[⇑ See verse text ⇑] This short verse offers profound words. For here are we, naked, feeble, alone, plunged into a whirlpool, from the awful vortices of which we cannot extricate ourselves. It is the bravest of all human emotions. What strength or what boldness can we reach compared with that which comes from love? 3. There are days of our inner experience which are to us days of judgment, when we seem to stand at the bar of conscience, and meet face to face with God, who sits enthroned there. It is the harvest of all human emotions. It lays its ample treasure at the feet of the beloved. JOHN 1:1-3 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Often, when we see men soft and gentle, like St. John, we fail to remember that there must be a stronger side to their characters; just as, on the other hand, when we see men who are evidently cast in a sterner mould, we frequently forget that there may be—often, indeed, that there must be—warm springs of feeling within their hearts which we cannot see, to account for that strict or even rigid performance of duty which we can see. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-john-4.html. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Now what is true of others is true of us. To an untrusting fear of God. 17 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. 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. There is no fear in love - Love is not an affection which produces fear. Yes, beloved; though now more fearless than the devils (for they believe and tremble), you will then know what “a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God.”, But is it fear that I wish to excite in your minds? And in the Christian life they are united with terrible frequency. As for death, to such an one it has lost its sting: it is even numbered amongst his richest treasures: “All things, says he, are mine, whether life or death [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:22. The day springs not forth at once in the natural world; nor does piety arrive at its meridian height at once in the spiritual world. The fearlessness of love--how “perfect love” casts out fear. 1 John 4:18 This principle, that ‘perfect love casteth out fear,’ is a universal principle, and belongs to all human things. Consider the truth, "There is no fear in love." (W. Bright, D. D.), by anticipating punishment has it even now. "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". The one way to get deliverance is to go to Jesus Christ and keep close by Him. St. John’s name does not call up before us the fiery zeal that stirs some to noble deeds, or the unfaltering faith that nerves others to meet danger, or the calm endurance that lifts others above pain and trial; though zeal, and resolution, and endurance are each and all so commonly the offspring and the evidence of love in the hearts of men. Fear, by anticipating punishment, has it even now; bears about a foretaste of it and so partakes of it: 5) the last clause, ὁ δὲ φοβούμενος οὐ τετελείωται ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ, is intimately connected with what follows (see on 1 John 4:14) as well as with what went before. Love moves towards others in the spirit of self-sacrifice: fear shrinks from others in the spirit of self-preservation. ].” Were we to interpret the text as speaking of love to man, it would not admit of any satisfactory explanation: but, as referring to God, it sets love before us in a very instructive point of view, in that it marks, “Fear” is that passion which is chiefly dominant in the breast of fallen man—. Let the dread direct me to its source, my own sinfulness. I wish your religion to begin with fear: but God forbid that it should end there. No: it must be carried on by love, if ever it shall terminate in joy. It becomes a solace to us when most unfriended. No: he cries to “the rocks to fall upon him, and the hills to cover him from the face of the Lamb,” whose warnings he disregarded, and whose threatenings he despised. It is guilt that makes people fear what is to come; but he whose sins are pardoned, and whose heart is filled with the love of God, has nothing to dread in this world or the world to come. Arising from that discomforting consciousness of discord there come, likewise, other forms and objects of dread. (A. Maclaren, D. D.), A soul-tormenting fear and a fear-expelling love, 1. Heavenly love is always a reverence for the object loved. (2) This truth is not made in the least degree doubtful by the fact that the ordinary condition of men is not one of active dread of God. Past the one harbour, built for thee and thine. Think of St. John himself, the disciple whom Jesus loved, the disciple whose one hope and longing in the world was to see the Kingdom of his Master, and to rejoice with Him in glory, whom he had loved in the bitter day of defeat and shame. No truant beam from fire or candle shine? But there it is; the snake hybernates, but it is coiled in the heart all the same, and warmth will awake it. does not and durst not think about them and reverence Him. The Bible does not contradict itself, and when it appears that it does there is always an explanation for it. omits and ( δὲ ), which is important as closely connecting this clause with there is no fear in love, etc. ), nay perfect (see on τετελείωται in 1 John 4:17) love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment (see below): but he that feareth hath not been perfected in (his) love. Peers in upon us through the window shade, Full soon love’s finger, rosy tipped, is laid. But fear, when controlled by reason, subordinate