The Marks of the Loss of First Love
In Revelation, second chapter, fourth verse, Christ said to a certain church, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” The reader will notice that Christ doesn’t say that you have lost your first love, but He says you have left your first love.
I used to think that it meant that we had lost the first love that came into our hearts when we were converted. But I don’t think that is what He means at all. I think He means to teach here that this church had let their beautiful building, maybe their pipe organ, and hardwood pews, and Brussels carpets, and their well-organized choir, their splendid official hoard, and all the machinery of the church have the first place in their affections. Jesus had to take the second place. Therefore they had left their first love, and this proves to me that Jesus must have the first place or He will not be satisfied, and no thinking man would expect Him to be. Now, for a little while, let’s you and me study together some of the marks of leaving the first love.
First, when Jesus hasn’t got the first place, we get into religious bondage, and our religious work has the first place in our affections, and we get under bondage in serving the church instead of the Lord.
Second, when Jesus hasn’t got the first place, we have no religious joy. We become dry and juiceless and toothless and powerless and dead, though we may be very active in church activities. Third, when Jesus hasn’t got the first place, we become critical, and it is so easy then to criticize everybody in the world. If Christ is not on the throne, we will get on the throne, and then we are ready to criticize everybody that doesn’t measure up to our ideal.
Fourth, when Christ hasn’t the first place, there is a lack of secret prayer, and a prayerless life is a helpless life; and not only helpless but powerless. We must prevail with the Lord in secret prayer or we will not prevail at all. And there is nothing more dangerous to the life than to neglect secret prayer.
Fifth, when Jesus hasn’t first place in our affections, we have no love for precious immortal souls, though we are busy in church work, and very active looking after the temple. Then it is not the love of souls that causes us to attend church, but the love of our own work and our institution. This is right within itself if it only bears the proper relationship to Christ.
Sixth, when Christ hasn’t first place in our affections, we lose interest in the study of our Bibles, and the Bible becomes a dead letter to us. We spend many hours with the daily papers that would have been spent with our Bibles if Jesus had the first place.
Seventh, when Jesus hasn’t first place in our affections, we find it very easy to stay away from prayer meetings, and to give the hours to worldly pleasures, and in looking after the affairs of this life. And we often make excuses for not going to the house of the Lord, when really the only excuse is that Jesus has lost His first place in our affections. Other things have the first place, and Jesus has the second place.
Eighth, when Jesus hasn’t the first place in our affections, we will lose interest in the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification. We look on it as a kind of luxury that we can accept or reject according to our own will or wish. We become blind to the fact that sanctification is not a mere dessert that can be taken or let alone, after your meals, but it is the dinner itself. And if you neglect it, the knick-knack will be of no profit in the world to you. For a laboring man needs a dinner, and not a nickel’s worth of ice cream.
Ninth, when Christ hasn’t the first place in our affections, we will be more or less under the dominion of the man-fearing spirit. We will become cowardly and we will be afraid to stand for the truth for fear of popular opinion. We will be afraid to meet the frowns and the criticisms of the world and a backslidden church around us. And because of these things, when we are called on to testify, we will get up in an embarrassed manner and notify the speaker that we never speak in public, when at the same time on worldly matters we can talk two ways at once. All of this is because Jesus has lost the first place in our affections.
Tenth, when Jesus has lost the first place in our hearts, there will be a lack of watchfulness on our part, and we are at least liable to become too familiar with this old world. And we and the world will become so familiar that the world will rob us of what gold we have, and leave us nothing but a little brass.
Eleventh, when Jesus has lost the first place in our affections, we become stingy and tightfisted with our money that we ought to give the Lord. We rob God of His tenth and then rob Him of His offerings. Then we make ourselves believe that we have given all we are able to give.
Twelfth, when Jesus has lost the first place in our hearts, there will be a craving for worldly pleasures and worldly amusements. It will be easy to hang around the shows and circuses and theaters and frolics. All because Christ hasn’t the first place!
Thirteenth, when Christ has lost the first place in our affections, we have no insight into the Word of God, and the Book becomes sealed, and its treasures are hidden, and if we try to quote scripture, we will become bunglers of the Word and not teachers of the Word.