1 John 4

Letters of John   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
0 ratings
· 1 view

God’s love frees us from fear and frees us to love others

But sometimes that is hard to do.
There is a story that reminds us how much fear can overtake our lives and how much time we spend trying to keep up with it.
Oscar Wilde wrote the picture of Dorian Gray to explain this idea.
The story is told about Dorian gray who, one day, sits for a portrait (selfie) and there is some kind of enchantment in the finished painting where it begins to take on the nature of his actions and behavior instead of the man, Dorian, himself.
Whenever he acts selfishly or chooses himself over another person, the painting becomes more and more disfigured. But over years, Dorian never ages. The painting does.
and you think partway through the book how great! He just has to hide the painting away so no one sees it including him and all will be well.
You see how sin and brokenness affect his life through the painting, but it never seems to affect him. He had hidden the painting up in the attic so no one else would see. He hid himself.
But it eventually catches up to him. Eventually he can’t hide any longer.
And that is when everything unravels.
He becomes fearful.
When he realizes that someone else may find the painting, he begins to get angry. He is fearful. He blames the original artist who painted the portrait and kills him in cold blood. He then blackmails someone else who finds out and that person ends up killing himself.
It seems like fear has paralyzed Dorian, so much so that he lashes out in anger. And he blames everyone around him for his own action and his own portrait.
Until he removes everyone in his life, some of them violently. And the end of the story is Dorian looking at the disfigured painting of himself, that he has hid from everyone else, and it turns out, from himself. And he takes a knife and slashes the painting. The book ends with Dorian’s death.
Dorian is so overrun by fear that it cripples every relationship around him and he literally ends up destroying himself.
EVerything catches up with him.
Fear will run faster than you do.
And I’m not talking about jump scares or fear of the dark.
I’m talking about a fear that paralyzes. It is a fear of punishment or a fear of being found out or a fear of being known.
And when we fear, we cannot love.
That atrophies.
have you ever thought about the opposite of love? Is it hate? Is it anxiety?
The Bible tells us here that the opposite of love is fear.
We are freed in Christ through His love to be able to follow Him and not be bound to ourselves.
If you are in Christ, if He has taken responsibility for you in Salvation, if you are justified in His work at the cross, and you are now in Him, you belong to Him. You are a resident of His house, that means when you interact with people around you, you bring what God has into those relationships.
we don’t have to outrun fear because we have One who has already done it
When we spend time with God, when we understand who He is, we both encounter and offer His love. And when we understand what He is like, we understand what it is He is bringing back together through His love.
That is how perfect and pure it is. It is so good it actually drives out fear
The characteristic of the Christian is not fear.
It is love.
if you’ve ever struggled to outrun fear we are going to look at the One who has outrun and destroyed it on your behalf
that has freed us to actually love others
1 John 4:18 ESV
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.

So we can know the love of God

Love is not an abstraction. It is activity. We can see and know love.
God has revealed Himself as love. He is the source of it. And even more so, God is not just an example of it, God is it. His very essence is love itself.
necause of the example of Christ we can look see and understand what the love of God is like, actually. We can look at people, events, places and say that looks like God.
I’d love for us to be a church that continually says that’s what the love of God looks like.
1 John 4:7–9 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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.
We know God is love through what He has done in Christ. Christ is the image of God Himself, and He alone has shown love in taking on all sin for our behalf. Christ broke so that we would not have to.
that is the image of love. That someone will do the breaking so we don’t have to
He is our source and example. We come to Him to experience and know love and we see what it means to love from Him.
If you have experienced the love of God, if you have encountered Him, the response is to do the same to others.

So we can act within God’s love

Love is also understood as that which stands against brokenness.
We are perfected in it.
This is why Christianity matters. We are never more human than when we are acting in love toward others.
We are never more like Christ than when we are acting in love toward others.
John is saying that it is not enough to say I love God. It is only enough to act on the love we have experienced.
A number of years ago we were driving through Kansas City, MO. I knew I would likely not be driving through there again anytime soon so I had one thing on my mind: BBQ. And so I had loaded up three BBQ restaurants in my app. And we went to the first one. Line was too long. We went to the second one. IT was a mom and pop place and it was literally only the mom and the pop running it. We waited at a table for about 30 minutes and decided to get up before eating when I noticed no other tables had food and I heard the husband and wife arguing loudly in the kitchen.
My family was over the idea of BBQ but I was not. I dropped them off at the hotel and went to the third place. I got there and the line was about an hour but I was committed. I waited in line and the longer I waited the hungrier I got. And by the time it was my turn to order I started ordering BBQ by the pound. I got a whole bunch of options and it was all wrapped up in butcher paper. I was so excited I drove back to the hotel. Our rooms weren’t ready yet but the kids were swimming so I went and got them. I got everything out but realized three things. There were no tables available, we put the food on an ottoman in the lobby and crouched around it like animals. I had no plates and no silverware. So we were eating like cavemen in the lobby of this nice hotel. But the BBQ was worth it.
I am a big proponent of doing what you can to experience and explore the local culture. When you go somewhere that is known for something, you try that something out. You bring that something back. When I go to WI what do I bring back? Cheese. 100% of the time. I was in Albuquerque and found green chiles, Ohio and got skyline chili. You participate in what the local area offers.
When we go to certain places we take part in what that place offers. Whether food or culture or language or celebration, we participate in it.
What happens when we abide with God? When we enter into life with Him? What does it mean to spend our lives in God, following Him in our day to day lives?
What is it that we bring back with us?
If you are following Christ this morning, what are you bringing back with you to those around you?
What it is you are near you offer. God tells us if we are near Him, we will offer what and who He is.
1 John 4:13–16 ESV
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 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.
If God has loved us enough to free us, our love should bear the same characteristics
Here is a metric. If you are compelled to either fight something or run from something, you are enacting a fear response, not a love response.
If you don’t want to love someone else. If you disagree with them so vehemently that you are willing to maintain enmity, then please just be honest. Don’t disguise it in Christian virtue or Christian truth.
When we do that John calls it lying
1 John 4:19–21 ESV
We love because he first loved us. 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. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
At least be honest. If you are unwilling to work on loving another. Be honest, repent and deal with your hatred.
you cannot outrun your fear. Fear becomes anger, anger becomes hatred, hatred only has one outlet. Violence.
God has already taken on the hatred of the world, the violence set against Him. He has outrun all fear so we don’t have to
We are not called to enmity,
but as Miroslav Volf says,
We are to have enmity toward enmity.
Hate your own hatred.
Jesus calls it getting the log out of your eye.
Offer them the same consideration that they were made in the image of God and have the full potential of being a son or daughter of God
The act of love from God is kind of like a prism. When you shine a light through a prism, the light refracts and the light spreads out. Different colors show up from the same beam. When we encounter God in His love, it comes from Him. It is the same love but spreads out to our neighbors.
But we need first to experience His love.
The invitation will be in communion
Remember that He loved first. He outran fear for you. Celebrate that this morning.
take communion. put down fear, put down anger
take up the body and the blood. His example of love given to you.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more