The self-deception problem.
To the Church in Ephesus, Jesus said, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4, NKJV. Jesus did not reprimand the Church in Ephesus for not doing enough. On the contrary, He animated all that the believers in Ephesus were doing, and He acknowledged their efforts. Jesus tells the believers, “I see you; I know what you do, and I am with you.” However, Jesus reminded the believers in Ephesus that they have forsaken the essential reason they became Christians. Jesus Christ was the main reason why they became believers and joined the community of Jesus. However, because of the ongoing persecution by Rome and the Jews’ internal pressure, the priorities became diluted. Jews insisted that in addition to Jesus Christ, the Gentile believers need to accept practices by Judaism. The believers in Ephesus had to contend with clever attacks on fundamental teachings by the apostles. Claims of possession of “special knowledge” and inspired revelation were rampant. The believers had to assess carefully what is real and what is false. In doing so, for a good reason, the believers in Ephesus emphasized the importance of the traditional teachings, beliefs, and practices at the expanse of the Good News, Jesus Christ. However, the emphasis on what makes their practices good brings glory to those who adhere to them; but neglect Jesus who enables the believers to do what is Jesus’s glory. The yielded believers should strive to be good lampstands, not good light. The good Light, Jesus Christ, must shine through every believer.
Accordingly, Jesus urges the believers in Ephesus to take a closer look at what they do. All Christians should always reassess their efforts, their doctrines, their teachings, and practices, to ensure conformity to the everlasting gospel. Christians everywhere should be on guard against self-deception. Even if the slightest hint of self-praise and self-righteousness is present, the believers should, like Job, repent of their self-righteous ways and return to righteousness by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. The believers everywhere should, and must, forsake everything, including themself, and place Jesus Christ in the center of everything they do. We are saved by grace alone through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ alone. The yielded believers do not ask, “What is grace?” Instead, they ask, “Who is the Grace?” Jesus Christ is the Grace God promised in the garden of Eden. Paul maintains, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8 – 10, NKJV.
When Christians forget the true nature and implication of grace, they then forsake their first love and follow the ways of self-deception. The Church in Ephesus could be found throughout Christianity today. Believers who have fallen in such a spiritual deficiency do not realize that it is their “first love” who has rescued them from the kingdom of sin and darkness and brought them into the Kingdom of Light and Righteousness, Jesus Christ. Christians must, at any a cost to self, abandon the self-deception of “I must get ready,” and obey the Jesus’ command to “be ready.” Luke 12:40. No one could be ready while still “getting ready.” Jesus Christ did not come to be our example, but to save us from guilt and punishment for sin. God does not hold sin against those who have washed their robes in the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
To be continued in the next blog.