Sermon on 1 John 3:19-24

We are told to love others, but that doesn’t always come naturally. However, if we understand that God has the ability to rewire us to love genuinely, we will look for opportunities to be kind to others. The benefit for loving others is a deeper connection with Christ and true confidence in His will for our life.


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Sermon Outline:

Genuine love for others preserves a connection with Christ.

Embrace the peace of God in you by letting Christ work through you (v. 19).

Trust God confidently to help you love unconditionally (v. 20).

Rely on the Holy Spirit to align you with God’s desires (v. 21-24).

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Sermon Transcript:

Did you really buy that? 

(Attn) Let me ask you something, have you ever bought something that you knew you loved at the time, but were not sure why you bought it later? You forgot why you thought that was such a great idea… until you have a garage sale. Then you put it out there to sell and you wonder, “Why did I buy that in the first place?”

I am pretty sure if you every bought something out the Sky Mall magazine, the answer is “Yes” you bought something you thought was a great idea that you under if it was necessary later.

I thought I was being clever a few weeks ago when I purchased a strawberry de-corer. I thought it was a brilliant purchase. We have a lot of strawberries in our family, having three small kids. However, this little thing doesn’t get much use. My wife still uses the knife.

Or how about the “How hard is your egg” indicator. I bought this little thing that tells you how hard your hard boiled eggs are. I thought this was brilliant… at the time. I think we’ve only used it one time.

Sadly, we buy-in truth in God’s Word, but forget why it was important later.

We hear a sermon or a passage and say, “Yes! I want to live that out!” or “Man, I needed that, now I just need to live it.” We go to conferences, hear good sermons, or get excited about what the Holy Spirit reveals to us, but then we wake up from our afternoon nap and forget why we thought that was so great. The problem: We don’t see the life-changing benefit, so like a strawberry corer or a hard boiled egg indicator, we move on to living the saw only way we did before.

Let’s use our current study on loving others—Authentic Love—for example. We know we are supposed to love others. You even heard me talk about it last week, and the week before and the week before… but has it changed your life? You may be affected by the messages and at the moment excited to live it out, but have you?

Perhaps one of the reasons that “loving others” seems like a great idea that is easily accepted but not always easily lives is because we don’t understand the benefit of it. Today I want you to see in God’s Word why Loving One Another is more than a nice phrase that Christian or Non-Christians could accept. Today I want to help you see the benefits of truly living a loving life.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s open our Bibles to 1 John 3:19-24 on page 1022 in the ESV or look at it in the Bible App. Let me just say, if you don’t have a Bible, please feel free to one with you. Hey—perhaps one of the most loving things you can do is take a Bible to someone who doesn’t have one. Not to long ago some women in this congregation told me about taking a Bible to a friend of hers who didn’t have one. She was so touched by the gift she began to cry. She said, “I am going to read the whole thing!” That’s what they are there for—you or someone you know who doesn’t have one.

Let me pray: God, show us you… if we saw your worth we’d get it.

Okay, so take a running start at verse 19—you are going to need it for verse 19 to make sense. Let’s start back in verse 16 and review a bit of what we looked at last week.

In verse 16 we are told what the example of love is, Jesus Christ Himself. He selflessly laid his life down to serve others. In verse 17 we are told (through a rhetorical question) to be like Christ, not like the selfish person who has everything in the world but doesn’t give it away. Generosity was the mark of Christ, so it should aslso be the mark of a Christ follower.

We don’t count anything as our own. Everything I have is from God, so if someone else is in need and I hold on to something that could benefit them, I am not being like my Savior. Christians are not just nice people; they are generous people. Why? Because JC is.

Then in verse 18 summarized the previous seven verses and says, “we don’t just say nice things, we do nice things.” We love people well in word and in action.

So the context of today’s passage is about loving others‑—this seems to be the climax section of John’s message in 1 John. But an over arching theme he wants to give his readers, and God wants to give us, is that we can have assurance of our faith in Jesus Christ. The central theme in t his section is this—write it down:

Genuine love for others preserves a connection with Christ.

From the beginning of John’s letter, He has wanted them to have the same kind of connection that he shared with Jesus Christ. Remember, this was the same guy who claimed he was the “disciple Jesus loved.” He shared a special relationship with Jesus when He was on earth, and he kept that same connection with Him even though Jesus was now in heaven. He wanted us all to be able to have fellowship with God by having faith in Jesus Christ and obeying God’s commands—specifically “Love one another.”

In the next two verses, we can see that being sure in our relationship with an invisible God is possible because God is the ultimate one who enables our faith. John is not deviating from the topic of loving others, but rather building on the thought of being generous toward others so that we can have a greater connection with God.

My connection with God comes through Jesus Christ but is supported by my relationships with other Christ-followers. God is not naive to the fact that you cannot see Him and experience Him in the flesh; His temporary fix is fellowship with others. The eternal fix is to have us be with Him forever, but until that day, we experience Christ by living like Christ in our relationships with others.

