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Read Introduction to 1 John


“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.”


John follows the problem of an accusing conscience with the issue of confidence before God.  This is the flip side of verses 19 and 20.


John clearly addresses this section to Christians

if our heart does not condemn us,

John now takes up the believer with a clear conscience.  His conscience does not condemn him for hypocritical love exhibited only with word and tongue (3:18). 

The opposite of a feeling of condemnation is “confidence.”  The believer in fellowship has the confidence to meet the Lord face to face in personal communion because he genuinely loves fellow Christians.  He takes no glee in undermining fellow believers in Christ. 

we have confidence toward God

“Confidence” is openness, candor, plainness of speech, unreserved utterance.  In the political sphere, the word “confidence” carries the idea of the right to speak in a democracy.  This implies openness to truth and candor.  Here the idea is openness toward God (5:14-15).  Openness toward God assumes a good conscience with Him (3:22-24).  The believer with “confidence toward God” is free and unrestricted in his fellowship with God.  His conscience is free because he understands and applies his acquittal in God’s court. 

The presence of sin in the believer’s life does not prove that he is not a Christian or that God’s grace is unavailable.  The verdict always revolves around the principles of God’s Word. 

The word “toward” means face to face.  This is a word of relationship or fellowship.  The believer in fellowship always speaks freely with God.  He has confidence in prayer, knowing that God hears him.  His conscience does not trouble him. 


When a Christian gains assurance that God accepts him on the work of Christ, he possesses confidence toward God. 


The Christian can have confidence before God in time on earth and not simply at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  We have confidence in prayer.  We can rest assured that God accepts us with all our warts and blemishes. 

Confidence does not come through feelings.  Emotions are slippery and hard to nail down.  Feelings are as erratic as the wind because they depend on circumstances.  They operate more like a barometer than a thermostat.  The barometer changes with weather conditions, but the thermostat sets the temperature.  The Christian who operates by faith in the Word of God is like the thermostat.  He has confidence before God by faith. 

The believer operating with confidence toward God approaches Him with boldness. 

Eph 3:12, “…in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”

Php 1:19-20,  19 “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”

He 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

He 10:19-22, 35, 19 “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water… 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.”

The believer in fellowship does not put confidence in the flesh.  He puts his confidence in the Son of God.  He glories in Christ Jesus. 

Php 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…”