Hearts On Trial

Bible Book: 1 John  3 : 11-29
Subject: Heart; Forgiveness
Series: God's Dear Children

Hearts On Trial

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

1 John 3:11-29

Somewhere a number of years ago I read the story of a man who discovered something strange about his heart. When the man entered the hospital for tests, he could never have guessed what the doctors would found. At first they thought the X-ray technicians had put their film in the X-ray device backwards, but then they discovered that nothing was wrong with the X-rays. There was something wrong with the patient - the man's heart was in a reversed position. What was supposed to be on the left side of the man's chest was on the right side. In other words, his heart was on the wrong side of his body.

Having your heart in the right place is important, which I think you will agree. This is true concerning your physical heart and even more important when it involves your spiritual heart.

Sir Walter Raleigh was put to death by decapitation. They placed his head on the block and the executioner asked Raleigh if his head was laid aright. Sir Walter Raleigh responded by saying, “It matters not, sir, how the head lies if the heart is right.”

The most important matter in our lives today is the condition of our hearts before Almighty God. When I speak of the heart, I am speaking of your inner character. The heart is the seat of human will, thoughts and emotions. Believe me, it matters little today how we look on the outside and it matters little what others think or say about us. What does matter is the condition of the heart as it is seen in full view before the X-ray eyes of the Lord.

John tells us in this passage today that it is possible for our hearts to speak against us. Also, our hearts can speak for us. When the heart speaks against us, feelings of guilt rise in us. Sadly, many Christians do not deal with guilt in the way God has designed and that leads to many bad decisions and damaged relationships.

God solicits testimony from our hearts as if we are giving testimony in a trial. In essence, in the passage before us, we see the human heart on trial. Imagine today that your heart is on trial before God. It is not a matter of what you say about life, or how many witnesses you can call to speak in your behalf. All that matters in this trial is what God sees in your heart. Think of yourself today in God’s courtroom with only your heart giving testimony before the Eternal Judge. This courtroom is not an earthly one but a heavenly one.

Let’s look at four steps in the trial of our hearts before God.

I. The Trial

The trial takes place n God's courtroom and it begins as ...

A. The Regulation is Presented

The Law of God is read in the courtroom. Now what does the Law reveal? It condemns our hearts immediately.

Galatians 3:10, “All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the Law.’”

No one is justified by the Law, for no one can keep the Law. No matter how good we may look to the world or to one another, our hearts condemn in God's courtroom.

The Bible states that the righteous live by faith. The Law points out that we have failed in the past and in the immediate present. In God's courtroom the examination is looking for faith in the heart.

Now, note something else revealed in God's court ...

B. The Remembrance is Prompted

The memories in your heart are called to the witness stand to testify against you. Your heart starts to testify honestly in God’s courtroom, for the heart can do no other than tell the truth. Your memory tells all the things you have done that fell short in regard to being in a spirit of divine love and obedience. Don’t misunderstand, this is not the final judgment we are talking about - this is a trial taking place while you are here on earth right now. You memory brings up things you imagined were forgotten or unknown to anyone. Your heart dredges up things you wish were not in the courtroom. You may think those things are pressed down so deep inside you that they cannot emerge, but that is not true.

A third thing occurs in this trial of the heart ...

C. The Reproach is Produced

Your mind now brings condemnation against you. The evidence is plain … you are guilty. It is your own heart condemning you. Again, don’t misunderstand what I am saying at this point; it is not God condemning you but your own heart (mind, will, emotions) condemning you. Sadly, many of us try to silence our hearts but as far as God is concerned that is impossible. Your heart is like a computer hard drive that cannot be erased. When God hits the right button, the heart reveals all.

So, now note ...

II. The Verdict

Condemnation occurs in the lower court – the court of your own heart – not in the higher (Super Supreme Court) court of God. Now remember, John is writing to Christians. He is saying that even Christians can feel a sense of condemnation. Yet, we read clearly in the Bible that a Christian is no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1). To be sure, even a Christian is not free of all sin, but still we are not supposed to live in condemnation. What is it that tells you that you are guilty? It is your heart. In the lower court of your own heart you face an overwhelming reality of guilt. This guilt is not false; it is real. We are guilty. So what is John’s point? Listen carefully.

John speaks of confidence before God. Confidence with God brings power, peace and a sense of His presence. Guilt within our own hearts brings weakness, fear, doubt, worry and a feeling that God is far from us. It stands to reason that there will be no answered prayer if our hearts are condemning us, yet John mentions that those who have confidence in God’s forgiveness have a peace that produces answered prayer.

What do we do when the verdict is presented by our own hearts - a edict of guilt?

A. We Try To Cover It Up

Since no one can see this trial going on inside our hearts, the individual Christianity can simply repress the feelings of guilt and try to cover it up. Since no one knows of your guilty verdict, because it is a heart trial and others cannot see it, we often attempt to merely cover it up by glossing over the guilt. We can just act like everything is okay. If we do this, we will develop joyless, powerless, and peace-less Christian lives.

B. We Try To Make It Up

Of course, we can try to make a promise in the heart-court to do better in our lives. We can determine that by human effort we are going to please God. This effort is not really because one loves God or is empowered by God to do this, but it is an act of trying to make up for the condemnation the heart has brought against us. You will find no peace in this manner.

C. We Try To Even It Up

Next, in order to allay the feelings of guilt which our hearts have brought before the court, we can try to drag everyone else down to our level. If we can point out everyone else’s faults, then we assume that we can pull them down to the level we are experiencing. John speaks of this when he speaks of Cain and Abel. Cain was jealous of Abel and so he killed him.

