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. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. – 1 John 3:21-24
There are two ditches on either side of the road of confidence before God. On the one side is the ditch of arrogant hubris. We can puff out our chest, point to our “faithful obedience” and demand a place at God’s table of blessing. Danger! This is not the attitude of true repentant faithfulness.
On the other hand we can fall into the ditch on the other side, and give in to abject hopelessness. We can (rightly) point to our mixed motives, our sinful nature, and our failures to do all that God has commanded. This, however, does not take God’s mercy and forgiveness into account.
If we have been forgiven by God, there is no reason to refuse to occupy a place of humble faith. This is the stuff of true confidence. Repenting, confessing, and forsaking sin, provides us with a foundation upon which we can stand in hopeful anticipation of God’s continued mercies, grace, and favor. This is all secured by the Holy Spirit whom God has given us.
But sin confessed and forsaken is forgiven and such true repentance emboldens our hearts before God. This is the message of John. Believing in Jesus Christ, obeying his commandments, and loving one another are keys to confidence before God.