Summary: What do you mean by “Perfect Love”? Eugene Peterson defines it as “well-formed love.” I. Perfect Love is Supplied by God (v.17) II. Perfect Love is Empowerd by God (v.18a) III. Perfect Love is Assured by God (v.18b)
PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR
1 John 4:17-18
Once upon a time, Jane was going to get married, and her friend Jemima decided to send them a text message wishing the happy couple well. She thought of the verse that we had in our first reading,
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear”, but, text messages being what they are, she decided just to send the reference: 1 John 4:18. Unfortunately, in her haste, she omitted the “1”, showing that it was John’s letter rather than John’s Gospel, and the verse Jane found when she looked it up in the Gospel read: “For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.”
Our text for today speaks directly to those common concerns with a fresh word: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (v. 18). Of course it is normal for any human being to fear. Such as the natural reactions to threat that serve to protect us.
Fear can be either helpful or harmful. When it is fear of what is truly destructive to one’s well-being, it is for his good. But when groundless fear produces needless worry an unrest, it is harmful.
On one side the Scriptures instructed us to fear: Prov 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
On the other side it tells us to "fear not". It is also a constant command throughout the Scriptures. To "fear the Lord" is to reverence Him. "Fear not!" is a word of encouragement in the presence of threatening danger or alarm. Fear not for I am with you! (IS. 41:10)
After all, the only people who have absolutely no fear are in cemeteries. We who are alive possess some fear, and some fear is healthy.
What do you mean by “perfect love”?
The word behind the translation is a form of telios, which doesn’t mean “flawless,” but “fulfilling its purpose.” Eugene Peterson has it right when he translates, “well-formed love.” Its the same as Q.C. Passed for the product or ISO Certified for a company.
WHY DID JOHN SAY THAT A PERFECT LOVE CAN DRIVES OUT FEAR?
A. PERFECT LOVE IS SUPPLIED BY GOD (V.17)
Read also 4:7-9A - We can only get this love if God is with us, or if we are in God.
Psalm 34. It says, “I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” What a wonderful and amazing promise of God. “He delivered me from all my fears.” Could that be our true experience? Is that really part of what God offers to us in Christ Jesus?
But as the Psalm mentioned above points out, the condition of that gift is clear: “I sought the Lord.” In other words, the starting point for this is precisely when our lives are totally given to God’s direction and not our own.
John’s simple answer is, when you are filled with God’s perfect love, fear is driven out. It’s really not about forcing fear out of our lives through a positive, mental attitude. It’s about opening up to the free flow of God’s love that so defines us and shapes us that fear is driven out.