Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

“Perfect love casts out fear”

May 27, 2017

We have heard this often when “fear” is mentioned or talked about. At first, this seems to be a “cure-all for fear”. Any time we fear anything, perfect love takes it all away, right? It also has been said that “perfect love is God’s love”. While this is a true statement, it leaves us questioning just what God’s love is, or more important, what is “perfect love?”. To understand what it is that casts out fear we must understand what exactly is perfect love. For when we see (understand) this, we are then on the road to overcoming fear. As always, we need to go no further than God’s word to understand it. He has given us His Spirit, and thereby together with His word, we understand.

The apostle John, who beneath Jesus, understood “love” like no other. And where better need we go then to his love letter to “little children” (the church, brother’s and sisters in Christ).

Our main text is found in 1st John 4:18.

“There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment.  He who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

First, we need to get some word definitions in their original Greek language for “fear”, “love”, “perfect”, “casts”, and “torment”. Word study is key into getting understanding of a particular verse or passage.

Our first word is “fear”. Just what kind of fear was John talking about here? The word is “phobos” .  This is where we get the word “phobia” from, which is commonly known as an anxiety disorder. “Phobos” comes from the word “phebomal”, which means “to be put in fear”; alarm or fright – be afraid + exceedingly, fear, terror” . Here we see that this kind of fear is at the top of the chart, so to speak. It’s dreadful, frightening, and haunting. Can you see how this type of fear could work havoc in our lives? Talk about not having “peace”. Talk about something that would keep you bound up and keep you stifled. This would be it to the max. Yet how many live their lives this way? Also, for those of us that think it never comes knocking on our door, consider this. All worrying can be traced back to “fear”. And if we are honest, we all worry from time to time. It might be ever so small, yet it’s  still worry.

Our second word is the most often word used, liked, and talked about more than any other word. Ah yes…..”Love”. But just what kind of love is the apostle John referring to here? This is extremely important for us in this world of everything falling under “love”. Love everybody, love everything, be it right or wrong, just love, love, love, right? Well, this kind of love is way different. The word is “agape”, which means, “i.e affection, or benevolence (disposition to do good, an act of kindness, a generous gift)”. John further spells this out in his discourse on love by teaching us that God’s agape love is a sacrificial love that was exemplified by the giving of His Son for the sacrifice for our sins. Thus John went on to say that because of this kind of love for us, “we ought to love one another”. (see 1Jn.4:7-11)

Our third word is “perfect”. This word can take on a lot of definitions. However, it is important to be reminded that we are talking here about “perfect love”. The word, “perfect” is key here, because it is the type of love that is necessary to “cast out fear”. Not just love, but perfect love. This word “perfect”, in the Greek is “teleios“. It means “complete, completeness”. A further study into the word comes up with “i.e. (literally) accomplish, or (figuratively), consummate”. Also, “the conclusion”. Here we can safely say that “perfect agape love” is a love that is complete, i.e. final, and conclusive. Sounds like there is no greater love than this, bar none, right?

Our next word is “casts” (or casteth, in the KJV ). In our text, it says that “perfect love casts out fear”. This is key because this is what perfect love does. It “casts out”. This word is “ballo”.  It means “to throw”. It has to do with “violent, or intense”. Also, “strike, or “thrust”. This word is not used as a little soft way of dealing with fear. It is intense. It leaves no room for “timidity”. There must be some power involved here. Something beyond our fleshly, easy way of dealing with things.

Our fifth and final word is “torment”. This word is huge because it is what “fear has”. You might say this is what fear produces, or this is its outcome, or fruit. In the Greek, the word is “kolasis”. Its meaning might surprise you. It has to do with “infliction”. And that of “penal infliction”. Penal? Yes. And it involves “punishment, penalties, or punitive institutions”. Most of us have heard the word for a prison as a “penal institution”. Considering this, it is safe to say that “fear” locks you up as if you are in a “penal institution”. Inside here there is punishment and infliction to be had and penalties to be paid for. This is not a place you would want to live your life in for sure. Yet how many do, day in, and day out?

