Relation Of A Right Conscience To Power With God
“If our heart condemns us not, then we have confidence with God” (John 3:21).
Condemnation is inconsistent with Faith and acceptance with God.
Condemnation on the conscience, in the heart, or life, makes it inconsistent for God to hear and answer our prayers. This is readily seen when we remember God is a moral governor and He must not do anything which seems to justify, or countenance, the guilty, unrepentant sinner. If this government can reward the murderer, with granting his request for liberty, then may God answer the petitions of moral rebels who sin against His government. The first case would endanger the material government; the second would also involve God’s moral government. He will, he affirms, by no means clear the guilty. He as explicitly says He does not hear their prayers. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil while His ears are open to the cry of the righteous. “He hearethnot sinners, but if any man be a worshipper of Him and do His will, him He heareth.”
If God answered our prayers while we were in sin He would approve our wrong and encourage us in it.
The epistle from which our text is taken labors to show the incompatibility of living in sin and, at the same time, abiding in Christ. “Whosoever abideth in Him, sinneth not.” It also shows the impossibility of living under known condemnation and at the same time gaining answers to prayer:
It lays down a condition;
“If our hearts condemn us not.”
It promises two results:
First‑Confidence with God: “We have confidence with God.”
Sccond‑Answered prayer: “Whatsoever we ask we receive of Him.”
First‑As to the condition. See what it implies. “‘If’ our heart condemn us not.” “If” is a condition word. If we will meet the condition laid down, God will guarantee the promised results. In fact, at every turn of the
Christian life he is met with this condition word, i‑f, “if.” Does he want pardon? Very well. “IF” he confesses his sins God will forgive them. Does he want cleansing? “IF” he will walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanse from all sin.” Does he avow his love for Jesus? Listen ” ‘IF’ ye love me ye will keep my commandments.” Does be protest his friendship for Jesus? ” ‘IF’ ye continue in my word then are ye my friends in deed.” Are answers to prayers desired? ” IF’ ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ask what ye will.” “If” our heart condemn us not “ask whatever ye will.” And so at every turn God meets us with “IF.” Condition first, promised blessing afterward. “If” (conjunction of condition) our heart condemn us not, then (adverb of time) at that very moment, we have the confidence and answers to prayer. If we will, He will; if we will not , He will not.
The text implies certain things in the heart‑condemn, which prevent confidence with God and answers to prayer from Him.
What are the sources of condemnation?
We suggest a few sources of condemnation, which block our prayers and prevent the answer.
There may be condemnation arising from unconfessed sin.
Or from sin, unforsaken, holding onto sin after light has come.
There may be a condemnation from unforgiven sin, or an unforgiving spirit.
Past sin, unadjusted, may be another source of condemnation which renders the heavens brass when you pray. You have failed to confess, restore, apologize, or ask forgiveness of the party injured. You neglect to pay the old bill, give back the stolen goods or money, when God orders the wicked to “restore the pledge and give back that which he has robbed.”
There may be condemnation from the word of God rejection of its known revelations: “Whoso turns his ear away from the law of God, even his prayer is abomination’., or condemnation from conscience for sin unyielded; or from the Holy Spirit, for reproofs unheeded, and sin persisted in; all of these hinder effectual power with God.
If new light is giver. and rejected it turns to condemnation. We must obey all present light to date. Light disregarded turns to condemnation and hinders prayer. For example, some ten years after our entering into perfect love by faith, we were crossing a field in Southern Ohio, when suddenly we discovered lying at our feet an object which had some strange power to melt our heart and fill our eyes with tears. It was a common stone about one foot long and nine inches wide, which from the influence of the elements had been chiseled into an almost perfect outline map of Africa. We are not saying God used the stone to speak to us but our thoughts through this phenomenon, were directed to the Dark Continent and we thought of the brave missionaries there and the millions in darkness and stood over the stone and wept and prayed for Africa and resolved to do more in prayer and money for that great country than ever before. Further, we said, Lord, if thou who didst choose the dumb animal to rebuke the prophet, art rebuking us for a heart attitude toward Africa, much like the cold inanimate rock at our feet we accept the reproof; and further, if through this incident thou art not only calling our attention, but on personal service there, we will walk in this light. Suppose our attitude bad been one of rebellion and God were really calling our attention through the stone, to that sadly‑needy field, and we had said no, the Spirit would have been grieved. We use this illustration to show what the attitude of heart toward any possible light God may send, should be. “Whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” However, whenceever, wherever, or through whomsoever God may choose to bring light on life’s duties while we should not go blindly, or precipitantly, ahead, still our attitude should be the teachable one. Else the light which is in us and which is given to us, may become darkness, as the Savior said. In other words, condemnation results from light rejected, wounds the soul, and hinders prayer.
