How do you overcome the crippling fears of this world? Find a love that is true.
Our first encounter with God should be that of fear.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
The Hebrew word for fear used here means, reverence and terror at the same time. God who is all-powerful and all-knowing is indeed exceedingly worthy of our reverence. We should fear Him.
He responds to our reverence and fear of Him with a love that is very true, for God is the source of all love.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
The Greek word for fear here means alarm or fright. It is still directed towards God. It is also connected in how people treat us. And this is proven with the verses before it. Let’s go all the way back to verse 7.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Our love of one another is based on God’s love over us. God’s love strengthens us towards Him and from that towards one another.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
So, by showing love to each other, we see God. We see Him in action loving us. What a beautiful idea! By loving our fellow believers we are in fact seeing an aspect of God manifested before us. We see God in us loving others!
This is a special and very specific God-driven love that we can share between believers. But what about those who claim to be believers but whose actions prove otherwise? Before we continue on to verse 13, let’s see what John said before verse 7. It is very relevant.
1 John 1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
“Spirit” means wind or breath in Greek. This same word is attributed to the Holy Spirit of God when capitalized. Here it is used concerning demons. But this is more practical when you recognize that demons speak to us through others. So, the outward manifestation of demonic powers are found in the harmful ideas that roam about our culture. Godless ideas always lead to a type of fear that has no response in love. It is the fear found in abuse.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
John is pointing out a heresy that was more common in that time. For us today, this is an example of how the “spirits” of evil affect our lives. But their tactics change constantly. When encountering a confusing situation, we must ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10).
We can also ask the Lord for wisdom in the midst of our trials (James 1:2-5). This would be specific help over a situation whether spiritual or practical. So if you are unsure how someone is speaking and acting towards you, ask consistently in faith. Don’t ask and then change your mind and ask something else. James 1:6-8 makes this point very clear.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Confusion is a path that leads back to fear. And fear that is responded to by more fear and judgment always leads to further abuse. Clarity is a path that pulls us out of fear and leads us to love.
In receiving wisdom or discernment from the Holy Spirit we can see if a person is speaking with a spirit that is of the world (that leads to fear), or are they from the Spirit of Truth that always leads us away from fear and towards God’s love. 1 John 4 continues:
4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
I don’t know of any planer way to say this… anyone who is abusive, in any way shape or form, they are influenced by demonic spirits of fear. Remember, we come to the Lord in fear, for this is our natural response to one so powerful. He responds to our fear with perfect love. Let’s go back to verse 13 of chapter 4.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
And one must confess openly and honestly. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-27) who confess this and do not mean it. You will know them by their fruit.
16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
We fear the Lord, and this is the beginning of our wisdom… but it isn’t the end. God responds to our fear with perfect love, so that we should not be afraid on the day of judgment. And this love of God can be seen today in the love that true believers show one to another. If this love is not being shown to you by a person, they have not been perfected by love.
Your relationships with others should not be framed in judgment. It shouldn’t be, “I better do this or he will do something horrible to me.” This is a fear that leads to abuse. If they abide in God and God in them, they will console you away from fear. They will respond to your fears with a love that is true.
But who is perfect? None but Christ, and we are all being sanctified. But if there is no repentance, and instead a consistent disregard for love, if a relationship is framed by fear… if it is constantly abusive… if it is full of much confusion… these are the demonic tools of the enemy. Such people do not abide in God. They abide in Satan.
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Overcome fear by fleeing from those who are demonically influenced. Flee abuse and confusion in all of its forms. Entertaining them only leads to more fear and abuse.
You can forgive and flee at the same time. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you give them power over you. It means you release them from your vengeance. Does this mean that no vengeance takes place?
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Notice the words, “if possible… live peaceably with all.” Paul is saying that in normal circumstances, if you can, live peaceably. But what if the enemy is abusive? It is impossible to live in peace under abuse.
And God has blessed us with authorities and investigators to act as God’s vengeance against abuse. Turn to them! Give them your testimony. Stop entertaining or partnering with the empty works of abuse.
Fearing a person who is influenced by the devil will always lead to further abuse. There might be moments of sanity, but they are fleeting. Abuse and further fear are always the end result.
Fearing a person who is influenced by God, one who abides in God and His ways… this will always lead to love. For this is the love that God has shown us and we must show it one to another.
How do you overcome fear? Find a love that is true and cling to that love! Don’t worry about the particulars that separate. Love starts with an inward and spiritual yearning. The particulars come out of this. If you try and line up the particulars first… you will never leave abusive situations. Freedom from abuse starts with finding help from a love that is true. Then you make a plan. Then when you act on that plan you can be sure that a love that is true will be there, not matter what. Why? Because this is how love works. It always endures. How can you know that the love is true and that it endures? Well, how has this love acted towards you over the years? Compare it to those who cause fear in you. This is all the proof you need.
Love is not confusing. It is direct and honest. Find people who are like this, chase after them with all that you can. Surround yourself with healthy loving people of the Lord.
Forgive abusers and flee towards love.