Ok. Now that we get some better understanding of these five important words, let us now break down each verse that contains the word, “perfect”, or “perfected” love. It appears five times in 1st John. That’s actually quite a bit. This will unlock “perfect love”, and “love perfected”. This will lead us into application, i.e. how we are to live out this kind of love to overcome or prevent fear from coming into our lives.

Let’s first back up in the book of first John, and go to the 2nd chapter, verse 5. In this verse he is teaching just how it is that the “love of God is perfected in us”. And remember that this kind of love throws out (casts out) fear.

“But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know we are in Him.”                                                                                                                        

In context, the apostle John is referring to the keeping of the words of Christ. If we back up to the starting of this chapter, in verse 1, he is telling us that Jesus is our mediator. In verse 2, he states that Jesus is the “propitiation for our sins” and the whole world. Verse 3 is key into understanding that he is talking about the commandments of Christ because he says “by this (that Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins) we know Him. Verse 4 also states this as well. We will see more as we go that the commands of Christ are what we New Testament believers need to heed and follow.

So by keeping His commandments, His words, His doctrine, His teachings, the love of God is perfected in us. This brings up something that most Christians seemly have a hard time with. And what is that? “Obedience”. Somehow God’s grace takes away, or covers for our obedience? Well, if that’s the case, we mise well go upstairs and open the bedroom window and chuck the word of God out. Because His word is full of obedience that must be done by us if we are to be followers of Christ. A simple reading of the word will bring this to light. In fact, John later writes in 2nd John, verse 9, that if we do not abide (dwell) in Christ’s teachings, then we do not have God. Wow! That’s pretty heavy.

The words of Jesus speak for themselves……

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” (Jn.14:21)

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word: and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.                                                                       “He who does not love Me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (vs.23-24)

Here we see just how Jesus wants to be loved, and how God will love us, and how they will reveal themselves to us. This is often never taught or looked at. But it’s huge. This is Jesus commanding us here.

Now since we are looking here into just what is “perfect love”, and our text (1Jn.2:5) states that it has to do with keeping the words of Christ, it is necessary to hone in on a particular commandment in regards to this perfect love.

The apostle John makes this very clear when he speaks of God’s love being “perfected (completed) in us”“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” (1Jn.4:12). This verse is pretty self-explanatory. The key? “Love one another”. And this is the commandment that Christ taught from the beginning. “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, (1Jn.3:11). John here is referring to Jesus when he gave this commandment. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another”. (Jn.13:34). He also, when teaching on “Love” and “Joy” being perfected, said this, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”. ( Jn.15:12). He goes on to say that there is no greater love than one giving their life for another. Loving one another through sacrificial love is “perfect love”, it is “agape love”.

Just how important is this commandment according to Jesus? Well, he addressed this question to one of the “Pharisees” as he asked, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”. Jesus replied with, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the great commandment”. (Mt.22:36-38). Then Jesus goes on to say, “And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (vs.39). It is important to note the word here “like”. It means “similar”, and it comes from the Greek word “homos” which means “the same”. We can safely say that these two are to be combined, i.e. Love God, Love you neighbor. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, he cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1Jn.4:20).

Jesus finishes answering the Pharisees question of “which is the great commandment in the law?” with “On these two commandments hang all the Law and Prophets.” The word “hang” here is very important. It means “suspend, summed up”. So if we want to talk and debate over commandments, we best get these two down. We could literally spend the rest of our days “obeying” this commandment. I say “this” because they are combined.

Ok. Let’s move on in this quest for “perfect love”. We have looked at two (1Jn.2:5, 4:12) of the five verses that deal with “perfect love” or “love made complete”. Our next verse is 1Jn.4:17. “Herein is love made perfect in us,”. I purposely stopped here at the first part of this verse. Why? Because, to get a proper understanding of what John is saying here we must look at context and back up to see what “Herein” is. In the five verses leading up to this verse, we see the word “dwelleth” (dwell). It has the same meaning as “abideth” (abide), which means “to stay”. Ok. So where does abide fit into perfect love?

Let’s read it. In verse 12, John says that If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. Then he says, “by this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us,”. By this? By what? By loving one another. It’s the out working of loving one another that His love is perfected in us. And through this we abide, or stay. He goes on to say that “because He (God) has given us His Spirit”Remembering that “it’s the Spirit that bears witness” (1Jn.5:6) to us to confirm everything that God has given. In the verse leading up to 1Jn.4:17, we see some more regarding “abiding” that leads to us understanding “perfect love”. John says that we have known and believed the love that God has for us, God is love,”. And what love is he referring to here? “that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” (1Jn. 4:10). Do you see the tie here? Loving because of what God did for us? “Herein is love!”The apostle John then finishes verse 16 with, “he who dwells (stays in) in love dwells in God, and God in him”. Bing! I think it’s safe to say that “perfect love” is loving because He first loved us, and thus, we love our neighbor as ourselves.

Now, we certainly can’t leave off here without finishing the last part of this verse 17. “that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so we are in the world”Here in the middle of the Apostle John’s discourse on love, he drops the word “boldness”. We must ask why? How is boldness tied into “love?”.

First, let’s look into this word. It is “parrhesia”, which by implication means “assurance”. It is also the same word as “confidence”. So we can say that by “abiding/dwelling” in Christ, i.e. abiding in his commandments, which namely is loving God through loving others, we will have assurance/confidence at His return. Yet, most importantly for the now, we can have this as we live out through love. And to add to this “boldness”, it also means, and has to do with, “speak”. Another definition is “all out-spokenness”. So when we our walking in His perfect love, i.e. living it out, we have out right boldness to “speak the truth in love”. Who by the way, was the perfect example of this bold love? You got it! The Christ! “because as He is, so are we in this world”.

Now, just after this look into “boldness”, guess what comes next? What would be one good word that would be the total opposite of boldness? Any suggestions? Our next and main verse has this word in it……

“FEAR”

Remember our main text for this study?

“There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

The apostle John starts off with a blanket statement here. He says that “there is no fear in love”. Remember that we are not just talking about any kind of love here. And what we mentioned at the beginning of this study, it’s not “worldly love”, or “fleshly love”. This is “agape love”. Through the studying of this kind of love, the teacher, i.e. the Holy Spirit, gave us this definition, “affectionate benevolence through sacrificial giving”. When this is in you, and you are living it out, fear will not be present. It cannot abide in the house where this perfect love takes up residence. So there is absolutely no need to even think on fear. It doesn’t even exist in this agape love. Period!

This agape love not only has “no fear” in it, but it “casts” it out. We must ask why did John put this here? If there is no fear in love, then why would it need to be cast out? Well, are you ready for this? Can your ultra spirituality take this on?

Fear does not abide in us if perfect love abides, right? However, we are all in this flesh. And we all get tempted with “fear”. It is just like the unlimited temptations that come upon us all the time. If you don’t think this is so, then take inventory of the last time you worried about something or someone. It’s a fact that worry can be traced back to fear. So this is why John brought up this “casting out”. If it wasn’t needful then he wouldn’t have brought it up. It absolutely needs to be addressed.

In simplicity, we can say that if we are abiding in Christ, and His words are abiding in us, and we are living them out through perfect love, then all temptations of fear will be casted out. “Perfect love casts out fear”. There is no fear in perfect love.

This verse 18 ends with, “But he who fears has not been made perfect in love”. Here we see that it is possible and needful to be made perfect in love. Another way to say this would be that it is possible and needful to be “completed” in love. Even though this agape love is to be a process for us to be lived out, it is, and has, already been completed in us through Christ in us. We have within us everything that is needed for life and godliness (2nd Peter 1:3). It is just up to us to use, so to speak, everything that we have been given, i.e. His perfect (completed) love within us. But we must walk it out, i.e. apply it to our everyday living through “loving one another”.

We end our study with verse 19 of 1st John. It is obvious that we are creatures that need to be reminded continually. In reality, isn’t the Holy scriptures a book written for our remembrance? And this being so, the apostle John states, “We love because He first loved us”. This is our continual reminder. This is why we love in the first place. This puts it all back into perspective. Do you remember what John said was love? “In this is love, …. He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”(4:10). And, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” (Jn.3:16). And if this was so…… Then…..