I am connected to God à through faith in Christ à by living in love with others.

So with that in mind, let’s read verse 19 of 1 John 3:

 [19] By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;

By this—by what? By the love you have for others, that he just explained in verse 11-18. By loving others authentically and faithfully, you can trust that you are God’s. The self-sacrificial and active love that we have, as previously described, will offer evidence that we are truly Christ’s and have true faith. The word “know” is in the future tense, and it shows an on going assurance that is based on an ongoing experience of loving God and loving others. Love is not a limited to an instance but must become a lifestyle.

Then notice that sweet phrase that we can (and should) reassure our hearts before Him. The NIV translates this as “set our hearts at rest in His presence.” We can be at peace, even when our life and actions condemn us, that God love us and welcomes us into fellowship with him. We should say to our hearts—be still! Know that He is God, and you are not.

The command here seem clear: Embrace the peace of God in you by letting Christ work through you (v. 19). If you are loving Christ and loving others, then you will be at peace with God in His presence. Peace in God is not a lounge chair by the beach; it is a confidence in Christ that even when my life is chaos and my actions are sinful, my faithful God is in control.

Listen, where there is peace in the hear, there will be beauty in your character. A chaotic and selfish person has no peace. They are grabbing at what they want but cannot have and controlling what cannot be overruled. The person who has peace in God understands that God is working all things together for His purposes. My failures and my strengths can be used by Him to show His love to the world. When I find peace in my relationship with God, the character of Christ will shine through.

James 4:7-8 says it well, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

As we submit to God, we find the character we find the forgiveness for our mistakes and the character we need to live a more holy life. John assumed that we would fail, but he was quick to point out that God is all we need when we do fail. Look at verse 20:

[20] for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

There will be times when our heart condemns us when we object to legitimate calls of generosity. This means that we are “guilty, convicted or in the wrong.” Our heart will do this—we will be selfish, but when we are, God is greater than our hearts and will make us right.

God is greater can also be translated as God is kinder. God is much more kind than we ever could be. Our own heart condemns us by its selfishness, but we can have assurance that God is able to soften even the hardest heart. His love and compassion is far greater.

This passage is saying that our great God will give us what we need to be more like Him. He can give us what we cannot ever find on our own; the love and compassion for a hard to love person can only come from a God who is greater than we are.

We also rest assured that God sees everything. This is a good reminded that God knows when we fail, but he also knows what we need. A right view of God results a deep trust in Him. If he really sees everything, I don’t walk around afraid, but emboldened to love the people I don’t want to love, knowing God will give me what I need to love them well.

Too often we live selfishly, wanting to do what feels right to us at the time. That can be:

  • gossiping about someone, because it feels good to talk about them and get it off our chest
  • Staying quiet because we are just worn out and don’t want to love on anyone our talk to anyone. Life is full and busy, we’d rather just keep to ourselves.
  • Pushing your agenda by loving people just to get something in return. This is not loving your neighbor more than yourself; this is loving yourself.

The fact that God sees everything brings either conviction or peace. Conviction because you know you are living to please yourself, not others. Or it will give us great peace because we know that He can give us what we need when we need it.

Here is the promise—don’t miss it in this passage: “God is greater than our hearts.” We know that, but let it sink in—he is greater than you, he knows everything about you, therefore He can mold you, shape you and equip you to be exactly what you need. There is no more condemnation in Christ for not being good enough. We must simply have abandonment to the fact that Christ is enough and He know what I need.

The principle is this: Trust God confidently to help you love unconditionally (v. 20).

John is about to talk more about this confidence idea before God, but before you get there don’t miss the fact that John is giving you a promise of being understood and seen by God. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows you are going to be tempted to treat others unlovingly or selfishly. He knows you’ll fail to be like Christ; He will prove Himself greater than you heart by giving you what you need when you need it.

Vs 19 and 20 are a stern warning that we must not let the nature of our hearts object to giving generously to others. This is a call to be generous before God and for God. When we fail, He will help us. The benefit of this obedience is a closer relationship with Him. Now we will see in verses 21-24 that we can have assurance in our faith because our works are from Him and our faith is in Him. As we walk closer with Him, we have the benefit of knowing He loves us and hears us.

[21] Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; [22] and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

Judah Smith, another preacher, calls the author if this book, Grandpa John because he is so loving toward those he is writing. Now in His old age, he addresses them as beloved. This was a simple reminded that the are loved by God and by Him. Because He loves them, he speaks assurance to them again about their ability to live right with God. He says, if our heart does not condemn us… to say, you can do this! With Christ’s help, you can walk in the light and love others. We can live right by keeping his commandments and do what pleases him.

The benefit of loving others well and loving God by obeying Him is that we will be kept in a relationship with God. Notice the use of confidence here or not shrinking back in verse 28 of chapter 2. Our relationship with God should produce sweet fellowship and sureness that the God of all hears us. However, if we are not keeping His commands and being selfish, we are breaking that relationship. A clear conscience before God leads to bold giving and blog praying.

