"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)
I used to read this passage with a sense of judgment sometimes.
There were times when I was still afraid, or in which I would feel fear.
I then began to think: "I am not loving enough. What do I do to change this?"
The sense of fear was so great, and I wanted to do whatever I could to get rid of it.
The more that I learned that the New Covenant, the Gospel is about God's love for us, not our love for God, I began to realize that this perfect Love is not ours, but God's.
And yet still ... there were times when I felt great fear, and I didn't understand why.
The answer to this problem is found in the previous verse:
"Herein is our love made perfect (lit. love perfected among us), that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)
How is love perfected? That God sees us in His Son, that we have the same standing as Jesus, God's own Beloved Son? We are just like Jesus before our Heavenly Father!
We are Beloved, we are not shamed!
He does not see our sin, our struggles. He is not put off nor does He put us away if we fail.
We are accepted in the Beloved! (Ephesians 1:6)
This part was harder for me to settle in, or at least harder than I realized.
I had believed that I had to fix my feelings, get rid of my fears, not have bad thoughts so that I could come before God. If I was fearful, then I feared all the more that His presence, His life would not flow through me or in me. That lie created so much bondage in my life.
But now I realize that God the Father's love for me is perfect, because the work has been perfected at the Cross, and this work's perfection culminates in ... I am like Jesus to God my Father. He sees His Son when He looks at me!
That is love perfected, and when we understand that, all traces of fear are cast away. We know that He, our loving Father, our Daddy God, is on our side, and we never have to wonder if He has something sinister or untoward planned for us.
Furthermore, when I have a sense of fear or anger, or when I am struggling with something else, I know that I can come boldly to Him and seek His help, His mercy and grace, in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)
As soon as anyone of us understands that God will never condemn us for our sins against (Isaiah 54:9; Romans 8:1), we need never fear God again. We need never fear His wrath, His punishment, because He is now our Father, and all our sins have been put away forever!