God shows us how we can live without fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18, NKJV). In short, if we are living in fear, we are ignorant of perfect love. John is not saying, “Perfect love for God casts out all fear.” He is saying that perfect love begins with abundant and generous love for one another.

It is a fact beyond doubt that we love God, but consider what John says about perfect love earlier in the chapter. “If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love has been perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). According to John, the first consideration of perfect love is unconditional love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

A Christian can say that he loves God, is doing the Lord’s will and is faithfully performing the work of the kingdom. Such a person may be a worshipper and even a teacher of the Word. However, if he holds a grudge or speaks against another, if he shuts out anyone in the body of Christ, he walks in darkness, and a spirit of death is on him. All life, all good works, are out of order in this person. Consider what John says of him: “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now” (1 John 2:9).

If you are interested in living a life without fear, John tells us we must first deal with our relationships in the body of Christ. Indeed, to partake of the perfect love that drives out all fear, this is the first step we must take: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

What is meant by this kind of love? It is more than forgiveness, much more. It means to forgive all transgressions toward us and then offer our fellowship. We are to esteem the ones who sinned against us as highly as we do other members of the body. When we let God’s love dwell in us and perfect us, all fear will be cast out.