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another”(1Jn.4:11).

We could go on in this study. There is much more to be found in the word of God regarding this “perfect love”. Actually, there is a whole lot more regarding “obedience” that ties right into this love. Jesus himself taught just how important obedience to His teaching was. A good study on this would be found in the gospel of John, chapters 14-15.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this study. We spent five weeks, hours upon hours, hammer and chisel in hand with the Word and Spirit. I hope and pray that you were blessed into understanding more of just what is “perfect love” and how it does “cast out fear”. Hopefully the next time that you are tempted to fear, you will apply perfect love into the situation and thus there will be no room for fear. Remember…… fear cannot abide in perfect love! God bless you!

 

 

 

Fearful and Unbelieving

November 15, 2013

In the parable of the Talents, the servant that received one talent and buried it, what was the one thing that kept him from using or multiplying his talent?

FEAR. “I was afraid”.

What did his lord call him?
“You wicked and slothful servant,”

What happened to his talent?
It was taken away from him and given to those who did multiply their talents for their lord.

What happened to the “unprofitable servant?”
He was cast into outer darkness. All because of “fear”, which stems from “unbelief”.
(see Mt.25:14-30)

In the book of Revelation, what are the first two classes of people that Jesus mentions that will have their place in the Lake?
The first is “the fearful”.
The second is the “unbelieving”. (see Rev.21:8)

Some more food for thought.

Overcoming all fear

October 27, 2011

By keeping (obeying) the words/commands of Christ, the love of God can be made perfect in us. (see 1Jn.2:5). When the “love of God is perfected in us” all fear is cast out. We then have confidence/boldness in this world. (see 1Jn.4:17-18). By abiding in the commands of Christ, we abide in His love. (see Jn.15:9-17).

Are you a secret disciple of Christ?

August 26, 2007

If so, it is because of the fear of man or pride. Either one will keep you from confessing Christ.

In the time of Christ, the fear of the Jews kept many from openly confessing Christ. In short, the fear of man did. They would be kicked out of the synagogue if caught confessing Christ. Let alone beatings and in some cases death. So because of this, they would go around “secretly”.

Here in America we suffer no real persecution for confessing Christ. Not yet anyway. What will happen here when real persecution comes? This question is to be answered now. Are you openly confessing Christ today? While you have the freedom with no persecution? If you can’t stand up now and be counted as “one of those”, what will you do when your life is at stake? If you can’t take it now while it’s easy, you will not make it then. Today is the day to prepare. It’s the day to ask yourself these questions.

If you can’t confess Jesus to your co-workers, friends and family now because of pride or fear, how will you fare when someone has a gun at your head? Are you fooling yourself?

“But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God”. (Jn.12-42-43)

We could say today,  “because of my co-workers, I would not confess my faith in Christ because of fear of losing my job. Or, my pride would be hurt. What would they think of me then? I would no longer be popular, I would then be labeled an “odd-ball” or a ” religious fanatic”.

The demons tremble when you confess Christ publicly. It shakes the kingdom of darkness. Your confession sets you apart. There is a separation that takes place when you openly confess Christ. It’s powerful! Try it!

Only fear of man and our pride keeps you from confessing Christ. The enemy of your soul is very content if you choose not to. I believe he smiles (if only he could).

Christ, speaking of persecution and fear in Matt. the 10th chapter said, “Whoever confesses (acknowledges) me before men, I will also confess him before my Father in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, I will deny him before my Father in heaven.” (vs.32-33)
Now that’s serious stuff! Did you get that? If this scripture didn’t sink in, you must read it again.

Did you know that by not speaking up for Christ in this sinful and adulterous generation that you are deny him? You surely can’t be ashamed of him, can you? After all He has done for you? The very least you can do is talk openly about Him just as if you know him personally, right? Just as He is your best friend, or is He?

“If we deny him, he will also deny us” (2Tim.2:12)

If we are not confessing Christ, then we are ashamed of him, point-blank. In the end, Christ will be ashamed of us when he comes back with the holy angels. (Mk.8:38) Now I know that is not what you want, right? So what is the thing to do then? CONFESS CHRIST WITH YOUR MOUTH, TODAY! He will bless you, for sure!

