I Know Your Works
Revelation 2:1-3 ESV
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.’”
Jesus Christ is speaking here. He was commending the church in Ephesus for the works that they were doing which were good in the eyes of the Lord. They endured patiently in their faith despite opposition and persecution. And they stood against evil and called out false apostles (teachers).
It’s a Relationship
Revelation 2:4-5 ESV
“’But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.’”
But They were Lacking
But they were lacking in one area. They had abandoned the love that they had at first. They were not as passionate and ardent about their relationship with Jesus Christ as they had been when they first believed. They were still doing a lot of the right things, but it was now more routine.
And they weren’t doing all that they were doing at first. So, they were slacking off in some areas. They were getting lazy or comfortable, to some extent, settling for less, perhaps making compromises in some areas, now living more for the flesh rather than for the Lord.
For this love for the Lord prefers (chooses) what God chooses (prefers), which is all that is holy, righteous, pure, honorable, honest, trustworthy, upright and godly. It prefers, too, to follow the Lord Jesus in obedience, to go where he sends, and to say what he says to say.
It’s a Lifestyle
The Christian life is not just a doctrine or a theology, but it is lifestyle, and it is a relationship with Almighty God who created us for his purposes. He lives within us in the person of his Holy Spirit, and we abide in him, and in his word, and we listen to him and we do what pleases him.
This relationship, in Scripture, is described as a marriage between us and Jesus Christ. Right now, we are in that engagement period with a marriage contract (like the old Jewish marriages), and we are waiting on our husband to build a home for us and to come and get us and to take us to be with him. Then our marriage will be consummated and our salvation complete.
So, it is possible that we can be doing a lot of the right things, things that God would approve of, but for us to not be doing all that we know he requires of us. For, he requires our surrender to him, making him Lord (owner-master) of our lives and us walking in obedience to him daily.
For, you see, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. He doesn’t want just some of our time and affection. He wants it all! (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15).
Jesus Christ is not to be an “add-on” to our lives. He is to be our lives. For, he says that if we would come after him, we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him moment by moment, day after day after day, until the very end of time (Lu 9:23-26).
Faith in Jesus Christ isn’t a religion that we practice once or twice a week or as it suits our purposes. Faith in Jesus Christ is a life-time commitment to him as our husband, and we are to be united with him in mind, heart, attitude, words and deeds. We should be working for him 24/7.
And I find that is not being taught much at all, so it is a difficult concept for many people to grasp. But to love our Lord is to lay our lives down on his altar as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in mind of the Spirit of God.
The idea that Jesus is our lives and that we no longer live but he now lives his life through us, as we cooperate fully with him in doing whatever he says to do, is just not what is being taught much at all. He is to guide our every moment of every day as we live and breathe him and his word (Gal 2:20).
When we are at work or at home or on the internet or on social media, we are to be Jesus to the world. Our words should reflect him. Our thinking and believing about things should reflect his heart and mind. And we should be talking about the kinds of things he would be telling people if he were here.
Unless You Repent
Jesus is speaking to the church, not the world, and he is telling them that they need to repent, which means to turn away from the wrong we are doing and to now do the right we should be doing, but in the power and working of God’s Spirit as we yield control of our lives over to God.
But this isn’t just about ceasing to do wrong and to now do right. This goes much deeper than that. This is about turning away from living half-hearted Christian lives to now living lives which are fully committed to Jesus Christ 24/7 to be his representatives on this earth in doing and saying what he would be doing and saying if he was still here.
It is turning away from Jesus being only part of our lives to him being our lives and us allowing him to live his life out through us. And that takes us dying to sin and self every day and us being willing to be hated, rejected, and thought crazy or odd and thus ignored or fought against.
And this isn’t optional. Jesus didn’t make it optional. Read what he told the people. He was an “all or none” person. He demands we die to sin and self and that we follow him in surrender and in obedience. And here he promises those who don’t repent that they will face some kind of divine correction.
To the One Who Conquers
Revelation 2:6-7 ESV
“’Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”
So, the counsel here is to listen to what Jesus is saying, to take him and his word seriously, and to love him as he deserves and as he requires. And to love him is to obey him. It is to do what he says. And it is to give our lives to him fully surrendered to doing his will 24/7, not just when we feel like it.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 6:44; Jn 8:31-32, 51; Jn 10:27-30; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Tit 2:11-14; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Col 1:21-23]
By Jonathan Foreman
I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all
So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope