In our Father’s house there are many, many rooms. But the one thing there is no room for is fear. Every room is filled with His love.
- In fact, the more His love forms in me and matures, this love just pushes out all fear. It is banished.
- Fear can cripple me and my faith. So I pursue my Father’s love.
- I seek to have it mature in me. Be well formed. That pushes out the fear.
- God is not in the punishing business.
God is in a good mood. He loves us 24×7. My focus needs to be on Him. God will see me through everything I am facing.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence [boldness] for the day of judgment, because as he, is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment [torment], and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
English Standard Version. (2016). (1 John 4:13–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Two brand-new words come into John’s vocabulary here: fear and torment. And this is written to believers!
- Is it possible that Christians can actually live in fear and torment?
- Yes, unfortunately, many professed believers experience both fear and torment day after day.
- And the reason is that they are not growing in the love of God.
The word boldness can mean “confidence” or “freedom of speech.” It does not mean brazenness or brashness. A believer who experiences perfecting love grows in his confidence toward God. He has a reverential fear of God, not a tormenting fear. He is a son who respects his Father, not a prisoner who cringes before a judge.
We have adopted the Greek word for fear into our English vocabulary: phobia. All sorts of phobias are listed in psychology books; for instance, acrophobia—“fear of heights,” and hydrophobia—“fear of water.” John is writing about krisisphobia—“fear of judgment.” John has already mentioned this solemn truth in 1 John 2:28; and now he deals with it again.
If people are afraid, it is because of something in the past that haunts them, or something in the present that upsets them, or something in the future that they feel threatens them. Or it may be a combination of all three. A believer in Jesus the Messiah does not have to fear the past, present, or future, for he has experienced the love of God and this love is being perfected in him day by day.
The secret of our boldness is, “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). We know that “we shall be like Him” when He returns (1 John 3:1–2), but that statement refers primarily to the glorified bodies believers will receive (Phil. 3:20–21). Positionally, we are right now “as He is.” We are so closely identified with Jesus, as members of His body, that our position in this world is like His exalted position in heaven.
- This means that the Father deals with us as He deals with His own beloved Son. How, then, can we ever be afraid?
- We do not have to be afraid of the future, because our sins were judged in the Messiah when He died on the cross.
- The Father cannot judge our sins again without judging His Son, for “as He is, so are we in this world.”
The perfecting of God’s love in our lives is usually a matter of several stages. When we were lost, we lived in fear and knew nothing of God’s love. After we trusted the Messiah, we found a perplexing mixture of both fear and love in our hearts. But as we grew in fellowship with the Father, gradually the fear vanished, and our hearts were controlled by His love alone. An immature disciple is tossed between fear and love, a mature disciple rests in God’s love.
Good news: A growing confidence in the presence of God is the first evidence that our love for God is maturing. Our love matures because God loves us, and we know that God is good. But confidence never stands alone; it always leads to other moral results as we love others.