Have You Lost Your First Love?
In His message to the Ephesian Church, our Lord commended them for their works, labour and patience, and for their judgment of that which was evil. But He called them to repentance because they had left their first love (Rev. 2:2-7). How alerting this should be to those of us who live on the eve of our Lord’s return – lest we, too, carry on well with our works,but in our hearts are lacking our first love!
By E. A. Johnson
You are on dangerous ground if you have lost your "first love." Have you lost that zeal for God and lost souls? Have you grown weary of praying so much? Have the things of the world become more interesting to you than the things of God?
You are still a Christian and love the Lord after a certain fashion. You are still more or less active in some department of the church. Naturally you cannot lose out with God suddenly, after wonderful blessings and anointings have been in your life. Satan is smart; he does not work suddenly by tempting a Christian with terribly gross sins. He works on a spiritual Christian very gently to deceive; to cause indifference and lukewarmness to come into the heart. Then, from that point on, he increases his pressure gradually; and without being aware, there are little secret sins entering the heart that only God sees.
You still read and study the Word of God as a matter of duty, but it is not as precious and real as it used to be. The time you spend in prayer is shortening, little by little. The praises and the joy are not flowing from your innermost being as much as they used to. How you rejoiced in the Lord, and loved to speak of the Lord more than all earthly things! The Lord came first in your life and all other things were secondary. The things of this earth and of the natural had no appeal to you. It seemed you walked with God and had sweet fellowship with Him.
Now you are not in that place with God; the joy is gone – something has happened – your peace with God is gone, the joy has leaked out of your heart and there is no fire on the altar of your soul before God.
Satan comes as an angel of light to deceive, if possible even the very chosen of God. He sneaks in as a thief when least expected, if we are not watching. It was at midnight the enemy came and sowed tares in the man’s field. It was when he was sleeping and no one saw the enemy do it (Matt. 13:25).
Many times, our defeat comes because we do not realize that suggestive thoughts before us are from the devil. We listen and act upon these seemingly innocent evil suggestions – such as to read the Word of God a little less and to pray less. Satan knows how successfully he can work on an individual who is willing to neglect the Word. Of course, his suggestions are varied and cunningly devised to fit the particular weaknesses of each person. It is sure, as long as we are in this world, we are subject to these temptations. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation" (Jas. 1:12) – not yielding to it but lifting up a standard against it and resisting the devil!
To lose that hunger for God’s Word and prayer simply means soul starvation. The joy of the Lord disappears and there is no praise flowing from the heart, and the anointing of the Spirit of God lifts. Just as our physical bodies have to be fed with food to live in this present life, so much more the soul must be fed spiritual food from the Word, daily. The soul can only be satisfied by the Word, prayer and waiting on God.
Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). The soul is eternal; therefore, it must draw life from the everlasting Father. Our soul will be fat or lean according to how we feed upon the Word of God. Feed a little, and the soul will be lean. Feasting much upon the Word and prayer, and the soul will "delight itself in fatness" (Isa. 55:2).
When the spiritual appetite for the Word is lost, then it is perfectly natural that the things of the world crowd into the heart. Something has to take the place of the Word of God and the joy of the Holy Ghost in the life. That is why John warned against loving things of the world, which appeal to the eyes and the flesh (1 John 2:15). Verse 17 says, "But he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." Therefore we must be doers of the Word, for that is faith in action. If we love Jesus we will keep His words (John 14:21-23).
How then can we allow ourselves to lose interest in His Word and not neglect our salvation at the same time? Can we be sure of being saved if we neglect our salvation? (Heb. 2:1-3). We are warned to take "earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." There is great danger if we get careless in our walk with God. It is a fallacy to believe that one can be saved if we lose out with God. It is only as we hold our confidence steadfast in God to the end, that we are made partakers of Christ (Heb. 3:14).
When a Christian has lost his appetite for the Word and for living an overcoming life, then Satan brings a multitude of secret sins into the heart that only God sees – such as malice, selfishness, hate, bitterness, envy, evil thoughts, pride, unkindness, and other sins. These are the things which defile a man, Jesus said (Matt. 15:18). This is a spiritual heart condition and it cannot be seen by men. Is not it much like the heart trouble of a physical man? The pains of that man’s heart are not visible to the eye of other men. Apparently he seems to be a well man. However, he knows the pains are in his heart. When they become acute and he has a serious heart attack, then others will know it because it makes him a sick man.
So it is with the Christian who is indifferent towards the Lord and has lost that "first love." He knows the appetite for the Word of God and prayer is gone. It is at this point Satan uses his opportunity to bring in hurt feelings, jealousy, envy, pride, etc. This is a spiritual heart condition. These secret sins are not manifest to others until they have taken root and begun to sprout in hard words and wrong doings, etc. Then these sins become visible to others.
Many who have lost their "first love" can go on living a sort of satisfied life with themselves and be active in the church and read the Word, but indifferently. They want to testify for the Lord but their testimony does not grip the heart of the listener because the anointing of the Spirit of God is not there. Sadness, discouragement and gloom often settle over a life where the first love is gone and the heartstrings are not in tune with God.
Repent and Do the First Works
Those who have lost their first love are on dangerous ground. They are good people and do a lot of good works, but the Lord is not pleased with them. The Lord wants our love to Him first, then automatically we will show our faith by our works.
"I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Rev. 2:2-5).
Repentance and getting back to God where you will have your first love in your heart again – is the only remedy for a spiritual heartsick soul. If God spared not the angels that sinned, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. 2:3). We must get back to feasting on His precious Word daily, taking time to be much alone with Him in that secret place of prayer and meditation. This is the only thing that will restore peace and fellowship with God.
"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels" (Rev. 3:5).