Let’s read 1st John 4:17-19, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (NKJV). Let me say from the outset; this passage is NOT meant to produce FEAR or TORMENT in the believer; it is meant to produce BOLDNESS (i.e. confidence) in us. I pray, as we look at each verse, that this is the effect it will have on you.

Verse 17: “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” God’s love has a goal for each believer and that goal is give you “boldness in the day of judgment.” God wants us to see “His perfect love displayed in Christ.” When was that love displayed? We see it expressed earlier in verses 9-10, “In this THE LOVE OF GOD WAS MANIFESTED TOWARD US, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” God knew that we were sinners that deserved eternal judgment (see Romans 6:23 and Hebrews 9:27) but IN LOVE He sent His Son to take our place on the cross where He was made a “propitiation for our sins.” This means that Christ took our place in death and judgment; He was made an “offering for sin” because God’s holiness demanded it and now “God is satisfied” with the work His Son accomplished for us. The believer in Christ will no longer face God’s judgment BECAUSE Christ has already gone through the judgment for us! Two verses that confirm this are John 5:24 and Romans 8:1: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and DOES NOT COME INTO JUDGMENT, but has passed out of death into life…Therefore there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus” (NASB). We can have “boldness in the Day of Judgment” because the judgment for our sins is PAST; it happened 2,000 years ago on the cross of Calvary. We also see in Romans 8:1 that we have a brand new POSITION before God; we are now looked upon as being “in Christ Jesus.” When He looks at the believer HE SEES CHRIST; that is, He see us in all the value of the Person and Work of Christ. That is why verse 17 ends with the words, “As He is, so are we in this world.” Christ is on the “other side of judgment” (having gone through it for us) and is seated at God’s right hand. We are seen “in Christ” so God sees us there in Him. Ephesians 2:6 speaks to this, for it tells us that God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places IN CHRIST JESUS.” Once we see this blessed position, God’s love will have been PERFECTED in us.

Verse 18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has not been made perfect in love.” God’s love and fear CANNOT coexist! Why? Because God’s love casts out fear! I thank God this verse is NOT speaking of “our love for God,” but “God’s love for us,” for if it did depend on our love, which ebbs and flows like an ocean’s tide, we would indeed have fear and torment. But as we saw in verse 17 God’s love has settled the sin question and delivered us from the coming judgment. We must simply BELIEVE IT and then fear will disappear like the dew on the ground with the rising sun.

Verse 19: “We love Him because He first loved us.” Some translations simply say, “We love because He first loved us.” This means that God’s love not only casts out fear, but it gives us the capacity to love. When we are focused on God’s love “for us” it produces love “in us.” This is beautifully illustrated in the Apostle John who has often been called “the Apostle of love.” He was known for his love for the Lord Jesus and others. What was his secret? Ah, he never focused on “his love” but on “Jesus’ love for him.” In the gospel that bears his name he referred to himself SIX TIMES as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (see John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20, 24).  (420.1)  (DO)