Fear Has to Do With Judgment

5 Mins read

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (KJV, 1 John 4:18).

“There is no fear”

Fear is a formidable foe that must be slain. John starts his passage by speaking of fear; the Christian would be wise to pay close attention to what he says.

Fear is a subtle sin that is not given the attention it deserves. Fear is a root for many sins rather than a fruit.

Often, the Christian lives based upon fear rather than the glory of God. There are two competing fears in the world today, sinful fear and the fear of God. The fear of God is healthy and leads to life and many benefits in the here and now.

But sinful fear causes the Christian to stray from the heart of God, and it is rooted in a defective faith.

Fear is influential and can dramatically alter the Christian’s life. For instance, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to fearful people. They feared their basic needs would not be taken care of.

As a result of their fear, their lives were set around seeking their basic needs with anxiety. It caused them to push God out of His rightful place by creating idols in their hearts.

John says, “There is no fear.” But he has not yet got to the rest of the story. However, the Christian must slow down on these words. What John is saying is essential for growth and proper evaluation of oneself.

There is a way in which the Christian can conquer an element of fear, and John will get into this momentarily.

At the same time, it is essential to consider the fear that John is speaking of. He is directly speaking of the final judgment and how a Christian does not need to fear it.

“in love”

But then John gets into the why of the misplaced fear. He says, “There is no fear in love.” The word love is often found in the book of John, which is the agape form of love.

It is a sacrificial love that is rooted in God. God is love, and He is agape love. He is a God Who is not in it for Himself but has given an immeasurable amount of Himself so that man could be saved.

He has been patient with His creation amid massive rebellion and wickedness. He gave His Son as a ransom to the world so that man could be forgiven of his sin.

But John is concerned here with man’s love and fear. Man can love and fear. But where one is, the other will not be. It is impossible to love properly while fearing at the same time. Unless, of course, the fear is a godly fear of God that would come through love.

Thus, the fear spoken of in the passage consists of dread. It consists of feelings of fright about a future event. John is speaking of the love and fear between God and man. When a Christian experiences dread between him and God, it is because his love is lacking.

“but perfect love”

As a result, John turns to perfect love. He had already spoken of perfect love. It is imperative to bring his previous words into the present.

He said, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:3-5).

The words of John concerning perfect love are directly related to obedience to God’s commands.

In 1 John 2:3-5 John starts the passage by speaking about Christian assurance. How can a Christian know that he knows God? John says one of the ways is through obedience to God’s commands.

On the other hand, if someone does not obey the commands of God but says he knows God, it cannot be true. It is important to realize that John is not speaking about sinless perfection.

He has already said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

Thus, John is not talking about perfection but direction. But by keeping God’s Word, the love of God will be perfected in the Christian.

Later, John said, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:11-12).

Therefore, when the Christian grows in his love toward others, the love of God will be perfected in Him.

Herein is the perfect love of God that John was speaking of. It comes by way of applying the Word and loving others.

“casteth out fear”

It is the perfect love of God that casts out fear. A Christian is never stagnant. He is always going one way or another. But the more the Christian advances toward God, the more he will experience victory over sin.

Paul has said, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13). Elsewhere he stated, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other…” (Gal. 5:16-17).

Perfect love casteth out fear, and perfect love is a fruit of the Spirit.

“because fear hath torment”

Herein the Christian is made aware of the dread element of fear. Dread and fear bring about a sense of inner torment based upon an expected outcome.

When someone walks with God, he can be assured that he need not fear the final judgment. He can also be assured of God’s love for him.

John spoke of Christian assurance in many ways. He wanted the Christian to be assured of his salvation. But assurance comes at a cost. John states in the passage at hand that assurance is for the one who has been perfected in love.

It is for the one who applies the word and excels in his love for others.

John states that if someone walks in the light, the blood of Christ cleanses his sin. Later he says that if someone keeps Jesus’ commands, he can be confident that he knows Jesus.

Next, John states that if someone loves in deed rather than in talk, then it should bring a sense of assurance. Later, John speaks of the inner witness of the Spirit as bringing assurance into the believer’s life.

Finally, if someone believes in the testimony of Christ, he can also have an assurance of his salvation. It is vital to take all of what John said about assurance and not isolate a passage.

John has given many points of assurance, but in the passage at hand, he is expressly concerned with perfect love.

“He that feareth is not made perfect in love”

The conclusion of the matter is that for the one who fears the final judgment, it is because he has not been made perfect in love. John wants the Christian to be assured of his salvation. He desires the Christian to look upon the final judgment with confidence.

However, it is only when the love of God is perfected that it will happen. Every Christian does not have the assurance John speaks of, but it is for every Christian.

Final prayer

Father, I thank You for the assurance You have given through Your Word. I can know that I am saved and will be with You throughout eternity. Help me to apply Your Word and walk as You command. May I be assured of my salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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