Living a Balanced Life
(An In-Depth Study of First John)
Being of the Truth
1 John 3:19-24
Assurance; both powerful and freeing.
Today, the 17th of March (first declared in the early 17th century), remembers Saint Patrick as the one who led the fifth-century Christian mission to Ireland. Unlike Britain, the Emerald Isle lay beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire. The Irish were considered uncivilized barbarians, and many thought their illiteracy and volatile emotions put them outside the reach of the gospel. At age sixteen, Patrick was taken captive by an Irish raiding party and spent the next six years on Irish soil as a slave. He learned their language, their culture, and most importantly, developed a heart for them.
Patrick escaped his captors and returned to England in his early twenties. In those years God had touched Patrick’s heart. He stepped foot once again on British soil, now a Christian. He studied for vocational ministry, and led a parish in Britain for nearly twenty years. At age 48 (past the life expectancy for a man in his century), when most retire; Patrick began his most accomplished ministry. Patrick and a team of dedicated missionaries took the Gospel to the ‘pagan’ Irish. The rest of the story is what movies are made of…
Whether God plans for us to evangelize a nation or a neighbor, no one can accomplish such a task without love in action. Last week we ended with the Apostle John’s encouragement, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” This week John continues this thought with the result statement, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth.” It is by loving one another in deed and in truth that we can reassure our hearts before God.
There are two themes which reoccur regularly throughout this letter; assurance before God and love for one another. Assurance that God is for us and that we are in a right relationship to him and genuine visible practical love for our brothers and sisters in Christ go hand-in-hand in the life of a true believer. John wants his readers to understand the amazing power that confidence before God has toward freedom to live a life of radical love. The only way we can exercise Christian love, the kind of love that lays down its life for another, is if we are first confident that the almighty God loves us. That he is for us and not against us. This confidence is the most valuable thing, the most freeing thing that anyone could ever possess. It was in this confidence and love that Patrick took the Gospel into the darkness in Ireland. Instead of coasting out life, he gave nearly thirty years transforming an entire nation. Patrick is a prime example of John’s precepts in chapter three.
Confidence Gains Strength (Vs 19-20)
19a: “In this [the love and obedience we exhibit; vv. 11–18] we will know that we are of the truth.”
19b–20: “We will reassure our hearts in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us, because (1) God is greater than our hearts, and (2) God knows all things.”
Motivation for Prayer (Vs 21-22)
Take on the nature of the Father
Love what God loves, Hate what God hates
Union between Faith and Love (Vs 23)
Cannot believe without loving
Cannot love without believing
Abiding in God, and God in us (vs 24)
Not human effort
By the Spirit
Confidence in God frees us to love.
Loving each other is reassuring evidence that we are in the truth.