The freedom from condemnation that we have in Christ means that ‘we have confidence before God’ – 1John 3:21. Instead of standing in God’s presence with all of our sin and guilt upon us, we stand before God ‘in Christ’, acquitted of our guilt, clothed in his righteousness. This is the light, this is the truth, this is the love of God in which the Christian lives.

John discusses this confidence in 1John 3:21 – 24.

If Christ had not borne the full condemnation for our sin and guilt, we would have no access to God. The prohibition that began in Genesis 3:24, and that was symbolised by the curtain in the Tabernacle and the Temple, would still be in place. The Isaiah 59:2 statement that our iniquities have separated us from God, and that our sins have hidden his face from us would still apply. But the New Testament teaches us that that curtain was torn in two from top to bottom at the very moment Jesus Christ died (Matthew 27:50, 51), visibly demonstrating this significant and central impact of the death of Christ: that we who deserve to be forever banned from God’s presence now have permanent, present, uninhibited access to God:

We have access to the Father through Christ – Ephesians 2:18.

We approach God’s throne, which is for us a throne of grace, with confidence – Hebrews 4:16.

We are no longer banned from God’s presence, but have confidence to enter the presence of God by the body of Christ – Hebrews 10:19, 20.

We therefore draw near to God in full assurance of faith – Hebrews 10:22.

By Christ’s death we have been reconciled to God – Romans 5:10; 2Corinthians 5: 14 – 21; Colossians 1:19 – 22.

Jesus Christ, the innocent one, died to bring us, the guilty ones, to God – 1Peter 3:18.

And as John teaches in his letter:

We have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ – 1John 1:3.

We may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming – 2:28.

We have confidence before God – 3:21.

We will have confidence on the day of judgement – 4:17.

But John draws our attention to an even deeper truth that contributes to this confidence and this assurance in the presence of God: Not only do those who believe in the name of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, have permanent, present, confident access to God, but also this: that those who believe in Christ, those who have genuine faith that is validated by love, are participants in a mutual indwelling: they ‘live in him, and he in them’ – 3:24. The word translated ‘live’ is meno which is variously translated ‘live’, ‘continue’, ‘remain’.

Previously, using this word, John has referred to believers living ‘in him’ (2:6; 3:6), living ‘in the light’ (2:10), remaining ‘in the Son and in the Father’ (2:24), continuing ‘in him’ (2:28). Now he adds an additional truth that God lives in us. Those who acknowledge Jesus Christ live in God and God lives in them.

John repeats this truth in chapter 4:

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit – 4:13.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God – 4:15.

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him – 4:16.

God has made us his dwelling place (1Corinthians 3:16; 6:19), and he is our dwelling place. He lives in us, and we live in him. This is true of every person who has, in truth, believed in the name of God’s Son. This is, or should be, the confidence of every believer.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2022