“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18
Reading the Bible you become aware of what appears to be conflicting thoughts concerning fear. There is the oft stated command to fear God compared to the verse above to cast out fear through perfect love. This apparent contradictory counsel is found throughout the Bible, but is reconciled by the contexts in which the word “fear is found and by understanding what God is asking of you when he tells you to fear Him. If you do not know the meaning of this kind of fear you may not know God at all. The very first thing we hear about that remarkable man Job when he is first introduced to us is, “he feared God and shunned evil. This is the primary mark of his godly character: to fear God and depart from evil. Yet God has made us with the emotion of fear within; to fear death, to fear danger, to fear evil, and to fear those who perpetrate evil. C.S. Lewis writes, “The act of cowardice is all that matters; the emotion of fear is, in itself, no sin (The Screwtape Letters).
There is so much in this world to produce fear in you. There are Christians throughout the world who fear death for themselves, but especially for their own children in the most evil and gruesome ways. Today we have brothers and sisters in Christ who face physical death every day; an environment of horror that calls for those of us who love these brothers and sisters whom we may know, but in most cases whom we have never even met, to be in daily earnest prayer for them. The militant, besieged church on earth calls out to us for the faithful and tearful prayers of the saints for these fellow saints who are being martyred FOR THEIR FAITH!
We have recently viewed an excellent film which we highly recommend called Trade of Innocents, starring Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino, which portrays the heinous evil of sex slave trafficking which increases exponentially every year resulting in many including millions, yes millions, of young children who live in abject fear every moment of their brief, terribly abused, imprisoned lives. Beheadings, massacres, torture, rape, pillaging, inflamed riots, murderous gun wielders; all produce fear in the hearts of all who do not trivialize the taking of human lives as do other human devils under Satan’s control. Those who discount and ridicule the wrath of God will fearfully face it in the Judgment, unless by the Spirit of God they miraculously cry out for His mercy to transform them as He did the Apostle Paul, who, as Saul, persecuted the followers of Jesus. It is not for us, we jars of clay, to question the Potter’s plan or the way He has chosen to do His work before our eyes, though his ways are high above our ways. It is the condition of your own soul and those whom you love or He puts in your path which ought to focus your personal responsibility and utmost concern; not whether His plan is just, fair, or right in your eyes. “He is righteous altogether, the Psalmist expounds in speaking of God’s character. You either believe this or you don’t., but your belief or denial does not alter the truth of who God is.
In The World’s Last Night, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Perfect love, we know, casts out fear. But so do several other things—ignorance, alcohol, passion, presumption, and stupidity. It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear. Fear works in us to our benefit many times. The fear of not doing well may motivate us to excel beyond what we thought we were capable of doing. But that fear may not be needed when we reach the stage that our best possible effort comes from the ultimate motivation of doing it to the glory of God alone; not concerning ourselves with the praise or lack of praise from man.
Fear drives us to reliance on God and to a passionate and faithful prayer life when we find ourselves in dire circumstances. Fear makes us prudent, when we should not be taking risks. Fear of offense to a neighbor makes us tactful and kind. But the fear that we most desire to be cast out of us is the fear that any man can do anything to us to cause us to deny our Lord and Savior. Iraqi Christians were asked to deny Christ and swear allegiance to Allah on threat of death. Many, many of them chose death. Would you?
Martin Luther when on trial for heresy under threat of the punishment of execution concluded his defense of the true faith with these words, “Here I stand! I can do no other. His knowledge of the truth of God’s Word and his commitment to the authority of the Scriptures; that is, in other words, his absolute (perfect) love for Christ who said, “If you love me you will obey my commands; you will not only hear what I say, but you will act on it, cast out Martin Luther’s fear, and he publicly took his stand for Christ. Jesus said “If you will confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father in heaven. This is the type of perfect love, which will cast out abject fear, and at the same time bring your fear of God into full maturity.
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