I was especially interested in hearing a sermon our pastor gave recently because he had to deal with I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
I’ve used this scripture before in some of my articles, but I only used part of it, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear…,” When I first found that scripture I was excited to learn there was no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear. It was encouraging! Jesus Christ is perfect love, therefore, He can cast out fear. It told me the Lord didn’t want me to live in fear, and the way to get rid of it was to allow Him to cast it out. Wow! That was a revelation to me at the time.
Now, my pastor took me to a deeper level. He teaches the Bible verse by verse and deals with scripture in it’s context.
John was talking to Christians here and he shows us another test of a true Christian, and that is love. If we love one another, that is the test. In 1 John 4:12 you will note, “God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us…” When we are born again God does abide in us through the Holy Spirit, and His love is being perfected in us.
Also, look at I John 4:17 “By this, love is perfected with us.” Again he is talking about love being perfected. It means that as we grow in Christ, His love is made more mature in us.
The “By this,” refers back to the verse above where he says “the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Isn’t that a wonderful thought. God and us abide in each other. If you stop and meditate on that for awhile it really boggles the mind.
Now, we get back to 1 John 4:18 where he says, “There is no fear in love.” Here fear means being terrified, and full of dread. That kind of fear.
Have you ever thought about this? Love and fear cannot exist at the same time. There is no fear in love. It is not possible. They are opposites. If we are full of love, we are not full of fear; and if we are full of fear, we cannot be full of love. God is love, remember that. And, we are to abide in Him.
Then, John says, “but perfect love casts out fear.” What does he mean by perfect love. Well, actually in the context of this passage, he means that mature love that is being perfected in us as we grow in Christ. And that perfected love, what does it do? It casts out fear! Praise God! That phrase “casts out,” means throw away like garbage.
Isn’t is so true with us? We carry around all this garbage all the time. Wouldn’t you like to simply throw it away? We talk about excess baggage; well fear is just that. But, the only way to throw it away and get rid of it for good is to perfect the agape love that God has placed in us.
We can do that! I realize some of you are doing that with your lives right now. You are in the Word, you are in prayer, you are in fellowship with other believers, you are reaching out with love toward your fellow believers. You grow and are becoming mature in Christ. Eventually, when the time is right in God’s eyes, you too will throw off the shackles of fear like it is rubbish and toss it out of your life.
Also, in 1 John 4:18 he says, “fear involves punishment.” I’ve thought about that too. In the context it means the punishment that is awaiting all men at the final judgement day. Those without Christ should be fearful as they have that to look forward too, but we who know Christ can rest assured that we will not face punishment. We can be confident and know those fears were cast out when we were saved.
But, looking at us today as we struggle with fear and anxiety doesn’t our fears also involve punishment? We are fearful that something awful is going to happen, and with those thoughts we actually punish ourselves with stress, anxiety, and more bad thoughts. When we are fearful of other things in life such as getting a terrible disease, don’t we punish ourselves with thoughts of what might be? Yes, fear does involve punishment. We don’t need that! We don’t need to beat ourselves up that way!
Then, John goes on to say in that same verse, “the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
From what we’ve gone over that would indicate that fearful people are not mature yet in God’s love. Isn’t that interesting?
When we finally reach a more mature state then we will not fear. What can hurt us? God is in control of everything in our lives. What do we have to fear? Why do we punish ourselves with worry? Worry can’t stop anything or change anything. It isn’t worth it. All it can do is make us fearful and stop us from becoming mature in Christ.
I plead with you to take hold of these thoughts and realize you too can be free from fear. Stay in the Word and renew your mind. If you are a believer you do not have to live in a state of fear!