“God is Greater Than Our Hearts” 1 John 3:19-20

“God is Greater Than Our Hearts” 1 John 3:19-20


“God is Greater Than Our Hearts”

1 John 3:19-20

Pastor Ryan J. McKeen




1 John chapter 3. A common theme in this world is that we need to trust our hearts. We need to follow your heart, right? You hear this everywhere. Whether it’s children’s movies, TV shows, commercials, everything that we hear is telling us to trust our heart. Famous athlete, when he finishes a game, and, do you have anything to say to the children? Yeah, just follow your heart. Follow your heart, and it will lead you where you want to go.

Recently, there was a famous couple who got divorced. And when asked why, the wife said, well, I just need to follow my heart. I just need to follow my heart. Your heart is desperately wicked. That’s what Jeremiah tells us. Your heart is desperately wicked. And this passage this morning in 1 John tells us that your heart condemns you. Your heart condemns you. So you tell me to listen to my heart. Well, thanks a lot. Why would I ever want to do that? In fact, I’m the worst person I know. Why would I want to listen to my heart? Maybe we should stop listening to our hearts and listen to God. And that’s what our text tells us this morning.

And if you saw in your bulletin, the title of this message is God is greater than our heart, because that’s literally what the verse says. When your heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart. In this text this morning, John continues his addressed to the matter of having assurance in our salvation. This apparently was an issue that this church he was writing to was facing.

And as we’ve come through the book of 1 John, we’ve seen a lot of the contextual situational issues that they had. They had false teachers that had come in, and then they had gone out. And John says, well, they went out from you because they were not of you. You don’t need to be worrying that you’re the ones that are wrong or you’re the ones that are not in Christ. They’re the ones who’ve left Christ and they went out because they’re not part of you. And yet there are still issues of assurance. Issues of whether or not we are truly saved. This was an apparently sensitive and concerned congregation. And John is writing with a pastoral heart, encouraging them in their faith.

And we’ve seen over and over the different evidences John points to with how you can know that you have eternal life, that you’re of the truth, that you’re in the light. And all of these things point us back to the change that has happened in our heart. The change that happens when we come to Christ, when we place faith in Christ, and we are made new. God replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh. And because that happens, other things happen in our life. And really, when we see these marks of salvation, it serves a two-fold purpose. For them, and for us, It allows us to evaluate those around us, maybe false teachers, maybe those who profess faith but have never lived, and a shred of evidence that that’s true. Well, it’s important for us to know whether or not they’re saved, because we’re supposed to be preaching the gospel to the unsaved.

So there’s one purpose that we have in seeing these marks of salvation, how do we really if you’re a Christian. But also, we need to be looking at our own heart. And John is giving us tools so that we can be looking at our own hearts and evaluating whether or not we are in the faith, whether or not we are in Christ, whether or not we are a Christian. And this is not to make us doubt, not to make us fear, or not to make us worry, but to give us confidence, to give us strength and conviction, and yes, assurance that we are Christians. Assurance of salvation has been a struggle for many Christians, really throughout church history.

You see here in First John, this church, very early on in church history, had these questions of assurance. And then as you follow the history of the church, you see different eras and time periods where there were serious questions. And usually, it happened when there was many people coming to faith, when there were a lot of people getting saved, and you had all these new baby Christians, and what do we do? What do we do now? And eventually, it comes to a fear of, well, how do I know I’m really saved?

One era that this happened was the Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards was a central figure in the Great Awakening, and he was a preacher that was used mightily by God as he preached the doctrines of sin and repentance and faith. And God used, again, God used him mightily, along with men like George Whitefield and others, but literally multitudes of people were getting saved. It was changing the country. And the sermons he preached and the books he wrote called people to obedience, to recognize their sin, to forsake their sin and turn to Christ. And he explained that the only way to find true fulfillment, true satisfaction, is by glorifying God, by enjoying God. But again, as these vast numbers of people were coming into the church, becoming Christians, this issue of assurance came up.