Here is the secret of many a soul’s difficulties‑LACK OF INSTANT ADJUSTMENT TO THE WILL OF GOD AS CONTINUOUSLY REVEALED. A sister said: “My God, things have been piling up, and piling tip, and, emphatically, piling up on my conscience until God knows I do not know where I am.” Had she adjusted herself instantly to the light as it came, her soul would have been spared the discouraging prospect of condemnation piled up mountain high, until her case seemed hopeless. Keep a clean slate as you go along.
Other sources of prayer hindering condemnation may arise from unholy alliances with the world. The mere friendship and approbation of the world, James tells us, constitutes one “the enemy of God.” Again, unhallowed selfish ambition, asking amiss, that we may consume the answer on our own lusts, with questionable practices and a compromised, violated conscience, together with persistent neglect of some little thing (i. e., milk bill, etc.), which needs immediate attention, will hang as a cloud of condemnation over the soul and hinder prayer. A member of one of the early houses of representatives suddenly arose and said in piercing, triumphant tones: “Eureka, Mr. Speaker, I have found it‑the philosopher’s stone.” And then in the silence which followed, he said impressively, “It is pay as you go.” This is equally good for professors, as well as legislative assemblies.
The context reveals one final source of condemnation ‘and menace to power. Lack of “brotherly love,” love one another. Has the reader ever noticed in what connection the Golden Rule is given. Jesus had just promised by an eight‑fold repetition and enforcement the fact ‘prayer shall be answered‑‑”shall find … .. shall receive,” shall be opened; “How much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” He continues, “Therefore, I say unto you‑‑”. Wherefore? Why simply in lieu of the positive promises above that prayer shall be answered. Therefore I give you the Golden Rule: “Therefore I say unto you all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so likewise to them.” In other words, do not violate the Golden Rule lest ye be condemned and God will not bear when ye pray. Therefore if you would ask and receive, seek and find, etc., live the Golden Rule life as that is the only life God hears pray.
“If our heart condemn us not” on any score then we are in the right attitude to ask and receive. There is no use to excuse ourselves and blame conditions. The man really in touch with God, free from condemnation, gets answers from heaven. Let us not fool ourselves but get right. “The prayer of a right(eous) man avails much.” Pressure will be on us as long as our hearts condemn. We must search out all the sources of condemnation and by grace away with them. When Zion travails she brings forth; when she abides in Christ, she asks and receives; when she fasts and prays, a certain form of power goes forth. But what, when these promised results are not evident? Simply this: Zion does not meet God’s conditions, so the logical conclusion of our text is, if the answers promised do not come, somewhere lurking is the condemnation, which hinders. We do not say this indiscriminately, but a soul free from condemnation has communion with God and answers to prayer constantly. The condemned soul has not. It is evident no one can bear from God while known condemnation for sin is retained. Reader, sit down and list with pencil and paper all the possible sources of condemnation in the past and present, then, promise, God nerving you for the ordeal, one by one, to go down that list and remove all in your power and then look to God to remove all inward sin which you can not remove. Commence now and make a business of the job until you get where nothing talks back when you pray. Do you not know by retaining these things not only are you condemned of God and crippled in service, and at each recollection condemned by your own conscience, but also you as much as say to the devil, “here take this club and club me.” You give him a positive occasion of accusation in addition,to the thousand and one accusations he will bring against you in his role as, the accuser of the brethren.” Resolve to end all of this condemnation by God’s help now, and then see what new delight and power there will be in prayer. One final word. All of the doubtful things put on God’s side. Give Him the benefit of the doubt. We have now written of the CONDITION and proceed briefly to speak of the RESULTS:
Confidence With God
“If our heart condemn us not, WE HAVE CONFIDENCE WITH GOD.” John does not argue the case. There is such a state where the heart Condemns not. He simply states this fact:
“Our heart condemn us not,” not not. Thank God! It is in this life too. Present tense.”Condemn us not.” Paul expresses the same idea even more emphatically: “There is therefore NOW no condemnation to those who are in Christ.” Those who have obtained this state have confidence with God. Then (when free from condemnation) “WE HAVE CONFIDENCE WITH GOD.” If the conditions of IF are met then (at that time) something else takes place. We have confidence with God and ask and receive. Then faith from a right state of heart springs up. Away with the condemnation which hinders faith and to believe God is as natural as breathing. Condemnation is the why of no faith. A sinner in the heyday of sin can not believe God till he leaves off sin. A believer unwilling to be sanctified wholly can not believe unto perfect love in this state. “IF” then. No “IF.” No THEN. I can’t believe, is often, you won’t obey. We either pray through or up to condemnation.
Only a pure heart condemns not. Faith flows spontaneously from a pure heart (we do not imply all who have pure hearts will have the same degree of faith). When ye This you definitely but to some definite end-answered prayer
Second‑Whatever we ask we receive of Him. We will have confidence with God that He will do as He says: Give victory, answer prayer, supply our needs, give open doors, save souls, baptize with the Holy Ghost in sanctifying power, give revivals; in short, we will be emboldened by our confidence to definitely ask and expect to receive all things consistent with His pure word and will.