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1729. Perfected In Love

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2024 6:00 pm

1729. Perfected In Love

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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March 14, 2024 6:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit concludes the discipleship series entitled “Truth and Love” from 1 John 4:17-19.

The post 1729. Perfected In Love appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.


Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is continuing a study series entitled Truth and Love, which is a study of the book of 1 John. Let's now listen to today's message, which is the last of the series, from 1 John 4, verses 19-21, entitled True Love.

Well would you take your Bibles and turn with me please to 1 John chapter 4, verses 17-19. So I've been waiting all semester to get to this sermon, and am so delighted and excited to be able to preach the truth that's set before here, and I hope that you'll listen carefully. It will take your concentration to think through what I'm going to say, but it is one of the most life-changing, powerful truths I think you'll ever hear and grasp, especially at this stage in your life. Without a doubt, in my estimation, one of the most amazing transformations that I've ever seen and takes place on a campus like Bob Jones University is the maturity that happens between an incoming freshman and an outgoing senior. It's a wow factor. The fact is there are lots of seniors that will look at the freshman and say, was I like that?

And the answer is, yes you were. The change is remarkable. However, there is a far more remarkable change that takes place in the life of a Christian when they grow and they mature in understanding and experiencing God's love. In 1 John chapter 4, we have been addressing the theme of truth and love. Now we come this morning to really digging into what John is setting forth as the goal, the end game of the Christian life. And I mentioned it earlier, I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, that all of the New Testament authors believed the exact same thing about how a person is saved and how a person is sanctified.

They are consistently the same in their doctrine, but they are different in their emphasis. So Paul emphasizes that the goal of the Christian life is to become like Jesus. James emphasizes that we are to become wise. Peter says we are to be holy. And John's emphasis is that we become perfected in love. So let's read 1 John chapter 4 verses 17 through 19 as we talk about the goal, the end game of the Christian life, and that is to be perfected in love.

Verse 17. Herein is our love made perfect that we may have boldness in the day of judgment. Because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear because fear hath torment.

He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. The theme is clear. It's about our love being made perfect. We talked about God's love being made perfect two weeks ago when God's people love each other. But today the focus is different. The focus is actually on you. And that is God is wanting to do something inside of you to mature you as a Christian.

And what is that? That maturity is that our love is made perfect. Perfect love casts out fear. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. So what is the idea of the word perfect?

Well obviously it doesn't mean sinless or without error or fault. It means maturity. It's the difference between childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. It is becoming mature as a child is fully developed into an adult. And so John is saying here that the goal of the Christian life is for us to be grown ups spiritually.

Where we are no longer in diapers. That we are no longer toddlers. And we're not even in the place where our body is still maturing, but we have reached that stage of maturity and a grown up spiritual adult is one whose love has perfected or it has matured. And so in the following verses that we looked at, read this morning, John is directing our attention towards the goal of perfect love and he reveals that a believer has reached the state of maturity when two things happen. And that's what we're going to talk about. The first or the main point is that our love has been perfected when we are able to look towards God's future day of judgment with confidence.

Let me say it again. When we are looking forward to the day that we know that's going to come where every one of us are going to be judged and we can look at that day not with fear, but with confidence. The second point is that when our love is perfected, it delivers us in this life from living our lives in a self-enslaving fear. That our lives are not controlled by fear, but our lives are being controlled by love. So let's look at those two points this morning.

The first is this. Perfect love allows you to look towards God's future day of judgment with confidence. Look at verse 17. Here it is our love made perfect that we may have boldness or confidence in the day of judgment. Now the New Testament is clear. The Bible is clear. It reveals that all of us are going to get judged.

Okay? You know what judgment day is? That's called final exams.

When you're going to be judged on the knowledge you have when you take those exams, and let's be honest, it can be a very fearful experience. The Bible says in Romans chapter 2 verse 16, he says that God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. And John has already talked about God's judgment on his own children. Look at first John chapter 2 verse 28.

He says that now little children abide in him that when he shall appear we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming. When I was a freshman, excuse me, when I was a sophomore in college, I had just become a Christian. I got saved my freshman year. The fact is I got saved 48 years ago yesterday.

