“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” (I John 4:17)
The Day of Judgment is coming for all men. People should tremble at the thought of it. Yet it is possible to have a confidence about that day, John tells us here — not a worldly self-confidence, but a trust in who the Lord is, and what HE has done for us.
After asserting that we can indeed “have confidence in the day of judgment,” John tells us why: “Because as HE is, so also are WE in this world.” What is the source of our confidence in judgment? Surely not our own lives; as Isaiah lamented, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” (Isaiah 64:6) There is no occasion for confidence in our own practice of righteousness!
Rather, John says here, our confidence is in HIM: “as HE is, so also are WE in this world.” Because we confess Jesus as our Savior, and abide in Him (:15), Jesus is now our righteousness. As II Corinthians 5:21 teaches: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” By receiving Christ as our Savior, we have become part of a great transaction, wherein the Lord took all our unrighteousness upon Himself on the cross — and in exchange He gives us His own perfect righteousness with which to stand before the Father in judgment. As Colossians 3:3 says: “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” We are “hidden in Christ” as far as righteousness goes, before the Father. When God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Jesus: “As HE is, so also are WE in this world.”
So if you are a Christian, you need not fear the coming judgment. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). You can approach that day with confidence. But that confidence is not based on who YOU are or what you have accomplished, but on who JESUS is, and what HE accomplished FOR you. As HE is, so also are YOU now, before God!