“Remember when you first fell in love? Observers said, “You will get over it!” That is exactly what occurred with God’s people in the Church of Ephesus in the first century: “They got over it!” That is, they “ceased loving Christ first!” May the Lord help us from “getting over it””. (Knight’s Illustrations p 393).
REVELATION 2 : 1‑7 The Ephesian church was faithful in every respect regarding their service for God; however, there was one failure that God had to point out: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.“ This is an awful summation of one’s attitude towards a loved one. It is the sad expression of spouse who has been cheated, who no longer sees the love and devotion that was experienced at the start of a relationship. This is the attitude which Israel as a nation often expressed to God, this is also the attitude that many believers express to their Lord. “Israel was holy to the LORD”.“Holy”: ‑ separated to (from): for God’s purposes only; devoted to God only; to please God only. There is no specific information given in the text for the reason, or what had occurred, why the Ephesian Church had left it’s first love. We could, however, offer two suggestions: (1) they had become more excited with the love of the world; (2) the love of first conversion had become cold, giving place to a lifeless and formal spirituality.
BACKGROUND: Paul visited Ephesus on his third missionary journey, at which time he spent two years and three months teaching the disciples, and ” ….all the Jews and Greeks …. heard the word of the Lord.” During this time “…. many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds” , and “the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” . In his letter to the Ephesian Church, Paul reminded them of their spiritual blessings in Christ , and that they were brought into a position where they were “holy and blameless in His sight” . In chapter 2 he reminds them that they had been made alive in Christ from their past sinful and unregenerate condition. He spoke of the fact that they all, both Jew and Greek were “one” in the body of Christ; heirs together with Israel and members of Christ’s body . He entreated them to be “imitators of God” and to “live a life of love” . He reminded them of the love between a wife and a husband and compared this to the love of Christ . His final suggestion to them was to “put on the full armour of God” , so that they could guard against the evil of their world and society. Thus we find that the Ephesian church was fully grounded in their faith and had a great love for their Lord.
THE CURRENT CONDITION: What then was the reason for them loosing this love, especially as we consider the way they had been established in their faith, and what the scripture reveals about this.
1. They were efficient in exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness: a commendation of excellent service! “I know your deeds… hard work and your perseverance… you cannot tolerate wicked men.. you have tested those who claim to be apostles … and have found them false. But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans…”. . “Nicolaitans ‑ a heretical sect within the church that had worked out a compromise with the pagan society. They apparently taught that spiritual liberty gave them sufficient leeway to practice idolatry and immorality….” (NIV Study Bible note). Where a “coldness” toward God is evident the devil will always attempt to compromise! Thus we must be extremely careful since there will be a compromise to worship: when does worship start / stop? What are our hindrances to worship? Is there a time that we completely stop thinking about a loved one? The Ephesians were credited in not going this far. How are we in regards to this situation?
2. They were exposed to the Light. Did they continue in that light? “So I tell you … and insist …. that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do… darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God …….. they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” If we do not continue in the light we will become futile in our thinking and loose our sensitivity to spiritual things. What is the result when a plant is grown in darkness?
3. They were taught that change must be constant. Did they continue to be changed by the Holy Spirit?“You were taught… to put off your old self …. and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”. “Putting‑off” and “putting‑on” is a constant process: we must be constantly renewed. How am I being changed? Is any change occurring?
4. They were encouraged to wear their armour. Were they faithful in doing so? “Finally… our struggle is … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that …. you may be able to stand your ground….”. We cannot stand against evil without God’s armour. We are constantly being tempted to let down our guard!
5. The secret to all of this was expressed in Paul’s prayer. How well did they grasp this written expression? <Eph.1:15‑18 ; 3:14‑21>: “…so that you may know Him better“ . Do we seek, on a daily basis, to know a loved one better? Their likes and dislikes; do we seek to please that person more and more? Therefore we should also seek to know God better day by day! “…to know the hope to which He has called you…the riches of His glorious inheritance...” . Do we seek to maintain the same goals as our spouse; our family; our close friend; our business partner? We should therefore also seek to maintain the “hope”(goal) of our spiritual or heavenly calling. “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts….” . If Christ does not have complete liberty to control our lives, we cannot know Him better; cannot maintain the hope of our calling; cannot experience the riches of His glorious inheritance. “….being rooted and established in love….” . On the human level, if we are not rooted and established in the love of our spouse, or close friend, life becomes miserable; we are constantly fighting or disagreeing and nothing seems to be right. Similarly, on the spiritual level, when we fail to allow Christ “to dwell” and have complete control of our lives, we are unhappy, we fight among ourselves and everything goes wrong. Ever wonder why there are so many problems in our lives and in our churches? If our love for Christ has grown cold, then our love for each other is FREEZING! . It is only as we abide in the love of Christ that we can “know His love”
GOD’S REMEDY FOR HIS CHILD/CHURCH: REMEMBER ” the height from which you have fallen!” > REPENT “… and do the things you did at first” Return to the ways of God. Do the things you were taught. Put off the old ways, and put on the new. OTHERWISE “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” “Lampstand” is a reference to the local church ; “Lamps” represent the individual believers ; love must, and can only originate from our Lord Jesus Christ!
“……To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. . An “overcomer” is: one who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. ; a true believer; one who’s faith enables him/her to overcome worldly influences; one who shows the genuineness of his/her faith by repenting from a backslidden condition or from abandoning one’s first love. Such a person will enjoy eternal life to it’s fullest, both now and through eternity.
Aba Father let me be your’s and your’s alone,
May my will forever be evermore your own;
Never let my heart grow cold, never let me go,
Aba Father let me be your’s and your’s alone.
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