Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:3-4).
God’s love is perfect. By definition, divine love always abides by its principles of righteousness and never deviates from them (1 Corinthians 13). Freedom is an inherent component of agape love. Without freedom, love ceases to be love and becomes slavery. True love elicits a spontaneous response from within us—without external pressures. If love grants freedom it cannot also use force; neither can it be arbitrary, choosing when and where to grant freedom. Such inconsistencies cannot be a part of agape love. Agape’s freedom has to be absolute. This means agape cannot be violent. And if agape cannot be violent then it can never elicit fear.
This is precisely what John, the apostle who experienced the closest relationship with Jesus, wrote:
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 (1 John 4: 18, 19).
God is perfect love. There is no fear in God’s perfect love. Fear involves “torment.” What did John mean by this? In Greek, “torment” is kólasis:
chastisement, punishment, torment, perhaps with the idea of deprivation” (Strong’s Concordance). Kólasis comes from kolaphos — “a buffeting, a blow – properly, punishment that “fits” (matches) the one punished (R. Trench); torment from living in the dread of upcoming judgment from shirking one’s duty (HELPS Word-Studies).
Fear is a reaction to violence, to punishment. It involves “torment” because punishment elicits an expectation of pain. We live in a system where punishment is used daily by others and by us. The whole world is involved with punishment in one form or another. Many of us believe that negative input is necessary in order for positive things to happen. And many believe that God relies heavily on it. Dare we question this paradigm?
The idea that punishment should fit the crime is central to Satan’s law of Good and Evil. He has peddled this law throughout human history using various means. In India this is known as Karma; in Asian countries, as Yin and Yang or Tao. In the western world the two major disseminators of Satan’s moral law have been Freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church—but they are by no means the sole promoters of this moral law. The serpent “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). The most recent edition of the moral law of Good and Evil has a very benign and appealing title—Social Justice. Ignatius de Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order of the Roman Catholic Church, started this movement based on the reward and punishment principle of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
We need not be deceived anymore, however. If anything contains violence we know it is not of God, since violence has its origins in iniquity, the thing that was “found in” Lucifer. If anything causes or uses fear as a tool for control, we can know it is not of God.
John said “there is no fear in love:” “perfect love casts out fear.” Earlier in the chapter he says, “he who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1John 4:8). What can we deduce from these passages?
No one would question that God is perfect love. Here we learn that fear and perfect love do not mix. In fact, “perfect love casts out fear.” This means that if we have any fear towards God, we don’t really know Him and His perfect love. This also means that once we come to know God’s perfect love fear will be cast out from us and we will no longer be afraid of Him.
John is making a profound statement here. He is saying in essence that there is nothing in God to cause us to be afraid of Him. If we are afraid of Him, it is not because He is fearful, but because we have misunderstood and misjudged Him. According to this verse, if there were anything in God that could make us respond to Him in fear, then God would cease to be perfect agape love.
What grand conclusion do we arrive at? If there is no fear in love, and if fear is caused by punishment, then God, being perfect love, does not, in fact, cannot, ever punish. Period. A fearful response is simply not compatible with agape love. It would be impossible for us to be made perfect in love if there was any fear involved in our relationship with God.
John also states that, “we love God because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Would we ever have been able to respond to God in love, if He had not first shown us His agape love? No. Why not? Without the knowledge of His love, we would always respond to Him in fear. If God hadn’t shown us agape love, we would never know what true, unconditional love is—we would only know the conditional love that comes from the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
We know that human love is fickle, changeable; and we thought that God had the same love as ours. Therefore, God had to first show us His love so that we would see the difference between the two — and He did this through His Son, Jesus Christ. Notice how Paul explains this:
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8, emphasis added).
“When we were still without strength” — morally weak through the moral law of Good and Evil, (we were made weak by him who “weakened the nations”), Christ died for us, “the ungodly” (“the ungodly” are unlike God). We can see here that God was not acting by a merit system. He was dying for the undeserving—the ungodly—and our merits had no part in it.
But Paul takes this point even further. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.” In the selfish and conditional system of Good and Evil hardly anyone would dare to give his life for another, whether he is righteous or not. But perhaps we would dare to give our lives for someone that is good—someone who has been good to us, who deserves our love. We certainly would not give up our lives for an un- worthy person, much less for an “ungodly,” evil person; this is conditional love.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us”—God demonstrates His ab- solute, unconditional love for us. How? By sending His Son to die for sinners, for the worthless. We didn’t deserve God’s love; we didn’t merit it. Yet He loved us anyway and gave His life for us. What greater proof do we need of His love for us?
Once we see the love God poured on us through Jesus Christ, then all traces of fear of punishment should be removed from our minds. There is no punishment from God, and knowing His agape love, this alone can cast out our fear.
