THE COST OF LIVING WITHOUT LOVE

If I were to ask you, do you love Jesus, what would you say? On what are you basing your answer? Revelation two and three is the standard by which the Church is to love God. People make up every local Church, and the Church is the total of its parts. Any one letter could depict your spiritual condition. In verse one we read.


"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lamp stands, says this:


The is only one person who can hold the seven stars or churches in His right hand, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is then said to walk among the seven golden lamp stands or candlesticks. He stands in the middle of the lights and He is the light. As we are told in John's Gospel, speaking of Jesus in chapter one and verse four. "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men."


2 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. 4'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 6'Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.'" (Rev. 2:2-7)


As we consider this portion of scripture, we notice that the Lord commended this church. They toiled and persevered, did not tolerate evil men who pretended to be Apostles and were not. They were discerning. They endured, undoubted hardship and probably persecution for Jesus's sake, and they did not grow weary. These are commendable behaviors.


However, the Lord held one thing against them, and because of this one thing, He said they had fallen and needed to repent. Even after making this serious statement, He went on to commend them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans. The letter to the Church of Pergamum gives us the meaning to Nicolaitan deeds. "...some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality." (2:14) Stumbling blocks that cause God's people to sin are evil, according to Jesus, and they were to the Ephesians also. Furthermore, Nicolaitan is from Nico or Nike, meaning victory, and Laitans is from laity or victory over the laity. The word itself could suggest an unsubstantiated division between clergy and laity.


It is significant that they were in danger of having their candlestick taken out of its place. Their light was about to be extinguished. So what does it mean to leave our first love? The word "left" in the text means to abandon for something or someone else. The vital part of a candle is the light it produces. The wick and the wax melt away, but the fire consumes everything that it touches. The writer to the Hebrews made this observation from the Old Testament, "And of the angels, He says, "Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire." If God makes His holy angels a flame of fire (passionate about God and His will), who are not saved from their iniquities, what should be our spiritual condition?


To leave our first love is to leave Christ as the passion and motive for what we do. Devotion to Christ is serious; such a reality of our soul is an absolute necessity. To simply go through the motions of the Christian faith because it is expected of us is evil, and the Lord said as much when He demanded their repentance and stated in no uncertain terms that they had fallen. Paul was fearful that the Corinthian church would fall prey to this same reality. "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband so that to Christ, I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully." (2 Corinthians 11:2-4)


For an example of a man who loved Jesus we look to John 9. (You might want to read it) Jesus made mud from the dirt and His spit and applied it to a blind man's eyes. The man came back, seeing. People near him wanted to know how it happened that he could see. The priests God involved, and they eventually reviled him and put him out of the synagogue, the community and his ability to make a living.

His parents were fearful, so they through the ball in their son's court. He contended with the priests and stood up for Jesus. This behavior is what Jesus commended the Ephesian church for doing. Even though the Lord spoke to the Ephesian in the present tense, He still knew they had left their first love.


The blind man needed to beg before Jesus gave him his sight; when he stood up for Jesus, the religious put him out of the synagogue. Therefore, he needed to beg once again. His love for Jesus at the start was intact. All true Christians begin at this place of love for the One who saved them. The world, the flesh, and the devil make appeals for us to love anything but Jesus.


Where are our hearts today? Are we a flame of fire burning bright for Jesus, or are we just going through the motions? Is our motive just as important as what we do and how we live? Is our relationship with Christ growing more intimate with every passing day, or is it growing colder? When we evangelize, do we need a guide book, or is our nearness to Christ enough to tell people what He wants them to hear? Are we walking in the Spirit or the flesh?


My dear readers, I hope you can answer all these questions well.