In my past, I lived a life in deep fear. It was crippling, it was debilitating, and it caused me to miss out on many things, many pleasant experiences, and many years with family and friends. Things that I couldn’t enjoy because of my fear. Fear that was totally and completely irrational – but it didn’t seem to be so at the time, because I was believing a lie instead of the truth.
Jesus said, in John 8:32, that you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free. And we have studied that in the past before; but many misinterpret that to mean “you shall know things about the law” – when the people that Jesus was speaking to were Jews… they already knew the Law – and while the Law was true, it was not “the Truth” that would make them free.
The truth that will make them (and us) free today is not about religion, rules, traditions or the laws of the old covenant. The truth that will make us free, is specifically the truth of Jesus Christ, what He has accomplished, and your identity in Him today. That is an identity of His beloved, an identity of His perfect righteousness, and holiness, an identity completely safe and secure in Christ. That is your identity today. And what I want to share with you in this study, is how knowing the truth of His perfect love, can shatter your fears today.
So let’s get down deep into this, starting with 1st John 4:17-19:
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us.”
Now there have been a lot of lessons taught and sermon’s preached on verse 18 over the years. And most of them are preached in a man-centered legalistic way… as if we need to love God perfectly – as if it all hinges on our ability to conjure up love for God, ourselves.
And as you have probably already figured-out, that’s not actually what verse 18 is talking about at all!
There’s always a danger in lifting a single verse out of context and building a doctrine around it.
So let’s find out where this perfect love actually comes from, and it’s found just seven verse up, in this same chapter, verses 9 and 10:
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Verse 9 declares the real foundation for everything, and you will see here that the focus isn’t on our love for God, but rather the focus is on God’s love for us! It’s starts off by addressing the question that I hear so many people say… how can I be sure that God actually loves me?
And it answers that question by saying: In this, the love of God was manifested (or shown) to us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
If you have ever asked God for a sign or a proof of His love for you, this is it.
Jesus was sent, Jesus came into the world, for this express purpose: for you to live through Him.
And catch that last part, because it doesn’t say (as so many people think that it does) – it doesn’t say that we live for Jesus. We aren’t spending our lives trying to reach for Him, or to please Him or impress Him… no, that’s not why He came, that’s not why He sacrificed Himself to save us.
Take the religious doctrinal blinders off, and see what the scripture is actually saying.
It says that we live through Him!
That’s huge! And that’s the foundation for everything, my friend.
You live, through Jesus. Take that in. Let that thought inform your true identity. The perfect righteousness that Jesus has, that’s yours now, because He gave it to you.
The perfect holiness that Jesus has, that’s yours now too, because He gave it to you.
Everything that Jesus has, is yours. You live through Him.
There are so many people out there today, trying to strive for and earn, what Jesus has already given to them as a free gift. It’s needless effort, wasted time and energy, all because they have yet to see this truth. They need to know this truth that makes them free.
Is God pleased with you today? Totally and completely pleased with you? Most people are hesitant to answer that question. But if you understand that the life you live today, your identity, is completely wrapped-up in Jesus, then it becomes a simple and easy answer: absolutely yes!
In Matthew 3:17, the Father declares for all to hear that Jesus is His beloved Son, and that the Father is well pleased in Him. Not just a bit pleased mind you – but well pleased.
Today, that same identity of Jesus, has been given to you. You are in Christ, and you live through Him. So is God pleased with you? If you know who you are in Christ, the answer is Yes! There is no possible way for the Father to not be pleased with Jesus – and you are in Him!
This is what enables Colossians 1:22 to be true in your life. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for you, you are presented to God completely blameless and unreprovable!
Let that sink in. Allow that truth to embrace you.
Now as we return to 1st John 4, notice that in verse 10, the scriptures don’t waste any time in pointing to where we find this perfect divine love – if it could use a giant neon sign, or a huge foam finger pointing to it, this would be it. As if there was still any doubt that God’s divine love for us is the focus here… it comes right out and says Here is love! If you’re looking for it, here it is! Not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (propitiation means atoning sacrifice).
So as you can see, the context of these verses is not our own love, or our ability to work-up or conjure love within ourselves, but the focus is on God’s divine and perfect love.
So here in verse 17, look again at what we find – look with fresh eyes, free from religion and theology and the doctrines of men. It says Here is our love made perfect… that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world.
My friend, this is a truly astonishing statement! And the religiously bound individuals would consider this blasphemy or heresy – but you can see it for yourself right in the scripture… we do not have to tremble, cower or be uncertain about the day of judgment! In-fact the scripture says that we have boldness in it! All for one simple reason… Jesus! As He is, so are we in this world!
As He is, in all of His perfection, As He is with all of His power, As He is with all of His righteousness, As He is with all of His acceptance, love and holiness… all of it… So are we! When? Sometime later when we get to heaven one day? No! Now! In this world!
You aren’t waiting for it, striving for it, or struggling to earn it. You don’t have to suffer for it, or sacrifice to get it! The sacrifice has already been made, Jesus already suffered for you, and you have this now because of Him!
Now, we studied the context, we saw the foundation, it’s Jesus and His finished work – so now, look at verse 18 in the light of all of this – not what men have told you it is all of your life, but what it says for itself based on Christ:
There is no fear in love! Remember, God id Love, and you are in Him. But perfect love casts out fear: Because fear has torment. There are a lot of people who are secretly in torment because they haven’t yet realized how perfectly beloved they are in Christ today. And how secure that truth makes them.
He that fears is not yet made perfect in love.
Take notice that the verse doesn’t say “he isn’t made perfect through his love for God”, it says that “He isn’t yet perfect in love.” – this is still talking about being in Christ, being in love knowing your identity as the beloved of God. And if you think I made this all up, just look at verse 16 of this same chapter… verse 16 says:
“And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.”
Love is not something that you conjure up or strive for – it is something that you dwell in, like a house. You let the love of God wash over you, permeate your entire being. His love surrounds you, and believe me, you are quite safe in that place. As we studied recently with Psalms 91.
And finishing this off, look at verse 19, the final nail in the coffin for anyone who still wants to put any trust in themselves or their own love for God.
We love, because He first loved us.
In the Greek text, the word “him” is not there… we love, not because of ourselves, but because He first loved us. We must receive His love, we must drink from Him and allow our cup to be filled to overflowing before we ever have anything to give to anyone.
His love is what we dwell in, His love fills us, guides us, and absolutely keeps us safe. His love gives us boldness in the day of judgment.
There is no fear in His love, and as we realize how very much He loves us, we can absolutely rest in that.