Chapter 2 "Your First Love"
But I have this against you,
that you have left your first love.
Have you left your first love? Who is your first love? Is your wife, your work, your hobby, your children, or your sports your first love? Who or what is really first in your life? “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37). The Scripture in Revelation says: “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4).
What is Jesus saying to us? He is saying that any time you put someone or something ahead of your love and your relationship with Him, you are not worthy of His love.
Seek first. You are to put Him first in your priorities, first in your day, and first in your heart. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). What is the first thing you do each morning? What should you do first? Ask yourself these questions: Are the things that I’m doing of eternal value? Will what I do today help to increase His kingdom? Do I seek after His righteousness? Remember, our righteousness is like dirty rags (Isa. 64:6).
What happens when you put someone ahead of the Lord? What does He do to draw you back to Him? “Thou hast removed my acquaintances far from me; Thou hast made me an object of loathing to them” (Ps. 88:8). “Thou hast removed lover and friend far from me; my acquaintances are in darkness” (Ps. 88:18). Some men have lost their wives to another man, lost their children, and lost their jobs.
Whom do you want to please? Our goal should be to please the Lord, rather than to try to please our wives or anyone else in our lives. “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7). “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Prov. 31:30).
Why not try to please my wife? That was man’s first mistake. Let’s look at some Scriptural facts: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6). Why would Adam eat the fruit when he knew it was wrong?
Man sinned knowingly. Adam heard directly from God. In Genesis 2:17, God commanded man not to eat the fruit. The woman was not created until Genesis 2:22. We never see God commanding Eve directly. Eve was deceived; Adam knowingly sinned.
Woman was created for man. God gave Adam dominion over all living things in the garden, including Eve. Eve was created for Adam, not the other way around. “For indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake” (1 Cor. 11:9). “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Gen. 2:18).
Adam never stopped Eve, even though he was with her. “. . . And she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6). Why? Why did he also eat the fruit? Is it possible that Adam was trying to please Eve? Maybe he just wanted to let her do what she wanted, even though in his heart he knew it was a mistake? What about you? Do you do things just to please your wife without stopping to consider what God thinks about it? Do you many times let your wife (or your children) do things that your heart tells you are not right?
What does a man often do when things go wrong? Once caught, what does Adam do? “And the man said, ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate’” (Gen. 3:12). He blames Eve. It was her fault! The bottom line is that he also blames God! Well, there is no doubt Eve was wrong to eat the fruit. But why isn’t she blamed for the fall of man if she ate it first and then gave it to Adam? Why is sin not passed down through her? “Therefore, just as through one mansin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned . . .” (Rom. 5:12).
Eve was deceived but Adam knowingly sinned. Adam was ultimately responsible and accountable before God. “Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it . . .’” (Gen. 3:17). Men, we are ultimately responsible and accountable to God when we “have listened to the voice of our wives” and it was contrary to what we knew was right. When God’s Word says something else, or He has directed us differently, we are to move in the right direction. The bottom line is for us to do what is right. “Our way” or “her way” doesn’t matter; it must be God’s way.
We are to be our wives’ protectors. We were put over our wives for their protection, even though they may many times feel it is their curse! Because it was the woman who was deceived, God felt she was not safe from Satan’s deceptive schemes and He assigned man to rule over her. Again, it is deception that we are to protect our wives from. “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Tim. 2:14). As husbands and heads of our households, we are to protect our wives spiritually.
Women in the church. “Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church” (1 Cor. 14:34–35). Why do church services and Christian seminars seem to attract more women than men? Where are the men? If they are not in attendance, who then is leading? Men, are we capable of answering our wives’ spiritual questions? Maybe they’re not asking us questions because of the poor example we have set as Christian leaders.
Older women encouraging the younger women. Women need to be in their homes teaching and encouraging younger women, not in church leadership. “Older women . . . encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be dishonored” (Titus 2:3).
Captivating weak women. From whom is your wife getting instruction? An older woman, or another man? What is being taught? Things that you should be teaching her? “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth” (2 Tim. 3:6). Certainly, there are things your wife needs to learn from an older woman, such as the things in Titus 2:3–5, but the husband should teach his wife and be the spiritual leader in his marriage. Are you prepared for such a challenge? Have you turned over your spiritual leadership to the Bible study teacher and to your preacher on Sunday?
Weak women?!! If a preacher ever stood up in the pulpit and insinuated that women were weak, it would possibly divide the church. The feminist movement has indoctrinated all of us so much that we are offended by such implications. Yet God’s Word says in 1 Peter 3:7, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman . . .” Are we to deny the way God created a woman? If we do, we will also treat her as an equal—equally tough! But God’s Word says we are to live with her differently, “in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman.”
Honor her as a fellow heir. If your wife is weaker, does that make her a lower class citizen in the kingdom of God? Let’s read the entire verse: “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman, and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). God also tells us our punishment for not granting our wives honor—our prayers will be hindered, if we do not live with her in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman!
Dressed as a harlot. “And behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. She is boisterous and rebellious; her feet do not remain at home; she is now in the streets, now in the squares, and lurks by every corner” (Prov. 7:10–12). Men, do you allow your daughters to dress as harlots? Do you ask your wife to dress as one, maybe in the bedroom, to satisfy the lusts of the flesh that were awakened during your dating days? Do you pressure her to look and act like the centerfolds that your eyes lusted upon before you were a Christian?
Held with the cords of your sin. Are you still held by the cords of your sin? “His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray” (Prov. 5:22). Men, you need to get right before God. The verse just prior to this says, “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths” (Prov. 5:21). Get it right with God. Consider confessing it to another Christian brother and have him pray for you. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). Then treat your wife the way God intended and release her from the bondage of your past sins.