Trying to cover up our condemnation or make up for our condemnation, will leave us empty. This is not God’s way to peace with God and confidence before God.

What am I to do?

III. The Appeal

When a trial takes place, an attorney has the privilege of appealing his case to a higher court. Listen carefully, your heart is not the final courtroom. There is a higher court. You can appeal your case to the very Sovereign Courtroom of God. Even when you decide take your case to God, your heart may cry out that God’s judgment will be even more severe than your heart. You mind, will and emotions will grab you and try to keep you from appealing to the higher court. Your heart can tell you that God will be even harsher to you and that you must push the guilt back down inside and hide it. Oh, Christian, this is not true. It is absolutely not true. Take your case to the high court of God and know this, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

When we appeal the case of our guilty heart to God, what do we discover?

A. The Life in the Savior

See Verses 4, 16, 19-20

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you born again? If so, you are not under any condemnation. Jesus has forgiven you. Jesus has washed you. Your heart may not be able to forget your deeds, but Jesus forgets them and never brings them up to you again. Confessed sin, sin brought to Jesus in honest confession and repentance, is removed forever in the eyes of God. Of course, the old devil is never going to let you forget it. He will toss it up in your face again and again. He will tell your heart to condemn you. If confessed sin is being thrown up in your face, it is not from God – so, you can guess where it is coming from.

B. The Love for the Savior and Saints

If you are saved, you will Love Jesus. If you have been born again, you will also love the people of God. If you do not love God’s people, you cannot possible be a child of God. This is clear. In other words, some people feel ‘heart condemnation’ because they are not truly saved. Do you love the Church of the Lord? Do you love God’s people sincerely? If not, it likely that you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior.

C. The  Language of the Spirit

Look at Romans :15-16, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.”

Again, see Galatains 4:6, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

We see in these passages that Spirit speaks in our hearts and tells us that we belong to the Father, that we have been born into the family of God and that we are not under condemnation. We speak to God and He speaks to us - we are on speaking terms with the Lord. We listen to Him as a child listens to His Father.

  • We obey Him.
  • We trust Him.
  • We are confident in Him.
  • We find peace in Him.
  • We sense comfort from Him.

The Spirit resides in those who have been born again and we have God's verdict that we are secure within Him.


Take your heart to the high court of God this morning. There let Him tell you if you are truly born of God. Then, even if you are saved, let Him look into every crevice and corner of your heart. If He finds those things which are displeasing, then bring them to him and allow Him to cleanse them through the blood of His Son.

Shirley Waite writes, "I was bored with the routes I'd been following for my morning strolls. One day I decided to walk down the alleys. Alleys are not romantic; they are strewn with garbage cans and trash piles. As I matched backyards with houses I'd walked by, I noticed something interesting. The back of one unpretentious dwelling resembled a fairy wonderland. A riot of flowers nearly bordered the fence; a birdbath stood in the center of a terraced rock garden. Then I came to the backyard of a beautiful home I'd admired from the street. Six-foot thistles grew close to the alley. Debris was scattered everywhere--broken toys, untended flower beds, automobile parts - visible only to the owner and the garbage collector.

Let me share with you an article I read years ago:

"As I walked home, I thought to myself. My outward or ‘up front’ appearance may pass the world's inspection, but what about my ‘backyard’? It's hidden from all but One who knows its contents. He promises to collect the garbage from my life, but He expects me to pull the weeds from my thought life, put into His hands the broken dreams, dig deep to uproot thistles of resentment and unforgiveness, and clean out the rusty wheels of procrastination. "Long ago God looked into King David's `backyard' and found a man after His own heart. Could God say the same of you and me if he looked in our `backyards'?" [Devotions for Body and Soul from Daily Guideposts. Abingdon, 1996. Pages 31-32.]

Every Christian in this building needs to pull some weeds today - weeds that have grown in your heart. But, most of all, we need to have confidence in God's love and forgiveness. We will never be the people God means for us to be until we do this. If you are not willing to be honest with God about the things in your heart, you will never know peace with God and you will never have power with God. You will never have prayer power before God. We have to bare our hearts before Him and ask for His forgiveness! We must take our sins to the high court and ask for cleansing. As Christians, we don't need to do this to keep from going to hell. I am a Christian, and I will go to heaven, but I want to be a man for God with all my heart on this side of heaven. I want to live in the peace that God's Son purchased for me on the cross. Keeping my heart clean before God will enable me to have confidence with God. It will cause my praying to tap into the very power and resources of God!

Get before God today and open your heart to Him.

  • Find His forgiveness.
  • Find His power.
  • Find the renewed path to pray with power!

Let us say with Charles Wesley,

“A heart resigned, submissive, meek,

At our dear Savior’s throne,

Where only Christ is heard to speak,

Where Jesus reigns alone.”

If you are not saved today, you do not need a renovation, you need a transformation. You need a new heart.

Look at Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Yes, a new heart you need and a new heart God will give you.

Look at Mark 7:21-23 and see the words of Jesus regarding the unredeemed heart, “For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" My lost friend, come to Christ today and receive a new heart.

Christian, you can pray for a pure and clean heart like David in Psalm 51:10.

We come to this invitation with a special verse before us. It is found in 1 Chronicles 28:9, "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

God searches every heart. He is searching yours and mine this morning. Let us commit our way to Him right now!

Look as we close at Psalm 51:17. David said, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

The lost need a new heart and the saved need a clean heart. Bring your heart to Jesus today. He will never despise the person who comes to Him with a broken and a contrite heart.