The first epistle of John is a letter that addresses various aspects of Christian living and doctrine. In the preceding verses, John discusses the importance of love and how it demonstrates the authenticity of one's relationship with God. The verses leading up to 1 John 3:21-22 emphasize the significance of love in our relationships with others and with God.
Confidence Before God:
- Condition of the Heart:
The key condition mentioned in verse 21 is the state of our hearts. "If our hearts don’t condemn us," speaks to the inner assurance and confidence that comes when we are living in alignment with God's principles.
- Boldness Toward God:
This absence of condemnation results in boldness or confidence in our approach to God. It's a relational boldness, a sense of assurance that we can approach God without the burden of guilt or condemnation.
- Obedience and Pleasing God:
Verse 22 establishes a connection between answered prayer and our relationship with God. It states that whatever we ask, we receive from God when we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight.
- Obedience as a Reflection of Love:
Obedience here is not presented as a legalistic duty but as a reflection of love. Keeping God's commandments is an expression of our love for Him, and this aligns with the overarching theme of love in 1 John.
Biblical and Theological Context:
- Confidence Before God in Hebrews:
The concept of confidence before God is echoed in Hebrews 10:22, which encourages believers to draw near to God "with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
- Jesus' Teaching on Prayer:
Jesus emphasizes the connection between prayer, faith, and obedience in passages like John 15:7, where He says, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."
- The Greatest Commandments:
The call to love God and love others is foundational in the teachings of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39). This love is not divorced from obedience but is expressed through a life that aligns with God's commandments.
Application to Our Lives:
- Heart Examination:
These verses prompt us to examine our hearts. Do we harbor unconfessed sin or disobedience that hinders our confidence before God? A self-aware and repentant heart is essential for a vibrant relationship with God.
- Boldness in Prayer:
The assurance that comes from a heart free from condemnation leads to boldness in prayer. We are invited to approach God with confidence, knowing that He hears and responds to the prayers of those who love and obey Him.
- Aligning with God's Will:
The condition for answered prayer involves aligning with God's commandments and doing what pleases Him. This is not about earning God's favor but about living in harmony with His will, expressing our love for Him through obedience.
Conclusion: Confidence, Prayer, and Obedience - in 1 John 3:21-22, we find a beautiful intertwining of themes—confidence before God, the condition of the heart, answered prayer, and the relationship between obedience and love. It's a reminder that our communion with God is deeply relational. When our hearts are aligned with His will, free from condemnation, we can approach Him with boldness, and our prayers become an expression of a loving relationship. As we navigate our faith journey, these verses encourage us to maintain a heart that seeks after God, fostering a confident and vibrant connection with our Heavenly Father.
See also: vs 18-20
1 John 3:21-22. Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have boldness toward God; and whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.