Summary: When we lose sight of these basics and let them slide families begin to unravel and eventually the very fabric of our social structure starts to come apart.
For years at the University of Alabama they had a coach by the name of Paul “Bear” Bryant. He is regarded as one of the all-time great coaches in college football. While he was still coaching, young football coaches from all over would come to watch this legendary man conduct his practices.
He said something during one of those practices that I want to share with you this evening. He told his players to never forget the basics. He said, “If you get away from the basics, you will always run into trouble. And when you do you must go back to the basics.”
Our scripture text from the book of Revelation is talking to the Pastor of the church in Ephesus. Ephesus was the capital of the province of Asia. It was called “The Light of Asia.” It was the ending point for a great system of Roman roads that constituted the trade route westward. It was famous for the great “Temple of Diana,” one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Ephesus was also the hotbed of every false religious cult and superstition. It was in this city that was filled with paganism that God planted a church to shine the Gospel light throughout Asia.
The Church that was in Ephesus had a great Christian background in that it was started by the apostle Paul and then had as its pastor, John the beloved. He was the pastor before and after his exile to the isle of Patmos. Timothy also labored there for a time. So this church was blessed with great leadership.
In the Lord’s message to Ephesus in Revelation 2 he said some very good things about this church first:
ß He said I know your “works.” It was commended as being active and energetic. They had many activities in the church. They were in “business” for the Lord.
ß He said I know your “labor.” They were commended for their labor. This is a different word than the first word - works. He said I know your works and I know your labor. It is a word for toil and working at a cost.
ß They were commended for their patience. Things were not always easy for the church in this pagan city because they were confronted with all kinds of trials and tests. Yet they were patient and accepted their difficult situation triumphantly.
ß They were commended for their sensitivity to evil. It was said that they could not bear them that were evil.
ß They were commended for their spiritual discernment.
ß They were commended for their endurance.
ß They were commended for their determination.
ß They were commended as a church that was doctrinally stable and sound.
But then the Lord says I do have somewhat against you because you have “left” your first love. Something had happened to this church that had left it cold, mechanical, and routine. They were not experiencing the Love of God as they once had but they had become comfortable with routine and ritual and tradition.
ß Hard work was not enough.
ß Sacrifice was not enough.
ß Doctrinal purity was not enough.
ß Hatred of evil was not enough.
Because they had left their first love.
ß It is possible for a “whole church” to backslide from intimacy and devotion to God while working hard for him and staying doctrinally pure.
ß It is possible for an “individual” to backslid from intimacy and devotion to God while working hard for him and staying doctrinally pure and obeying all of the standards of the church.
So many times when quoting or referring to Revelation 2:4 we say they have “lost” their first love, but that is not what the verse says or implies. It says that they “left or have forsaken” their first love – not lost. That means that they left that place of spiritual passion by the choices they made and by the lifestyle they adopted.
Your first love is not something that you have accidentally misplaced or lost but you chose to leave it and if by your choices you chose to leave it then you know exactly where to go to get it back again. It’s not lost but you left it. If by a wrong choice you left it then by a right choice you can get it back again and have intimacy and relationship and fellowship with God.
Let me preach to you tonight and tell you that nothing is more important than your relationship with God. Yet sin, in its very essence, is an assault on that relationship. That is why sin must be uprooted from your life. That is why sin’s hold must be broken. That is why sin must be hated and rejected. The goal of sin is to steal that one thing in life that you cannot live without – relationship with God. Sin’s goal is to separate you from your savior. I pray that you don’t let it succeed in your life!