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 Perfect Love Casts Out Fear 2.0

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Statesman63
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PostSubject: Perfect Love Casts Out Fear 2.0   Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:34 pm

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear 2.0

I wrote about this before and it had many hits. I forgot what I wrote and am not referring to it. It’s time for me to redo it because I have a much clearer understanding of what this verse means now. I kind of remember during the initial write-up that I was somewhat searching for the answer while writing what I understood about it. Now the fuller meaning has come to bear. I see how it works, what it means, and how to apply it to our anxiety. Of course, the verse at hand is 1 John 4:18, which reads, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” You may be thinking: ‘It would have been nice to have had this verse before anxiety so that it might have prevented fear and I would be able to maintain peace for a lifetime.’ But this verse assumes that you do have fear because it is about casting it out.

First of all, I hope the reader now understands, having read about truth, to apply truth to this (and all) Scripture. Let’s talk about the truth of this verse first. We find 2 superlatives here: “perfect” and “all;” that is, perfect love, and casting out all fear. I hear you saying, “Wait a minute! It does not say that perfect love casts out all fear.” Yes it does because the first part says, “There is no fear in love.” Since there is no fear in love, then that denotes that love casts out all fear. Again, apply truth: This verse is true regardless of how you feel. This verse is true even if you are currently filled with fear and not seeing it. It is true because God said it. Even if something is not true, it becomes true when God speaks it. Before the universe existed, its existence was not true until God spoke it into being. All of God’s Word is true. For all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Prophesy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). God and His Word are the origin of all truth. Every verse in the bible you come across is true even if it is not your current experience. Truth only comes from God; everything else is an opinion. What we like to do is figure out the meaning of something before believing its truth. This verse is difficult to figure out, even though I said I figured it out; but even without understanding it we have to accept it as true because something that is true is true whether or not you understand how it works. I’ll be the first to say that I do not understand how many things work that God does. The bible says, for example, that God gives a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Let us stop trying to figure out the how before believing its truth. Some things we are not supposed to understand. If peace could be figured out, we wouldn’t need God to obtain it.

Now watch this: the bible says that God’s love itself we cannot understand. Ephesians 3:18-19 reads, “…may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” The sentence (or point) begins in verse 16. Verses 16 and 17 reveals that Jesus strengthens us with power through His Spirit in our inner being, so that Jesus may dwell in our hearts through faith; and that God establishes us in love. Note several things here. God’s love surpasses our knowledge, which means we can stop trying to figure it out ourselves. But we are to know this love that surpasses knowledge. But how can we know a love that is unknowable? Watch what God’s love does: it establishes us in love [together with all the saints], in other words, God’s love puts us in fellowship with each other, thereby we experience God’s love for ourselves through the fellowship with each other. That is why in 1 John, fellowship with each other is so important and connected to God’s love. Also notice from this passage that God is doing everything, not us. God is strengthening us through His Spirit in our inner being. God establishes us in love. God is doing all of the perfect loving. All we are called upon to do is to have Jesus dwell in our hearts through faith and to fellowship with each other in order to know, or experience God’s unknowable love. And this love fills us to the measure of all the fullness of God, which is wide, long, high and deep. That is a lot of filling for our empty souls prior to knowing His love.

Please ponder the truth of 1 John 4:18. Meditate on it and imagine it being applied to your life. Imagine it as so. Because when this verse is applied, you will have absolutely no fear in your life even though it goes against what you are currently used to experiencing. I know that when you experience fear for so long, it is difficult to imagine life without it. You who have been suffering with panic attacks for years; you who haven’t seen a peaceful day in decades, I want you to wrap your mind around this truth. Break down the walls of disbelief and unacceptance anxiety has built up in you, those walls that lied to you getting you to think that this is just how life is and is going to be. To do this, you have to understand that what you currently are experiencing is temporal and not the way things really are (in God’s eyes). Eventually, when you wrap your mind around this truth and accept it, peace will be your norm. The bible says that the Kingdom is not merely words, but power (1 Corinthians 4:20 and 2:4-5). This verse isn’t just talk or high-sounding words: it is real power. God’s word is power because it connects us to His truth. See Psalm 26:3 (NIV). When we are mindful of His unfailing love, we can rely on His faithfulness.

