This past Sunday I preached from Revelation 2:1-7 where our exalted Lord challenges the church at Ephesus for abandoning their first love. The sermon focused on the five things that our heavenly Bridegroom does to woo back his loveless bride – the church.
Preaching on this text has led to some serious soul searching for me personally. I hope it will do the same for you. Below is an excerpt from a wonderful commentary on the book of Revelation by Dr. Joel Beeke. His comments serve as a diagnostic tool to evaluate your own heart and relationship with the Lord. He writes:
We lose our first love gradually. The loss begins inside, when our prayer life cools. When that happens, we lose our heart for God, our concern for our souls, and our love for the souls of others. Like a plague, this coolness then spreads to how we listen to sermons, how we read our Bibles, what other books we read, and the conversations we have with people. We no longer have the freedom to speak openly to believers because the shadow of a faded love has darkened our souls and undercut our boldness.
We go through the motions of religion out of force of habit or of fear over what others may think if we don’t, but corruption festers and multiplies within. We talk more about God than to God, more about church than about Christ, more about “religion” or “spirituality” than true Christianity. We still confess our sins and make solemn vows, but both are poses more than true piety. Such confessions don’t result in repentance or forsaking of sin, and such vows don’t bind us when we are called upon to honor them. Self-examination becomes less frequent and more shallow, and carnal presumption sets in. We think we are strong enough in ourselves to withstand trials, temptations, and weaknesses. However, the more we rely on our own strength rather than God’s, the less we realize how close we are to falling away altogether. We continue to presume we are believers in spite of our want of love and God’s silence.
As love fades, faith weakens, godliness declines, and worldliness gains ground. Worldly people make more sense to us. We think more like they think, speak more like they speak, and act more like they act. We set our affections on things below rather than on things above. We are more concerned about worldly possessions than we are about laying up treasure in heaven. Gradually, we become strangers to those who long for heaven and friends with those who are happy on earth. The devices of Satan are no longer so apparent to us, for, when love fades, so does our vigilance and perception. As a result, we no longer miss God or desire to be in His presence, which is the great place of safety for the believer.Beeke, Joel. Revelation: The Lectio Continua: Expository Commentary on the New Testament (pp. 61-62). Reformation Heritage Books.