to hope, joined with courage, becomes caution, watchfulness, modesty. No, rather into a fear which is so absolutely compatible with love that it may even be said to grow out of love, to be contained in love’s very heart. The Christian fears, but is never governed by his fears. Then there rises up another object of dread, which, in like manner, derives all its power to terrify and to hurt from the fact of our discordance with God, and that is, the “shadow feared of man,” that stands shrouded by the path, and waits for each of us. Hence, again, it is the conqueror of fear. BibliographyBengel, Johann Albrecht. The love of God casts out the fear of God; the love of God casts out all other fear. ἔξω βάλλει τὸν φόβον, ὅτι ὁ φόβος κόλασιν ἔχει, Ἡ ἈΓΆΠΗ ἜΧΕΙ ΖΩῊΝ ΑἸΏΝΙΟΝ, ὁ δὲ φοβούμενος οὐ τετελείωται ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ, οὐκ ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα δουλείας πάλιν εἰς φόβον. Love has not been made perfect. There is nothing more ridiculous, nothing more likely to betray a man, than the indulgence in an idle fear which does nothing to prevent its own fulfilment. But devotion to Him consists in love and fear, as we may understand from our ordinary attachment to each other. It is not self-reliance that makes the hero. That is true about hosts of us. Unless the principles of Divine light and the powers of Divine love have wrought their influence upon the sinful heart, men carry about with them, everywhere and always, the consciousness of those dark secrets which linger from the earliest age of responsibility in the inmost recesses of the heart. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". Thus it was with Job. There is no exorcist of fear like love. Love is gentle, but it is omnipotent, victor over all. I mean Love’s very house and hearth and heart. If it should exist in any soul in an absolutely perfect state, that soul would be entirely free from all dread in regard to the future. For it is the explanation of the fact that so many of us know nothing about what I am talking about, and fancy that I am exaggerating or putting forward false views. The promise of 1 John 1:9 shouldn’t lead us into sin, saying “Hey, I’ll go ahead and sin because God will forgive me.” It should lead us out of sin, knowing that God could only be faithful and just to forgive us our sins because the wrath we deserved was poured out on the sin. Fear hath torment Here the Apostle amplifies still further the greatness of that grace of which he speaks; for as it is a most miserable condition to suffer continual torments, there is nothing more to be wished than to present ourselves before God with a quiet conscience and a calm mind. For it is the explanation of the fact that so many of us know nothing of this fear of which I speak, and fancy that I am exaggerating, or putting forward false views. St. John, than whom no inspired writer more fully unfolds the glories of the Gospel, abounds, more than any other Apostle, in exhortations to love. So preach as much as we may the mercy of God, I tell you that men will still fear, will fear death, will fear hell, as long as unreconciled, unrepented sin is in their hearts. "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". It’s something we all deal with from time to time. [Examine with what feelings you contemplate God: examine what it is that chiefly operates to keep you from offending him, and what it is that chiefly stimulates you to duty: examine what your views are of death and judgment; whether they be dreaded as objects of fear, or desired as completing and consummating your bliss. Human life is often like one of those great tragedies where, in the earliest scenes, a suspicion is infused of the darkness that is to deepen round the close. Thayer gives us two definitions of the word as follows: "1. fear, dread, terror," and "2. reverence, respect." Fear has an educative function. It works through a realm of the lower appetites and passions, filled with pain, up toward a condition in which peace, and tranquillity, and quiet predominate, and are the characteristic elements. Cf. The very essence of love is, that it looks away from itself. The secrets of our hearts are revealed to ourselves, and the searching eye of a Divine truth is set upon us. They are stimulated by the fear of suffering in themselves, and then by the fear of suffering in their households, when they begin to love them. Let our fear of grieving and quenching the Spirit, of wounding the heart of Jesus Christ, of losing our place in the house of our Father, be steadfast and perpetual in companionship with love. A representative quote - What, may we ask, has intervened since the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord that imparts to the Apostle's Epistle a viewpoint so definitely in advance over that taken in his Gospel, yet so closely related to it? It is fear that develops the human race in its earlier stages. A settled confidence in God’s fatherly regard for us. There is no fear in love, &c.— "This perfect love is of such a delightful nature, that though it be ever attended with a holy filial reverence of God, and cautious filial fear of offending; yet there is no distrustful or terrifying fear of God in it, as if he were our enemy. The extinction by God of all selfishness within us. And when these thoughts come into the mind, of the judgments and trials of God’s providence meeting us, we understand what is meant by the saying that “fear hath torment.”1 [Note: R. W. Church, Village Sermons, iii. What is the difference between the two? The punishment is present. Watson.). The fear which is of the baser kind, viz. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen. Fear of punishment, either as imminent or distant, is not a false or bad principle of action in its own place and for its own time. There is a type of man, and I have no doubt there are some of its representatives among my hearers, who are below both fear and love as directed towards God; for they never think about Him, or trouble their heads concerning either Him or their relations to Him or anything that flows therefrom. See the phrase in John 6:37; John 9:34, John 9:35; John 12:31; John 15:6. The most effectual and permanent remedy for any passion is to give power enough to its opposite to control it. p. 2048 ff. But in all things that are the proper objects of faith, love has full scope for exercise; and will present them to the mind in so favourable a view, as to cast out all fear in relation to them. But, brethren, remember that it is ‘perfect love’ which ‘casts out fear.’. They only know God as the Terrible One. Maclaren (A. It is not a spark emitted from the blaze of worldly prosperity and fanned by the softness of worldly pleasure, but a flame enkindled by the Sun of Righteousness, and like the fire on the altar it never goes out. 18. 2. Fear is a shrinking apprehension of evil as befalling us, from the person or thing which we dread. (c) The fear of man, which bringeth a snare. God held me by my will against my will. Like a bond-slave (Romans 8:15), not the reverence of a son (ευλαβεια — eulabeia Hebrews 5:7.) "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". What calamities such as I hear of on all sides may I not have to taste of? The apostle John here presents one after another "all but impossible levels of Christian attainment";[44] (1) the love of all people with a self-sacrificing love like that of Christ; (2) the living of a life free from every sin; (3) confidence in the hour of the final judgment when people are pleading for the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them; and (4) the banishment of all fear; and notice that last phrase made perfect in love. So much was the preacher struck with the good conduct of so young a listener that, meeting the grandfather at the close of the service, he congratulated him upon the remarkably quiet composure of the boy. BibliographyWhedon, Daniel. Sailors that crash on with all sails set--stunsails and all--whilst the barometer is rapidly falling, and boding clouds are on the horizon, and the line of the approaching gale is ruffling the sea yonder, have themselves to blame if they founder. One way of trying to banish fear is levity or indifference. BibliographyTorrey, R. A. How are these facts and statements to be reconciled with the assertion that it is the duty of Christians not to fear? "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". In some respects nearly allied to the other--as where we dread the arrival of a judge who is to try us, and whose sentence must certainly bring after it imprisonment or execution. The very essence of love is, that it looks away from itself, and to another. Not perfected, as 1 John 4:17but perfect as the result of having been perfected. Of the state of his mind and heart in regard to religion at Harrow Cardinal Manning has left the following record:—“It was not a good time with me. BibliographyZerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". As you believe the Divine love, cast this torment from you and come at once into the more perfect enjoyment of that Divine grace, which does not extend its favour to you because you are so good, but that it may make you better.1 [Note: G. J. Watch our overview video on the Gospel of John, which breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. Perfect love casteth out fear] Timorem scilicet servilem illum, non amicalem. We are taught, and we believe, that God is a God of benevolence. Yet, till we are made sensible of our lost condition as sinners, we shall in vain hope to attain the peace and happiness of saints. BibliographyRobertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 4:18". We are taught, and we believe, that the world was ordained for the production of happiness. Of all that the New Testament says of God, James Mill chose to seize only on that. Torment is a faulty translation. Temple (F.), Sermons Preached in Rugby School Chapel, ii. The apostle here contemplates a universal dominion of fear, wherever there is not the presence of active love. But now there is something else that casts out fear than perfect love, and that is--perfect levity. 2. fol. The law of God shows us what our duty is, but gives us no power to do it. Cowardice and anxiety, perplexity about life, trembling about the future, the bowed head and the burdened heart--these are not the “fruits of the Spirit.” “Perfect love casteth out fear,” sets our faces as flints, if need be, before human opposition, lifts us up above being at the mercy of events and circumstances, rises coping with and mastering the fear of death, soars on lofty wing high above the darkness of the grave, and, as the apostle in the context tells us, is made perfect herein, that we have the boldness in the day of judgment. Here’s my answer: the sin that does not lead to death (that is, eternal death or damnation — which is what I think John means) is any sin that we commit that we are, by grace, capable of truly confessing and repenting from. In my text he explains and enlarges that statement. Cast it off then; and seek to enjoy the full liberty of the Gospel. 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