I hear what you are thinking: “I want all of my fear cast out, but I don’t have perfect love. I am missing perfect love for two reasons: 1.) I do not love perfectly; and 2.) No human being on Earth loves me perfectly either.” Let’s talk about this perfect love. Those two comments you were thinking (wink, wink) are and will always be true. Nothing perfect comes from man. Therefore, perfect love is only from God, and that you do have. Although perfect love is not from us because only He can love perfectly, there are 2 verses in this chapter that will lead us to His perfect love. In 1 John 4:12 it reads, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (NAS). If we are striving to enter God’s perfect love, this verse tells us what we need to do to get there. It says that if we love one another (although we cannot do it perfectly because no man is perfect) God will perfect His love in us. Similar to this is the other verse, which is verse 17, but starting at 16b, it reads, “God is love. And the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence on the day of judgment because in this world we are like Him” (a mix of NAS and NIV). Both verses talk about God’s love being perfected in us. God always loves us (Christians) because we are His children and He sent His Son to die for us to redeem us. God loves us perfectly even if we are not loving our brother, but we cannot experience His perfect love if we are not loving our brother. The issue is about whether or not we are hanging out in His perfect love by maintaining our love for the Christian brethren.

Here is a side note: when it says love your brother in 1 John, it is specifically referring to loving your fellow Christians. “Brother” here means those who are saved and are in the family of God through Christ. While we are commanded by Jesus to love even our enemies (those who are not saved); to have fellowship with God in Christ, we are specifically told to love our fellow Christians.

John, the author of this book, has a favorite word. His favorite word he uses over and over again and in his other book, the Gospel of John, is the word “abide.” The word “abide,” in Greek is the word “meno.” It means to dwell, to hang out with, or to have fellowship with. 1 John is often misinterpreted as a book that warns the Christian that they can lose their salvation if they do not love. That is incorrect. Paul said that we who believe by faith in Jesus are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the Day of Redemption. So until that day comes, we who believe in Christ are still sealed by the Holy Spirit and cannot lose our salvation no matter how rebellious we might get. What God seals only God is able to break and not us no matter what we do or neglect to do. That seal is not going to be broken until the Day of Redemption when God exchanges the Holy Spirit who was inside of us for His complete presence and eternal salvation. John assures us in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” John isn’t writing these things so that we can question whether or not we are saved. He is writing these things because we are saved and to assure us of that salvation by telling us how to live in fellowship with God in order to experience the salvation we have. The theme of 1 John is about how to keep our fellowship with God. John wrote Saint John to unbelievers to teach them how to get saved. He wrote the Epistle 1 John to saved Christians to teach them how to abide in fellowship with God. We abide in fellowship with God by loving our Christian brothers and sisters. A Christian cannot lose his or her salvation, but they can lose their fellowship with God. Before we attempt to have fellowship with God, He wants us first to make sure our fellowship with each other is right. If we want God to hang out with us and bless us, we must love our fellow Christians in order to hang out with or abide with His love. If we are out of fellowship with our brothers in Christ then we are automatically out of fellowship with God, and that would mean we would not experience the benefit of His perfect love, which is casting out all fear and having perfect peace. To be out of fellowship with God is to incur His wrath and punishment. His peace from His perfect love is only experienced through our willing to fellowship with each other in love. Again, God loves us regardless, but we do not experience His perfect love outside of fellowship with Him which is precipitated by our love for each other.

I want to stress that God does not fellowship with us when we are not loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. And therefore, we cannot experience His perfect love because we are not abiding with it. If we are not hanging out with it, then it is not hanging out with us. We are not in the same place or vicinity. And it is the perfect love of God that casts out all fear. As I mentioned, God loves you regardless of what you do. In fact, while we were still sinners (before we were saved), Christ died. And God so loved the world (before we were saved) that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. And Romans 8 tells us that Christians cannot escape the love of Jesus, not in life (whatever we do in life), or in trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, or death (watch this: even includes spiritual death because a Christian can live this life spiritually dead), nor angels or demons (Satan cannot trick it away from you), neither the present (includes any sin you are currently doing), nor the future (includes any sin you might do in the future), nor any powers, neither height nor depth (you cannot go anywhere to escape it), nor anything else in all creation (I think that includes you too and all that you do) is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. God loves you because God is love. The issue is not God possibly not loving us anymore, rather, the issue is whether or not we are abiding in His continual perfect love that is always going on. There is the other quality of God as well: His wrath. When we step outside of fellowship with Him, we automatically incur His wrath. But even in His wrath, He still is perfectly loving us. He will discipline us and punish us to get us back on track because He loves us. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son.” God does not spare the rod from us because He loves us. He spanks us because He loves us.

