father, You are good and glorious. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to live in my heart and for giving me the assurance of Your love. Help my faith to grow and overcome my doubts. Give me joy and peace in Your unfailing grace, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian