1Jn 4:17-18 “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 casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
Verse 16 of First John tells us “…God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Our love is made complete because God dwells in us and we dwell in Him. Even though we are still bound in these mortal bodies, our love is eternal because our eternal God is love. The knowledge that we have a perfect love in Him gives us assurance in the day of judgment.
This Greek word translated as judgment is defined by Strong’s as “(Subjectively or objectively, for or against); by extension a tribunal; by implication justice (specifically divine law).” This is not about avoiding the courts of the world; it far exceeds that reach. As we are brought under conviction for our sins we realize that there is divine judgment at work. That judgment shows us that we owe a debt we cannot pay. Thankfully, grace then shows us that the divine law of this Almighty God was satisfied in the atonement made for us by His Son.
It is this divine judgment that causes us to hate the sin in our lives and to glorify Him who has delivered us from sin. We now have boldness (assurance) concerning this day of judgment. Our boldness stands in the fact that God dwells in us and we in Him; we are as He is in this world. If that statement seems too bold, consider the scripture that tells us to be holy as He is holy. Think about the commandment of Jesus to love one another as He loves us. Meditate upon the scripture that tells us we have the mind of Christ. This is nothing we can take credit for, but the knowledge that God has brought us into such a fellowship with the Divine while we live in this world is amazing grace indeed!
If we have assurance in the day of judgment, then we have the power to be fearless as we go forth to serve Him every day. There is no fear in love. When we have this perfect love of God abiding in us there is no room for fear. We cease to be afraid of what men will think of us. We cease to be afraid that we might fail. We cease to be afraid that God might suddenly turn against us for some misstep on our part. We can come boldly to the throne of grace and find help in time of need (Heb 4:16).
Fear has torment. This is not the reverential fear of God that, along with keeping His commandments, is the whole duty of man (Ecc 12:13). This is the kind of fear that causes us to want to grab a fig leaf and hide from the voice of God. This is the fear that whispers “God doesn’t love you.” This is the fear that paralyzes us in an Egyptian darkness so intense that we are afraid to move from where we are and so disorients us that we aren’t even sure where that is. We are not yet made perfect in love if we are still held in that terrible fear. The love of God frees us from fear!
May we rejoice in this perfect love of God that makes us bold to show Him to those around us without fear!