“Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4
The structure is:
1. The word “nevertheless” as given by Christ, shows that something is wrong despite their zeal.
2. The One Who knew their works had something against them.
3. The negative falls into the category of them having left their first love.
What is first love?
Many define it as a zeal for Christ, an excitement for Him, a desire to learn more about Him, etc. All these things are true, but these things were said of the Ephesians as well. No! While these things are commendable, and things which every true Christian will have and which they will be engaged, this is not the “first love” of which Jesus mentions here.
“First love” constitutes the proper Faith we had in Christ when we were first saved, and what he did for us at the Cross. At that time, the Cross never stood bigger. He died for us, and, in doing so, made it possible for us to be redeemed; consequently, there is a love, even a great love that fills our hearts, when we realize what He did for us, so to “leave that first love,” is to take our Faith and move it to something else other than the Cross. In other words, we now attempt to live this Christian life by our own strength and machinations, which Paul so intensely taught against. (Gal. 6:14).
Whenever the Christian does this, and, I speak of leaving the Cross and placing one’s Faith in something else, he becomes immersed in law. He does not think of it as such, but that’s exactly what it is. While it’s not the Law of Moses, it definitely is laws made up by other men, or his church denomination, or perhaps even laws made up out of his own mind. Functioning in this capacity, the Holy Spirit will not help him, and he finds himself failing more and more, with attention being drawn constantly to self. This state produces in him a constant “condemnation” (Rom. 8:1), which means he is “walking after the flesh,” or else he refuses to heed the condemnation, and becomes self-righteous.
How do we maintain our first love?
Jesus told us how: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it” (LK. 9:23-24).
“Denying self” as Jesus demanded. Jesus is not speaking of foregoing anything that is comfortable or pleasurable; in other words, making it as hard for one’s self as is possible. That’s not what the Lord means here. He is referring to the fact that we must not try to live this life by our own strength and ability. We must “deny self” in this respect. We must depend entirely upon Christ, and how do we do that?
We do that through the Cross.
Unfortunately, most Christians think that taking up the Cross refers to suffering. It doesn’t! To be sure, Jesus suffered greatly on the Cross, but what He is speaking about in our taking up the Cross, is something else entirely. He means that we should take up its benefits. We must understand that every single thing we receive from the Lord comes through and by the Cross. In other words, it was there that Jesus made it all possible. Consequently, “taking up the Cross,” means that we look to what He did there, placing our faith strictly and totally in that. As well, we are to do this “daily” which is somewhat liken to renewing our Faith on a daily basis. If we continue to look to Christ and the Cross then we will never leave our “first love,” another Jesus.
We must never separate Jesus from the Cross, and the Cross from Jesus. No, don’t make the mistake of thinking that we’re trying to put Jesus back on the Cross. The Cross is something that took place many centuries ago, and was done so perfectly that it will never have to be done again, but which has continued benefits, and, in fact, benefits that will never be discontinued. It’sthe benefits of which we speak. Christ is presently at the Right Hand of the Father. God has “highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name” (Ph il 2:9). However, Christ has this exalted position, strictly because of what He did at the Cross.
If the Believer has “left his first love, ” he has done so because he has moved his Faith from the Cross to something else. To maintain that “first love,” and to do so on a perpetual, even “daily” basis, we simply have to keep our Faith anchored in Christ and
what He did at the Cross on our behalf.
If we move our Faith from Christ and the Cross to something else, we have then separated Jesus from the Cross. And when we do that, we are left with “another Jesus,” which produces “another spirit, and another gospel” (11 Cor. 11:4) and that is where most Christians go wrong. They think because they are extolling Christ, all is well; however, if we think of Christ other than the Cross, then we have separated Christ from the Cross, which we must never do.
Why do you think that Paul said the following? “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” (1 Cor. 1:17).
He is saying here that nothing, even water baptism, and as important as that is, must take the place of “the Cross of Christ.” He went on to say: “For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1Cor.1:18).
The very reason that God became man was to die on a Cross. It would take this, and which was decided before the foundation of the world, to redeem mankind (1 Pet.1:18-20). That doesn’t mean that other things done by Christ were not important. In fact, anything and everything that Christ did was of immense significance; however, His chief purpose, the
very reason He came, was “the Cross.” If we leave that, and go to otherthings, we “lose our first love.”
May the Lord Jesus bless each one aswe keep our trust and faith in the Cross. Remember, Christ was the Source, The Cross was the Means.