In this world we are faced with so many fears. Fear of rejection, fear of being alone, fear of lack, fear of losing a loved one, fear of never being enough, fear of missing God’s best for our lives, the list goes on and on. Fear is not uncommon to anyone, and yet it is the greatest enemy of our souls, and until we recognize it for what it truly is, and how to deal with it head on, we will never be free.
Most of us have read, or heard 1 John 4:18 that says, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].”
Whichever way you look at this verse, the truth that cannot be argued is that perfect love is the conquering enemy of fear. In this series we are going to look at fear from God’s perspective and discover how His perfect love can expel every trace of it out of our lives.
Perhaps the first truth to settle in our hearts and minds is that we are explicitly, and continuously commanded in the Word of God to not fear. No matter what form, shape, or measure it comes in, fear is sin.
In Revelation 21:8, God makes it clear that the fearful, the cowards, those cravenly lacking in courage, the unbelieving and faithless will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. No mincing Words here, right?
Out of curiosity, I wanted to understand just who this scripture was referring to as the “fearful”. I found it wasn’t necessarily only written for those who don’t believe in God, or have never committed their lives to Him. According to the Adam Clark commentary, the fearful here are those who, “...for fear of losing life or their property, either refused to receive the Christian religion, though convinced of its truth and importance; or, having received it, in times of persecution fell away, not being willing to risk their lives.”
Another commentary by Albert Barnes, suggests The “fearful”, “...denote those who had not firmness boldly to maintain their professed principles, or who were afraid to avow themselves as the friends of God in a wicked world. They stand in contrast with those who “overcome,” in Revelation 21:7.”
Then, John Gill’s commentary describes the “fearful” in this verse to be, “... those who are of cowardly spirits, and are not valiant for the truth, but who, through fear of men, either make no profession of Christ and his Gospel, or having made it, drop it, lest they should be exposed to tribulation and persecution; these are they that are afraid of the beast, and live in servile bondage to him.”
Both these commentaries show us the effect of fear in our lives. Unless God’s perfect love is alive and dominating our hearts and minds, fear can cause us to become cowards, and ashamed to stand up for the very Gospel that saved us, when the heat of persecution comes.
We can conclude that the “fearful” in this verse include those who at some time professed to be Christians, but when they were faced with persecution, fear overtook their faith in God, and they renounced their belonging to Him, or being counted as His own.
Quite a sobering thought isn’t it. It makes us wonder if the faith we profess to have in God, and our commitment to Him is as deep and sincere as we believe it to be. Do we really know God and His perfect love for us to the point where it means more to us than our own lives, or our greatest fears?
Is this the level of commitment Christ has called us to have? If it is, then truly knowing Him, and His perfect love for us must be something far greater and more powerful than any fear imaginable, including losing our own lives.
This is the kind of love I want to fill my life with. It certainly is the kind of love I want to learn more about, and in the letters to come, we are going to spend time understanding it, and how it will set fear on the run in our lives.
All my love,