Meditations in 1 John : 56 : Confident
1 John 4:17,18 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Our verses start of with “In this way” which refers back to the previous verse: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” It’s all about love! We rely on God’s love and live in God’s love and because of this John is able to say, “love is made complete among us.” We are, if you like, a community of love. The word ‘love’ comes up 33 times in this one letter. We might say that John is the apostle of love and, as we’ve commented before, that might be because of the awareness that he had had of being loved by Jesus (Jn 19:26, 20:2, 21:7,20) In an earlier chapter he had written, “But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.” (1 Jn 2:5) i.e. this love is completed by our obedience to His word, but now his emphasis is on this love being completed because of its source – God Himself.
But this brings another confidence with it, the confidence that we will have on the Last Day, the day when we face the Lord. On that day we will face the Lord, not as strangers or aliens, but as those who have been recipients and carriers of His own Holy Spirit, and who have been changing throughout their lives to become like Him with His character. There will thus be great similarities between us and Him on that day, and because of that there is no danger of Him rejecting us. There is often in Christians, a shying away from the day of destruction that the Bible speaks of, a final day when God winds up everything and destroys every person who has rejected Him. Such vivid pictures as are found in say Isa 34:1-4 leave no room for doubt. There will come a terrible day when God will say, “Enough!”
The other aspect of this confidence that we have because of who we are and what we have become, is that we will be without fear when we have to face Him on that day. But is it more than simply who we are and what we’ve become, it is to do with the very fact of love. He is love and He’s filled us with love and where there is this love there cannot be fear. I love my wife deeply and to even think of fear between us would be ludicrous. When a young man or woman falls in love, fear is the last thing that they would think about in their relationship. Love and fear just can’t exist in the same room; they are not compatible. So because we are certain of God’s love and are filled with His love, there is absolutely no room for fear.
But there is yet another thing about fear: it is associated with guilt and punishment. A criminal on the run is fearful of being caught because he knows he is guilty and knows when he is caught he will be punished, and he fears that, and it is a right fear. But when there is perfect love, and when the punishment has already been disposed of (by Jesus’ work on the Cross) then there is no fearing punishment because that has been properly dealt with and justice has been satisfied. So, because the question of punishment has been removed, so has fear been removed.
But John adds one more significant comment to this. “The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” If you fear it means you are still afraid of punishment and have not entered into and experienced the love of God through Jesus. This is the whole thing about God’s love, it has done everything for us that can be done to remove our guilt, our shame and our punishment, so that none of these thing impinge on our relationship with the Father and we are free to just fully enjoy and experience to the uttermost, His love. If you haven’t entered into that relationship then you will haven’t experienced that love and you will not know the wonder of your guilt and shame and punishment being removed and you will still live in fear of one day having to face the Father and account for all those things.
There are so many aspect to this, aren’t there! He has done all this for us through the work of Jesus on the Cross and when we accepted and received that finished work as applying to our own life, then He put His own Holy Spirit into us, the Spirit who is love. We experienced love by what God had done for us through Jesus and now we experienced it in a new way by the presence of love in His own Being, now living in us. And this has brought total transformation: we now live love-filled lives and because of that there is no room for any fear to exist any longer in us in respect of God. How wonderful! Hallelujah!