Summary: This sermon examines believers and churches that move away from their first love (honeymoon love).
When my wife and I first married I received a rebuke from one of our senior adult members. I jokingly stated that we were still on our honeymoon. The way I expressed myself made it sound as if the honeymoon was coming to an end. This senior adult lady informed me that "the honeymoon should never end." She was right. Marriage should be characterized by a love that is always fresh and always filled with passion. When I refer to passion I am not limiting it to the physical kind. It is a matter of the heart.
This same principle applies to the spiritual life. When a person enters the Christian life the spiritual journey is much like a honeymoon is to marriage. There should be passion, zeal and enthusiasm. However, as time rolls along that "first love" can diminish. This is what happened in the church at Ephesus (the first of the seven churches discussed in Revelation 2-3). Jesus said they left their first love. I want to examine this church and learn from them. We will examine this church, much like going to a doctor. We will diagnose the problem, examine the damage and consider a remedy.
I. First, notice the Lord’s diagnosis of the problem.
It was three-fold.
A. They had activity without intimacy. They were a busy church but Jesus said they had "left their first love." This describes many churches and believers. We are busy doing acitvites but lack intimacy with Jesus.
B. They had faithfulness without fervency. The church at Ephesus had been faithful in the midst of many trials and faced many false teachings. They did not cave in to these pressures. Jesus commended their faithfulness but criticized their lack of passion.
C. They had doctrine without spirituality. Jesus commended this church for standing firm against false teaching. They took a strong doctrinal stance but lacked intimacy and spirituality. This can be true of many of us "so called" conservative believers. We can stand strong against doctrinal impurity but lack a love relationship with Jesus Christ. This is also true of many people who claim to stand for
"fundamental" beliefs. In many instances fundamentalism is nothing more than legalism. I have often said that "a legalist is a liberal turned inside out." Doctrine without spirituality is deadness.
II. Second, notice the damage the Lord sees.
A. The church at Ephesus experienced a coldness and loss of passion. How could such a thing occur?
(1) Loss of passion could be the result of neglect.
Illustration: This is similar to what occurs
when a camp fire is neglected.
(2) Loss of passion could be due to distractions.
Illustration: Jesus spoke of the thorny
soil and how it was choked by the
distractions of riches and the things of
B. The ultimate damage to the church at Ephesus was that Jesus removed their responsibility. The Lord can and will remove His hand from an ineffective church or believer.
III. Third, notice the Lord’s remedy. A simple way to understand the remedy is to focus on the 3 "R’s".
A. Remember what it was like during the honeymoon days. Believers should be able to go back in their mind to a time when passion prevailed in their spiritual lives.
B. Repent of the backslidden condition. When we find ourselves growing cold we should repent and return to that first love.
C. Return to the first love. Returning requires that we make the effort. This is similar to losing weight. To return to a former weight range requires determination, effort and commitment. The same is true of our spiritual lives.