1Jn 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.
In some ways I would recommend to you that this subject is one of the top 10 – no, top 3, or let’s just say it is THE TOP subject that shows how we either remain in bondage to evil or how we can be set free from it. However you might choose to rate it, I can confidently say that it is right up there in the most vital and crucial remedies to being a victim or to being set free.
I hope that has your attention.
It’s right there – 1 John 4:18. Fear and punishment. What casts this garbage out? Love. Being perfected in love. In other words, getting a real grip on the love of God in Christ. If you are a Christian, you have passed out of the realm of fear and punishment in your relationship with the Lord. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. None.
And if you are not a Christian, then The Lord Jesus Christ is your starting point. He is the Gate to life and you cannot bypass Him or you will never be free.
Now, let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say Janet is our abuse survivor. She has separated from the evil spouse and the divorce is almost final. He still lives in the same town, drives the same truck, works at the same place, associates with some of the same old “friends.” Now, Janet has to go to the grocery store…. (see where this is going?)
Instead of shopping at the most convenient locale where she used to shop, Janet drives clear across town to buy her groceries. She does the same when she needs clothes, gets gas, or runs other errands. Why? You know the answer, don’t you?
Because Janet still lives her life in fear. Fear of seeing that truck (she is triggered by most every white truck), fear of running across “him,” fear of crossing paths with some of those old mutual “friends.”
Now, I am not talking about a situation in which the victim is actually at risk of being murdered – though we all know there are plenty of those cases. But Janet’s fear is just this – she is afraid that she will see him, or them. She has wondered a thousand times what she will say if this ever happens. But nothing seems right even if she rehearses the speech over and over. So, she drives across town and even there, she keeps an eye out.
If Janet is not in fear of physical harm, then what is it that Janet is afraid of? The answer brings us back to this business of punishment. Fear has to do with punishment. What punishment? The punishment of guilt. It is false guilt, but you know how hard it is to shake even a lie. She has been accused so often and so long, not only by her ex, but by those “friends” who still hang out with him, that she feels guilty quite often and especially when paths cross with those people.
There is only one way to get free of this nasty business so that Janet can one day march right into that same store, go to that same gas station, eat at that same restaurant, and do so in confident courage. And that one remedy is to be set free from the guilt and shame these evil ones put on us. And I can tell you that the ONLY One who can free Janet of this, is…..no, it isn’t Janet. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. As He works in us, as we experience His love and forgiveness for our own sins (which we all have), slowly but surely, guess what? That fear begins to dissipate. Why? Because as the love of Christ in us is perfected more and more, the fear of punishment evaporates more and more.
I know that one of the chief tools that the Lord has used in these things in my own life was not some earth-shaking mountaintop experience, but the regular, in-depth study of His Word and the sanctifying work of His Spirit in me. The process moves along unseen – you may not even realize it is happening. But the time comes when one day you realize – hey, I’m not afraid anymore. So what if I run into those enemies – their accusations are false and cannot harm me any longer.
You can immerse yourself in God’s Word by taking advantage of the many excellent teaching tools we have available to us. Load the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust app on your computer or phone and start listening, Bible open, to his sermons. Reading the sermons of John Calvin has been a giant help to me. Or come and join me as I teach mid-week studies through Ephesians, Revelation, and Romans on sermonaudio.com/crc or at our youtube channel, Light for Dark Times. As Lloyd Jones so often said, “stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself.” What he meant was, talk the Word of God to yourself rather than continually replaying those false thoughts the enemy throws at you.
It really is true. Fear and punishment (guilt) are destroyed by the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. He is the only remedy we need.