Strengthen What Remains

Remember from where you have fallen (Revelation 2:4). Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die (Revelation 3:2). These two phrases, the first spoken to the church in Ephesus, and the second spoken to the church in Sardis, summarize the condition of our spiritual lives from time to time.

For countless Christians, it is easy to reflect on our Christian life and remember a time when we burned bright for Jesus. A time when we looked forward to getting together with the saints on the Lord’s Day. A time when we could not get enough of God’s word throughout the week. But for many of us, something has changed. Our love for God has grown cold, and what remains feels like it is on life support.

This deadening of our spiritual life can happen in countless ways. Sometimes it is because we have begun to dabble with blatant sin. As we look through the letters to the seven churches, we see that sexual immorality is often a culprit. If it is not that, it is usually because some other earthly temptation has grabbed ahold of us, and we begin to give in (Revelation 2:14). Other times, we may avoid giving in to the sin ourselves, but we grow tired of standing against the culture, and we begin to support the sexual immorality or other indulgences of those who desire them.

As God’s word says to the church at Thyatira, some churches tolerate the woman Jezebel. She claims to speak God’s word, yet she leads her hearers to practice sexual deviancy (Revelation 2:20). We are not paying attention if we do not see that this is the current state of many Christians and churches. Whether we participate in the sins of our culture or merely support it as an acceptable lifestyle for others, we need to remember from where we have fallen. If we are Christians at all, what remains of our spiritual life is nearly dead. We have quenched the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

This deadening of our spiritual life, individually or as a church, usually begins by embracing ideas contrary to scripture. This embrace of false teachings usually happens because we grow afraid of what we might be called to suffer on behalf of the gospel. If your faith is cold, and none of the examples above fit your situation, I am sure you can quickly discern the cause. The real question is, what are you going to do about it?

Through his word, Jesus is calling you back to your first love (Revelation 2:4). He is telling you not to give in to the sins of your culture. Do not fear what you are about to suffer (Revelation 2:10). Wake up and strengthen what remains. You know you miss your Savior, and whatever you have replaced him with is not satisfying. Even if it offers you some pleasure, you know it does not last. Be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:19).

Be faithful to God unto death. Hold fast until he comes. The one who overcomes the temptations of this world and does not abandon Christ will be given the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). He will never blot your name out of the book of life (Revelation 3:5). You may be asking how you will be able to overcome the world. God’s word promises that “everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). If you have been born of God, your faith, which is a gift of God is still alive, even if it feels like it is about to die. Through his word, possibly even at this moment, God is fanning your dying embers into flame. Wake up and strengthen what remains.

-D. Eaton

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