Main point summary
A reassured heart come from obeying his commands to believe in Jesus and love one another, and is the foundation for relational intimacy with God
1 John 3:19-24
This passage was difficult to unpack structurally. I believe the first section (19–20) offer the action of having our hearts assured before God, which is itself a result of abiding in Christ, keeping his commandments, and specifically loving one another. The second section is the rest of the passage (21–24), and discusses the result of an assured heart: namely, a relationship with God marked by confidence and abiding peace.
Though one of my favorite sections of this passage, I think it functions more as a passing concession. John is inviting us to a sense of confidence and assurance before God, but warns us that our subjective experience of this confidence and assurance is not the ultimate test of salvation. God saves us, our hearts don't.
The difficulty with this section is determining the relationship between the three subsections (21–22, 23, and 24). I believe that both the first and the last highlight the subjective relational experience we have with God. In the first section John talks about prayer, in the third he references abiding. In between these two experiential sections, John reminds us of the grounds for this experience, keeping the dual commandments of believing in Jesus and loving one another.
This final clause is perplexing. It seems clear that the Holy Spirit is proof that God abides in us. But in what sense in the Holy Spirit proof. It is possible that John is thinking along the same lines as Paul in Romans 8:16 ( The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God) However, it seems that John's larger point has been to remove the subjectivity that seems inherent in that line of argument. Therefore, it may be more likely that John means that keeping God's commandments, and abiding in Christ, is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit, as we could never do those things unaided, and thus they are like fruits of the Spirit, proving that he is abiding in us, changing us, and sustaining us in him. If this is the case, "by this" in 24d could refer to by keeping the commandments in 23, and that is accomplished "by the Spirit" in 24e.
This love for the brothers therefore is a sign, so that when we notice that we are committed to the church and genuinely love the other Christians of our church, there are two things that happen .
we shall know that we are of the truth
First , it reassures our mind, because it proves to us that we are connected to people who hold to the truth.
and reassure our heart before him;
It also reassures our heart, bringing us the subjective experiences of peace, comfort, and assurance in our relationships with God.
for whenever our heart condemns us,
And I concede that our hearts are not always in this state of rest. Instead, our consciences can condemn us and plague us with doubt. So if that doubt is ever present in your life,
God is greater than our heart,
then remember, your heart isn't the judge, God is.
and he knows everything.
And, your heart doesn't know everything anyway, it can be confused. But God sees the whole picture.
Beloved, k if our heart does not condemn us,
But still, the clear conscience of a heart becomes a foundation for our relationship with God.
l we have confidence before God;
It gives us confidence before God.
and m whatever we ask we receive from him,
And that confidence results in an active prayer life where ask things from him and he gives them to us.
because we keep his commandments and n do what pleases him.
And this free interchange in prayer is built on the foundation of us keeping his commandments and doing what pleases him.
And this is his commandment,
And we know the commandments, that if we obey that clear our consciences,
o that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
First, we have to believe in then name of his Son Jesus Christ.
and p love one another,
Second. We have to love each other (those who are united through belief in the name of his Son Jesus Christ).
q just as he has commanded us.
and this command to love each other is really just an extension of believing in Jesus since he is the one who commanded us to love each other.
r Whoever keeps his commandments
Therefore, we can conclude that if we keep his commandments by doing these two things
abides in God, 1
Then we abide in God
and God 2 in him.
And, God abides in us.
And s by this we know that he abides in us,
And we this is proof that God abides in us,
by the Spirit whom he has given us.
because keeping these commandments is accomplished by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.