Walking In Love
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 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.
1 John 4:16-18
Last week, we learned about the relation between ‘dwelling in God’ and ‘loving one another’.
Today, let us move on to studying about the consequences or results of dwelling in love.
CONSEQUENCES OF DWELLING IN LOVE
PROOF OF OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION
As we walk in love, we can be certain that it is the clinching proof of the fact that God dwells in us and that we dwell in God. Let me explain it quickly.
We learned over the last few weeks that there are two kinds of love – natural love and agape love. Natural love arises out of our basic, human instinct. Agape love, on the other hand, is foreign to the human nature. It love comes into our lives from God alone. It is this love that prompts us to live and dwell in love with one another, particularly with those who are otherwise unlovable and unworthy. Therefore, unless God is dwelling in us and we are dwelling in God, it is impossible to love a difficult person.
PROOF OF GOD’S LOVE PERFECTED IN US
Many Christians have reduced Salvation to only God’s forgiveness of our sins and a means to grant us entry into Heaven. Of course, forgiveness of sins is a crucial aspect of the Christian faith. However, it is so much more than that. The ultimate purpose of Salvation is so that we might become like Jesus. Titus 2:14 says ‘who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works’. God wants to purify us from all lawlessness and set us apart for Himself as His special people. Like Jesus, we are called to be unique and different in everything that we do, right from our lifestyle down to the way we love, that is, loving even our enemies.
So, when we dwell in love, it is the proof that God’s love is being perfected in us and that we are being shaped to become more like His Son in every way.
BOLDNESS ON THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
1 John 4:17 says, ‘Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment’.
Let us mull over the concept of the day of judgment briefly.
Often, people don’t put much stock in the idea of a ‘day of judgment’ especially because they don’t think that there is anything beyond death. They see nothing beyond death. But the Bible speaks about an event that will certainly happen one day at the end of time. It will be a formal and public event and will be known as the day of judgment.
On the day of judgment, God who is the great judge will open the books and investigate into each of our lives. The Bible says that God has given the honor and responsibility of judging the world to Jesus Christ. John 5:26 and 27 says, ‘For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man’. Also, Acts 10:39-41 says, ‘And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead’.
Since Jesus is the Son of Man, He is precisely the right person to execute judgment. God has given Him that honor. In this context, I once heard a preacher describe what the day of judgment could look like. He said that all of mankind would be gathered in Heaven and there would be a great uproar among them. Their complaint would be that the One who judges them never ever lived in an unjust world and didn’t face the problems that they faced. So how could He judge them? But then as the Judge walks in, heavy silence befalls them; the Judge was none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. He lived in this cruel world, suffered, was crucified and He rose again and lives victoriously in Heaven in His resurrected body. He definitely understands us and our tribulations in this world because He went through them during His life on earth. Yet He was without sin. Therefore, naturally, He has the right to judge this world.
Matthew 25: 31 says, ‘When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory’. It then goes on to say that all nations will be gathered before Him and He will judge them. This clearly points to the fact that the day of judgment will certainly be a formal event.
Acts 17:30 says, ‘Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world. Because he has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead’. Apostle Paul says that judgment is not a vague concept. It is a real event that has already been appointed a day in the future.
OUR ATTITUDE – BOLD OR FEARFUL?
We might have mixed reactions to the day of judgment. We could either be confident and excited or scared and anxious. Both of them reflect the status of our heart.
A bold heart implies that we are dwelling in and walking in God’s love. As a result, we don’t have to be afraid about standing before Jesus and giving an account of our lives. On the other hand, a fearful heart implies that we have missed the whole point of dwelling in God’s love. Therefore, we can see that John is teaching us that if we are dwelling in love then we can face the day of judgment boldly.
Let’s break it down to understand John’s point.
FEAR OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
IGNORANT AND UNBOTHERED
Even though one would think that every person born in this world would be afraid of the day of judgment, in reality there are a lot of people who aren’t bothered by it. They think that there is nothing beyond death, and therefore they dismiss the whole idea of judgment as mere superstition. Some others have really not thought about it much. They are so busy with the routines of life that they don’t have the time to think about life itself nor about the day of judgment. They are totally oblivious or ignorant about it. That’s why Jesus called the rich man, who was going to buy a bigger barn for his harvest, a fool! Jesus was not belittling his wealth but He was reprimanding him for not having prepared for his afterlife.
Once I went to visit a person who was fatally ill. I had a book with me by George McDowell called, ‘Evidence that demands a verdict’. I offered it to this sick person so that he could learn about Jesus. The man turned down the book saying that he didn’t need to know about any evidence because he didn’t believe in Christ or about a day of judgment. I asked him whether he could guarantee that to be the truth!
The thing is that nobody has been able to or can ever prove scientifically that there is nothing beyond death. In fact there is compelling evidence to the contrary, that there is life after death which includes an appointed day of judgment.
KNOWLEDGABLE AND BOTHERED
Further, there are some others who have some kind of an understanding about the fact that they will have to one day give an account of their life. They might not be followers of Jesus but nevertheless are still conscious of some kind of future judgment. Such people make painstaking efforts to lead an honest and upright life. This is because of the innate capacity for moral living called ‘conscience’ that God has given each person in this world.
Moving on, Hebrews 9:27 says ‘as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment’. There are two appointments in life. One is our physical death and the other is an accounting of our lives to God on the day of judgment. Both are outside our control and influence. They have been pre-booked for us! The only thing in our control is our reaction to them. We can either be fearful or confident about them.
NEVER FEAR THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
Hebrews 2:14, 15 says, ‘Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’. Often the fear of death is linked to the anxiety about what will happen afterwards. But Jesus died on the Cross and released us from the power and fear of death.
In 1 John 4:18, John says, ‘There is no fear in love; perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment’. He says that fear and love are opposites. The two don’t get along. For example, imagine a child who has a dangerous, infectious disease. Now, do you think the child’s mother will stay away from the child and not carry him in her arms for fear of catching the infection and dying? Of course not! Because perfect love casts out fear!
That’s why Jesus told His disciples not to fear the persecutors of their lives, but to fear those who could cause their souls to go to hell. Fear has no place when God’s love is in us. As a result, Paul was able to declare, ‘the love of God constraints me to preach this message of reconciliation. Woe unto me if I do not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ’.
God’s love will bring down every barrier that stands in the way of your success. This powerful love of God in us will empower us to face any situation bravely, including the day of judgment.
HOW CAN WE BE FREE FROM FEAR OF JUDGMENT?
Every believer must realize that Jesus bore the punishment for his sin on the Cross of Calvary. He became our substitute. Therefore when we think about the day of judgment, we can be fearless. We have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ. Now the nature of God is within us. We might not be perfect yet but we are being transformed into God’s likeness. We are now able to not only love God, but also our brethren with God’s divine love. God’s perfect love slowly casts out all fear from us. When we walk in love and love is perfected in us, then fear is totally cast out and we can walk confidently.