This verse is 1 John 4:18. I believe this verse to be up most important to us all in ridding us of our fears. It is a promise from God. It tells us that perfect love casts out fear. I have been trying to understand this verse to be able to apply it to my life. Please help me understand it because it is still peculiar to me. Let’s analyze it together…
The NAS for this verse reads:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. “
The NIV for this verse reads:
“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.”
The NLV for this verse reads:
“Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us.”
This verse is a promise. It promises that perfect love will rid our anxieties. We need a casting out of our fear, and this verse promises to do that. It says that perfect love is the key to ridding our anxieties. So the question on the floor is: What is Perfect love?
The word “perfect” had perplexed me for years in trying to understand this verse. How can I love perfectly? Only God is perfect. How can I muster up enough love to make it perfect love? But I later resolved that since only God is perfect, and God is love, then that means that this perfect love is pertaining to God’s love for us. And if that is how this verse is applied then it can be restated as, “God’s perfect love casts out all your fears.” If that is the case then the only thing left to do is to meditate on God’s love for me. So then casting out my fear is something that God’s love does and not something of my own effort and will.
The rest of the verse says that if we do fear, then we are afraid of judgment/punishment. This is true just analyzing my anxiety. My fear is due to my perception of others judging or criticizing me and was first initiated as me judging myself because I had the perception that others were judging me and I was not living up to their standards. On a spiritual level, this verse could also mean that my fear is tied to my sins and that God is punishing me with fear because of my sin. I have found that when I do sin, my fear is greater and when I repent, my fear lessens, so I have found by experience that this is also the case.
And the last part of the verse says “and this shows that God’s love has not been perfected in us.” So our fear of judgment shows that God’s love has not been perfected in us? So are we to not fear judgment and just meditate on God’s love? Or/and are we to live without sin because then there will be no fear of judgment and we then meditate on God’s love and that will cast out all our fears?
Finally, I believe that this verse not only means to meditate on God’s perfect love, but to also try to imitate it. For our imitating His perfect love will perfect the love in us, I think. So when I go out, I need to focus on loving the people, places I am fearing, and also focus on loving myself. I have to also focus on loving God and increasing my love for God then it will all come together as perfect love, I think. But as much as we try, I don’t think that we are capable of perfect love, so I think that the main thing is to focus on God’s perfect love for us, which will cast out all our fears. Whatever the case, this verse is a promise and we need to depict its meaning in order to apply this powerful verse to our lives. Please help me in understanding this verse. God bless.