“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”
For if our heart condemns us,
The word “condemns” portrays the idea of accusation and blame. No one knows us as we do. Our “heart” is a self-reflecting court over our lives. This court can be fair or unfair. It can excuse or accuse. It depends on the standard we use.
God wants us to operate on objective guilt, not subjective guilt.
Self-examination may cause us to be alarmed about the condition of our souls. We may see ourselves falling desperately short of God’s standard for living. This is especially true in the sphere of loving fellow Christians.
Our conscience is not infallible, and neither is the judgment of other Christians against us infallible. We are often unjust with ourselves and excuse our sin. Other Christians also can be unfair with us and judge us unjustly for vested interest reasons.
1 Co. 4:3-4, 3 “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.”
There is a delicate balance between justifying sin and an overly sensitive conscience. God never overlooks or minimizes our sin, so neither should we. Conviction of sin is a result of genuine belief in God and His Word. This is objective guilt. Objective guilt is good but subjective guilt is bad in God’s economy.
We cannot determine truth by experience. Our only basis for assessing our relationship to God always rests on the objective and eternal Word of God. The believer should not be harder on himself than God is. Feelings of self-condemnation and inadequacy are enemies of the Christian life. Subjective guilt is not a norm or standard of God.
Our hearts can take a low view of ourselves when we think that we do not measure up to a set of subjective standards. In this case, we are our own accuser. We hold a trial in the inner court of our being and then develop a feeling of false guilt. This is a distortion of the soul. This is especially true in the sphere of loving fellow Christians. It is subjectively difficult to measure love, so it is hard to determine whether we love enough.