Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Perfect Love





“Perfect love casts out fear”.  Those words are part of  1 John 4, verse 18.   What does that mean?  “Perfect love, casts out fear”.  Does that mean that if you could love “perfectly” that you’d never be afraid of anything in your life?   Does that mean you won’t be afraid of snakes and spiders, or afraid of the dark, or whatever it is that you might be afraid of?  It actually has nothing to do with anything of the sort.  

The phrase, “perfect love casts out fear”, is mostly misunderstood, because it’s so often taken out of context, and people try to make those words, “stand alone” as if they constitute some broad teaching about fear and love.  And I think this might be the kind of verse that each person decides what it means to them.  And I think that people try to a very general application to those words.  But like so many other verses, you won’t really understand the actual meaning, unless you consider the context in which those words were spoken.


Here’s the whole verse;  But even the whole verse doesn’t give us the context that we need, to understand the meaning.   Here’s the verse though..  1 John 4, verse 18;  “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.” 

That verse is talking about something very specific, but we need to look at the context of at least the two previous verses, and preferably the whole chapter, to really understand specifically what God is speaking about here.


So then, let’s read  verses 16 thru 18,  to get a little bit clearer picture..

“And we have come to know, and have believed, the love which God has for us.  God is love, (God is the epitome of love) and the one who abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this, (by abiding in love) the love of God is perfected with us, (that means the love of God is “made complete.  God’s very purpose for us, is that we should love as He loves) so 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 these verses have to do with knowledge and faith, as well as love.  “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, of course, 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,  (not that we loved God)  but that He loved us, (God is not only the epitome of love, but He is of course, the origin of love) “..that He loved us, and sent His Son, to be the propitiation for our sins.” 

We’re 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 of love.

Ephesians 2, verse 8  tells us;  “For by grace you are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God;  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)  And God demonstrated that love for us, through Jesus Christ.

But no matter how great the love of God is, it won’t profit us unless we believe in it.  “And without faith, it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto Him: For he that cometh to God, must believe that He is, (that God is who His word claims Him to be) and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him.”  In other words, God is a rewarder of those who love Him.  (Hebrews 11, verse 6)  

(And I might add, we must believe that all of God’s actions are based on His love for us)

And we’re told in  Romans 10:17,  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Therefor, God has given us the bible, to tell us about His love, so that we CAN believe in it.


We’re also 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, verse 16  tells us this;  “..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”, so to speak, Just as Jesus laid down His life, for His friends.

Jesus said that His friends, are those who do as He commands.  (John 15, verse 14)

But 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 of a friend?

Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is,  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   (Mat 22:39.)

And John wrote in  verse 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..”   (verse 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.” 


And so we can rather easily see, that “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!”   But not if you’ve been perfected in love, it’s not a fearful thing!   Because when love has been perfected in you, you have confidence, in “the hands of God”!


 Hebrews  4, verse 16  says; “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.”  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, (we’ll find mercy, and grace, and help) 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 as much  “He is the author of salvation (He is the source of salvation) to all those who obey Him.”   He has that authority!  To save those who obey Him, thru keeping His commandments.  In other words, Jesus will save, those who love Him.

If someone doesn’t love Jesus, then why would they even WANT to go to heaven?

But WE all want to go to heaven.  We all want to inherit eternal life.  That’s what “heaven” is.  “Heaven” IS eternal life.  But of course the realization of that inheritance, the realization of eternal life, requires a transition.  We have to make a transition from a temporary physical life, to an eternal spiritual life.  And that means that we must all experience physical death.


1 John 4:18   says,  “..the one who fears, is not perfected in love.”   We know, in our hearts, if we’re “perfected in love”, as the scriptures say.   We know, if we love God, and we know if we love others, to the extent, that we would be willing to “lay down our lives for our friends”, and for God.  

And we know, in our hearts, if we’re obeying Jesus Christ.  And we know, if we have fear in our hearts.  Fear of the judgment.   “Perfect love, casts out fear.”   We know if we have fear of meeting the Lord.  If we’re doing His will, there IS no need to fear.  

Jesus said in  Luke 6:46;  “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do NOT do what I say?”


God invites us all, 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


Your invitation is this..  May we all grow, into the love that God wants us to have.  The same love that He has for us. 


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. 






This article has 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing these great verses. I have found that 1 John is pretty hard to follow as there is no simple structure but the topics seem to jump a bit over the place. But the message is there and to love is definitely the most important thing to learn in life!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Daniel. Like much of the bible, 1 John may require a bit of study, but the rewards of the study are great. This book is such a rich book on God’s love, and on how we should love each other as well. Definitely one of the premier principles in the whole bible!

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