1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. — ESV
How many of us feel like we have been perfected in love? Does fear spring up from time to time? Perhaps it is a constant problem. According to what we find in the verse above, it is because we expect punishment and have not received God’s perfect love.
Does A God Of Perfect Love, Also Punish?
Is punishment a legitimate expression of God’s nature? Yes, there is room for God’s wrath against evil and against wicked people. We see this time and again throughout Scripture. But even as we think of this, let’s bear in mind how loath God was to do it each time. How many prophets did he send with warnings? How much time elapsed with evil continuing and getting worse? And rather than being grateful for His patience many took it as a sign of God’s leniency and trampled on His kindness.
My point is, God uses every recourse before resorting to outright punishment. He gets no pleasure from hurting and punishing people—it is simply something He has to do to restore reverential fear. Perfect love is what He would much rather give each one of us.
Ezekiel 18:31-32 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” – ESV
Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? – ESV
So we see Scriptural evidence that God does not wait in eager anticipation to punish people. It is quite the opposite, really. He goes out of His way to bless and show kindness to people, but there are those who refuse His many advances all the way to punishment.
Fear Of God Rids Us Of Other Fears
So if we live in the reverential fear of the Lord, and tremble at His word, we have no need to think that a blunder here, a mistake there, and a falling into sin now and then, is going to arouse and engage God’s wrath. It might bring forth loving correction, but that brings us up, not down. It is in His nature to restore and heal. Let’s just not put Him to the test. And let’s not allow the enemy to portray an inaccurate picture of the loving God we serve.
And I know we’ve all heard many reminders of God’s love for us. But perhaps each one brings the full revelation a little closer to our heart from our head. I hope and pray this post can be one of those reminders, for myself and all who take the time to read it. And as it moves a little deeper into our hearts, let’s allow it to remove more and more of the fear we have in there. It may be a process, but God wants bold people in His army, not fearful ones, so the process is worth it!