Let’s analyze fear in more detail. Fear is a distressing emotion caused by the belief that an impending bad experience is about to happen. Fear creates panic in our minds and bodies, and causes us to engage in all sorts of desperate and even irrational behaviours.
Besides being an emotion, fear also serves as a powerful motivator. How many times have we been motivated to act, simply out of fear? We cannot count the times. Every single human being has had to deal with fear in one form or an- other since childhood, and fear has caused us to feel insecure, unsafe.
John is saying that “perfect love casts out fear,” and what that means is that in God’s kingdom there is no place for fear—that is indeed good news! Satan’s system brought in fear, but by showing us His agape love, God removes our fear and replaces it with love, assurance, security and safety.
Fear came into the earth immediately after Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of that Tree caused them to dread God for fear of punishment. Fear caused them to hide from God. They ran away from Him needlessly—God hadn’t come to punish them. But their minds had become imbued with Satan’s moral law, and fear had obscured, masked God’s love.
Since then, God has been dealing with a race of people who are running away from Him, and He only wants their friendship. The Father of the prodigal son watched the road day after day in hope of seeing His son appear in the horizon. The moment He distinguished the form of His child in the distance, He ran to him and not one thought of condemnation or punishment came into His mind.
Is God, the Creator who lovingly gave us all things, such a monster that He should evoke such terror? Did Jesus’ revelation of the Father promote such dread? The answer is no, quite the contrary. The problem is not with God, but with our view of Him. In fact, we have noticed that throughout the Bible, when heavenly beings communicate with humans, the first thing they say is “fear not,” “do not fear” or “be not afraid.” God has been trying to reach us, but first He has to remove our fear so that we will come to Him and accept life.
Having said as much, whom do you think the following verse is talking about? Is it God or Satan?
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
Those who “kill the body but cannot kill the soul” are human beings, are they not? Human beings don’t have the power to destroy our soul. But who is the one able to deceive us and thus destroy both our souls and bodies forever? It is Satan, of course; but do we need to fear Satan when God is on our side? Look at the next words of this passage:
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).
Some read this whole passage and claim that it is God we are to fear, that it is God “who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” But the context shows that Jesus is telling us exactly the opposite: He is telling us not to fear the Father, for we are “of more value than many sparrows,” who are each individually and carefully noted by the Creator at any one time. If God has such loving concern for sparrows, a lower life form, what about us? We are of much more value to Him than many sparrows put together.
We are to be cautious of those who do not understand perfect love, because they will not hesitate to take us down into eternal perdition along with them. Satan is able to destroy both soul and body in hell through his lies, and he will do so if we hang on to his deceptions about God.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem sitting on the donkey, John quoted the prophecy of that event given by the prophet Zechariah:
Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt” (John 12:14-15).
If we go back to Zechariah we see that the original prophecy says something altogether different:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Be- hold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
Why did John take out the words “rejoice greatly” and insert instead the words “fear not”? Did he interpret the words “rejoice greatly” to mean, “rejoice greatly instead of fearing greatly?”
God was coming to earth in the person of Jesus, and His message was, loud and clear: “God is coming; don’t be afraid of Him! Look at Him; He is bringing salvation, not punishment! He is lowly, humble, and is even riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, a baby donkey that has never been broken in, and yet… look, how that little donkey trusts Him, fearlessly! Even the animals trust Him; had they any reason to fear Him they would not come near Him!” The animals get it. When will we?
The kingdom of fear is described in Isaiah 14:
It shall come to pass in the day the Lord gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve, that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: “How the oppressor has ceased, the golden city ceased! The Lord has broken the staff of the wick- ed, the scepter of the rulers; he who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he who ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted and no one hinders. The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing. Indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, ‘Since you were cut down, no woodsman has come up against us’” (Isaiah 14:3-8, emphasis added).
Who is the “king of Babylon”? Who is he who has oppressed the people of the earth, ruling them with a scepter of continual wrath, anger? The answer is given a few verses down, in verse 12:
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol [GRAVE], to the lowest depths of the Pit (Isaiah 14:12-15, emphasis added).
Lucifer’s grand scheme to overthrow God’s law of agape love will come to nothing, because God’s law is truth and it is eternal. God’s law of love is the only answer for peace, coexistence and life. Lucifer will be brought down to Sheol, the grave. His system of violence itself will kill him and those who choose to follow him.
A future without fear is coming soon, because the kingdom of violence, which uses fear to motivate us into Good behaviour, is about to implode and is coming to an end. Then there will be no more fear:
But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken (Micah 4:4, emphasis added).
A time will come when there will be no one to make us afraid. This means that there will be no more punishment because there will be no moral law of Good and Evil and no more Satan.
If God used punishment now, then He would have to continue using punishment forevermore, because God doesn’t change. And if God used punishment eternally then fear would also exist eternally. But thankfully God does not resort to such despicable and cruel measures to achieve order.
