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. (1 John 4:18)
The fear spoken of here does not include the fear of the Lord. God’s love toward us would not cast out the very fear which God commands us to have, which He has placed in our heart as proof of his everlasting covenant He has given us. The fear spoken of in 1 John 4:18 is the kind that brings torment.
“…because fear hath torment…”
This word torment is translated from the Greek word (kolasis) and is defined as penal infliction, punishment, and torment. This is tormenting fear concerning eternal punishment, which is why he makes the statement, “that we may have boldness in the day of judgment (v17).”
This kind of fear (fear of eternal damnation) has torment, and does not produce faith toward God in the heart of His children. Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us that Jesus took upon flesh and blood so that He might deliver us from the fear of death. Jesus did this by destroying the devil who once wielded this power over us.
Throughout the pages of the scriptures the fear of the Lord is never spoken of as tormenting those who serve Him. Instead the fear of the Lord in the heart of the child of God is the restraining force that keeps us from departing from Him.
And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me (Jeremiah 32:40).
His perfect love that gives us boldness for the Day of Judgment, and His fear that keeps us from departing from Him, are in perfect harmony in the heart of faith. God’s love draws us into the sweet fellowship of communion and intimacy with Him. His fear draws us into worship in the Spirit with true humility and meekness as we stand in Awe of His holiness and power and glory, for He is the Living God.