So, Jonathan Edwards wrote a book called A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, or by a shorter name, just Religious Affections. It’s one of Jonathan Edwards’ seminal works, one of the books he is most known for, and it is an excellent book. And the purpose of this book was to provide assurance of salvation. How can people know that they’re truly saved? And his argument is that the most accurate proof of salvation is the presence in your life of holy and religious affections.

Now, by affections, he does not mean feelings. He doesn’t mean that you should feel saved. Affections means our desires, the things that we want. When Christ comes and makes us new, our desires change. We want righteousness. We want to do righteousness. Now, we’re not perfect. We do fail, and that’s usually where our struggles with assurance come in. But when Christ comes and gives us a new heart, we have new affections. He defines religious affections as a zealous and biblical inclination towards righteousness, evidenced by practical good works.

So it’s not our good works that save us, but what he’s saying is when Christ comes and gives you a new heart, makes you a new creation, you want different things. And that will result in a life that looks different, a life that does do good works. And although we’re not perfect, as I said, we desire to be. We want to please God. And it grieves us when we do sin. That’s Paul in Romans 7. The things that I want to do, I don’t do. And the things that I don’t want to do, that I do. Wretched man that I am, right? Then you get to Romans 8. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

So although we do struggle with sin, and as we’ve seen in going through these passages in 1 John, the struggle with sin is part of our assurance. If we didn’t struggle, if we just blatantly sinned and didn’t feel any effect from it, then you should wonder if you’re saved. but the fact that your sin grieves you, your sin breaks you, you feel sorrow for your sin, you don’t want to do it anymore, and yet you fell into it. That is a heart with new affections. It’s a heart that doesn’t love sin, it’s a heart that loves Christ, and a heart that wants to live for Christ despite our imperfections. This is really the parable of the different soils, the parable of the seeds on the soil. There are those who do show initial evidence of faith, possibly, but then fall away. And they live a life of total rebellion, and some even renounce their faith.

Well, this is because they were never truly converted. They might have gone along with the motions and they did what their friends or family were doing. And it looked great. But when they fall away, it’s not because they lost anything. It’s because they never had it. Because you can fake it for a while. You can have a good time and the excitement of this new thing, but when times get tough, When that pull of the world, when the pull of sin starts pulling you away, do you go freely or do you fight it? Does it break you? That’s the difference in the affections of our hearts.

And Jonathan Edwards’ teaching was not new to him. This is what we see in James chapter two, that even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead. Yes, we can profess faith, but without a change in our life, those are just words. Faith is shown in our life. If we have faith, it will affect what we do. And yet, there’s been several different viewpoints on the assurance of salvation throughout history. I mean, you have the traditional historic reformed view that we’ve been talking about, that salvation is a permanent gift that results in a life that’s changed, a life of righteous living. But in contrast to that, there’s a, you can call it Arminian or Pelagian view, where you can lose your salvation. that you can have salvation, you can be saved, and yet you can fall away and then lose that salvation. That salvation is conditional, that you have to keep it up. You have no guarantee beyond your initial experience.

So really, those that promote this view or hold to this view, They believe that they can and do lose their salvation. Sometimes they feel like they’re in and they’re out, and they’re in and they’re out, and it’s a tormenting life to never have any confidence that you are truly saved because you’re afraid you’re gonna lose it the next day. If you can lose your salvation, then it’s not eternal life. It’s temporary. It’s hopeful. It’s maybe. If you can lose your salvation, you can lose the Holy Spirit. If you can lose your salvation, what does it even mean to be a new creation?

Then, as time progressed in church history, there was kind of a third view. It was a little softer than Arminianism, but This view is sometimes called the no lordship or free grace view, and it denies that there’s any connection between justification and sanctification, that you can be justified and never sanctified, that you can become saved because you prayed a prayer or you walked the aisle or whatever that initial moment was for you, that once you do that, then anything after that doesn’t matter. Once you’re saved, you’re saved. Now on its face, that phrase is true, but not in the way that they mean it. It teaches that once you’re justified, people are saved forever. And again, that’s true. But they teach even that if you only have a change of heart and have no interest in obedience, in holiness, in pleasing Christ, and keeping his commandments. In other words, once you make that decision, everything after that really doesn’t mean anything. Yeah, it’s great if you live for Christ, but hey, at least you got your insurance policy.

