Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
- Revelation 2:4-7
“Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm. It is a fact that there is a continuing struggle in the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual areas of life.
“Health is the balance between the physical parts of my body and all the things and forces surrounding me. To maintain good health I must have sufficient internal strength to fight off the things that are external. Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death. The very elements that sustain me while I am alive work to decay and disintegrate my body once it is dead. If I have enough inner strength to fight, I help to produce the balance needed for health. The same is true of the mental life. If I want to maintain a strong and active mental life, I have to fight. This struggle produces the mental balance called thought.
“Morally it is the same. Anything that does not strengthen me morally is the enemy of virtue within me. Whether I overcome, thereby producing virtue, depends on the level of moral excellence in my life. But we must fight to be moral. Morality does not happen by accident; moral virtue is acquired.
“And spiritually it is also the same. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33). This means that anything which is not spiritual leads to my downfall. Jesus went on to say, “…but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” I must learn to fight against and overcome the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness. Then it becomes a delight to meet opposition.
“Holiness is the balance between my nature and the law of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (December 4)
There are multiple articles on the internet about how there are only 21 years, from 1 January to 31 December defining the year, where the USA has not been at war. While my wife served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, I graduated college and served, during the Cold War, but in a four year stretch where there was no declared war against anyone else. In a way, I beat the odds. From 1776 to 2020, there are 244 years with only 21 free of war. Sure, a few of those years, as in the German Coast Uprising of 1811, the “war” only lasted one day. This “war” was only a war in that the rebellion was aided by Haiti. A few other wars lasted longer, but…
But that is not what Oswald Chambers is talking about. Every second of every day, as we take breath, Satan is at war with us. As we succumb to temptation, we are at war with ourselves, to a degree. Satan is the one who tempts; we just fall for his schemes.
But how does the Scripture tie in?
The church at Ephesus was very good at recognizing false prophets and false doctrines. They ran countless charlatans out of town. But once you have that type of mindset, Satan tempts you to keep going, and root out imagined evils.
There is an old saying that is based upon a single wash tub to take your weekly bath. I said that the saying was “old.” One family member takes a bath. While the bath water is reasonably warm, the next takes a bath in the now slightly dirty water. Then the next jumps into the wash tub. If the family was rather large, and settler families that were farmers usually were large and dirty after a week in the fields, the bath water was more mud than water by the time they washed the baby in the water that had already ‘cleaned’ everyone in the family. I guess you can guess the old saying. “Be sure not to throw out the baby with the bath water.” You know, because the water might be so filthy, you could lose the child in the muddy water.
But the Ephesians were guilty of doing that. They had gotten so used to hating false doctrine that they forgot how to love. That should be a warning for each of us. As the world goes mad around us and we hold true to Biblical teaching and values, it is very hard to hate the sin around us without hating those who wish to change the law of the land, the moral law, and the tenets of the church to suit their purpose. They think that if they can change the law, then God will have to back off. There is no longer a reason to repent. When Christians respond in hate, we lower ourselves to their level. They never understood Love in the first place. The physical aspects of love, sure, but God’s Love, not at all. Why should we turn our back on God’s Love when we meet them? And I must admit that I have failed in this area. It makes it worse, when the opponent states that we are not really loving until we accept their sin as being morally right and normal behavior. This premise is based on falsehood. I can love, but not under that definition. I will not turn my back on God to assuage someone’s feelings, especially to help someone think that they need not repent of their sin. It is as if we are helping them down the road toward Hell. And how can that be Love?
Love like Jesus. He often said, “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more,” or words to that effect. We can forgive the wrongs done to us, but the repentance must come from them, including the knowledge that they must repent.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.