1 John – Chapter 4
How to Overcome Fear with Love
Experiencing the love of God enables us to overcome fear and to develop a deep relationship with Him. It changes our confidence and our ability to walk with God.
Fear Is a Learned Reaction to Danger
Small infants are fearless because they do not recognize dangerous situations and for this reason, they need continuous supervision. As they learn to see that some situations produce negative consequences, they develop fear. Fear is an expectation of negative experiences.
This fear is healthy in the proper circumstances. You don’t want to go without fear in a cage with wild animals or jump in front of a coming car. These actions are foolish. That kind of fear protects us and we want to maintain it.
Negative Fear Is Imagined
The fear referred in 1 John 4:17-18 is fear that we create because of our insecurities and we imagine danger and project negative outcomes when we should not.
It is the fear that we experience because we do not trust God and do not dwell in His love. It is the fear that Adam felt after he sinned (Gen 3:10).
This fear can take many forms: fear of judgment, fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success, etc. It affects us as if the imagined danger is real. It triggers our flight or fight response and paralyses our ability to think and to act properly.
Learning to Overcome Negative Fear
Fears can separate us from God because when we fear, the imagined danger controls us and we are not in the presence of God. This realization points us to the solution to overcome fear.
As you learn fear through negative experiences, you overcome it through a positive one. You overcome it by going in God’s presence. Then you experience His love and learn to trust in Him. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
My Experience with Overcoming Fears
I remember that before I became a believer I experienced many fears and phobias.
After I became a born again believer, I naturally went in prayer to my Heavenly Father when I was fearful, just as a young child would go to his earthly father for protection. It is the natural thing for him to do.
However, I soon discovered that when these emotions came to me, I found victory by quoting and meditating on Scriptures. I had memorized a few Scriptures I would quote in specific situations, and the fears would go away. Some of these Scripture were Roman 8:31, 37, Hebrew 13:6, Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 53:5.
This is how I learned to meditate on the Scriptures. It is very effective.
In time, these episodes became less frequent and weaker. Finally, one day, I realized that I had completely overcome fear in my life. All my fears were gone.
Some Fears Have Roots in Your Childhood.
One fear I overcame without any effort was the fear of flying.
I let that fear in me when I was very young. I remember my father telling me stories of friends he had in the aviation during the World War II. These stories had affected my young mind and I became afraid of flying.
This fear did not go away when I became born again. It made me very uncomfortable each time I took a plane. However, because I did not need to fly very often, it did not bother me too much and I did not really pray about it. I did pray for all my other fears that made my life difficult.
Some time passed and one day as the plane was taking off, I realized that all fear had gone. Praise God, it has not come back.
Experiencing God’s love makes our relationship with Him stronger and deeper. We have fellowship and confidence in Him. We see Him as a loving Father and develop boldness for the Day of Judgment. The way we see ourselves also changes. We learn to see ourselves as His children and to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 4:17, 2:28).
Questions to Consider
- To what degree does this type of fear have a hold on your life today?
- Have you noticed any difference between now and before you accepted Jesus as your Savior?
- How has your experience of the love of God changed over time?
- In what way is fear related to your identity?