It’s amazing how many passages are currently being taught out of context. Most pastors, today, teach this passage to mean that if we still have fear it’s because we’re not fully accepting God’s perfect love. But John was clearly talking about us perfectly loving one another. Then we won’t have fear.
When we’re right with God and all people the demons have no right to torment us, and our consciences don’t condemn us — when perfect love casts out all fear!
Because when we don’t love others perfectly (or are not completely loving and forgiving one another from our whole heart — Mt. 18) then we’re not totally right with God, and God will allow us to be punished via the tormentors (Mt. 18). The curses have a right to stick (Eph. 4:26-27).
John is clearly talking about us loving completely, not the other way around. Look at what is highlighted in blue.
1 John 4
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. 8 He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love. 9 By this God’s love was revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. 16 We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. 17 In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.