Author: Ron Graham
This lesson continues on from the previous lesson to look at what John says about love.
A reminder first, that John’s understanding of love has two main foundations:
(a) Christ's example obligates us to love. "We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1John 3:16).
(b) Love is manifested in us through the cross of Christ. "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him." (1John 4:9). [Note: the word MANIFEST means to show clearly].
(c) The initiative for love is in the cross. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins... We love, because he first loved us" (1John 4:10,19).
(a) A mature or "perfected" love for God allows us to look forward with confidence, rather than fear, to Christ's return and our appearance before his judgment seat. "Love has been made perfect among us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment" (1John 4:17).
(b) Perfect love drives out fear. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear is associated with punishment, and the one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1John 4:18).
Do you remember how love is perfected? "Whoever keeps his word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in him" (1John 2:5). "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments -and his commandments are not a burden" (1John 5:3).
By simply following God's commands, which he has not made too hard for us, we can assure ourselves that we have nothing to fear on judgment day -because we have forgiveness through Christ and there is no punishment awaiting us. Therefore we have nothing to fear.
John says that perfect love casts out fear 1John 4:17-19 Yet Solomon said, "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man..." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Peter said, "In every nation, the person who fears God is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34-35). Paul spoke of "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2Corinthians 7:1).
Great respect and awe of God is not the fear that love casts out. Paul says, "You have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear" (Romans 8:15). "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind" (2Timothy 1:7).
We should not fear God like the "one mina" man feared his master (Luke 19:12-26), with abject and paralysing fear as though God were a tyrant. Rather, we should love our dear Heavenly Father as our Sovereign God, not One to mess with or take lightly.