If you think about it, it is difficult to fear others when you are loving them. I am not saying that is the underpinnings of how the fear leaves us via the perfect love verse because it is not, but it is just a factual observation. When I think back of my own panic attacks, I realize that at those moments, I was not loving them, but rather, looking at them as potential threats to my peace.

Thankfully, we are commanded to love our brothers, we are never commanded to like them. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said (I’m paraphrasing from memory), “It is hard to like someone who bombs your home, threatens the death of your family, lynches your children, and turns the fire hoses and dogs on you. But God does not tell us to like them, but to love them. Love is much more than like. Love is understanding, redemptive good-will for all men.” He also said on another occasion (paraphrasing again) that we must love the person but hate the evil deed that the person does. Do not hate the person, but rather hate the system and sympathize that the person was caught up in the evil system through the ignorance that blinded them. We must love because God is love [end quote]. We must love because we were commanded to. And we must love to maintain fellowship with God to be under his blessings and not curses, to have our prayers answered, and to experience in our lives His perfect love and perfect peace.

What we must know and focus on is that God perfectly loves us. He loves us more than many sparrows. I personally find the company of one sparrow more pleasant than some people, but God loves us in spite of who we are, what we do, and all of our quirks. Start focusing on His perfect love. We can either focus on the fear or we can focus on His perfect love and have the fear get cast out of us.

“Fear has punishment.” We are punishing ourselves when we fear. While God is loving us perfectly, we are punishing ourselves with fear. To be completely biblical here, there is a case to be made that God can use fear to punish us, but even when He does that, His goal is not to keep us in fear, but to restore us to a perfect relationship and peace with Him. God warped Nebuchadnezzar’s mind and body. The bible says that God turned him into a wild animal and he ate grass with the cattle. His hair became like feathers of an eagle and his claws like those of a bird. But when Nebby repented (from the little mind he had left), his body and mind were restored to peace. The bible says that Saul in the Old Testament was filled with a spirit of fear when God’s Spirit left him (1 Sam. 16:14). It is called an evil spirit, but we can tell it was a spirit of fear because music from David’s harp made it go away temporarily (1 Sam. 16:23). Saul’s spirit of fear came because of his sin. This is in keeping with God’s word, Psalm 85:8, “God promises peace to His people, His saints—but let them not return to their folly.” The second part is a warning to not return to sin. And it complies with what Jesus said in John 5:14, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” When God punishes His own, that is always a good thing because punishment leads to repentance, peace, and healing. Technically, God punishes non-Christians and disciplines Christians. Discipline has with it correction, whereas punishment is only punitive. Discipline puts us back into His will. But let’s not punish ourselves when God is not punishing us.

What I’ve experienced is this: I could have an anxiety filled mind the entire day while I am outside in public, but the moment I step foot into the house all of the fear is instantly lifted off and it is as if I have perfect peace at home only. It dawned on me that the atmosphere at home is similar to a perfect love setting. What God is saying in this verse is this: “My house includes the entire Earth because I am omnipresent, and everyone belongs to me and you should see them as fellow children of God (family) and the world as your extended house with my love filling it everywhere.” The love from your home and family keeps you calm at home. But there is a perfect love from God that extends beyond the walls of your home. If your home, which is filled with imperfect love casts out your fear, how much more will God’s home (that includes outside of your house) that is filled with His perfect love, cast out your all of your fear? God’s love takes care of outside of the walls of your home you feel protected in. God’s perfect love is everywhere so you can’t escape it. Your home therefore includes outside of your house. You are His adopted child through the price paid by the blood of Jesus. Even when others outside of your house are not loving you, the Father’s perfect love overcomes the hatred of men. Focus on His love when they are hating you. His love overrides their hatred and offers peace in the midst of opposition. Let outside be your extended safe abode and realize that God’s perfect love fills it. There should be no difference in stepping foot inside your home and outside your home because God loves you. You are His family because you belong to Christ.