This view wrongly bases our assurance on a one-time either profession or prayer or experience not in a present consistent life, a life that evidences fruit. Those are some different views on assurance that people have had in the past. And in contrast to those views, you have the Bible. The Bible that teaches us how we can have assurance. In fact, we have the book of 1 John. John wrote this letter In 1 John 5.13 he says, these things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. So that’s the purpose John wrote this for. He wants his readers to know, to be certain, to have no doubt of their salvation. To have an assurance that is real. An assurance that lasts. That’s John’s purpose with this whole letter, and we see that in our text this morning.

We’ll see in verses 19 and 20 of chapter three, three realities about assurance. Three realities. Number one, we can’t ignore our conscience. He’ll speak of our hearts and our conscience, but it’s important that we don’t ignore our conscience. That’s number one. Number two, to have assurance we must be convinced that God’s love is in us. Not just that God loves us, because that’s often what you hear, right? God loves you. God loves you and has a great plan for your life. We need to be convinced God’s love is in us. And then number three, we need to be convinced of God’s greatness. God’s greatness outside of us. Because my assurance does not lie with anything in me. My assurance is found in the greatness of my God.

So those are our three realities we will see this morning. And we know that we should be examining ourselves, our hearts, to see if we are producing the fruit that a Christian should. In fact, we’ve looked at this verse before, but 2 Corinthians 13, 5, Paul specifically says, test yourselves to see if you’re in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you not recognize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you fail the test. And that’s it. If Christ is in you, you’ll pass the test. So examine yourself. That’s your assurance that Christ is in you. Each of these realities we’ll look at this morning fall under the greater theme of love, because that’s really what John’s been talking about in all of chapter three.

We had in chapter two, The proof of obedience, the proof of living a life for Christ. Then we get to chapter three and he’s talking a lot about love. How do we know if we’re in Christ? We love one another. And over and over again, he keeps repeating this. In fact, the last verse we covered last week, verse 18, says this, little children, let us not love with word or tongue. but in deed and truth. So don’t just let your love be words. Words sound nice, but they are no more than that. In fact, if you love with your words and not your actions, those words can be bitter. They can sting. They’re a lie. So don’t just love with your words, love indeed and truth. And I’ll read our two verses this morning, verses 19 and 20.

So love indeed and truth, and by this we will know that we are of the truth, and we will assure our heart before him. And whatever our heart condemns us, for God is greater than our heart, and he knows all things. Again, clearly it is possible for a Christian to struggle with assurance. And just because you struggle with assurance does not mean you’re not a Christian. I think from time to time, every Christian will ask those questions, will struggle with their assurance. It’s kind of a big deal.

So yeah, we ask those questions, and we have those struggles, and there are answers. to those questions. There’s answers in God’s word to the questions we have. But when we’re burdened with doubt, usually in hard times in life or when we’ve failed or we’ve sinned again, we start to ask the questions, am I really a Christian? Have I really believed in Jesus Christ? When I die, where will I go? Will I go to be with God? All of those questions, they happen, they’re real.

And not only that, they’re intensified when our conscience is accusing us. When our conscience is reminding us, remember when you did that? Remember when you said that? Oh, you really failed there. Man, what kind of a Christian does this? That only intensifies those questions that we can have. We’ve all asked those questions at one time or another. And often these accusations, as I said, come from different failures or discouraging situations. Sometimes we have a failure in our faith or in our love, or in our obedience, and we’re prompted to wonder, am I really a Christian? And Satan is hard at work in these times. He is the accuser. He helps accuse us.

So are we going to listen to our heart? Are we going to follow our heart? Because when we follow our heart, and our heart continually accuses and condemns us. Again, it’s no wonder why our world struggles with depression. When we tell them over and over again, follow your heart. Who are we going to listen to? And in our text this morning, John provides helpful advice for this problem of doubt. And we’ll see that we are to not ignore our conscience, but we’re to confront our conscience. We’re not saying, don’t listen to your heart at all. Confront your heart. Challenge your heart. Inform your heart with God’s truth.

