Sermon Recap — April 19, 2020

A Clean Conscience and Confident Prayer

Chris Patton
1 John 3:19-24
April 19, 2020
Sermon Audio & Video

Introduction

  • We all struggle at times with guilty conscience.
  • Define and explain the idea of “conscience.”
  • When John speaks of our hearts condemning us in vs.20 – he is speaking of our consciences condemning us.

Main Theme: A clean conscience leads to confident prayer.

I. How To Obtain A Clean Conscience

  • Spirit-born conviction is a great blessing.
  • There is great danger in looking within at our sin without looking at Christ.
  • These verses provide additional help in battling condemnation (1 John 3:19-20).

God Is Greater Than Your Heart

  • While in the courtroom of your own mind and heart- you may stand condemned.
  • Here John reminds us in essence 
    • The only courtroom that truly matters is God’s courtroom.
    • The only verdict that truly matters is God’s verdict.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. — 1 Cor. 4:3-4

  • While conscience is a gift from God and we do well most of the time to pay attention to it — our consciences are not the ultimate authority. God is the ultimate authority. 
  • Our consciences can be accurate. They can also be inaccurate. 
  • Consciences can be hardened and fail to register alarm and conviction as they should.
  • Consciences can also be misinformed or overly-scrupulous. They can register “you’ve done something sinful or wrong” when in fact no sin has been committed. 
  • The highest court of all is God’s court. His judgment is the judgment that ultimately matters, not the judgment of our consciences.

God Knows Everything

  • God is omniscient–that is, God knows everything including in minute detail our every sinful thought, action and deed.
  • Initially, that might seem absolutely terrifying. Yet wonderfully the gospel is implied here. God is not only omniscient, He is also merciful.
  • Earlier in this epistle of 1 John, John spoke of God as the one who when we confess our sins “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • He also said “ if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 

There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.  There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and am I glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience is enough) —   J.I. Packer

II. Why A Clean Conscience Matters

[21] Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; [22] and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

  • Why does a clean conscience matter? Because when our consciences are clean we have confidence to boldly come before the throne of grace, making our requests known to him.
  • According to John, the person with a cleansed conscience is emboldened to pray and when they pray, John assures us, God delights to answer them.
  • We know from other scriptures, this does not mean God always answers every prayer in the way we would like or according to our timing. 
  • From the end of vs.22 through verse 24 John explains in a very special way, God is inclined to hear and answer the prayers of His own dearly beloved children. While God’s children are flawed, imperfect and sinful, they do bear the family resemblance; God expects their lives will reflect something of their heavenly Father’s own holiness, love and purity.

Conclusion

 A clean conscience leads to confident prayer.

  • If you feel condemned, remember:
    • God knows every sin, but he has chosen to not count your sins against you.
    • See him there, condemned for you. Receive His forgiveness. Receive the wonderful gift of a clean conscience. And then draw near to your heavenly Father in prayer.
  • God’s heart is towards you. He invites you to come boldly and make your requests known to Him.

Questions For Discussion/Application:

  • Re-read the text, 1 John 3:19-24. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
  • What are some unhelpful, unbiblical ways of dealing with a guilty conscience?
  • How biblically ought we to deal with a guilty conscience?
  • “God is greater than our heart (1 John 3:20)”  While conscience is a gift from God and we do well most of the time to pay attention to it — our consciences are not the ultimate authority. God is the ultimate authority.  He is greater than our hearts. Why is this important to remember when battling condemenation?
  • “God knows everything (1 John 3:20).” How does the awareness that God already knows all of our sins, help us when battling condemnation.
  • Consider reading the JI Packer quote under point #1. How does what Packer says here encourage you and minister to you?
  • Re-read verses 21 and 22. What is the connection the Apostle John makes between a clean conscience and confidence in prayer?
  • What are some of the “bold requests” you believe God is calling you to bring before His throne of grace in prayer?
  • Consider taking time to pray (1) thanking God that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and then (2) making your specific prayer requests known to the Lord.

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