There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. (1 John 4:18 AMP)
This article is an adaptation of a sermon by my husband, Shawn Hoseinee and is featured today in recognition and celebration of our men and fathers. Happy Father's Day!
As if the fear of the Corona virus was not enough, there is probably more fear surrounding the vaccines than the virus itself. This fear has polarized families and entire populations. Those who do not want to take the vaccine are fearful that it will cause mutations, contains microchips, is the mark of the beast or is a form of population control. Those who are willing to take the vaccine are possibly also doing so as a result of the angst evoked from the daily reports of deaths in the 10s and 20s.
We are living in a time and space that is dominated by fear and this is not just an ordinary fear but a fear that is palpable. Covid-19 has changed the world we live in. Everywhere that you go, you must watch your distance, wear your mask, and wash your hands. We are afraid to go outside and when we do go outside we are afraid to come back inside; afraid that we may be bringing the virus back home to our family members. And if your home is anything like mine, when you get back home the first thing that you must do is to go to the washroom take off your outside clothes and head straight to the bathroom. We are now afraid to do things that were once considered a normal part of life, like going to the supermarket and “bussin a lime” with friends and family.
The sad truth is that Covid-19 is just the ‘new kid on the block’. In our lifetime alone there was the SARS outbreak in 2002, the H1N1 Swine Flu outbreak in 2009, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona virus (MERS-Covid), which was first detected in 2012, the Zika virus epidemic from 2015 to 2016 and who can forget the Ebola virus outbreak in west Africa that started in December 2013.
So how do we overcome the fear that is surrounding us at this time? Let us first look at what the bible says about fear. The bible speaks about two kinds of fear, “Phobos” and “Deilia” (pronounced “Day-lee-a”).
The word Phobos speaks about a fear that is reverential and respectful. We can see this type of fear mentioned in scriptures such as: 1. Proverbs 9:10 - “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” 2. Proverbs 22:4 – “The result of humility is fear of the LORD.”
The word Deilia conveys the meaning of moral cowardice and timidity and is never used in a positive context. This is the kind of fear that arose in the hearts of the disciples in Matthew 8:23-26 while they were on the sea of Galilee and a tempest arose. This word Deilia is also used by Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7:
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”
This Deilia fear is prevalent in our world today because of Covid-19 and it is the same type of fear in the topic scripture in 2 John 4:18, which says:
“There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear…”
I want to stop here for a moment and clarify or explain what this part of the scripture means. We all know that light is the opposite of darkness, because when light comes into a space, darkness disappears. The same principle/concept is present in this scripture. The bible says that there is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear. Fear and love are mutually exclusive - they simply cannot co-exist in the same house – and when perfect love comes, fear is expelled. Therefore, contrary to some teachings that the opposite of fear is faith, the opposite of fear is LOVE.
The text went on to speak about perfect love and some versions of the bible refer to it as complete love, full grown love, perfected love or mature love. This type of love must be important to understanding what John is saying in the scripture. To understand perfect or mature love we need to examine the finished work of Christ and the love displayed to mankind.
Christ displayed a type of love towards us that is independent of what we have done; this is a grace-based type of love, a type of love that we cannot earn, a type of love we cannot deserve, yet, it is still given to us. In this type of love, Christ took our unrighteousness and gave us His righteousness. In this type of love, all our sins past, present and future are forgiven. In this type of love, He promised never to leave us nor forsake us and He promised to be with us until the end of the earth. In this type of love, we understand that the war is over between God and man and that there is now peace between God and His creation. In this type of love, there is no judgement because all our sins were judged in the body of Christ on the cross. In this type of love, there is hope; a confident expectation of good. In this type of love, we understand that sin is no longer charged to our account. In this type of love, we are preserved. In this type of love, fear cannot exist because the scripture says that perfect, mature love literally drives it out.
Because the text refers to a perfect love then it stands to reason that there can be an imperfect love. What is imperfect love and how do we recognize it? I believe that imperfect love exists when your love relationship with God through Christ Jesus has a third party, and that third party is fear. The Deilia type of fear, which is a fear of judgement and torment. The scripture says:
“… fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment”
When fear is present or if you are walking in imperfect love, you are constantly expecting punishment. This imperfect love is works-based, that is, if I do good, I get good and if I do bad, I get bad. You are constantly looking over your shoulder expecting God’s punishment. A person with imperfect love lives in a state of continuous confession of their sins because they are afraid that if one sin goes unconfessed, God will punish them. That person lives in a space where everything that happens to them, is credited to some wrong he/she would have done. For example, they drive out the road and hit their car and tell themselves ‘God allowed that to happen because of something I did or said last night’. They believe things like ‘this corona virus is from God and He is judging man for all the wrong we have been doing’. In this imperfect love, there is no liberty and there is no freedom.
When we walk in fear, the King James version of the bible calls it torment, because you are never sure of your status with God. You walk around with a sin consciousness, constantly on the lookout for sin in yourself and in others. Those who walk in that fear believe that they can lose their salvation and that their position in heaven is not secure. They are constantly looking at themselves and their works, when the word tells us to look unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. When we walk in fear, we are constantly trying to prove to God how much we love Him by confessing our love for Him, when the scriptures say in 1 John 4:10:
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath].”(AMP)
So what do we do if we realise that Covid has backed us into a corner and Deilia has taken root in your relationship with God? How do we walk in perfect mature love? The scripture text says:
“…so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].
We need to shift from having a sin-consciousness to a righteous-consciousness; we have to see ourselves as Christ sees us; we have to believe that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; we have to take our eyes off of ourselves and look to Christ. We have to remember that as Christ is, so are we in this world. These truths will grow our understanding of God’s love for us, and this will drive the third person Deilia, out of our relationship, so that we can walk in perfect love.