So number one, as I mentioned, our first reality we’ll see is we cannot ignore our conscience. If we ignore our conscience, That will lead us further and further into despair and further and further into sin. Verse 19 says, and by this we will know that we are of the truth and will assure our heart before Him. He starts speaking of our heart. Obviously, he’s not speaking about our flesh and our organ, the heart muscle that pumps the blood through our veins. This is our spirit, and really what he’s talking about here by our heart is our conscience. As the next verse speaks of our heart accusing us, it’s our conscience that accuses us. Every single human being that’s ever been born or created has a conscience. We have a conscience. We are born with the law of God written on our heart, as the Bible says.

And our conscience can accuse us, it can excuse our sin, or it can give us confidence. It can encourage us, depending on how we respond to God’s word. Depending on what our conscience is informed by, Romans 2 speaks of the effect of God’s law written on our heart, which again is biblical language for our conscience. Romans 2, 14 and 15 says, for when Gentiles who do not have the law, they’re speaking of non-Christians, those who don’t know God, who were not raised knowing God. And Paul says, when they do the things of the law, not even having the law, they’re a law to themselves. They demonstrate the work of the law written in their hearts and their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.

So even the Gentiles, those who never had the God of Israel, those who were raised with these pagan deities, even they know right and wrong. Even they know the law because the law is written on their hearts. We call this the image of God. And as Romans 1 tells us, everybody knows there’s a God. But they suppress the truth, they deny the truth, they reject God. And here Romans 2.15, they demonstrate the work of the law written on their hearts and their conscience. Their conscience bears witness in their thoughts, accusing or defending them. So everyone has a conscience and they can accuse or defend you.

So how do we get our conscience at rest when it does condemn us, when it accuses us, when it brings up those sins? Well first, don’t ignore it. Don’t ignore it. Ignoring your conscience is one of the worst things you can do. Your conscience is God-given. I hope you caught that in Romans 2. It comes from the law of God written on your heart. It reacts when we sin. And those who are Christians have embraced the truth of Scripture, and they know the Word of God. And when believers obey the Word of God, our consciences defend us. We have confidence. This is what God said. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. I have a clear conscience. It’s defending me because of God’s Word. God’s Word informs me. It informs my conscience. In the same way, if we sin, if we do what we know is wrong, or we don’t do what we know is right when we sin, our conscience indicts us, it accuses us, it convicts us of our wrong thoughts and words and actions. And that’s why if believers continue in sin, their conscience can make them fearful and depressed. and discouraged, and in dread, and bearing heavy burdens, and feeling like you’re going to die.

This is what the Psalms tell us. This is what David himself tells us. David, a man after God’s own heart, battled this fear and depression and insecurity about his own standing with God, about his own life. Psalm 32 is one of David’s confession psalms where he’s confessing sin. And listen to how he describes the effect sin has on him.

Psalm 32, verses three through five. When I kept silent about my sin, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained away as with the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not cover up, and I said, I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh.” And that’s where the Psalm turns, and he starts to rejoice, and feel joy, and be encouraged. Because when he kept silent about his sin, his conscience convicted him, accused him, and he couldn’t live with it.

Psalm 38 is another one. Verses one through eight of Psalm 38 say this, O Yahweh, reprove me not in your wrath and discipline me not in your burning anger. For your arrows have pressed deep into me and your hand has pressed down upon me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation. There is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities go over my head as a heavy burden. They weigh too much for me. My wounds stink and rot because of my folly. I am bent over and greatly bowed down. I go in mourning all day long. My loins are filled with burning and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am faint. I am badly crushed. I groan because of the agitation of my heart. That’s David’s condition. in his sin. That’s what sin does to you. This is why we don’t ignore our conscience. This is why we don’t make excuses for sin. This is why we don’t convince ourselves, well, no, it’s not really sin. It’s not really a big deal. I mean, everybody does it. This is where you will be. The effect that our conscience has on us due to sin cannot be overestimated.

