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A. (:14a) Loving Indicates Life

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.”

Piper: “Positively: loving another person in deed and in truth is concrete, visible evidence that we are of the truth. This evidence reassures our heart before God that we do in fact know him. Negatively: when we consistently fail to love our brother or sister, any assurance that we had that we were right with God, is called into question.”

B. (:14b-15) Hating Indicates Death

1. Statement of Fact

“He who does not love abides in death.”

2. Illustration to Prove the Point

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”


A. (:16) Our Pattern in Loving — Christ’s love for us

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

Boice: “What is it that gives the love of God as seen at the cross its special character? Primarily it is the element of self-sacrifice on behalf of those who are totally undeserving and even undesirous of the sacrifice.”

B. (:17) Our Heart to Love — Concrete Test

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

C. (:18) Our Challenge to Love — Only Reality Proves our Sincerity

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”


A. (:19-21) Confidence in God’s Presence

1. (:19) Assurance of Salvation — Practical Love

“We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him.”

We see the life and power of God working through our lives as we minister practical love to others. This reassures our hearts that we are children of God.

2. (:20) Victory Over Condemnation

“in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”

Boice: “Whatever our hearts may say, God knows us better than even we ourselves do and, nevertheless, has acquitted us. Therefore, we should reassure ourselves by His judgment, which alone is trustworthy, and refuse to trust our own.”

Stedman: ” … the problem of an accusing heart, i.e., a condemning conscience. What do you do as a Christian when your heart condemns you? As we saw, the usual result of a condemning conscience is a tendency to ignore God, to keep in the shadows and to distrust his love, to criticize his people and in many ways to manifest the fact that we have lost contact with the God who indwells us. The answer, as we saw in First John 3:19, was to reassure our hearts by a deed of self-giving love: ‘Little children, let us not love in word or speech,’ says John, ‘but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us,’ {1 Jn 3:18-19 RSV}.

We are to give ourselves to someone who is in need or help another in his problem, repay good for evil, or give back kind words instead of caustic, sharp ones. The result, John says, will be a sense of reassurance. If we are really in Christ, rivers of love and peace will begin to flow out from our hearts again, and it will be impossible to remain condemned”

Stott: “Our conscience is by no means infallible; its condemnation may often be unjust. We can, therefore, appeal from our conscience to God who is greater and more knowledgeable. Indeed, He knows all things, including our secret motives and deepest resolves, and, it is implied, will be more merciful towards us than our own heart. His omniscience should relieve, not terrify, us (cf. Ps. ciii. 14; Jn. xxi. 17). So it is knowledge which alone can quieten the condemning heart, our own knowledge of our sincere love for others and supremely God’s knowledge of our thoughts and motives. Stronger than any chemical tranquillizer is trust in our all-knowing God.”

3. (:21) Confidence Before God

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”

B. (:22-23) Confidence in Prayer

1. (:22) Promise of Answered Prayer

a. Grandiose Scope of the Promise

“and whatever we ask we receive from Him”

b. General Conditions for Fulfillment = Obedience

1) “because we keep His commandments”

2) “and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

2. (:23) Definition of Obedience

“And this is His commandment”

a. Faith — “that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ”

b. Love — “and love one another, just as He commanded us”

Stott: “There is a significant difference in the tense of the two verbs, believe and love, faith in Christ being here regarded as a decisive act …, and love for the brethren as a continuous attitude. Both are tests of a true Christian.”

Stedman: “What John is saying is, the condition by which prayer is answered, and answered abundantly, is that we make repeated decisive acts of fulfilling the demands of love toward another, depending upon the power of Jesus Christ within us to perform it. That is ‘believing on the name of the Son of God,’ counting on his authority, on his power.”