The Cure for Fear

Love casts out fear, but it's very likely not at all what you're thinking. Join as we learn how love actually cures fear. #SeriouslyWhatIsLove #1John #DareToVenture

Seriously, What is Love?

The Cure For Fear

1 John 4:17-18

Today is the 3rd lesson in 1 John 4:7-5:3 about what love actually is. John is clarify the counterfeit version that every generation of humanity has ironically passionately sought after even though it leaves them empty. Every generation of humanity has labored to give others even though it never produces what they hoped it would. In the face of all of human history that has tried to counterfeit love, John is teaching us what it actually is. So today we are going to look at the next two verses.

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (4:17-18)

John 4:17-18 teaches us two truths about love that have to do with fear.

The 1st truth about love is in verse 17. John writes,

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

Now the middle of this verse presents a straightforward purpose - so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment. The day of judgement is referencing the day that all who ever lived will stand before Christ and give an account for every deed, word and even thought that they had! Our entire life brought into the light and judged by a holy and righteous God! Clearly God wants us to have confidence for that day and not fear.

That is he doesn’t want you to approach the judgement seat of Christ this way - (show video clip in Wizard of Oz)

But rather he wants you to come this way! (show video clip from Star Wars)

On confidence - “The word speaks of unreservedness of speech, a free and fearless confidence, with nothing to hide or be ashamed of. In that kind of life, the saint has nothing of which to be ashamed at the judgment of his works.”

That pretty easy to get from verse 17! God wants you to be able to come to the judgement seat with confidence. Truly ready and eager to stand before Him!

But, as true as that certainly is, this Scripture doesn’t stop there. It's taking us to something deeper. A truth that is buried in the phrase before and after John wrote, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment.

When I stopped and pondered the phrase before and after that, I realized I really had no idea what they meant  “By this is love perfected with us” and “because as he is so also are we in this world.” So, Let me flesh this out for you some.

There is a lot of debate on the very first phrase of verse 17, “By this is love perfected with us.” Especially the phrase “with us.” What in the world does “love perfected with us” mean? I think we are forced by basic hermeneutics to require the context of verse 17 be in the flow of verse 16 which reads,

16 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. (4:16)

Therefore,

“17 By this is love perfected with us,” means that the word “perfected” is saying love has accomplished what it was meant to accomplish. More importantly our standing in love is perfected. If we are abiding in Christ then we are standing in perfect love. We are loved to total perfection. We can not be loved more than we are if we are abiding in Christ. Love itself is perfected into our life. But it’s the other end of the verse where this come to full fruition!

John writes something that sounds just as odd as “perfected with us”. At the end of verse 17 John writes, “because as he is so also are we in this world.” what in the world does that mean? Well hold on to your seat and listen to this!

Sam Storms puts it this way, “These two pieces of the puzzle are put together in John 17:23 where Jesus affirms that the Father loves the disciples “even as you [the Father] have loved me [Jesus].” This is astounding! Jesus is saying that the Father loves us just like or even as He loves Jesus! Think for a moment of the magnitude of affection God the Father has for God the Son. That’s how much God loves you! Therefore, when John says that our confidence is based on the fact that we are as Jesus is, he means we are loved by the Father as Jesus is loved by the Father!” (Sam Storms)

We are loved by the Father the same way He love the son!. God eternally loves the son. Not just in length, but in quality perfectly and completely. There is no lack in the Father’s love of the Son. And as He loves the son is how He loves us! That's incredible! Praise the Lord for his mighty love. It is this love that God has for us that leads us to walk into the judgement seat of Christ with confidence Not arrogance, but confidence!

Now, this then leads us then to an amazing truth about love. That is what love actually is!

Love is not rationed out, it’s poured out! (4:17)

If its rationed out it's not actually love. It’s a counterfeit!

God doesn’t ration out His love because it wouldn’t be love if He did.

It’s the same for you and I. You are not loving somebody if you are rationing your heart to them! If you are rationing out your heart to your spouse, your children, you neighbors, those in your church, then you are not actually loving them. Because love does not ration itself out. it pours itself out!