The promise of a right relationship with God by loving others is made clear in verse 22. If we obey faithfully and love deeply we can ask the Lord for whatever and know that we will receive from Him. What a great promise! Does this mean we get what we want… kind of… it means that what you want will be what God wants because you are in close fellowship with Him.

It is not an “I did that for you now you reward me” but rather a pure reading of God “giving us the desires of our heart” – quite literally planting them within our heart to align with His because we are in fellowship with Him. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This verse has to be one of the most misrepresented verses in the Bible.

People believe that if I delight in God, he will give me what I want. That is not what is say; rather, it is in the same tone of what John wrote, instructing us to keep fellowship with God—delight to be with Him—and he will place within you the desires of your heart. He will give you what you should be desiring.

He will give us this new heart because we are doing what Pleases Him. This actually seems to imply that we can do things each day that will please God. But for us to please God, we must have faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” So John expounds and says, this is more than just doing, but it is also believing. Verse 23 says:

[23] And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

This is the fundamental thing that God called us to do: believe in the person of Jesus Christ. To do something on the account of a person’s name, is the Bible’s way of saying the same thing as doing something in or for a person. We are to believe in Jesus.

John is building off of what Jesus taught when He was with them. After Jesus explained that he was the bread of life in John 6, the people asked, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” [and] Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Believe in God is the beginning of doing God’s work. Or as we’ve established over the last few months: “Authentic faith is the basis of authentic love.”

To believe on Jesus name is to have a total commitment and obedience to Him (John 8:31, Matt 7:21, Luke 6:46). Our faith in Him is the foundation to love like Him.

There can be no obedience to God’s commands to love others if we first do not love (or believe in) God. If our hearts are closed to other people, then our hearts are closed to God. To close our heart to those in need is to close our heart to God’s children (brothers) and therefore close our hearts to God. True love for others starts with personal trust in Christ, not just good moral behavior. It means we abide in Him:

 [24] Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

The main point of the section 11-24 is summed up in this verse: those who obey Him, are in God and God in them. John is back at one of his main agendas in this letter—to help the readers know who are truly believers and who are not.

There is a special theme that John keeps bringing up: This idea of a mutual indwelling of God in us and us in God 3:24; 4:13, 15, 16). We can be sure of this indwelling because of the Spirit that God has given (3:24; 4:13).

The idea of abiding in God is more than just obeying commands of God, but it has to do with enjoying a new spiritual life with God. That is most clear by the second part of that verse: And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. The life with the Spirit is full and meaningful. It is hopeful, generous and cheerful.

A few weeks ago I had a deep sense that I was ignoring the presence of the Spirit in my life. I knew He was there; I would even say that I depended on Him. But I was convicted, that if I had a more literal understanding that the Spirit is with me all the time, I would keep a more present fellowship with God.

This is really the first time we hear about the Holy Spirit in 1 John. There are more references to come, but now, after John has explained the importance of abiding in God he brings the Holy Spirit in as a sure sign of knowing you are in Him and He is in you.

Therefore, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to align you with God’s desires (v. 21-24).

John would have presupposed from the start of this letter the existence and importance of the “Helper,” “the Spirit of truth,” who Jesus promised to send (see John 14:16–18, 26; 15:26; 16:7–14; 20:22). The only way we can live with hearts that are not condemned and attitudes of selfless love is by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

The benefits of loving others is found in abiding in Christ

Some of the crazy things I’ve purchases (and wondered why later) was things to make washing dishes easier. I hate washing dishes. Though there are all these fancy scrappers, soaps and sponges, the thing I have learned works best is simply letting the dishes soak. This is similar to abiding in Christ. The benefit of “Soaking” in his presence is that we are giving His heart. When we have his heart, we exude His character and walk in His love.

As you abide (soak) in Christ this week, let me encourage you to:

Cut away your disloyalty to God. If you heart is “condemning you,” you know it. It won’t take you long to think of something you are doing that you need to stop. Or, if you find yourself in a situation where you are unloving toward a hard to love person, remember, I am loyal to God first—therefore I love faithfully. Get rid of any disloyalty to obeying God’s command to love and rely on God, who is greater than our heart, to give you what you need. His Spirit will soak this away if you will allow Him.

Obey God out of love, not obligation. Love God and love others—not because you are trying to earn something, but because you have been so deeply loved. I obey God because I love God, not because I think it gets me more brownie points or stores up some kind of “do 10 good things and get one prayer request answered for free.” He loves me, so I love Him by obeying Him.

Live the fruits Spirit to the world around you. Finally, let the fruits of the Holy Spirit I your life show you are connected to the vine. Have patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control… all because you are allowing the Holy Spirit help you be what you cannot be without Him. Remember, “Abiding in God means you are given the Holy Spirit.” So act like His present, because He is.


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