We have considered the characteristics of true fellowship over the last several weeks. We have looked at these characteristics in relation to our prospect, in relation to our position, and tonight we want to look at them in relation to our prayers. John gives us three things that the believer possesses in relation to prayer when they are in true fellowship.
I. The Believer Has Assurance. v19-20
A. "Hereby we know..." v19a
1. This refers us back to the previous verses we have already studied.
2. We know that God loves us because "He laid down His life for us". v16
3. We know that we are of the truth if we know that we love the brethren; in deed and not in word only. v14
B. We "...shall assure our hearts before him". v19b
1. If we are of the truth, then we are truly His.
2. The ‘truth’ is not merely some written code of cold facts, nor is it just some theoretical teaching, but it is vital, living, and active.
3. Truth is life-changing and heart- transforming.
4. To love like this (v16-18) is to produce the fruit of truth.
5. We know in our hearts and have the assurance that we are saved!
C. "For if our heart condemn us..." v20
1. Our hearts (consciences) will condemn us because we know that we have not always loved the brethren as we should.
2. John points us away from feelings and toward our God who knows all.
3. Thank God our salvation and assurance is not based upon the feelings of our hearts, but on our great and mighty God.
II. The Believer Has Confidence. v21-22
A. Our confidence comes from an assured heart.
1. The believer whose heart does not condemn him has confidence toward God.
2. Like an obedient, well-behaved child has confidence before a loving parent, so the child of God is with his Heavenly Father.
B. Our confidence is toward God in prayer.
1. If there is sin in my heart then I cannot pray with confidence.
2. The Holy Spirit reminds me of that sin and convicts that I may confess it and get back into fellowship with the Father.
3. When a Christian is out of fellowship with one of the brethren, then he cannot pray with confidence.
4. This is also true of the believer’s home. NOTE:
1 Peter 3:1, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;"
C. Our prayers will be answered: v22
1. Because we keep His commandments;
2. Because we do those things that are pleasing unto Him.
3. We have the confidence to ask, and the confidence to know that God will answer!
III. The Believer Has A Witness. v23-24
A. Two-part commandment of the Father.
1. That we believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. That we love one another.
B. As a result, we have a witness.
1. We dwell in Christ, and He dwells in us.
2. We know that He dwells in us because of the witness of the Spirit.
3. Romans 8:16, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:"
C. Our position in Christ:
1. Begins with faith. "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son, Jesus Christ." v23a
2. Continues with love. "And love one another, as he gave us commandment." v23b
3. Is contingent on obedience. "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him" v24a
4. Is confirmed by the Spirit. "And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." v24b
When it comes to our prayers, do we have assurance? Do we have confidence? Do we have the witness of the Spirit of God? This is a characteristic of true fellowship with Christ. The question for each of us this evening is simple; are we enjoying fellowship with Christ? If not, what must change? Will we be willing to make that change?