Perfect Love Casts Out Fear Part 4

1 Oct

We’re continuing with our study of 1 John 4:15 – 21 as we provide a context for verse 18:  perfect love casts out fear. Today we’re taking a look at verse 17:

In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world.

“In this” or in some translations this verse starts out with “in this way.”  When we see this phrase we have to find the antecedent.  In other words, we ask ourselves what does “this” refer to?  We have learned that when we receive Christ as our Savior our position is smack dab in the middle of Him and His love (which are one and the same) and with Him and His love living inside of us.

So as a result of this, love is perfected within us.  Let’s start with the word “us.”  If we look at the context, the word “us” refers to believers.  Believers in God.  Believers in Jesus.  Some translations say “among us” as if love were contagious.  I think we’ll see that in a way it is.

In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written – “perfected” does not mean what we may think.  We think that perfect means without any faults and we know—or at least I do—that we fall woefully short of perfection.

So what does it mean?  First of all, the tense in which it is written in indicates a process.  Perfected means “matures,” or “bringing to its intended goal or work.”  (Ibid., 1373)  In other words, it indicates a direction— not an end result.  Little by little, with God’s love surrounding us and His love within us, our ability to love God and others grows.  This type of perfection is NOT faultless but is a general upward trend.

Literally, perfected means “to fill to the brim.”  The opposite is “to cut off the flow.”  (Ibid., 1373)  When we allow God’s love to fill us to the brim, his love within us is achieving its stated purpose which is to make us more like Him and to flow out to others.  But have you ever watered your garden and needed to cut off the flow of the water for a minute?  All you had to do was tightly double the hose and the water stopped flowing.  Sometimes, we do the same thing with God’s love.

How do we do that?  Remember when I said that we live in perfect union with God?  Well, we don’t always live in perfect communion with Him.  What breaks our

communion?  Sin.  Yes, I know we hate that word.  We prefer to talk about “mistakes” or “weaknesses.”   It’s easier to say “I blew it” than “I sinned.”  Sin simply is any thought, word, or deed that doesn’t hit the target of acting in love right in the bulls-eye—so you can see that we sin all the time!  When we sin it is as if we are cutting off the flow of love in our lives.

Does that mean that when I gossip, or am negative, or yell at my kids that God stops loving me?  NO.  Remember, I’m the one who’s cutting off the flow.

If it means that the communion between God and I is broken, is the situation hopeless?  Because it seems that I can’t stop doing those things.  No, all I have to do is repent and ask God’s forgiveness and the hose is unkinked and the flow is restored.  Repentance simply means to turn in the other direction.  God is faithful to forgive us.  Every time.  (1 John 1:9)

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