In order to “confess Christ” you must deny yourself. Your pride must go. You must get to the place where you no longer care what they think of you. If they hate you, that’s OK. If they no longer want anything to do with you, then that’s OK. If your friendship has to go, then it’s OK.
You must deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Christ wholeheartedly (Mk.8:34-38)

When you take up your cross, you are headed up the hill to be crucified. There is no turning back. You no longer think about how you look, or what they say about you. Our lives are to be on the cross daily, thus we “die daily”. Pride should die daily also.

In closing, there is no time to be a “secret disciple”. The day of “straddling the fence” is over. You are either confessing Christ and not ashamed of him, or you are being “secret” and in reality, ashamed of him. I know that is hard to hear, but it is true.

And the good news is, you can “Repent” today and get on track while there is still yet time. It’s still day when we can work.
Amen.

Healthy fear

January 21, 2007

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;” (2Cor.5:10-11)

The word “terror” here means, “to be put in fear”. Some translations use “fear” in this verse. In this text, Paul was referring to the last judgment. I believe a good healthy fear of God and His judgment is needful as we try (by His Spirit) to persuade men. I like the “Lamsa” translation that says, “Knowing therefore the fear of our Lord, we try in a persuasive way to win men;”

Over the years, I know that a good healthy fear of God has helped me not only in trying to persuade men to Christ, but also in my own personal walk with Him. I believe it’s good to fear the judgment, to fear sin and it’s consequences.

I know most people have a problem when you mention “fear” or talk about “the fear of God, but I believe the problem lies in our understanding of fear. Most people consider fear to be mostly bad and do not allow themselves to see the benefits of a healthy fear.

Isn’t it funny, how when we are looking up the definition of a word, we focus on the meaning that comes closest to our understanding of that word. What we want to hear. I have been guilty of that many times. I skip over any meaning that I don’t agree with or don’t want to hear.

Most words have multiple meanings. I believe we need to get the general meaning after considering the text in which it is included in. Also try to condense or put together the sometimes multiple meanings. For example, the word “fear”. It’s Hebrew meaning spans from, “to fear”, “to revere”, “to frighten”, “to make afraid, dread, reverence, terrible, stand in awe, make to shake, to be startled, terror, awe, horror”. The Greek meaning is basically the same.

I find it difficult to rightly explain a healthy fear. Within my heart I know how good it is, and how it has helped me over the years. One example of a “healthy fear” would be as follows,
Let’s say, I am sitting in a coffee shop and along comes this very beautiful women and sits down next to me and she begins to talk and get very intimate in conversation with me. The Spirit of God quickly checks me through my conscience and thus tells me that this is not a good thing.

At this moment, it would be a good thing for me to fear what would happen if I were to continue to listen to this women. What would happen if I rejected the Holy Spirit and my conscience and begin to converse with this women? The end result would be sin in either thought or deed. I should fear what would happen if I continued on in this conversation, right?
This to me, would be a good example of the proper fear of God and fearing sin and it’s consequences.
It would be healthy and profitable for me.

Every time fear is mentioned, some would immediately quote the verse, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,” (1Jn.4:18). We must be reminded of the text in which this verse appears. John talking about abiding in God. The verse preceding verse 18, speaks of having confidence, boldness on the final day of judgment. We who are in Christ, through God’s love need not fear the final judgment. Our abiding in God and His love, conquers all fear of judgment.

So in the end, a healthy fear of God is needed and a deep respect or reverence for Him is needed in this life. Also, a dose of fear when we are tempted to sin is also very much needed. Both these understandings of fear are truly good for us all.

Back to our original text that said, “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;”. Understanding (the best we can) the terror or the fear of the Lord, helps us in dealing with the lost also. Realizing that the final judgment of God is going to be either, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”, or “Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angles:” (Matt.25:34,41)

Which of these verses do you want your family members to hear on that day? How about your co-workers? Your neighbors?
Let us, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, persuade men this day!
Amen