That means if you are rationing your heart out to God then you are not loving Him either. What amazing grace the Father has that he loves us even though we never truly love Him! We never truly pour our hearts fully to Him!

OK, How about that big old gold nugget right there in the middle of a little verse. Well, hold on to your seat because verse 18 is coming at you. John then writes,

18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (4:17-18)

Now this verse has been taken out of context probably more than any other verse in the Bible. People yank out “there is no fear in love” and then toss is all over the place without paying any attention whatsoever to what its actually talking about. The context it appears in! So let me unpack this for you,

So clearly fear is a keyword in this passage because it appears four times!

18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (4:17-18)

But this isn’t a general concept of fear, but the fear of punishment. Specifically the fear of God's punishment! Remember the context is the judgement seat of Christ.

Now it’s important to know difference between punishment and discipline. The bible says we should love discipline,

5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." (Hebrews 12:5-6)

Discipline refines us. It takes a lackluster rock and cleans it up, melts it down and kicks out beautiful diamond that shows off the glory of God!

But, God’s punishment is different. God’s punishment destroys. Not to refine, but to destroy! Discipline creates beauty. Punishment creates death. It is meant be terrifying. It is meant to be feared!

But! Perfect love dispels fear. It repels it. It drives it out! It casts it out! How?

Perfect love is God’s love! Perfect Love is the eternal Logos. The eternal Son of God taking on flesh, born of a virgin as a baby in a stable with animals. It’s the Son of God walking with us. Bearing burdens with us. Walking with and carrying for the very ones who He knew would betray Him and even demand His death. Perfect love is the Christ suffering the entire wrath of God on the sinners who were crucifying Him Suffering the entire wrath of God on all of us who worship ourselves. Who reject Jesus for our own wicked and sinful desires. It's Him suffering the awful terrible punishment for our sin so perfectly that three days later he rose from the grave in victory! That knowing our weak pathetic path still pours out His love on us. He saves us, and redeems us, and calls us His own forever!

Perfect Love is never what we have for Him or for one another. Our love is totally incapable of casting out fear. If anything it at minimum serves as the soul for fear to birthed as our love for others inevitably falls short. But His love is perfect and fully capable of casting out any fear of the punishment of God.Fully and totally. So much so that John writes this,

“and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”

That is if you fear the punishment of God, then you are not truly abiding in His love. You are not connected with him as the branch is to the vine. You are not living your life consumed with Him. It's what we learned last week in verse 16. If you want to experience the manifestation of God’s love you have to abide in Him. Be consumed with Him, wed to Him. Totally caught up in knowing and experiencing Him so much so that you gladly submit to Him! you joyfully serve Him. You willfully lay your life down for His glory because you love being loved by Him!

The point being this.  The 2nd truth about Love in 1 John 4:17-18 is,

Love is not effective if it’s not consumed. (4:18)

Love is not love if it's not poured out. The effectiveness of that love is no good. If its not consumed …

Imagine I come pour out a gallon of my mother’s homemade Ice Cream in a bowl for you. I dump a bucket full of her fried chicken and biscuits on a plate for you. I even toss in a closet full of her sweet pickles for you, but you don’t eat any of it. You let it all sit on the table and spoil. Then what was once a sweet aroma and wonderful tasting goodness will some become a stank nasty thing that will make you sick.

Love poured out and not consumed becomes an ugly sight to see.  To see your love being dumped out on somebody and rejected is a hard thing to see and do! Why? Because if a person doesn’t consume it. If they don’t internalize it and abide in it then it's totally wasted. You dumped your heart out and they just tossed it in the garbage or left it laying on the ground and walked off!

So listen, all this eternal Love that God is totally pouring out on you is pointless if you don’t abide in Him and consume it. If you don’t believe it. If you don’t bask in it and let it transform you. Love is totally pointless if its not consumed!

CHALLENGE

How do you view God’s judgment?

Terrifying because your fear the consequences?

Unconcerned because you think it’s irrelevant?

You refuse to believe there is a God and thus view judgment is an irrelevant thought.

You refuse to believe God would hold you accountable and thus view judgment as an irrelevant thought.

You are simply too foolish to consider it and thus treat it as if it is irrelevant!

Confident through faith in Christ’s deliverance?

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