1 John 4:16-19
How Love Is Perfected in Us
So we learned from verse thirteen that we have the testimony of the Holy Spirit within that we abide in Him and He in us, and this is because He has birthed us anew. And through that Spirit we are able to believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God.
John now returns to his favorite theme of love. Because the Spirit abides within, because we have been enabled to believe in the work that the Son has done for us on the cross and his resurrection, “we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” A little later, he will say, “We love [Him] because He first loved us.” God is love and our loving Him and others is grounded in His love for us. No one loves rightly until they come to know God’s love for them through Christ, for that is how God has manifest His redemptive love for us. And to love God through Christ is to abide in God and God in us and to love others in a redemptive and Christlike way.
God’s love has another benefit for believers. As we are perfected (made complete) in His love, as we come to understand and experience it in even greater depths, and as the Holy Spirit bathes and sanctifies us through that love which we share with others, we become more confident in light of the coming day of Judgment. Any sane person would fear that great and terrible day—but not the Christian. As he grows in love, that love “casts out fear,” for he knows that the One who judges him is the one who gave his life for him, “for the Father…has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). This is not to say that a believer should have a careless way with God, treating his relationship with the Almighty as a light thing, for then he has every reason to fear. Nor does this mean that the word, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10) no longer applies. It simply means that the more one abides in God, the more confidence or assurance one has before that day arrives. “Fear has to do with punishment,” the Apostle tells us. But if the child does nothing for which to be punished, and if his father forgives him his misdeeds out of his great love for his child, then the child need not worry about coming into his Father’s house now or in the future.
“Whoever fears has not been perfected in love,” and that’s our fault either due to sin or doubt. Repent and know the love that forgives, cleanses, heals, and brings assurance. And strive to be made perfect in love through abiding in the Source of all love through Christ.