Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 3:19-24. In verse 19 John says, “In this we shall know that we are of the truth, and we shall persuade our heart before Him.” Here “truth” denotes the reality of the divine life, which we received of God in our divine birth. We have received the divine life so that we may love the brothers by the divine love. If we love the brothers with the divine love, we shall know that we are of this reality.
John’s way of writing here is not doctrinal but experiential. Apart from spiritual experience, we cannot understand what John is saying. In verses 18 and 19 John is telling us that if we love the brothers in truth, sincerity, honesty, as the outcome of our enjoyment of the Triune God, we shall have the assurance that we are in the divine reality.
According to John’s word, if we love in truth, we shall also be able to “persuade our heart before Him.” The Greek word rendered “persuade” also means conciliate, convince, assure, tranquilize. To persuade our heart before God is to have a good conscience, void of offense (1 Tim. 1:5, 19; Acts 24:16), that our heart may be conciliated, convinced, assured, and tranquilized before the Lord. This is also a condition of the life that abides in the Lord. To abide in the Lord requires a tranquil heart with a conscience void of offense. This is also vital to our fellowship with God, which is covered in the first section of this Epistle. A heart disturbed by a conscience with offense frustrates our abiding in the Lord and breaks our fellowship with God.
We know from experience that if we do not love by the divine love, our heart will not be at peace. Furthermore, we shall not have peace if we are not right even with a small matter in our environment. Suppose a brother becomes upset and knocks over a chair. Certainly he does not have peace in his heart. But if instead he lives by the divine life and loves others by the divine love, he will be able to conciliate his heart, to persuade his heart before God.
When we have the assurance that we are in the divine truth, we shall be able to convince, persuade, and assure our heart and cause it to be tranquil. Otherwise, there will be turmoil within, for our heart will protest that we do not love according to the divine love. Our heart may say, “You are a child of God, but you are not living by the divine life. Why do you knock over a chair?” If we want our heart to be tranquil, we need to live by the divine life in relation to everyone and everything. Suppose, for example, that I carelessly throw something aside. I know from experience that if I do this, I will not have peace in my heart. In order for my heart to be tranquil, I need to be right with everything. Only when we live a life that is the expression of the divine reality can we cause our heart to be tranquil.
Many times we, the children of God, are not happy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” and Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Why is it that often we do not have joy within? The reason we do not have joy is that our heart is not at peace. Instead of peace, there is turmoil. The reason our heart is not tranquil is that we are not living in the divine life. But when we live in the divine life, we are in the truth, the reality. Then we can persuade, conciliate, convince, our heart and cause it to be tranquil. As a result, we shall be happy.
At the end of verse 19 John inserts the phrase “before Him.” This tells us that the Lord is living with us and in us. If we do not live by the divine reality, our heart will protest. Then we shall not have a calm heart before Him. We need to remember that the Lord is living in us and that we are living before Him. Only when we live by the divine life can we persuade our heart before Him. The phrase “before Him” points to a crucial matter—that our living as children of God, and also our heart, are before Him. Therefore, we must take care to always have a tranquil heart before Him.
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