Fear is a gift. 

It’s not a feeling we enjoy. Although, I did used to really enjoy scary movies. Not so much because they scared me, but I enjoyed being startled. It probably makes me weird, but I like that rush of adrenaline from getting surprised. I’m not sure what that says about me. 

But fear is a gift. If we didn’t have fear we might walk right up to a buffalo to try to pet it or take a selfie with it. Hey, some people must have desensitized themselves to their fear. Because fear should have kept them from doing that. Logically, when you see a two-thousand pound animal with horns, you probably shouldn’t think: “Ooo, cuddly, snuggle animal that I want to pet.” You should probably think: “Run!” Or “meat”. Have you ever had Buffalo? It’s delicious. 

When fear is working properly, it tends to save your life. However, fear can hijack your brain. Fear is triggered by some sort of stimulus that leads to your body taking measure to protect itself. Your thalamus receives signals from your 5 senses. If your thalamus determines there is a real threat it sends a signal to your amygdala which triggers other responses like telling your hypothalamus to start sending blood to your muscles you need in that situation. 

If the stimuli isn’t life-threatening, your amygdala sends a signal to the prefrontal cortex which alerts the hippocampus which deals with memory. So your brain starts scanning for similar situations to determine just how afraid you should be. Then it ratchets up your senses and queues up your fight or flight response. 

And all of this happens in milliseconds because this part of your brain processes information 40 times faster than the logical part of your brain. Of course this is by God’s design for our benefit and protection. But the problem comes with that speed. Because once your brain is triggered by fear it short-circuits the logical and rational parts of our brain that can help us make an informed decision. 

So, fear is a gift. But, fear can be hijacked too. If I wanted to get you to do something with no concern for morals I would figure out how which fear to trigger that would be the most likely to get you to do what I wanted you to do. In fact, in our world right now, our media actively hijacks our brain all the time. Why? Because if they can get us to bypass the logical part of our brain and get us to react impulsively we might do things they want us to do without giving us time to determine if that thing is the right thing for us to do. 

We’ve talked several times this week about how love does away with fear of punishment. “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.” (1 Jn 4:18) When we are in right standing with God, we don’t need to fear God’s judgement or punishment. 

But fear is a good thing. If we are afraid there is usually a reason. Sometimes people use fear to manipulate us, but God never does that. God will never use fear to get us to do things. So if we are fearing punishment from God it’s probably there for a reason. Sure, it might possibly mean that we aren’t thinking correctly about God. But the truth is more likely that we aren’t loving others like we ought. 

1 Jn 1:5-7 – “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
The Blood of Jesus is what purifies us from all sin. Not our works.  It’s always Jesus that saves us, never ourselves. Salvation is never accomplished by our effort. Ever. Never, ever, ever.

Also, the blood of Jesus is available to anyone who believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that Jesus is the Son of God. It’s not on the basis of works so that no one can boast. It’s on the basis of Faith in Jesus. 

The blood is available to everyone. The blood is what purifies us. But…

…It would appear that the blood purifies those who walk in the light. “If we walk in the light.” In other words it’s a continent statement. If…then. If you do this, then this will happen. “If we walk in the light” what will happen? “We have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.” 

So then, what does it mean to walk in the light? Well, John helps us answer that question in the next few verses. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

There’s that word confess again, which means to agree with reality. If we confess our sins, if we agree with the reality that we have sinned the God forgives us. If we claim, which would mean that we verbally say that we have not sinned, then we are actually making God out to be a liar. 

So then, it has to do with what we are embracing. Are we embracing the truth, A.K.A. reality? Or are we embracing the lie? In other words, what do we really desire? Remember the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life that John talks about in chapter 2? Do we desire truth or deception? Do we desire God’s ways or our ways? Do we desire to become love or do we desire to be the center of everyone else’s love? 

As hard as it may seem, it would appear that John is saying that while Jesus’ blood is offered to everyone, its effectiveness is limited to the people who embrace the truth. 

Woah! Are you saying that Jesus’ blood is limited in what it can do? Well, yeah, I guess I am. It sounds sacrilegious and even blasphemous. But, Jesus’ blood doesn’t purify people who don’t want to be purified. It’s capable of doing so, but God won’t force his salvation on anyone who doesn’t want it. If we don’t want to walk in the light, if we would rather embrace the lies and deception, if we would rather deny the reality of God’s son and choose to do things our own way – God’s blood does not purify us. 

For love to be perfected in us, completed and accomplished in us, well, we have to go beyond what we want and we have to even go beyond feeling good thoughts for others and feeling good feelings about people who are hurting. We don’t strive towards flawless perfection in our own strength to prove we are capable of doing it on our own. We don’t earn our salvation through perfection. But for love to be completed in us it must visibly display the hallmarks of a transformed heart. 

Because love transforms. Jesus literally transformed from the word and became flesh. Love became human. Love denied its rights and became and inferior being. Love transformed Jesus into man that would be sacrificed. Love permanently transformed Jesus into a human form. Love led Jesus to undergo a tremendous transformation for people living in rebellion. 

Now, what do we do with fear? Well, fear can be a good thing. If we’re fearing God’s judgement and punishment, it’s there for a reason. And that reason is to get us to confess whatever is in us that isn’t light. The reason is to get the darkness out of us so that God’s light can come to life in us. The fear is there for a reason. So, instead of trying to justify and rationalize away the fear we need to ask God to 23 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps 139:23-24) 

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