"We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." (1 John 3:19-22)
It is unclear, at least to me, whether John is looking back, when he says, "by this", to our loving our brothers and sisters in deed and truth, or if he is looking forward to our "doing the things" that please Him. Either way, John reveals to us the benefit of a confident heart. Confidence fuels our hope and emboldens our faith. When we are confident before God then we are confident in our faith and in the things we ask of Him. At times like these, we know He hears our prayers and we know He will answer them.
However, our confidence should not be the false light of presumption or an empty trust in ourselves. Our confidence should be based on the reality of our lives as demonstrated through our deeds and actions. We have confidence, not because we feel confident, but because our life gives us reason to be confident. When we live according to righteousness, and do always the things that please God, then our confidence is real and its benefits are tangible.
Jesus lived such a life. He said, speaking of His Father, "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." (John 8:29) Jesus's life was a life lived in consistency; consistently good, consistently loving, and consistently just. His life gave Him complete boldness and confidence in God. In what ever He asked, His Father heard Him and answered Him. It is, our ought to be, our goal to become like Jesus in this manner; that there should be nothing in our lives that would condemn our hearts before God. That our hearts and lives would be free and clear of all things that offend and grieve the heart of God.
However, while this is our goal, our lives often fall short. We are not perfect people and our lives are often far from being lives of consistency. What does one do when, because of their own failings, their heart finds things to condemn them before God? How does one move from condemnation back to confidence? Some propose to do this by hiding their sin or denying the sinfulness of their sin. However, this only compounds the problem. David said, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer." (Psalm 32:3-4) Concealing our sin is not the answer. God has a better way. God already knows what we have done. He knows our sin and the hidden things of our heart. If we will but confess them to the Lord He will forgive them and restore confidence to our heart. There is no sin within our heart that God is not great enough to conquer. David went on to say, "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'; and You forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalm 32:5) Confidence with God is but a prayer away!