For God Has Not Given Us a Spirit of Fear
by Barry Pendley
One may ask, “If God wants us to fear Him, then how does this concept correlate with the Scripture passages that state ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear . . . (Ro 8:15)’ and ‘Perfect love casts out fear. (1Jn 4:18)?’”
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. (Ro 8:15)
The Apostle Paul weaves many great doctrines together in this passage – the doctrines of assurance, eternal security, and adoption. We do not know the exact situation of the Roman believers, but we do know that they are like the rest of us. At different times we wonder “Am I really saved?” “Will God allow me to be doomed to Hell?”
Paul states that we do not need to fear. Literally, as believers, we do not need to be terrified of eternal damnation because we are members of God’s family. The fear spoken of in this passage is the fear of eternal damnation. As believers, we fear God’s discipline and disappointment, not eternal damnation.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. no fear of judgment. (1Jn 4:18)
Again, this passage speaks of having “no fear of judgment.” This is akin to the Romans 8:15 passage. Why does John say that there is no fear in love?
John states that “fear has to do with punishment.” The word punishment is only used here and in Matthew 25:46 where it speaks of eternal damnation. Therefore, what is in view is God’s punishment that is reserved for unbelievers. John’s point is that when the believer stands before the judgment seat of Christ, he will not fear this eternal damnation in hell.
When we, as believers, sin against God, we bring Him displeasure and become subjects of His wrath. But this wrath is loving and fearful discipline. He treats us as part of His family and disciplines us so that we will confess our sins and experience the joy that comes from obedience. For an extended description of God’s discipline on the believer see Hebrews 12:5–11.