And so my first five or six months of my Christian life, you really wouldn't have known I was saved, but I really believe I was saved. I was just a growing Christian. And my sophomore year of college, I went to, at that time of my life, the legal drinking age in South Carolina was 18 years old and so I drank. I drank alcohol.

I drank a lot of alcohol. And so I went to a local bar my sophomore year of college and I walked in and sat down and I was with some friends of mine and I was a Christian. And I'd been studying the Bible and I'd been listening to sermons and I was growing in the knowledge of God. And I'd learned about the fact that Jesus could come back at any moment and he would take me up to heaven. And I remember sitting in that bar thinking that if Jesus came back and I went up to heaven, I would go up to heaven out of this bar. And I can't tell you how much I got under conviction and I left the building as fast as I could because I didn't want to be called in there if the Lord called us up. I'm so glad that bar is not there today.

It's a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Everybody knows that we're going to be judged. Everyone in this room. So the question is how can I have confidence? Or I can say it this way, how can I have assurance of my own salvation to the max?

And what is the answer? It's really not on what you do, your actions. It's actually based on perfect love. Look at verse 17 here. And is our love made perfect that we may have boldness, confidence in the day of judgment? Now conversely, those who are living with fear about that day are experiencing torment.

Perfect love casteth out fear because fear has torment. How many of you have ever lived with a sense of torment in your soul that you're not sure if you're saved or not? And you doubt that salvation.

And especially if an evangelist comes and he preaches a sermon and you're not really sure. Am I really saved? Am I not saved?

I don't know. How can I come to this place of assurance and confidence? And he tells us, look at verse 18. Perfect love casteth out fear because fear has torment. The only time, only other time in the New Testament where the word torment is used is in Matthew 25, 46. He says, these shall go away into everlasting torment.

And here's what I think he's saying. The present torment of fear projects the ultimate torment of eternal punishment of the unrighteous in hell. And so John's point is that it is torturous to the human soul like a form of punishment to contemplate the final torment of being eternally rejected by God. Do we live with a fear that God is going to reject me ultimately in eternity? Well, how do I overcome that fear as a believer or the doubts that I have? And the answer is it is as we mature in our love. A believer who is fearful about that day is not maturing. So here's the question then, how then is our love made perfect?

How does that actually happen? Look at what he says in verse 16. He says, and we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love. And he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him, here and as our love made perfect. Now let me just stop here and say, when John writes his words are not like simple. It's logical, but it's a little different. When you read Paul, it's like, you know, he says this and then it's like, you know, this equals this equals this.

Well, John is a little bit different. He remember, he's like, he's like a circle. It's like kind of getting a bigger picture.

It's growing in that idea. And here's what he says. Maturity comes, this perfect love comes by knowing and believing God's love and dwelling in that love. So two things. One is he says, we know and believe God's love. So what does he mean by knowing and believing God's love?

Well, let me just give you some statements. It begins by knowing that all love originates with God. First John four, seven, love is of God. So where does love come from?

He is the source. So if you're going to be perfected in love, it's not about your love. It's about his love. Secondly, knowing that God demonstrates his love in Christ is how we know this. First John four, nine, in this was manifested the love of God towards us because that God sent his only begotten son into the world. So God is love. God has shown his love through his son. Number three, we know that God loves us because his, his, his love dwells in us. Romans five, five, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy ghost, which is given unto us. If I'm a believer, if I'm really saved, God's love has literally been poured into my heart. We've been given a new nature. God's love is inside of us.

And then number four, this is really important. Knowing that all true love towards God is simply a response to God's initial love for us. All right, what does the Bible say? We love him because why? You tell me. Say it again. Say it again.

Say it like you mean it. He first loved us. I want you to think about that.

There's a logic there. We never need to fear that our love for God is going to be rejected because our love for God is simply a response to his initial love for us. Think about that. If you have a love for God today, if you love the Bible, if you love Jesus, if you love his people, if you love, if you love his church, I mean, you really do love that. Okay. Do you really think that started with you?

It didn't. Your love is simply a response to his initial love for us. The source of my love for him is actually from him. And the confidence that I have knowing God's not going to reject me is that the very love that I have within my heart for him is his own love that he's given to us.

