Outline and Audio Sermons:
Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr. D.Min.

The Evidences Of Life

A Confidence To Hold

1 John 3.18-24

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[So far in 1 John we have discovered that there is:] 

  • [A Communion To Cherish – Our common ground in Christ.]
  • [A Covenant To Proclaim – The glory of the gospel]
  • [A Cleansing To Receive – The forgiveness of sins]
  • [A Commandment To Keep – Obey God’s Word and will]
  • [A Compassion To Show – The fact of God’s love]
  • [A Caution To Heed – Love not the world and its things]
  • [A Character To Develop – Be conformed to His image]

A.     Disturbing Doubt (vs 20) [– For if our heart condemn us, . . . -  Doubt disturbs many a Christian in our day.  As a pastor I have been approached by faithful Church members who for one reason or another have doubts about their salvation.  Still others doubt that they are good Christians.  Doubt is a primary catalyst responsible for dysfunctional churches and the diminishing Christian influence in our culture today.]

[Our passage in First John is undeniably dealing with Christian’s who doubt their salvation and Christian’s who doubt their effectiveness as the Children of Almighty God.] 

1.      The Cause of Doubt (vs 20; Eph 4.14-16) [For if our heart. . . -  Doubt starts in your heart or in the core of your being. This is why doubt is so powerfully disabling in an individual and for a Church. ]  

[If a Church body is filled with uncertain Christian’s or doubting Christian’s, whether they be doubting their salvation or doubting their usefulness in God’s kingdom, then the Church as a whole will reflect the despair of its membership.  Consider the importance of healthy Church members to a healthy Kingdom Church.] 

[Ephesians 4:14-16 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. ]

[Nurturing, supplying, and effectually working members are the stability, and security of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.]

[Hence, we as Christians need to understand how disabling our continuing doubt is to the Body of Christ.]

2.      The Cast of Doubt [- For if our heart condemn us, . . . – The Greek text clearly reveals the despairing result of persistent doubt in the spiritual life of a Christian.  Consider the word “condemn” in our text,] 

a.      [Condemn us - καταγινώσκῃ (gk) – A Greek compound word meaning “kata – Down, downward”  and “ginwskj – To know knowledge” – Hence a knowledge that draws one down.] 

b.      [condemn, accuse.  Pass. in Gal 2:11, of Cephas: ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν, “for he was condemned / placed in the wrong,” i.e., by his conduct in Antioch (less in view of a judgment of public opinion); cf. R. Bultmann, TDNT  I, 714f.; BADG s.v. Act. in 1 John 3:20, 21 with ἡ καρδία as subj.: “whenever our hearts condemn us”; cf. T. Gad 5:3; Sir 14:2[1] ] 

[The Greek text speaks of the downward spiritual draw of doubt.  Persistent doubt will have a debilitating affect upon those who struggle with it.  Persistent doubt literally seeks to cast a Child of God unnaturally into condemnation.] 

[Many of us know someone who has been cast down in their mind and rendered ineffective for our Lord because of their persistent spiritual doubts.  Doubt affects our heart or the way we think, which in turn affects our actions and even our ability to act.  Our Heavenly Father does not want His children living under the gloomy cloud of spiritual doubt. ] 

B.      Dispelled Doubt (vs 21-22; 2 Cor 5.19-21) [– Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. – Without a doubt our Heavenly Father wants us to live out our Christian lives with the confidence that can only accompany the assurance of our position in His household and the potential that accompanies that relationship.  God reveals this edifying (building up) revelation when He says,] 

[2 Corinthians 5:19-21 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. ]

[In biblical times a king’s ambassadors were usually their own sons and daughters.  When a king would send an emissary to another king he would send one of his own children, in so doing he would evidence to the foreign king his level of sincerity in his negotiations.  Anyone else would have presented an evidence of trickery or a lack of sincerity.  Likewise, our Heavenly Father is stating in this text that we are His children through the new birth, and not just any child but trusted children carrying the authority of the King and His Kingdom.  ]

[When we realize that we are the Children of God serving His kingdom in this life there will be a confidence that will evidence itself in our lives.]

