Sunday, 24 May 2020
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
John has just noted that “the love has been perfected among us.” He continues that thought now, again placing an article before “love.” In fact, there are articles throughout the verse in the Greek, demonstrating the definite nature in which John is speaking.
Young’s Literal Translation states, “Fear is not in the love, but the perfect love doth cast out the fear, because the fear hath punishment, and he who is fearing hath not been made perfect in the love.” As “fear is not in the love,” it shows that it has no state of existence in the perfected love that he just referred to, and which he will again refer to with the (from Young’s) words, “but the perfect love dost cast out the fear.”
The very state of fear is cast out when the perfect love exists. The two are mutually exclusive and cannot dwell together. Understanding that John is speaking of the perfect love of God which comes through faith in Christ, John’s words apply in that context. In other words, one cannot say that there is no fear in a general state of love.
A person may love his wife. If she gets cancer, there exists a state of fear in both the wife and in the husband. Such things are not what John is speaking of. The perfected love is the love realized in a person when he comes to God through faith in Christ. Therefore, the fear which John refers to is a fear which is found in a separation from God.
In that separation, there is fear “because fear involves torment.” The word translated as “torment,” kolasis, is found only here and in Matthew 25:46 where it refers to eternal punishment for the unrighteous. It is “torment from living in the dread of upcoming judgment from shirking one’s duty” (HELPS Word Studies). When one is not in Christ, there is fear of punishment because a person can never know with certainty if he is right with God or not.
However, in Christ, there is the absolute assurance that He died for our sins, and that we are no longer imputed sin. Because of this, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Him. As there is no condemnation, then “the fear” has been cast out. This is the state that John is referring to. For those who are perfected in “the love,” there is no fear. But, as John notes (from Young’s), “and he who is fearing hath not been made perfect in the love.”
If someone has not come to Christ, he cannot know if he will make the standard set by God. Therefore, there remains a state of fear in him because of his state of imperfection in “the love.” God’s love does not abide in him, and therefore God does not abide in him, and he does not abide in God.
One could logically argue that a person who blows himself up as an offering to the false god of the Muslims is confident of his actions and he has no fear. But that is a separate issue of following a false god. To do this means that acceptance is predicated on one’s works in order to please his god. This is not the gospel. Rather, it is a false gospel based on the supposed demands of a false god.
If he knew of the true gospel, there would be fear because he would no longer know if his self-detonation would actually get him to heaven or not. Thus, the state of fear actually exists, even if it is not realized because of a lack of knowledge. This is not God’s fault. He has made the offer, even if the person doesn’t know it. His state of condemnation remains (John 3:18).
There is also the case that many saved Christians fear death, even though they have believed in Christ. This is a normal human emotion which is also not what John is referring to. Along with death often comes other things, such as pain, loss, and so on. But this is not the fear he is speaking of. He is referring to the fear of condemnation – something that happens after death, not during the process of death.
Our fear of death is a natural part of us, given to us as a protection. Our fear of condemnation is as well. It is given to us to seek God. When one seeks God, finds Christ, and is perfected in the love, the fear of death (meaning that which results in eternal punishment) is removed.
It is illogical to believe that Christ has granted believers eternal life just to remain in a state which still fears eternal punishment. The two are mutually exclusive. Thus, the doctrine of eternal salvation is a part of trusting in Christ. If a pastor, priest, teacher, or preacher teaches that salvation can be lost, he is teaching a falsity which does not cast out the fear. As this is so, one should not pay heed to any teacher of the Bible who teaches that one can, in fact, lose his salvation. It is poor theology, bondage, and it is a doctrine which has not been perfected in love, nor has it cast out “the fear.”
Life application: What John is telling us, is that as believers, we have boldness when judgment day comes because of the love which is in us, meaning the perfected love of God. As this is so, there should be no fear (for our eternal destiny) as we wait on that coming day.
As Christians, we are expected to know the perfect love of Jesus Christ. If God sent Jesus to the cross to pay the debt we owe and to suffer the torment we deserve, then the payment has been made and the punishment has been meted out – it is over. The cross is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us because it involved the torment of Jesus in our place. This perfect demonstration of love has removed, the anxiety of condemnation from us, and where anxiety is removed all fear (of eternal punishment) should also be done away with.
For the believer who has accepted Jesus Christ, but who has not completely comprehended what this means, his full realization of God’s love is still incomplete. This is the reason why he has fear when he sins – “Oh, I hope I don’t lose my salvation;” “O, I just know God will send me to hell for what I did;” “O, how could God ever forgive me for that?” All these involve fear and demonstrate that the individual lacks the fullness of God’s love in his Christian walk.
Jesus has (past tense) forgiven you for your sins when you have called on Him. Your judgment can never lead to condemnation, only a loss of rewards. This is the love of God which casts out fear. Do you believe it? Then act like it!
Lord Jesus, we struggle with sin in our lives, and we struggle with the thought that our sin is greater than Your forgiveness. We want so desperately to understand the doctrine of eternal salvation – completely and absolutely. We know that as the light shines on us concerning this, that all of our fears will truly be cast from our minds. Thank You for being patient with us as we grow in You and in the knowledge of Your infinite grace. Amen.