Our love for him is a response. And as I begin to grow in that and experience that, I realize this is God's love for me. Did you shed a tear yesterday in church over the resurrection? Did you sing with passion yesterday from your heart about the resurrection of Christ? Did the message confirm in your heart that you do love Jesus? Then is that really about your love for him?

Or is it really his love for you that has inspired your love for him? So as a believer, we begin to grow and we begin to understand this is the evidence of God's working in our life. So we know the love that God has for us. And then secondly, he says it is also by dwelling in that love.

What does that mean? Well, it's the idea of living in God's love. This abiding love, he says, is what drives out our fear of eternal judgment. There's no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear because fear has torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

God has not given us the spirit of fear. This abiding love in us, he is telling us, is what completes God's purpose in our life. God is developing a deeper, a broader, a wider love for him. And as we mature, our love begins to resemble or reflect the love that the son shares with the father.

Think about that. The love between the son of God, Jesus, and God his father, that love is perfect. And as we grow in the knowledge of that love, what is actually happening is we're beginning to resemble the relationship of the father with the son in our love for him.

That's what he means when he says here, notice what he says in verse 16, he says, because as he is, so are we in this world or because in this world we are like him. That is our love has reached its goal when we have lived in love as Christ has in this world. And the reason we have a confidence without fear of his rejection and that we are going to stand before him one day, knowing he's going to accept us is that we have matured in this love day after day after day growing in him. It's just a greater confidence and a greater assurance. So that's the first thing he says about perfect love.

Secondly, and this is really getting down to where we live, and that is perfect love delivers you in the present from self-enslaving fear. For, let's see, I'm trying to think how long now, for 19 years, I had 57 young people travel with us on our evangelistic teams and they ranged in age from 22 to 28. 57 of them, 42 of them were BJU grads. And after 57 different young people, they had a lot of the same patterns. Or if I could say it this way, some of the things that were hindering their spiritual maturity at that age.

So it's just like you're graduating this spring and you come to travel with me in the fall, I've got a pretty good idea what you're going to go through. And almost without exception, they all had, if I could say it this way, insecurities and fears that they had not overcome. And I sat there for almost 20 years in this experience of watching them begin to overcome their own insecurities and their own fears and the way they did it was by the love of God. So perfect love delivers you from self-enslaving fear. John tells us that fear and love are mutually exclusive.

Look at what he says in verse 18. There is no fear in love. Perfect love casteth out fear. We often think, for example, that the opposite of love is what?

What do we naturally think? We think it's hate. In other words, if you hate, you don't love, but actually that's not true because love and hate can dwell together. Because I hate anything that threatens what I love.

So if you're going to mess with my wife, I'm going to mess with you. You understand what I'm saying? We call that zeal.

We call that passion. Well, the Bible says the opposite of love is, is not hate. The opposite of love is fear. Fear does not dwell in the same room with love. The presence of one means the absence of others.

Let me put it this way. When love comes in the room, fear goes out. Have you ever seen somebody sitting in a room when somebody comes in the room they don't like and they stand up and they walk out? Every time love comes into the room, fear always goes out. Perfect love casteth out fear. So why is that? Because they are mutually opposite. And that mutual opposite is seen in this. Fear is the emotion that lives with the anticipation of rejection.

Let me say it again. Fear is the emotion that lives with the anticipation of rejection. If I feel like somehow I am going to be rejected, I mean, let's be honest. You take an exam, are you afraid? How many of you ever get afraid of taking an exam?

Yeah. So what are you afraid of? If you knew you were going to make A plus 100% and if you knew it, would you be afraid?

No, you wouldn't be afraid. You say I got it. But right now you can't say I got it because you don't know if you got it.

So what are you living with? You're living with the anticipation, the potential of rejection. That's called fear. What is love? It is the emotion that lives with the confidence of acceptance.

It is living with the confidence of acceptance. If my wife knows that I love her with a perfect love, then she's not going to live in fear of potential things that could happen. That's why my wife and I don't really have a lot. My wife and I really don't live with jealousy. Because we have a love and that love is confidence and it drives out whatever fears would come. Fear is always focused on yourself.

