1 John 4:17-18, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 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.”
After John has driven home the fact in the previous verses that we have known, experienced, witnessed and thus believed the love that God has for us and as such we can abide in Him and since He IS love, we can abide in that love AND through what we have known, experienced and witnessed, and believed, that love can and does, abide within us.
So then the Beloved Apostle continues on with some of the BENEFITS of that kind of Godly love. John is taking us forward to that time when we know according to Scripture that “For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” – Romans 14:11, (Philippians 2:9-11). Judgement. Will it be in terror, or will it be in boldness? Of course, it’s going to depend on your experience and relationship with God the Father through Christ Jesus.
If you are part of what the Apostle shared in the previous verses, then you are part of that group who already has an established relationship with God and thus His love. That means then that John is sharing with you the benefit of being able to approach the Throne of God, the Judgement Seat of Christ Jesus with boldness. Remember what the writer of Hebrews stated, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16.
We can have boldness or confidence in that day, why? Because God’s love, which dwells and abides in us, not our love but His, has been perfected within us. We have no NEED or concern to fear that day of judgement for our sin “problem” has been taken care of once and for all in Jesus Christ. Since we already know and believe that God’s love is a part of us, we can walk in that confidence with no doubts.
Also, here is the thing, if you have walked with the Lord any amount of time, you have had opportunity to do what the writer of Hebrews has written, approached BOLDLY to the throne of God’s grace, His unmerited, unearned favor by which we have found mercy! We already have that experience. When the day comes when “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess,” we have already matured in that relationship and it will be like a loving and adoring son approaching his father that he has had a loving and intimate relationship with for a long time! We already know what to expect, a loving Father, welcoming His children Home at last!
And here is the other interesting part that the Apostle has attached to that verse, “because as He is, so are we in this world.” Now think this through; John has just told us matter-of-factly that we CAN approach judgement boldly BECAUSE God’s love has been perfected in us, and he gives us another because, another reason WHY we can approach judgement boldly. It is as if he is sharing with us a one-two punch explaining why we can have such assurance and such confidence when standing before Christ Jesus and God, the Father!
BECAUSE – “as He is, so are we in this world.” We are LIKE Him, not just created in His likeness, but because of His love perfected in us, we are conformed to His likeness, to His Character and Nature which IS love. Being a “Christian” is supposed to mean, “following the example of Christ Jesus and being conformed to that example.” That’s what TRUE Christianity is. Well, here we see the Beloved Apostle stating because of God’s perfected love that we KNOW dwells within us, we ARE like Him and that is how the world will or should see us! That love has CHANGED us into the image and likeness of Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is our example on HOW to love God and HOW to love our fellow man! That perfected love hasn’t just given us confidence and assurance against the day of judgement, it has changed us into the example of Christ Jesus being manifest to the world! It should show the world HOW God is to be loved and HOW our fellow man is to be loved; again, not in “feeling” but in action!
So, “there is no fear in love” and in fact there should NOT be any fear or dread, for that is what true fear is, dread, and it has no place in God’s perfected love. Fear or dread of torment, due to unresolved consequences, sin. Remember, we who are abiding in God’s love, whose love has been perfected, made complete in us, are not tormented by the thoughts of judgement. Our sin has been, not just paid for, but wiped away from the Father’s eyesight. All the Father sees in each of us is the Blood of His Son, cleansing us!
However, to those though who have not CHOSEN to partake in that gifted relationship with our Heavenly Father through the Blood of Jesus Christ, they are approaching without the assurance and benefit of past relationship and due to the unknown, from their perspective, they are approaching a wrathful God.
But we as His children have hope because of His love indwelling within each of us. The Apostle Paul reassures us with these words, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:5. We have NO reason to doubt at all because of the Holy Spirit alive within each of us.
Fear and dread involves torment or at least the promise of torment. I need to make something clear here as well; there IS a difference between fear of the Lord and being AFRAID of God. The fear that the Apostle is referring to here IS the dread, being afraid of the consequences of sin and thus the judgement of God.
The “fear of the Lord,” that you hear Christians speak of a lot, is not dread, it is not being afraid, as it were, of God. For instance, the Apostle Peter wrote this, “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” – 1 Peter 2:17. The original word for fear as written here actually means to be in AWE, to be REVERANT towards God. You should NEVER have to dread Someone Who loves you! That is not a perfected love at all. Even in Proverbs it is stated, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10. Here also, the original Hebrew word used is for reverence and not meaning dread or fearfulness, to be afraid.
As God’s children and especially as our relationship with Him matures, there definitely develops not just a reverence, but an unmistakable awe towards Him. Our perspectives change towards our Heavenly Father and we start to see things in a new light as we become more and more like His true sons and daughters.
Now I want to insert this also into your thinking; none of us are perfect; yet! It doesn’t matter how mature we are in Christ or how long we have been born-again, or saved, we are still living in an imperfect carnal shell. It is a daily struggle for ANY True follower of Christ to let the Holy Spirit living within us to have reign over our fleshly desires. Our flesh is in constant warfare with our spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14, Galatians 5:17).
And don’t forget the Apostle Paul’s statement to the Philippians in his letter to them; “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” – Philippians 3:12.
But the one thing we CAN count on with full assurance AND knowledge is that as God’s true children, His Holy Spirit IS abiding in us and thus His love is abiding AND perfected in each of us! Even though we are not perfect because of the constant warring with the spirit within, when we MIGHT have some doubts and especially those who are still young in their walk with the Lord there are plenty of Scriptures that confirm and acknowledge the assurances and confidence that the Apostle John has laid out. Our Heavenly Father, through His divinely inspired AND Living Word wants there to be NO doubts whatsoever in our hearts and minds as to His love for us!
Paul further confirms this with his writings to the Romans, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39.
This definitely confirms what John wrote in previous verses stating that we have known, we have witnessed, we have experienced and we believe the FACT that God’s love abides in us and thus we are able to abide in God’s love. Paul is PERSUADED! How can one be persuaded about a thing like God’s love other than through the same circumstance the Apostle John expounds on, witnessing, experiencing and believing through direct knowledge!
All throughout John’s letter he has been laying the foundation of God’s Character, Nature and Attributes based on the fact that God IS love. As we have gone along, we have seen that God’s love, His ABIDING love, just like He Himself, never leaves us nor forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5), and thus we have no need to dread or be afraid of the future universal judgement day. Rather, we can rest in the relationship that we have established with the Father through Christ Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us.
I want to close this lesson with another confirmation from the Apostle Paul that relates to what John has stated thus far:
“But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:10-13.
God’s love has been perfected in us, His children. That is beyond blessing for it provides each of us with an ETERNAL assurance of a continued loving relationship with our Heavenly Father, God Almighty. Right now, in this natural life, Paul wrote, abide faith, hope and love, but the greatest and the one that is most Eternal, is LOVE!
One question; ARE YOU YET PERSUADED?