Does your conscience condemn you?
As we face up to our responsibility not just to love ourselves, our sisters in Christ, those who hate us, our enemies, but also to look at the bigger, poorer world we have to look at love from a much bigger perspective. We need to see through our loving Father’s eyes and also see how Jesus sees, which emphasised His willingness to go to the Cross. We are challenged to completely lay down our lives for this amazing life where, of ourselves, we can do nothing.
We can choose to be empowered daily to rise early so that we can connect with God by the power of His Holy Spirit, we can give the whole day to Him doing all He wants done in the day and doing it His way, knowing that if we have any wrong thought or action we can immediately apologise and decide we will never do it again and move on. Also what does not get done we do not need to stress about, after all it has been God’s day so we can only do what He wanted done and all the rest has to be cast on Him for another day.
The acid test of being a true Christian is the test of love. Has our experience of Christ made us more loving towards all people so that others notice as His love flows through us? God’s people need to love and support each other as we really need each other when any form of opposition comes. Now that is why we have a conscience so that we know in our inner man whether we are obeying God’s commands and so showing we really do love Him first and foremost, 1 John 2:6. The love that God has put in us (Romans 5:5) is the evidence of having passed from death to life. It is this love that is our strength and foundation but can incite others to anger and hostility towards Christians.
John is encouraging us yet again to keep short accounts with God. Sometimes our hearts condemn us and we say to ourselves things like ‘I am not worthy to be a child of God!’ or ‘God could never use me because I have really messed up’. We come short of God’s (and our own) standards and so we enter the downward spiral of self–condemnation. He knows our repeated sins, our self-will, rebellion, disappointments, our hearts, our hopes and desires and still He loves us. There are no secrets between ourselves and God (Psalm 139) which should be a great comfort to us. This allows us to take everything to Him first and receive a right perspective, His perspective on the situation. If there is sin we confess it (1 John 1:9); if it is just condemnation we change our thinking to the Truth (Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 10:5). God knows everything about us and still wants us to be His children and be part of His family.
Sometimes condemnation can become a great weight on our shoulders and our Christian walk gets heavier and we get more weighed down by it as we focus on our weakness, failings and on tough circumstances rather than on Jesus Himself. We lose our joy and life seems too tough, we function in a legalistic way and feel very tired and depressed.
Get hold of this Truth: God is greater than our hearts, (1 John 3:20) and He knows everything but will not condemn us, Romans 8:1. Pray, soaking in His Presence, and asking Him to speak if there is any sin in your life. If He has not replied either through the inner voice or through His Word then recognise that you have been listening to the accuser of the children of God, (Revelation 12:10) and receive the restoration of your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Worship Him in your spirit with singing (John 4:23) Pray in tongues to edify your spirit (Romans 14:14; Romans 8:26-27). Joy is the supernatural spiritual force that gives you your strength, Nehemiah 8:10. Praise God to silence the enemy, Psalm 8:2.
If you still feel down, remember all this is by faith and feelings follow faith. This is such an important part of our everyday Christian walk as we can waste so much of our time with what is going on in our head bringing our activity and God relationship to a standstill because we feel so condemned.
Confidence in God
Now that we recognise that God does not condemn us, we cannot condemn ourselves, we can have a real sense of confidence before God and our hearts will be at rest. ‘Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us (grasp the fact that we) have (the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy) peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Through Him also we have (our) access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favour) in which we (firmly and safely) stand’ Romans 5:1-2 Amp. We can hold our heads up because of what Jesus has done and who we are in Him.
Because we obey God’s commands and abide in Him, we can ask Him for anything and we will receive it, John 15:7. As our conscience is clear we will ask as the Holy Spirit leads us. If God does not give us exactly what we ask for, it is because we have not asked correctly, James 4:3 But God will always give us some answer to our prayers, ‘yes’ ‘no’ or ‘wait’. He will always give us what is needed for our spiritual growth. Conversely (to what John is saying), if we do not obey His commands and do not live according to His will then our prayers will be in vain.
So, for our prayers to receive a positive response from our loving Father, first we must be obedient to His Word. Second, we must pray in faith believing, Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24. Thirdly we pray His will and the easiest way to do this is Word prayers, 1 John 5:14-15. Finally we need to pray in Jesus’ Name as His Name is the only reason we are allowed to ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence and receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 2:18.
If we make Jesus our Lord we have access to the throne of Almighty God. He has every solution to every problem we will ever have and He is just waiting for us to come to Him, so He can give us the answer. It may take some private time alone with Him but He will never disappoint us. Be confident!
How should we pray?
In Luke 11:1 we read that Jesus’ disciples asked this same question. Look at how Jesus replied to them. In Matthew 6:5-15 the picture is made even clearer. There are clearly 4 “Do Not’s” and 4 “Do’s” in this short passage:-
Check out what the Word says
DO NOT be like the (Matthew 6:5)…………
DO NOT (Matthew 6:7-8)………………….