Love is always focused on others. When a person is fearful, he can't do anything but think about himself. That's why loving and caring for others when you are fearful is virtually impossible. As love increases, fear decreases. So how do we grow in love that overcomes fear?

Let me just be very quick on this. First of all, you have to begin to see or to recognize the way fear motivates you to look for love and security in all the wrong places. Let me say it again. When you begin to see and recognize that the way fear motivates you to look for love and security in all the wrong places, that's when you're starting to overcome your own fear. What is fear? It's insecurity. It's putting your trust in something or someone that can be taken away.

How often do we look to and trust in certain things for a sense of acceptance and security and identity? Things like my abilities, my accomplishments. Did I win? Did I succeed? Was I awarded? Was I honored?

Did I get some kind of a prominence? And that's what I'm looking for for security in my life? My appearance, my good looks. Let me just tell you real straight out, good looks is temporary. I know that's hard for you to understand, but good looks is temporary. At some point in your life, you're not going to be that way.

Is that your security? The approval of others, my friends accepting me. My acceptance, my boyfriend, my girlfriend, even the person that I'm going to marry, because that person can't give you everything that you need in your life. And here's the problem. When we trust in these things, they become very controlling. They can become the calls of wrong actions and bad habits, damaging emotions, failed relationships, moral compromises, and personal idols of the heart. The problem is that none of these things can provide real security because they can be taken away.

They are temporal. What you need is eternal security. You need to know that somebody loves you, not because of you, but because of them. We love him because he first loved us. And when we look to these things, we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of being controlled by fear and insecurity and guilt and bad actions and bad habits. And it's just a vicious cycle over and over and over because we are looking for something or someone to provide for us what can be taken away. And that's why we're insecure.

We've got to find our security in the Lord. When I was a youth pastor for five years in Michigan, my first two years of youth pastoring, God had to work out some things in my life. And one of those was I wanted the teenagers to like me and I wanted to be accepted by them. And finally, one day I dawned on me that that was wrong. It's not that it was wrong for them to like me.

It was wrong for me to act in a way that would be inappropriate in a sense of, in my leadership style. And they wouldn't have known that, but maybe they would have sensed it. In my second year, at the end of my second year of being a youth pastor, it just dawned on me, you know what? God loves me no matter what, and I'm just going to love them no matter how they respond to me. And I literally walked into my youth group one day and I said, you know what I've learned? I've learned God loves me whether you love me or not.

Mmm. But it really was a turning point in my ministry. Ministry is not really about you loving me.

God loves me. Ministry is giving of yourself to the other person no matter how they respond and loving them anyway. And there, I mean, this is such a revolutionary truth, it's hard to get it in 35 minutes.

It takes a lifetime to learn it. But essentially, you have to be brought to the end of yourself, trusting in yourself. You have to come to a point of brokenness over your own enslaving fears. And when you go through that, and sometimes it's very painful experiences, personal failures, disappointments, unfair rejection, various difficulties and disappointments, and these things expose our hidden desires for security through acceptance and recognition. But all of this is to point us back to the fact that God loves us. God wants no rivals in your heart.

Idols have to be torn down. If my security is found in something or someone that can be taken away, then I'm operating under underlying fears. And when we begin to rely upon God's love as being totally self-sufficient for all of my heart's needs, that's when I start to really change. The answer for insecurity and fear is always God's love. God's love is permanent. God's love is unchanging. God's love is eternal. God's love is maximum security. And if I go through a process of God breaking me over the things that I'm putting my security in, that I can learn to trust in the Lord's love for me as all that I need, that is when you are being perfected and loved, and that's the way you overcome self-enslaving fears. Faith says yes to love, and it always says no to fear. And the response of this is life changing.

Do you know what? Many of you, all of you here, have actions in your life that are rooted in your fears that create all kinds of problems. And what God's going to do is He's going to break you over those fears because He actually wants you to know His love. And when you begin to understand His love for you, those fears that you have, He begins to drive away. And what do you become? You become a mature, stable, others-serving believer.

And we become mature in Him. I hope you'll take this truth. I hope you'll think about it. And may God grant you the grace to experience it. Thanks again for listening. We look forward to the next time as we study God's Word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-14 21:20:28 / 2024-03-14 21:30:13 / 10

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