There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
This past week’s lesson we have circled around John’s repeated lessons adding emphasis and impact. He begins this chapter saying do not believe everything you hear, but test your teachers and prophets to see whether they are from God. Then he gives us a simple but complete assessment; do they confess that Jesus came in the flesh, from God as the Messiah? Or do they deny that Jesus is from God?
This seems simple but it is a deep truth with a profound impact on what we believe and how we live our lives as a result of believing. John was being very specific in his teaching, we are to believe that Jesus was and is God in human form, come to earth to offer himself as a sacrifice for our redemption. The holy, merciful and just God humbled himself to teach us how to live and to save us from our deep steeped sin – the hard truth is that we need a Savior because we are sinful, so God loved us enough to die in our place.
John continues offering assurance that we as believers can discern the false teachings from the truth. The false teachers teach from the world’s perspective, the world listens to them and likes what they hear. John says we are from God, the person who knows God recognizes his voice and listens to God. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth verses the spirit of falsehood. It is not what the world says about God, it is what God reveals about himself. Jesus says, if anyone loves me he will obey my word and my Father will love him and we will come to him and take up residence with him. God’s presence is with us constantly helping us to discern.
John continues teaching on love; he uses various forms of this word forty three times in this letter. “Let us love one another, because love is from God and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God”. God is love, God’s essential nature is love and he loves in all his actions. Next begins some hard teachings for us, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts” Hebrews 12:6. Discipline and chastisement are not words we like to associate with a loving God. Furthermore, the world has redefined love into a weak counterfeit of God’s revelation, demanding approval and tolerance over discipline and chastisement.
We know that we are in Christ and Christ in us because he has given us his Spirit; we testify to the truth that God the Father sent His Son into the world, to be the flesh and blood Savior of the world. If anyone confesses this truth, God will come into his life and he will know God and believe in the work of his Son, Jesus. As God resides in you His love will reside also and you will demonstrate God’s love in your life.
John concludes this section with powerful statements, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, we love because he first loved us and if anyone says I love God and hates his fellow Christian, he is a liar”.
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4