DO NOT be like the (Matthew 6:7-8)……….
DO NOT (Matthew 6:14-15)…………………
BUT when you PRAY
DO GO (Matthew 6:6)……………………..
DO close the (Matthew 6:6)……………….
DO forgive (Matthew 6:14-15)………………..
DO pray to your Father (Matthew 6:6)………
According to Jesus, our prayers should be simple and uncomplicated. He gave the greatest key to prayer in Matthew 26:39 when He said “… not as I will, but as you will”. It is not us asking for what we want, but allowing God to tell us what we need, and what He has therefore purposed to give us. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 suggests that we should “…pray continually…..” to be in constant communion with God. Take a few minutes just to soak in His Presence as He is with us everywhere whether we are aware of it or not.
Conditions for a Successful Prayer Life
- In God’s Will (1 John 5:14)
- Clear controlled mind (1 Peter 4:7)
- Clean lives (no known sin) (James 5:16)
- Correct family relationships (1 Peter 3:7)
- Confess all sin (Isaiah 59:1-2)
- Humility (Luke 18:14)
- Faith (Mark 11:23-24)
- Forgiving attitude (Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25)
- Daily obedience (1 John 3:21-22)
- Persistence (Luke 18:7)
- Lack of anger or dispute (1 Timothy 2:8)
- Submissiveness (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Prayer is probably our most important activity as nothing should be done without it. It is the best way to grow our relationship with our Father. It involves many forms, praise, worship, confession, waiting, listening to God, Word praying, intercession, meditation and many others. Jesus prayed and taught His followers to do the same. His life was one of constant prayer and there are numerous references to His praying, Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12.
An amazing example of confidence in God is seen in 1 Samuel 17:4-51. David, who was just a young shepherd boy had such a heart for God that when he saw the giant Goliath was causing great fear throughout the whole camp of Israel and bringing the power of God into question, decided to act. He knew what his God had done for him previously in his job as a shepherd, how God had helped him kill lions and bears that came to carry off his father’s sheep.
David knew Goliath was an enemy of God who wanted to kill God’s sheep, so his boldness rose up from within him and he declared ‘the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine’ 1 Samuel 17:37. He was not distracted by his brother Eliab’s jealousy (1 Samuel 17:28) or Saul’s doubts (1 Samuel 17:33). He did not choose to have any worldly covering but relied totally on the Word of God alone, ‘….. but I come against you in the Name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’ 1 Samuel 17:45. David knew the God in whom he had confidence. He simply looked at Goliath and instead of thinking ‘he is too big for me to destroy’ he looked at him with his heart brimming with faith because of all God had done for him in his short life and thought ‘he is too big to miss’. He killed him with a small stone in his sling shot, and with the Word spoken out of his mouth.
Whatever giant of finance, health, relationships or any other problems we are facing, seek God’s Word and what He is saying about it. Pray His Word back to God reminding Him of His promise. Speak out God’s answer rather than how big the problem is, even if this seems ridiculous. Guard your tongue, as that is where success is crafted. Our speech has the creative power to change the situation, to silence the enemy and increase our faith. We need to declare the success we are expecting to see, before we actually see it.
Follow Mark 11:22-25 Amp ‘And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop’.
15 Confidence in God – 1 John 3:21-22 Challenge Questions
Read all the notes on ‘Confidence in God’ -1 John 3:21-22
1. Does anything speak to you from ‘Does your conscience condemn you?’? Why?
2. If someone constantly feels guilty what advice could you give them to have a clear conscience?
3. Do you find it easy or difficult to be confident in God? Why?
4. Under the section ‘How should we pray’ fill in the gaps from the verses given.
5. Pick out two points from ‘Conditions for a Successful Prayer Life’ that you find challenging and write out the verses here.
6. What encouragement do you receive from the story of David and Goliath? Do you see it as relevant to your situation? How?
Read the verses 1 John 3:23-24 from as many versions of the Bible as possible (www.biblegateway.com has many options)
7. What is God’s most important command? Why is it so important?
8. What is His second command according to these verses?
9. Read John 13:34-35; John 14:15; John 14:21; John 15:10 why do we need to obey this command and what will be the results?
10. What is the reward of obeying God’s commands according to 1 John 3:24? Read John 14:23 and Revelation 3:20 and enlarge your answer.
11. How can we be sure we have His Spirit living in us?
12. Read Matthew 7:24-27: What are the results for us if we obey God’s Word? What are we building on and are we sure?
13. In what area of your life do you find it hard to obey God?
14. From your knowledge of the Bible name one person who obeyed God and what was the result? Also think of someone who disobeyed God and what was the result of their disobedience? Why did you choose these people and is it relevant to your own life?
15. Sum up in one short sentence what you have learnt from this study.
Memory verse: ‘If you obey My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His Love.’ John 15:10