Some supernovas spew out from their core the stuff that it collects from its surroundings because its intense gravity saps surrounding stuff into it and the supernova casts it out by blowing it far out into space. It usually looks like a white planet blasting white material out from its two ends. In order for it to continue casting the stuff out into space, its surroundings must continue to supply it with material to keep it going. There is what are called recurrent supernovas where they are only active about every 20 years or so when they come across material to grab and cast out. When they are done with that material, they become dormant and calm until they come near more stuff to become active again. We Christians who suffer with anxiety and try to combat it by taking faith in this verse that God’s perfect love casts out fear wonder why it does not seem to work, but in actuality, it is working, but we are constantly supplying our minds with more fear stuff for God’s perfect love to keep casting out. The simple math is that we get no net effect of peace when we do that. The verse works because God spoke it in truth. But if we continue to fill our minds with more fear while His perfect love is constantly casting it out, we don’t notice any difference. What we must do is stop the stuff. It may sound too simple and trite to say, but we must stop thinking the fear! Consider this: when we finally do become completely healed, we will not be having those fear thoughts at all. Those thoughts that we focus so much on now will not be part of our thinking when we are completely healed. So if that is our end when perfect love casts out all fear, then let’s work toward that end by stop thinking the fear thoughts.

Stop it! Stop thinking it! Do not think about the object of your fear when it arises. Those thoughts get dropped the moment you step into the safety of your home, right? In the same way, drop your thoughts as they occur the moment they arise. Maybe your anxiety is different than mine where you don’t have peace soon as you step foot in your house, but surely there are times when you feel peaceful because you are away from the threat that causes the fear. No one has fear ALL the time. What happens is the thoughts were simply dropped. Drop the thoughts without giving any fight against them. Don’t analyze your fear thoughts. Don’t try to combat them. Just drop them! To combat fear by analyzing it to come up with a solution against it is to play into its hand of confusion and enigma. Reject those thoughts completely and let His perfect love cast out all fear. If you do that, His love will take over where you lack ability. But you say, “I can’t help it Statesman.” Yes you can. My bible tells me that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Stop saying what you cannot do. That is not truth because God said otherwise. (Now it is true that you cannot do it yourself. You can only do all things through Christ who strengthens you, not by your own efforts.) With Jesus’ help and grace you can stop thinking fear thoughts. We must stop it at the inception. Stop the subtle small thoughts that lead up to big panic attacks. If you analyze your thinking, you will find that you never start off with a big panic attack. There are always small subtle thoughts that build up and lead to the big panic attack. We must stop those small thoughts at the core before they build up into anything that we find difficult to control. Always keep in mind that God is on your side. His perfect love is continually casting out all of your fear. Stop feeding it with more fear. When we stop feeding it with stuff, our supernovas become dormant.

So I leave you with this challenge today. Go out. Identify the small thoughts you are thinking that lead up to the big panic attacks. And then stop thinking those things. Drop them immediately and focus on God’s perfect peace. Sometimes thinking of an escape route can be one of those small subtle thoughts that lead up to a bigger attack. Do not think of escape routes. That creates fear in itself. It assumes that you need an escape and renders you feeling inadequate. Stop thinking from the realm of fear, and think only from peace as if peace is the only thing you know. If all you knew was peace, you would not be considering an escape route. And never consider another’s peace because that assumes the lie that you don’t have it. Never look at someone else and say to yourself, “I wish I was as peaceful as that person.” Stop trying to figure out how to obtain your peace by analyzing your fearful situation. Perfect peace is not for us to figure out: after all, the bible says that it surpasses all understanding. Panic comes when we try to figure out how to overcome our situation, and this leads to us feeling inadequate without answers. Stop trying to figure out a peace that God says is not figureoutable. All of these small things lead to a big panic attack. Rather, drop all those thoughts, say aloud or meditate on the fact that God loves you perfectly, and God’s love will set your mind to peace. Say, “God loves me perfectly right here in this environment.” Because God loves you, you’re covered. And say, “God perfectly loves everyone else I once feared.” This perfect peace is a peace you already have, so there is nothing to figure out. You have perfect peace; there is nothing to obtain. There is only something to lose. To lose fear is to automatically experience the perfect peace you already have. Anxiety is much easier to drop or turn off than to battle by analyzing out how to overcome it. Trying to analyze it produces enigmas that do not exist in truth. Remember, no situation can be solved in worry. And never get down on yourself. Even when you mess up and have a panic attack, God still loves you perfectly, this verse still works, and His perfect love will still heal you. If you are in sin, repent to start your healing process.
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