In fact, we underestimate it so much today. We look for a source and a cure elsewhere. We often either mask it or hide it. We justify our sin. We make excuses for it. Some even go so far as to dull their conscience with alcohol or drugs or prescriptions or whatever it may be, whatever it is to get this feeling away from me. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. And we never talk about Maybe it’s sin.

Now, there are physical struggles and issues and things that contribute to these things. But we shouldn’t separate our physical beings, our physical self, from our spiritual side. We are united. We are holistic. When we have struggles, it affects all of us, our entire being. We can’t just try to focus on the physical problems and expect everything to be fixed. The Bible never gives any of those prescriptions or cures that we run to today. And again, I’m not saying that medicine or any of those things are not helpful. They are incredibly helpful. And there is a need for them in certain circumstances. But don’t ignore biblical truth. Don’t ignore biblical truth.

Just these two Psalms, 32 and 38, that I just read portions of. The symptoms they describe, sleeplessness, fatigue, weakness, lack of vitality, carrying a heavy burden, depression, physical wounds and sores, and even thoughts of death. Sounds like an anti-depressant commercial. And these things are real. These are real. We actually face these things. These issues, these symptoms, we are going to face them at one time or another. And where do we go first? What’s the first place we turn?

Again, I’m not saying that tape a Bible verse to it and it’ll be all fixed. that are good and proper places for medicine. But where do we go first? Are we going to scriptures at all? Are we listening to God’s perspective on it? Or do we go to the doctor and the therapist first, and hopefully that takes care of it, and if not, maybe I’ll get around to considering my own spiritual life, considering my own heart. considering how that may be contributing to the problems that I’m facing.

And again, Paul, he had a thorn in the flesh, and he begged God three times to take it away, and God didn’t. So sometimes our struggles and our symptoms that we have in our life, the real things that hurt, They’re not part of our sin. They’re not a result of our sin. God has ordained that for us. And that’s okay. God has a purpose in it. But what I’m saying is, don’t ignore your conscience. Just make sure your conscience is informed by Scripture. When these things plague you and weigh you down, If you’re looking to other sources when you really have a sin problem, when you have something in your life that your conscience, your heart deep down knows is wrong and you can’t live with it anymore and yet you’re making excuses and well, that’s not really sin and that’s not that bad and well, it could be worse. I’ll keep that for myself and nobody needs to know about that. And maybe I’ll try to feel better by doing some other type of cure or help in these issues, consider your own heart. What is your heart saying? Is it telling the truth? And again, when Christians who do have the Holy Spirit, who are regenerate, and they live in this condition where they’re continually plagued by their sin, and they live in their sin and they don’t repent, they can start to face issues of assurance of salvation. That makes sense. It does.

So where do we go? Well, we can go to passages like this. when our conscience is empowered by the Holy Spirit, by biblical standards. Unless we actually deal with our sin and repent of our sin, our conscience will continually, painfully remind us of that sin. And we will battle these burdens until our sin is dealt with. So if sin is contributing to these issues, it won’t go away until you deal with your sin. Just like pain is a physical warning to let us know if we have something wrong with our physical body, an illness or an ailment of some kind, our conscience is a spiritual warning, a warning to our soul. But again, our conscience to function properly needs to be informed by Scripture.

Conscience is not independent. It is not just automatically right. It’s not just whatever I feel like. Whatever my conscience is telling me how I feel, that makes it right. No, it operates by whatever you inform it with. That’s why there are those in the world, unbelievers, who can blatantly sin and don’t feel bad for it. because their conscience is not informed by Scripture. They do what’s good for them, what feels good to them. And the Bible warns us about this, too. 1 Timothy 4. One and two, but the spirit explicitly says that in later times, some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons by the hypocrisy of liars who have been seared in their own conscience. They’ve seared their conscience. Even though the law of God is written on their heart, they’ve ignored it so many times. They’ve excused it so many times that they no longer feel it. and their conscience has grown a callous on it. And you can do what you want, and there is no conviction there. That’s searing our conscience. That’s what happens when we ignore our consciences.

