Revelation Week 10 Ch2:1-11 When Love Grows Cold
Updated: Nov 1, 2019
I stand in awe when God confirms something I have taught or am about to teach with a clear sign like this. I was going to make a PowerPoint slide with this verse broken into bullet points for our study of Jesus' letter to the Ephesian church, where the Lord told them they had lost their first love. But the Spirit moved some blessed soul at PHUMC to post this on Facebook. I love it!
I said the event announcement that we would learn what to do when love grows cold.
We covered a lot, but I never actually broke the Lord's instructions into practical, ordered steps and I feel compelled to do so here. Besides, Mary is gone and I am here alone with you and the Lord.
But first some review.
In studying that letter to the Ephesians, we saw how love could grow cold by allowing this life's distractions to interfere in our intimacy with Jesus and those we love. Those "distractions" include our work for the church and our daily tasks of life, like paying the rent and raising the kids. It is a gradual cooling prompted and encouraged by Satan, who is eternally at war with our faith in Jesus and our love for Him and each other. And he gets his openings from us.
We saw in John's Gospel that the Lord gave us a new command, in addition to the famous "Greatest Commandment," and that new commandment is to "Love each other as I have loved you." It is the "... as I have loved you" part that is new and extremely difficult for us to do. Paul described that love in the scripture above, which is essentially the definition of the Greek word "Agape" in the original text of John's gospel and Revelation. As long as we have flesh, we will never be perfect at loving each other the way Jesus loves us, which is perfect. But each departure from perfection of that love lowers the perfection of our love for ourselves through self condemnation and that gives Satan his opening. Each departure from exactly what God said is a sin. (Email me or comment if you don't know the scripture for anything I have said here.) It seems clear to me that the second part of the Great Commandment, "Love you neighbor as yourself" presumes you love yourself.
Since we, in the flesh, are not capable of Jesus' perfect love, does that mean as long we are in these bodies we will be sinners and that our love will have a tendency to grow cold? Yes, but happily the corrective instruction Jesus gave to the Ephesians is also intended for us and will also works for us. After commending the church for hard work, perseverance, intolerance of evil, discernment and endurance of hardships he says:
Rev.2:4-5 "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place." (See chapter 1 for explanation of lampstand.)
In summary, it means he would remove Himself from the church if they did not repent. That is quite a warning! It should cause Fear of the Lord!
The word "Repent" means "to turn." In this case it means "return" to "the things you did at first" and clearly implies that doing so would restore the love they had at first.
That begs the question, "What did they do at first?"
Acts 19:1-7 gives us the answer. When Paul came to Ephesus they received the Holy Spirit.
I believe we often think of love like a pie. You give a piece of the pie to God, your family, your brothers and sisters in Chirst, but then how much do you have left? You may feel you have given away your whole pie and your plate is now empty. You may have none left for yourself. But that is a very, very incorrect, wickedly wrong analogy.
Being somewhat geeky, I think of love more like email. I can send my email to a thousand people and still have it all myself! In fact, if I send it to a thousand people I may get a lot of replies and wind up with FAR more email than I started with! And what if I clicked "Reply All" on all those replies? And what if others saw what I did and did the same? Pretty soon, we would all have a very full inbox!
It is my belief that the Holy Spirit multiples love just like that.
In class, I asked you to think about, but not answer the question, "Can we decide who to love?" I believe that is an important question worthy of much thought and contemplation.
My believe is that God would not have told us to love Him with all our hearts and all our minds and all our souls and all of our strength if we could not decide to do so. That is why He gave us free will.
Many reading Rev.2:4-5 miss the fact that before He tells the Ephesians to repent, He tells them to consider how far we have fallen. When we are honest with ourselves, that consideration or contemplation or thought shows us where we need to repent and let the Holy Spirit multiply our love for Jesus, ourselves and others.
So, if you will allow me to bullet-point and slightly paraphrase Rev.2:4-5 and add some practical steps:
1. Consider how far you have fallen.
a. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see yourself as God sees you. Maybe even sing a few choruses of "Just as I Am" to the Lord.
b. Look at each characteristic of love at the top of the page. (1 Cor 13)
c. Consider, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and confess specific instances of where you have fallen short on each point. Do this until you feel Godly sorrow.
a. DECIDE, with the help of Jesus' Holy Spirit to be better at each result from 2(c).
3. Do the things you did at first.
When you first came to a saving faith in Jesus and were baptized into His Name (with water
or without) you received the Holy Spirit that lit up your heart with the knowledge of how
much God loves you. You gave your life to Christ and received the Holy Spirit as the
down payment on your eternity. You may have had a lot of life since then. Have you given it to Him? You received salvation. Sanctification start immediately thereafter and continues
the rest of your time on earth. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus today then you were yesterday. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, it will have enough worries of its own. Just pray to be better today than yesterday. So that gives us:
a. Surrender all you are THIS DAY to the Lord.
b. Pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen you to do better today than yesterday on
all the points you were convicted off on in step 2(c).
c. Put on the full Armor of God and pray for the Lord to open doors for you to
demonstrate the love He has given you. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
4. Repeat forever.
And that concludes last weeks lesson!
Here is the Video MP4
The video is weird (off center) so here is the audio file MP3
Here are the Slides: PDF
Sorry, I didn't make any notes, but you have it here.
Next week we will be studying Revelation 2:8-11, The letter to Smyrna. I titled it
Battles in the Heavenly Realms
These few verses give a penetrating look into the battle between God and Satan that has produced the world we live in. Have ever wondered, as we all have, "How could God allow such suffering?" This scripture, along with other verses we will cover, gives us that answer.
PLEASE NOTE: Covering this is going to take a bit longer than usual so we will be starting with 2 worship songs at 7:00 PM and then go right into teaching. I will try very hard to finish by 8:30 PM. (But no promises :)