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Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." — 1 John 4:18 (NIV)

Fear is a universal human experience; no one can live long without encountering it. While fear itself is not a sin (even our perfect Savior experienced it in the Garden of Gethsemane), it is something we are cautioned against and encouraged to overcome. The only fear we are to retain is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10, Matthew 10:28). In this blog, I want to explore 1 John 4:18 and consider how "perfect love" can dispel the fear we face.

What comes to mind when you think of "perfect love"? It might be a love that we yearn to feel, possess, and share. The idea of experiencing or expressing perfect love seems beyond our reach, as our love is often tainted by selfish motives and agendas. Yet, perfect love does exist—it emanates from a perfect God, who is Love.

To understand this concept, let’s examine the verse within its context:

"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. 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. We love because He first loved us." — 1 John 4:16-19

John addresses the greatest fear—condemnation by God and separation from Him. Even this ultimate fear is eradicated by perfect love. Understanding God's perfect love through a relationship with Christ is key to dispelling fear (see verses 13-16).

If a relationship with Christ and standing in His love gives us confidence before God, how much more can His perfect love help us face the lesser fears we encounter on earth? Here are some common fears and how His perfect love can help us overcome them:

Fear of Rejection: Rejection hurts, but we can find solace in knowing that God will not reject us if we have accepted Christ. Valuing God’s opinion and His perfect love over the opinions of others diminishes the fear of rejection. Jesus himself faced rejection, yet He understands and shares our pain. Embracing God’s perfect love allows us to stand confidently before Him, and in turn, before others. (For further insight, read The Search For Significance by Robert McGee and When People Are Big & God is Small by Ed Welch.)

Fear of Suffering/Death: Suffering is undesirable, yet we might endure it for those we love. Jesus endured immense suffering out of perfect love for us. Romans 8:28-29 assures us that "all things work for the good of those who love Him" and that we are being conformed to Christ's image. Trusting in His perfect love, character, and plan enables us to face suffering with peace, knowing our ultimate fate is secure in God’s hands. Christ’s resurrection assures us that we too can overcome suffering and death.

Fear of Intimacy: This often masks a fear of rejection or suffering. "If they get too close, they will reject me and I will be hurt." Yet, God knows us completely and loves us unconditionally. Accepting His perfect love allows us to accept ourselves as we are, freeing us from the fear of others’ acceptance or rejection.

Fear of Failure: Failing is part of daily life, and the fear of being labeled a failure can be overwhelming. However, those who have accepted Christ are seen by God as holy, righteous, and perfect. Our failures were borne by Christ on the cross, and His righteousness has been imparted to us. Believing in the Son means God sees us through the lens of His perfect love.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." Fear stems from the threat of punishment, suffering, and separation from God, whereas love brings peace, rest, and God’s presence within us. Fear enslaves, but perfect love liberates. Facing our fears through our relationship with God in Christ dissipates them and fills us with confidence, even before the throne of God. We cannot conquer our fears alone; we need perfect love and a perfect Savior.

If you need help facing your fears and applying God's perfect love, call us at 570-402-5088 or go to and click on the "Schedule Now" button. We look forward to walking beside you!

Fred Jacoby, MA - Founder


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