[1 John 4:17- 18 ]
“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
Dear brothers and sisters, this is the forty fourth lecture of 1 John.
1 John 4:17 says, “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”It says those who have received the Holy Spirit, who have realized the love of God and abide in that love can be confident on the Day of Judgment.
Hebrews 9:27 says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,”Everybody has a limited life. Whether they are rich or poor, whether believer or not, everyone will have to stand before the judgment after their life on this earth is over. Those who lived in sins will receive the punishment for their sins. According to the magnitude of their sins, they will forever suffer in the lake of fire or lake of sulfur.
But those who accepted the Lord and lived in the truth will receive the judgment of rewards. According to each one’s faith and hardwork they will receive glory, the dwelling place, and rewards.
Most of those who do not accept the gospel saying, “Where is God?” fear death, too. It’s because their spirit instinctively feels the life to come and Heaven and Hell.
But those children of God who abide in the truth do not have to fear. They just long for the final day. They wait for the Lord to come and take them to Heaven where there is no tear or sorrow. Especially those who have cultivated whole spirit, namely those who have cultivated the love of God completely will be even more confident on the Day of Judgment.
God will also wear a happy smile seeing those men of whole spirit at the judgment. He will rejoice over them thinking, “I had to endure endless pain, but I feel rewarded for cultivating human beings.”I urge you dear members to not only be confident but also become joy to the Father on the Day of Judgment.
Second part of verse 17 says, “because as He (the Lord
is, so also are we in this world.”What does it mean by ‘As He is’?Conclusively speaking, He fulfilled the Lord. That is, in Him God fulfilled love completely. He manifested signs and wonders with great power and taught the truth with powerful authority over His words. He healed the sicknesses and the infirmities of the souls and gave hope to them preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Even for those evil people who were refusing Him, He gave His life on the cross. His life itself was perfect love.
If we cultivate perfect love like Jesus did, we can also be confident on the Day of Judgment as explained in the previous verse. But Jesus not only enjoyed glory but also received many sufferings on this earth, even though He had great power. Those who walk in the light are confident and receive everything they ask before God, and why did Jesus have to undergo sufferings?
John 3:20-21 says, “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”While human cultivation is in progress on this earth, the evil spirits control those who belong to the flesh.
At the time of Jesus, too, the evil people being incited by Satan stood against Jesus. For example, Jesus taught that one could not serve both money and God, giving a warning against greed. If they had been longing for the truth, thinking of ways to meet God, people’s ears must have opened wide when they heard something like that.
They would feel it is as sweet as honey thinking, “I should also get rid of greed for money. I will save money through honest means and help those who are in need.”But those greedy priests and Pharisees, they felt offended by such teaching against greed, and for that reason they hated Jesus.
Light and darkness cannot coexist. Those who long for the light in their heart will incline towards the light, but those who want to dwell in darkness dislike and even persecute the light. They want the light, which reveals the darkness, to go away.
When the believers act in the truth, they might be persecuted like Jesus was. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”Those who have good conscience rejoice over the good deeds of the believers. But those who are stained by the untruth do not want to hear the truth.
Within 300 years after Jesus resurrected and ascended into Heaven, there were a dozen great persecutions against the early church. Once nation-wide persecution was launched, their wealth and fame were taken, and many of them became crippled or killed by torturing.
When John the apostle wrote the first, second, and third John and the book of Revelation, there was great persecution, too. Many of his fellow apostles including Peter were already martyred by the persecution of Nero. John the apostle was captured during the persecution of the Domitian and was exiled to the Patmos Island.
He did not only suffer himself, but he had to watch his beloved believers suffer in the persecution. John wanted the believers to remember the life of Jesus so that they could overcome such situations. He taught them that as Jesus was on this earth, namely as He practiced only truth with perfect love and overcame hardships, they could do the same. John encouraged the believers to abide in the light by looking forward to the glory of the Day of Judgment.
No matter what kinds of sufferings we go through for the name of the Lord, we can overcome anything by thinking about the beloved Lord, and with the hope that we will participate in the glory of the Lord after this short life is over.
The following verse, verse 18 also explains about perfect love that is free of fear. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
Sometimes we hear in the news even unbelievers overcome fear with love. For example, some parents go into a house that is on fire to save their children or go into water to save their drowning children and die together. But those who have cultivated true love give their love not just to their physical family but also to everyone. Also, their love does not change in any situation.
Ruth was a person who had cultivated such true love. When Ruth left her hometown following her mother-in-law, she had no hope because she didn’t have a means for making a living. But she did not have any room to worry about herself or to look for another way. It’s because she could never let her elderly mother-in-law,who did not have a husband or children, go alone.
When Ruth arrived in the foreign land, she gleaned the field to make a living and serve her mother-in-law. But she never said that it was hard. She did not think in fear like, “I am still young and did I leave my hometown to suffer like this? When the mother dies and I get old, I do not have any children or relatives, and who will I rely on? Should I look for a way for me to survive now?”
She just lived a faithful life each day and just thought about how to make her mother-in-law more comfortable. Meanwhile, God gave her peace and joy from above, and God guided her to a way of great blessing both physically and spiritually. Worrying or having fear about the future does not mean the current hardship will go away or blessings will come.
As Matthew 6:27 says, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” We cannot make one hair on our head grow by worrying. As we just keep on walking in the light and fulfill our duties with love, God will look at the goodness in us and change our difficulty into blessing.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Generally, the most fundamental reason why people have fear is because, as explained in the verses above, they can feel there is judgment.The law of the spiritual realm says that ‘the wages of sin is death’ and ‘we reap what we sow’. If you store up goodness, you will bear good fruit, and if you store up evil, you will bear evil fruit.
Of course, people will not reap all the fruits just on this earth. They might face disasters for the evil they piled up. But also, they might live without a disaster on this earth but receive punishment on the judgment day. Also, even though they lived a relatively good life, everyone has the original sin and self-committed sins, so they cannot escape the punishment of Hell unless they are forgiven under the blood of Jesus.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in men’s heart.Namely, He gave us the seed of life, so we can instinctively seek spiritual things. Even those with hardened hearts who wouldn’t listen to the gospel still instinctively have fear because their spirit knows about the punishment.
In order to drive away such fear, one must cultivate perfect love. Those believers who love God and keep His commandments are not afraid of disasters on this earth, and they do not fear death, either.
Brothers and sisters,
But this applies to unbelievers, too, to some extent. Even in the times when gospel was not preached, those who were righteous and had no shame in their conscience lived upright and confident lives. We can see it from the history. They do not fear even when they are passing places that are said to be haunted. Even when they were threatened by others, they do not act with cowardice but committed everything to heaven’s will. On the contrary, those who did many evil things had a lot of fear, too.