[This confidence will cause us to be,]

1.      Be Courageous Christians  (vs 21; Heb 4.14-16; Rom 8.15-17; Eph 3.12) [-  Consider the word confidence in verse 20,]

a.      [Confidence – παρρησίαν (gk) - as an attitude of openness that stems from freedom and lack of fear; (1) in speech boldness, plainness, outspokenness (AC 2.29); (2) in public work openness; παρρησίᾳ publicly (JN 7.13); (3) in the presence of high-ranking persons courage, confidence, boldness (AC 4.13); (4) in relation to God confidence, boldness, joyful sense of freedom (HE 10.35)[2] ] 

[Our Heavenly Father, through this text, is seeking to dispel all our doubts concerning our salvation and our service in His kingdom.  In dispelling our doubts our Lord will empower us to execute our stewardship with confidence, courage, and boldness. ] 

[We are reminded of this courage and confidence throughout the New Testament by passages like,] 

[Hebrews 4:14-16 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. ]

[Romans 8:15-17 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. ]

[Ephesians 3:12 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. ]

[The point is continuously reiterated in Scripture, Our Heavenly Father seeks to dispel any and all doubts surrounding your salvation and your resulting new relationship with God through Christ so that you might become courageous and bold spiritual children.]

2.      Be Calling Christians  (vs 22) [-  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. – Not only will courage and boldness mark those whose doubts have been answered and relieved but we find at least three other things that will mark these confident saints.]

a.      [They will be Praying Christians – . . . And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, . . .  - Consider why they will be so willing to make their requests known to God.  It is because they confidently know that they are the children of the King, without any doubt.  They also know that their Heavenly Father will not leave them uncared for nor vanquished by their enemies or adversaries.]

[Just as the ambassador child of a King in biblical times knew that he represented his father’s kingdom and that the military and political power of his father walked with him in every regard, so should we know that our Heavenly Father has sent us as His representative and all the might of heaven above protects us and provides for us.]

b.      [They will be Obeying Christians - . . . because we keep his commandments, . . . – These confident and empowered children of God will not only present the evidence of petition by they will evidence the confidence of the high calling of their Heavenly Father.  These will be obedient children not because they have to be obedient but because they desire to be obedient.  They will desire to be obedient because they desire to honor their Heavenly Father and His kingdom and will never willingly do anything to bring disrepute to their Lord or His Kingdom.  This desire to uphold the high honor of their Father and His kingdom will only give them more potential and influence in and for the Kingdom. ]

c.       [They will be Pleasing Christians - and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. – Another undeniable evidence of ones confidence in God’s kingdom and the defeat of worldly doubts will be the willingness and wonder of pleasing God and its remarkable result.  As you please your Heavenly Father, He in turn is please to honor and establish you.  Those who please God will be pleased by Him.]

[Hence, what the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ really needs is born again Christians who have defeated their mortal doubts and are walking in the eternal confidence of a God honoring relationship with their Heavenly Father.]

C.     Defeating Doubt (vs 20, 23-24)  

[1 John 3:20 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. ]

[1 John 3:23-24 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. ]

[So the natural question is, how do we as born again Christian’s defeat our mortal and spiritual doubts so that we can evidence the victorious life of those who know and walk in the presence and pleasure of their Heavenly Father?  ]

[The Apostle John and, through inspiration, our Heavenly Father teach us how to defeat the doubts that will seek to afflict and sift us.  Our text reveals that,]

1.      Authority Defeats Doubt (vs 20; Jer 17.9-10; John 5.39; Deut 29.29) [– . . . God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. – Notice that we are directed toward the omniscience of God (God’s all knowing mind).  God knows all things.  There is nothing that eludes Him.  Your salvation and position in His eternal family and kingdom are clearly known and understood by God.  The reality of this statement is that Almighty God knows beyond any doubt where you stand with Him.  God does not wonder whether or not you are saved; He knows your spiritual condition.  Hence, your doubt or confidence can only be answered or assured by Almighty God.  God is indeed “Greater than our heart.”] 

