[1 John 4:18]
“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 45th session of Lectures on 1 John. Continuing from the last session, let us look into 1 John 4:18. It 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.”
Those who have cultivated true love do not seek their own but they can sacrifice themselves for others. Also, they can give their love not only to their family and close friends but they give the same amount of love to everybody. And such love does not change in any situation.
If we cultivate such true love, we will not have any fear in our heart. We are confident because we would not seek our own but practice goodness and truth all the time. Because we would not sow anything in evil, they have no reason to be afraid of facing a disaster. In actuality, even if there is a problem in life, God will guide us to the way of blessing because He searches our goodness and love in our heart.
On the contrary, those who have not cultivated spiritual love but seek their own, thereby violating the commandments always have a sense of nervousness, fearing something bad might happen. For this reason Proverbs 28:1 says, “he wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion.” Those believers who love God and keep His commandments completely, they are not afraid of any disaster 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. If they used schemes and did many evil things to get power, they worry about being revenged. They always worry that somebody take away their power or they might be assassinated. (We can see this from Cao Cao of the Three Kingdoms
They are afraid of demons and death, and they are afraid that they will be betrayed by their trusted ones.
Conclusively, fear usually does not only come from externally fearful situations but basically from the darkness they have inside them. It is even more so in the truth. Those who dwell in the truth completely and who love God truly have no fear in any situation. As said perfect love casts out fear, even when they have concerns, they do not lose the peace deep in their heart by trusting and relying on God.
How did the disciples act after the Lord’s ascension? The apostle John was thrown into boiling oil. Peter was crucified. But they did not fear such things. They just believed God would give them a way out or work for the good of everything because God was on their side. Furthermore, even though they did not get a way out but suffered for the name of the Lord, they did not fear any pains because they loved God.
But even though you have faith, how is it if you have not cultivated perfect love? You are not forced to be martyred for the Lord, to be crucified, or to be killed by lions, but you still find it hard to go through little trials. You are anxious and worried about how to overcome such things, or you fear that greater hardships might come. Even though you pray to God, you don’t have confidence in heart and are nervous about whether you will get an answer or not. It means you don’t love God and you don’t trust the love of God to that same extent.
True children of God whom God desires are the ones who love God to the utmost degree and who trust Him completely. You can enjoy perfect peace only when you have the perfect love and trust. Job in the book of Job could enjoy such peace after going through the trials. Before the trials, Job was upright and honest, and he revered God.
So, he received blessings according to his deeds. Nevertheless, because he did not have perfect love in his heart, he did not have true peace. Instead of experiencing the joy in the love of God and in loving God, he lived a life in fear of God who punishes.
Then, when the accusations of Satan were allowed and he began to suffer, he said, “What I feared came upon me.” It means he lived a life in fear of disasters even when he was at peace.
Brothers and sisters,
Even very good children, if they do not feel the love of their parents and only fear the punishments of their parents, cannot become joy to their parents. The children will be unhappy, too. God the Father opened a way for Job to free himself from fear. Namely, through the trials, God let Job rid himself of evil in his nature and experience the God of love. That way, God let him understand the heart of God deeply and to love God from his heart. Now, Job could enjoy true peace and happiness in that love.
Dear brothers and sisters,
There is one more thing you should remember. If the truth is in you completely, you do not have fear. But if you have not accomplished sanctification and you are not in spirit or whole spirit, does that mean you should always live in fear like Job did? Of course not! If you are riding on the flow of spirit and trying your best to cast away sins and evil, you can lead a comfortable believing life in your measure of faith.
Of course, you might face trials that are the result of your sin, or even though you did not commit any sin in action, you might face trials to realize your evil like in Job’s case. But in such cases as well, you don’t have to fear anything. Even though you have a test because of your fault, God will give you a way out if you look back on yourself immediately and repent. If you turn away, God gives you a way out, so you can be thankful. Also, even though you suffer for a moment due to the trial, you can grow up in faith to the extent that you realize yourself and change. So, you can give thanks for this, too.
Furthermore, if you are going through trials because of evil deep in your nature, you can go into deeper level of spiritual realm by understanding the will of God from your heart. So, you can be thankful again. In any case, if you trust the Father as His child, you won’t have any reasons to fear something that has not happened. That is, unless you choose to live in sins and evil and have no intention of circumcising your heart. If you are trying your best to change yourself in your measure of faith, you can just trust the God of love.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” As said, I hope you will always dwell in joy and peace by trusting the Father who protects His children and who works for the good in everything. In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will cultivate perfect love and be confident before God.
The apostle John continues to explain about spiritual love. It is said we have no fear and we can be confident on the judgment day if we cultivate perfect love. And we can love God because God and the Lord loved us first.
Today’s reading passage verse 19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” People usually love a person who loves them. If one is good to them, commends them, and respects them, they can be nice to that person, too. On the contrary if one hates them, reveals and points out their fault, it is difficult to love that person. Therefore, a saying goes, ‘Nice words for nice words’. People pay back evil with evil.
But God says we have to pay back evil with goodness. We have to be nice not just to those who are nice to us, but God says we have to love those people with whom we cannot really get along. Matthew 5:46-47 also says, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Loving those who love us back can be done by unbelievers and even sinners like tax-collectors. We children of God have to cultivate spiritual heart to love even our enemies and not just those who love us. It’s because we have first received such love.
It was His love for us that Jesus came to this earth and was crucified. Those who were stained by sins could not recognize the Son of God. Jesus healed the sicknesses and infirmities and gave people only good things preaching the gospel of the kingdom, but rather they hated Jesus, refused Him, and eventually crucified Him.
But even when He was being crucified, Jesus showed to them even greater love. He prayed for those sinners saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Because He had the power as the Son of God, He could have come down from the cross if He wanted. He could have summoned heavenly host and angels and destroy those who were crucifying Him in a moment.
But Jesus did not do that. It was because He could save the sinners only by enduring all the mockeries and contempt and dying on the cross. God the Father also gave His precious only begotten Son for the sinners, and even after that, He did not leave them as orphans. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. Moreover, you met a true shepherd and precious church, and you are being guided to a way of blessing that you could have never gone on your own. All these are the love of God who gives to us unconditionally.
It’s not that we deserved to receive this love, but it is solely the grace of God who loves us first. Because we have received this love first, we cannot help but love God. And as we have received such great love, and if we have conscience, we cannot dare hate anybody.
If we are forgiven of billions of dollars of debt, we can never suppress another who owes us a couple of dollars to pay it back. So, today’s reading passage verse 20 says, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”