How (not) to let your heart accuse you

A long-lost relative of an eccentric New York heiress, stood to inherit 19 million pounds (R320 million) of her 300 million POUND fortune.  Unfortunately, the relative, Timothy Gray – a homeless man, age 60, was found dead from hypothermia under a bridge in rural Wyoming, in the US.

Timothy Gray was a millionaire but didn’t know it.

He ended up dying outside in the cold.

The Apostle John in his letter of 1 John said that Christian people must know what they have in Christ, and not forget it.

If Christians forget what they have in Christ, they will be like Timothy Gray, and miss out on many good things, such as Christian assurance and Christian confidence before God.

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:19-20)

John wants Christians to know that they are of the truth – that they are Christians!

Is it not true, that very often we doubt that we are real Christians?

Our hearts often condemn, convict and accuse us before God?

As Christian people, who have turned away from sin and have trusted in Jesus, we very often still feel condemned by God.

Our hearts remind us of our past, our failings, our weaknesses, and our sins.  Our own hearts say, “How can you possibly be a Christians?!”

Satan, the Accuser

The Devil is called the Accuser in the Bible, because his primary role is to accuse people before God.

Satan says to God, “You see Andre Visagie. He is a great sinner. You cannot allow him into your holy presence. God, your justice demands that Andre Visagie must die and bear your judgment.”

And Satan is quite right.

However, in Revelation 12, it says that Satan, the Accuser, has been cast down from heaven by the blood of the Lamb (the death of Jesus).

Jesus, the Lamb of God, died not for his own sin and rebellion against God, but for mine.

Jesus died to bear God’s judgment for the sins of others.

When I trust in Jesus my sins are forgiven by God on the grounds of Jesus’ death for me.

Satan is now cast down; he has lost his ammunition; he can no longer accuse Christians before God.

However, Satan has a good co-worker, our very own hearts.

Our accusing hearts

Our own hearts seek to condemn us before God.

Our hearts say things to us like, “What kind of a Christian are you? You messed up again, you can’t possibly be a Christian.  Look at those successful Christians over there, you are so pathetic.  Why don’t you just give up?”

As a result, we lack assurance and we feel ashamed before God.  We run from God, instead of to God.

Often that sense of shame drives us, not only away from God, but to more sin.  We then feel even more shame, which drives us to more sin….and the vicious downward cycle of sin-shame-sin continues.

Our hearts act as Satan’s co-workers.

What we need is to remind ourselves of the truth of the gospel.

We need to remind ourselves that God has declared us righteous in Jesus, not because of what we’ve done or not done, but because of what Jesus has done for us.

Does your heart condemn you as a Christian?

Does your heart remind you of all your failings and the greatness of your past sins?

Please tell your heart that you are actually much worse than what your heart thinks.

Please tell your heart that God knows everything (v20), he knows even more of your sins and failings.

And please tell your heart that God is greater than your heart. (v20)

Even though God knows all your sins, God has given his Son to propitiate those sins, so that you may be declared righteous in his sight.

Remind yourself of the gospel.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther was a great Christian Reformer in the 1500’s

In a dream, Martin Luther found himself being attacked by Satan.

The devil unrolled a long scroll containing a list of Luther’s sins, and held it before him.  On reaching the end of the scroll Luther asked the devil, “Is that all?”

“No,” came the reply, and a second scroll was thrust in front of him.

After the second came a third, and fourth, and fifth scroll.

Luther asked, “Is that all my sins?”  The devil replied, “yes”.

“You’ve forgotten something,” Luther said, “Quickly write on each of the scrolls, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s son, cleanses us from all sins.’”

God is greater than our hearts.  If God has forgiven us, who is our heart to condemn us?

Maybe you feel ashamed or unworthy?

Perhaps you want to run and hide from God?

Possibly you’ve made a terrible mistake or committed a terrible sin?

John, the Apostle of Christ, wrote these words to you:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)

If you have sinned, you should stop sinning.

Say sorry to God and turn from sin, because we are children of the light, not children of darkness.

But don’t let your heart condemn you.

God is greater than your heart, and he knows everything.


*Thanks to Mervyn Eloff for his very helpful insights and sermon on this passage.

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