[Hence, the only way you can be absolutely assured of your spiritual standing with Almighty God is to know the mind and will of God.  How do human beings learn and know the will of God?  You will never know the will of God from your heart or your feelings.  The Bible reveals,] 

[Jeremiah 17:9-10 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.]

[The Lord Jesus Christ said,] 

[John 5:39 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.]

[Through the Bible God reveals much of His will and way to us, so that we can answer the questions surrounding our doubt and despair based upon His authority.  The Word of God declares,] 

[Deuteronomy 29:29 29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law].

[What has Almighty God authoritatively revealed in His Word about become His eternal child?]

[John 1:12 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: ]

[Revelation 3:20 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. ]

[Romans 10:9-10 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. ]

[Hence, have you acknowledged your sin and sinfulness in the sight of God?  Do you recognize the incredible price that Jesus paid for your sin?  Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ physically arose from the grave?  Have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?  Then know, based on the authority of Almighty God that you are a born again Child of God.  What is the result of this New Birth?  It will be your obedient and willing service for our Lord.]

2.      Duty Defeats Doubt (vs 23-24; 2 Tim 2.15; Heb 10.25; Acts 1.8; Matt 28.18-20) [– And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him . . . – Keeping God’s commandments in the service of our Lord will direct Christians to become busy in our Lord’s kingdom work.  Of this work Christian’s are asked to,] 

a.      [Spend time in their personal devotion] 

[2 Timothy 2:15 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ]

b.      [Spend time nourishing and being nourished by the Church] 

[Hebrews 10:25 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. ]

c.       [Spend time being a powerful witness and discipler for our Lord] 

[Acts 1:8 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ]

[Matthew 28:18-20 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

[If God’s People will get to work doing the sacrificial kingdom work of our Lord they will find that they will not have time to doubt their position in Christ nor to dabble in the controversies that will try to afflict the Church.] 

[Illustration - How Thomas Settled Doubts—Finally - There is a quaint legend about Thomas, the Apostle. It is said that some years after his first doubt, he was again troubled with misgivings as to his Lord's resurrection. He sought the apostles and began to pour his troubles into their ears.]

[But first one and then another was too busy to listen to his tale. Then he tried to impart his woes to some devout women. But they were as busy as Dorcas and could not entertain those doubting thoughts.]

[At last it dawned upon Thomas that perhaps it was because they were so busy that they were free from his torturing doubts. He took the hint; he went to the land of Parthia, occupied himself in teaching the Gospel, and was never troubled with doubts any more.—Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations] 

3.      Sovereignty Defeats Doubt (vs 24; Eph 1.13-14) [- . . . And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us – The most compelling evidence of ones new birth in Christ is the presence of the Holy Spirit within every born again Child of God.  He is without a doubt present in every Christian,] 

[Ephesians 1:13-14 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. ]

[Romans 8:14-16 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: ]

[It is the Holy Spirits presence within us that assures us that we are indeed God’s children.  Some seem to wrestle with whether or not they have the Holy Spirit.  They hear some speak of listening to and apparently hearing the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps, it is best to refer to this communication as more of a gift and privilege rather than the evident token of every Christians experience.  ]

[How do you really know if you have the Holy Spirit? ]

[1 John 3:23-24 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. ]

[If you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, and have a sincere desire to obey and sacrificially serve God, then the Holy Spirit is indeed in you.  Praise God for His presence based on the Authoritative Word of God.]


[1]Balz, H. R., & Schneider, G. (1990-c1993). Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament. Translation of: Exegetisches Wr̲terbuch zum Neuen Testament. (2:256-257). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. Highlight emphasis added.

[2]Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (302). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


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