We need to be informed by God’s word. Jesus, in John chapter eight, verses 31 and 32, says this very thing, that we need to be informed by him. Jesus was saying to those Jews who believed in him, if you abide in my word, then you are my true disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. The truth will make you free. The law of God, empowered by the spirit of God, awakens people to their condition. The law shows us our sin, and the Holy Spirit makes us care about it. And the sinner, when he sees his true wretchedness and guilt before God, and he’s faced with the reality of what’s going to happen because of that, he’s faced with God’s wrath, faced with God’s judgment, only then, only when the sinner gets to that point, Does he hear the call of the gospel? Does he hear the call of deliverance and mercy and grace through faith in Christ? This is why we talked about propitiation in 1 John 2. That’s where John’s coming from. When your sins were propitiated, they were paid for, they were taken on in Christ, it removes your guilt.

So then, you can enjoy the deliverance from that sin. And then, when we get to chapter three, verse 20, when our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart. God is greater than our heart. our sin was paid for. One of the best gifts of salvation is a clean conscience. A conscience that actually works and is clean. Really, right before we get saved, that’s the most intense your conscience will convict you. Because it convicts you of what sin really is. And what you need in that moment. In Hebrews, chapter nine, it says, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without blemish to God, to cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Part of what Christ did was cleansing your conscience.

Then in Hebrews 10, verses 19 to 22, it says, therefore, brothers, because that’s true, because we have a clean conscience now, Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the veil that is his flesh, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. That’s the answer. Our assurance is in Christ. And John wrote to encourage these believers to help them accurately evaluate their own spiritual condition. He didn’t say, don’t worry about it. He didn’t say, oh, don’t even ask those questions. He said, by this we know. This is how you know.

So number one, we cannot ignore our conscience. Our conscience is God-given. It needs to be informed by the word of God. And number two, we need to be convinced of God’s love in us. Convinced that God’s love is in us.

As I mentioned, verse 18 speaks of love and says, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. And verse 19 follows with, and by this, by that, by loving in deed and truth along with our words, by that we will know that we are of the truth and we will assure our hearts before him. So how will we know? By the love of God that’s in us, working itself out through us. We saw before that in verse 14 of chapter three, we know that we’ve passed out of death into life because we love the brothers. That’s the evidence that we’ve passed from death into life. We’ve been made new. We’ve been made alive. Our walk with God may not be all that it should be. And we do stumble and we fall. But when our heart does condemn us, we can look to the presence of God’s love in our hearts. We can look to the fact that we’ve passed out of death into life because we love our brothers. And we can answer our accusations of our heart. We can be reassured of our faith.

As Joel Beeke says, He explained this passage this way. When our consciences condemn us, as we examine our recent thoughts, words, and actions, we should not dispute the accusations. Instead, we should point to the reality of what the Puritans called the in-breaking love of God in our lives. Then we can say, what my heart is saying is true. Yes, I did those things. Yes, it’s sin. I have failed, and I will continue to fail until my last breath, and I’ve been made perfect in the presence of God. I have failed and I have fallen, but I am persuaded that God has broken into my heart and that I have become a new creature in Christ. I love his people, sinful and poor though they may be, and I love Christ before all we can actually point to some real evidence as an answer to those accusations. We don’t ignore them. We don’t tell our hearts, no, no, that’s not sin, that’s not bad, that’s okay. No, we say, yes, I did that. Yes, I said that. Yes, I thought that. And I don’t like it, but I’m forgiven. I’m in Christ. I love the brothers. And the Bible tells me that’s my proof of salvation. That’s the evidence that I’m in Christ. Love indeed in truth. Love that lays down its life for the brothers. Love that gives of the world’s goods to those in need. It’s not just some profession, some words you said, or claiming to be a Christian. It is a renewed heart. It is a new life. It is actually loving the brothers. That’s the reality of our assurance. That’s where we find this assurance.

So number two is we must be convinced that God’s love is in us. That’s what this whole section has been showing us. And then thirdly, we must be convinced of God’s greatness. God’s greatness.

So yes, while we do have inward evidence of our salvation, if that’s all there was, my assurance would be based on my works. But my assurance is based on my Savior. My sense of love for the brothers, it ebbs and it flows. It fails sometimes. I’m not always loving like I should be. That doesn’t mean I lost my salvation. The verdict that counts is not the one I pass on myself. It’s not the one that you pass on me. The verdict that counts is God’s verdict.