Take a look at the verses that precede the above verse:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken (Micah 4:1-4; emphasis added).
How interesting that it is in the last days, our days, that God’s mountain, a symbol for “kingdom,” will finally be exalted above Lucifer’s kingdom! Lucifer has ruled for six thousand years, and we had thought that his rule of wrath was coming from God! But in the last days, God’s kingdom will be established. This means it hasn’t been established or exalted yet, which in turn means that the rule of the past six thou- sand years proceeded from Satan’s kingdom, not God. Satan had certain boundaries that he could not pass, but he has been the god of this world until now.
Notice what happens when God’s kingdom is established: the people go to Him to learn His ways, His paths, His law. The law of agape love will go forth from Zion, God’s city, and “the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” the city of peace. God will judge us in righteousness, with His agape love. He will have mercy on us and His love will heal us.
And notice too, what happens when we learn His ways, His paths, and His law: we take those instruments used for violence and death and turn them into instruments of peace and life. Plowshares and pruning hooks are gardening tools used to grow life, not destroy it. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Why? Because we have learned the ways of the Lord, we have learned His paths, His law of love! We will sit under our trees without any fear that someone will come and destroy our houses and us. What good news!
Can you imagine how this verse will speak to some communities in the world that have no such peace? Communities whose homes are bombarded in the middle of the night? What this verse is really telling us is that Lucifer will be gone, along with his system of violence that caused fear in us.
Look at this next verse, from Zephaniah:
The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid (Zephaniah 3:13, emphasis added).
Who are “the remnant of Israel?” The verse itself tells us: they are those who “do no unrighteousness”—no iniquity. These tell no more lies about God—“no deceitful tongue.” They see God’s true character of love and al- low Him to transform them back into His image—agape love. These will live in the kingdom of love, where no one will make them afraid.
Perfect love will have cast out all fear. We will see that God is not in the business of forcing anyone into compliance through threats of punishment. But all this is so foreign to us, you might say. How can we understand it, if all we know is this system of punishment? True, how can we know God’s ways? God has one solution to this problem: His Son. God sent us Jesus Christ. Looking at Him we can learn God’s ways. Zacharias’ prophecy on the occasion of his son’s birth (John the Baptist) says
that Jesus Christ would deliver us from the fear we have been in bondage to:
“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:68-75).
And about his own son, Zacharias says:
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76-79, emphasis added).
John the Baptist would “prepare” the “ways” of the Lord by preparing the people—all people—to receive Him who would give us a true revelation of the God of love. John the Baptist would give them “the knowledge of salvation”—he would help them see that their sins have always been forgiven “through the tender mercy of our God.” This is the light he would give “to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death”—those who sit under the shadow of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Did Jesus use punishment in any way to accomplish His ways? Did He ever use fear? The answer is no, not once do we see Him doing that. But, you might say, what about the cleansing of the temple? Didn’t Jesus use fear there?
Jesus didn’t throw tables around; He only tipped them over. This was a symbolic act, not a violent one. By overthrowing the tables of the money changers Jesus was overthrowing their false concepts of God’s character, i.e. that God demanded animal sacrifices before He could forgive us. Jesus was upsetting their traditions and rituals. Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit; that is Jesus’ Spirit, therefore Jesus must have had self-control. A person who is in a rage behaves differently—they are out of control, and Jesus was never out of control. When Jesus cleansed the temple, He didn’t whip anyone or throw tables around in a rage. By overturning the tables He was making a point—he was overturning their temple traditions.
Had Jesus used fear in the cleansing of the temple, the children would have been the first ones to flee the scene. Those who were afraid were coming from a paradigm of violence and fear, and they perceived Jesus from their own paradigm. We see the same thing happening at the second coming; the Bible depicts two groups then. One will be mortally afraid of Jesus, asking for the mountains to fall on them:
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:15-16).
God picked the most peaceful and nonviolent animal to symbolize Jesus. How wrathful is a lamb? The fear felt by this group is not caused by the Lamb— it is caused by what is inside them, their false understanding of God. They believe in a God of reward and punishment and suppose that He is coming to punish them—just like Adam and Eve in the Garden when they hid from God.
Those who know God will rejoice greatly at the sight of Jesus:
And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).
In 2 Thessalonians, Paul says that they will “admire” Him because they have believed the testimony of Jesus Christ about God’s love:
These [WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD, AND WHO DO NOT OBEY THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST] shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10, emphasis added).
Is God able to change our wrong perceptions of Him? Yes, but He has only one way to do it—through His Son Jesus Christ. If we don’t believe the Son’s testimony, there is nothing else God can pull out of His resources. Jesus is the ultimate revelation, the final truth, the true witness, the complete authority on God’s character.