“Perfect love casts out fear”, is only a portion of the verse of scripture found in 1 John 4:18. Here’s the whole verse..
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment, and the one who fears, is not perfected in love.”
The phrase, “perfect love casts out fear”, is misunderstood when taken out of context. Even within the context of the whole verse, the meaning is not readily understood. We need to look at the context of at least the two previous verses, and preferably the whole chapter, to really understand the simplicity of what God is saying here.
So then, let’s read verses 16-18, to get a clearer picture..
“And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him. By this the love of God is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so also are we, in this world.”
First of all, we see that this has to do with knowledge and faith. “We have come to know, and have believed, the love which God has for us.”
Verses 9-10 tell us how we have come to know God’s love. “By this, the love of God was manifested in us (to be manifested, is to be made known), that God has sent His only begotten son into the world, so that we might live through Him.”
“In this is love, not that we loved Him, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
We are told in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
So then, Christ dying for our sins, is the demonstration of God’s love for us. God proves His love for us, in giving us this gift. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace, you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no man should boast.”
Therefore, we have come to know God’s love, through the gift of Jesus Christ. God’s love has been demonstrated, through Christ. “Greater love has no one, than this, that one lay down his life for his friends..” John 15:13
But no matter how great the love of God is, it won’t profit us unless we believe in it. We’re told in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Therefore God has given us the bible, to tell us about His love, so that we CAN believe in it.
We’re told in John 20:30-31..
“Many other signs therefore, Jesus also performed in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these things have been written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and believing, you may have life in His name.” That means by His authority.
And as we come to believe in His love, through knowing His word, we move toward the salvation that’s offered by Christ. Christ has all authority to save us. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Mathew 28:18. And He said, “..The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins..” Mat 9:6.
1 John 4:16 goes on to say, “..God is love, and the one who abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him.” So we can see that the sign of our abiding in God, is our loving, just as He loves. “By this, the love of God is perfected in us..” By our loving, just like God loves, His love is “perfected”, or completed in us.
How do we love, as God loves? Well, how does God love? Remember John 15:13.. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends..” And God didn’t just say those words, He demonstrated them, by laying down His own life, in Jesus Christ.
And so, our own love, if it’s going to be like His love, must be a demonstration, of our willingness to even lay down our lives, if necessary. In other words, our love must be great enough, that we would be willing to do whatever is necessary, for God, and for “our friends”.
Who are our friends? Those who we spend the most time with? Our immediate family? those we admire the most? In the parable of “the Good Samaritan”, who was the man’s neighbor? The true “neighbor” is the one who is willing to give to someone in need. So who do you think our “friends” should be? Shouldn’t our ‘friends” be anyone who is in need?
Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mat 22:39. And John wrote, “For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20
And John wrote in V-17 “By this, love is perfected in us..” In other words, by loving in THIS way, God’s love is perfected in us. And then John tell us WHY God’s love needs to be perfected in us..
“..that we may have confidence in the day of judgment..” V-18 Now we’re getting to the point, of how “perfect love casts out fear”. The context of what we’ve been reading about, is loving God, and now fearing God. When is it that one would need to fear God? It’s in the day of judgment, isn’t it? But if we love, as God loves, then we “abide in God, and God in us. And by this, love is perfected with us”, and as the result of love being perfected, we no longer fear the judgment, but we have “confidence in the day of judgment.”
Perfect love, casts out the fear of the judgment! Remember Hebrews 10:31.. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” Not if you’ve been perfected in love, it’s not! Then you have confidence!
“Let us therefore come BOLDLY unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace, and find help in the time of need.” Heb 4:16 When will we need more mercy and grace and help, than in the day of judgment?
But there’s no need to fear, because we’ll find all those things, if we love as He loves. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”, Jesus said in John 14:15. And if you keep His commandments, you’ll be saved. Hebrews 5:9 tells us that, “He is the author of salvation to all those who obey Him.” He has that authority! To save those who obey Him, by keeping His commandments.
“Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46
1 John 4:18 says, “..the one who fears, is not perfected in love.” We know, in our hearts, if we are perfected in love. We know, if we love God, and if we love others, to the extent, that we would be willing to “lay down our lives for our friends”.
And we know, in our hearts, if we are obeying Jesus Christ. And we know, if we have fear in our hearts. Fear of the judgment. “Perfect love, casts out fear.”
God invites you to love Him “perfectly” and “completely”.
They asked Jesus; Which is the greatest commandment, And He said to him; You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. THIS, is the greatest and foremost commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mathew 22:37-39
May God bless you in the study of His word, and in being “perfected in His love”.
If you have any questions or comments, I urge you to leave them in the space provided below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and views.