In John chapter two, he took us to a courtroom scene and he used legal language because the verdict is settled. Our sin has been paid for if you were in Christ. And in verse 20 of chapter three here, he says, in whatever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and he knows all things.

So while we don’t ignore our conscience, we don’t just appeal to our conscience. We appeal to the greatness of God and the sufficiency of our savior. Again, we don’t just follow our heart. We don’t just listen to our heart. We can make our heart say whatever we want it to say. That’s what searing a conscience does. We listen to God. We inform our conscience by what God says. God is greater than your heart. Put that on a t-shirt. See how well it sells. God is greater than our heart. But what does that mean for me?

Well, to understand what John’s talking about here, you can go to John chapter 21, the gospel of John. We won’t go there this morning. But in John 21, after the resurrection, after Peter had denied Christ three times, even denied him to a slave girl, really faced with a pretty minimal risk and denied him, cursed him and denied him, Jesus went and found Peter. He went and found him. And Peter was grieving. And you can tell by the reaction of when Peter saw it was Christ. He dove out of the boat and he came to shore. And Jesus pulls him aside and has a conversation. And he asks him three times. Three times. Same amount of times he was denied. He asked him three times, do you love me? And Peter, the third time, verse 17 of chapter 21 of the book of John, he says this. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? Peter grieved because he said it to him a third time, do you love me? He said to him, Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you. And Jesus said to him, tend my sheep. So what was Peter’s answer? Was it, oh, well, look, look what I’ve done. Look, look at these things. Or, yeah, I promise, I will. No, he says, you know. You’re the Lord. You’re God. You know all things. You know that I love you. Peter appealed to the infinite knowledge of the Lord. And that’s what John is appealing to here.

When our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and he knows all things. God is not surprised when you sin. We are. Sometimes we sin and we never saw that coming. But God is not surprised when you sin. When we sin and fail, God knew. He knows all things. He knew you would sin before you did. He knew you would sin before he saved you. He’s not gonna reject you now. Peter understood that his ground for quieting his conscience was the knowledge of the Lord. He knows. It’s not that we can point to anything and say, see, look at me, this proves I’m a Christian. While there are evidences, we point to Him. He’s my assurance. He said. He did it. We belong to the one whose blood cleanses us from our sin. We are His. God is greater than our hearts. God is greater than our sins and our failures. God is infinitely rich in mercy. He has more mercy than we could ever use.

Micah 7 says He delights in mercy. When we come to Him and confess our sins, He delights in showing mercy to us. Why are we afraid to come to God with our sin? Why are we afraid to confess our sin to the God who already knows? The God who wants to show us mercy? God is greater than our hearts. God’s salvation, His grace exceeds our sinfulness. This is where our conscience finds rest in the truth.

So our three realities of assurance this morning is we must not ignore our conscience. Don’t ignore it. But we must be convinced of God’s love in us. And number three, we must be convinced of God’s greatness. Because God is greater than our hearts. So if you do not know him, if you do not trust Christ as Savior yet, You need to trust Him today. You will be weighed down by your conscience until you deal with your sin, until you repent of your sin and trust in Him as your Savior. So don’t leave this place today without talking to me or talking to somebody else here about how that can be a reality for you, about how these things we’ve talked about today can be real to you. And you can know by this we know that we have eternal life.

Let’s stand and close in a word of prayer this morning. Our great God, we are humbled by a text like this we are often so preoccupied with our own hearts, with our own self, with our own feelings, with our own worries and our own cares, with everything that our heart tells us, that we forget that you are greater than our heart and that you know all things. Lord, give us the confidence to come to you. Give us the assurance to come to you and help us to live out the eternal life that you have given us. Help us to live as though we love the brothers, not just in words, but in deed and in truth. Thank you for the assurance of our salvation that’s found only in your word. We praise you for the great God that you are. We could not sing enough of your greatness. And we thank you for what you’ve done, and most importantly, for who you are. We pray all of these things in Christ’s name, amen.

Recent Sermons