I married a harlot. Maybe you would say that she was a harlot when you married her. Once you get it right with God, share with her your confession. This may lead her to repent as well. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25–27). God can give you both a clean start. Go to Him, confess, repent, and begin anew.
Knowing good and evil. “And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:4–5). Do you want your daughters to know good and evil? Women seem especially drawn to seek after knowledge. But Scripture tells us that since the woman was deceived by the serpent, she needs the man’s protection. Should we send our daughters to college where they will be taught the knowledge of good and evil? What is the ultimate reason for sending a daughter to college? What might be the consequences of that decision? It is a decision that should be weighed and prayed about earnestly since your daughter’s future is in your hands. What about our sons? Should they attend college?
Higher learning. Charles Darwin graduated from Bible college with a degree in theology (the only degree he ever obtained), but after reading a book by Charles Lawton, his faith was destroyed. We are well aware of the destruction Darwin has had on the faith of others. Can we then justify anyone going on to “higher learning” only to be indoctrinated into evil and lies? God tells us specifically what to do when confronted with evil. “And let him turn away from evil and do good . . .” (1 Pet. 3:11).
No worthless thing. God tells us in Psalm 101:3, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not fasten its grip on me.” There is something very interesting in that verse. Did you notice it? Even setting worthless things before us can cause us to “fall away”! Could this have something to do with why there is so much rebellion in our children who are taught, day after day, worthless things, lies, and evil! As the heads of our households, and those who will ultimately give an account to the Lord, God has put us in charge to protect our families. We should rethink a decision to send our children to any school that teaches worthless and evil things. And speaking of worthless things, could the Psalmist also have been prophesying about television, movies, and video games? Are we protecting our families and ourselves from these things that can cause us to fall away from God?
Wives going back to school. And what about our wives going back to college? Why are they going? Some want to go because they are bored. Many want to finish their degrees, and some who are working at menial jobs want to be able to have better jobs. Many just like education. But too many women who have come to Restore Ministries tell of how they fell into adultery in the workplace or on college campuses, and all were Christian women! Several, after being on campus, became dissatisfied with their home lives and ended up in mental and emotional conflicts. “For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:7–8). “But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away” (James 1:9–10). “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). (In the Greek, mammon or mammon which means confidence, i.e., wealth personified.)
Talents to glorify God. If your wife feels stifled in her present circumstances, she may need encouragement as well as time to pursue learning that will ultimately “glorify God.” There are talents that are found in the Proverbs 31 woman. There’s also a list in Titus 2. What are your wife’s gifts and talents? Make sure that you as her husband allow and encourage her to use or learn talents that will enable her to teach her daughters or other women. Have you been critical or made fun of her attempts to try a new recipe or bake bread from scratch? Have you mocked her creations when she attempted to sew? Maybe you were foolish enough to tell her that she could have bought it much cheaper. What was your reaction to the new wreath that she made for your front door or the way she rearranged the furniture? Do you thank her for the time and effort it takes to drive around to yard sales and look for bargains that save your family money?
Seek love. You may think that she is wasting time and money doing these things. She may be, but there is a loving way to handle everything. Remember, “Love never fails . . .”! (1 Cor. 13:8). Speak kindly, and then give her a specific amount of money to use when shopping. Encourage her to find women she knows who can teach her some of the things she needs to learn, like sewing, baking, and decorating. Again, remember to give her a budget of time and money. Women are naturally creative and they love a challenge. If you’ve been overly strict or stingy because of her past mistakes, give her some freedom. If she has been allowed to run free and there has been no accountability, tighten up a bit and begin to protect. If you don’t, you will breed independence and rebellion in your daughters.
Cause to stumble. Also, women envy those women who can get away with everything; don’t cause others to stumble because you are too lazy or too weak to handle possible conflict. “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:2).
Restrain her? You may be saying, “You don’t know my wife! I could never take charge of our home!” God knows your wife. “A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike; He who would restrain her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand” (Prov. 27:15–16). But men, it’s time to take control of our homes, our children, and our country. If we do what is right and let the Lord deal with our wives’ reactions, we can turn our homes around. Remember, we will be held accountable for what we do or don’t do. Your wife will be held accountable for submitting to God. Standing firm in our faith and doing everything in love will make all the difference. “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13).
If You Love Me
After you put God first in your life, and begin to obey God’s Word, then you must cast down the false doctrine that says, “You are saved by grace, so it’s really okay to sin. We are no longer under the Law.” Let’s search the Scriptures:
Do your deeds deny Him? “They profess to know God, but their deeds deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).
Do you do what His Word says? “Why do you call Me Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Are we to continue in sin? “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1–2).
Faith without works is dead. “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
I never knew you. Many believe that you can live any way you wish and then enter into heaven once you die; this is simply not true. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:22–23).
Confess your sins. If you have continued to sin, thinking you are saved by grace even when you walk in disobedience, do as Scripture says: “Therefore, confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Obedience to His Word
“Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square. At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance to the gate in the city, she utters her sayings: ‘How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity. And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, and fools hate knowledge. Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I called and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel, and did not want my reproof; I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes on like a storm, and your calamity comes on like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come on you.“‘Then they will call on me but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naive shall kill them, and the complacency of fools shall destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil’” (Prov. 1:20–33).
Obedience comes from the heart. “. . . You became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed” (Rom. 6:17). And again, “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
Obedience needs testing. “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial which comes upon you for your testing” (1 Pet. 4:12).
Obedience purifies your soul. “Since you have in obedience to the Truth, purified your souls” (1 Pet. 1:22).
Obedience gives testimony of who your Father is. “Obey My voice and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way in which I command you, that it may be well with you. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward” (Jer. 7:23–24).
Your disobedience actually praises the wicked. “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive with them” (Prov. 28:4).
The prayers of the disobedient go unheard. “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Prov. 28:9).
Our Example Is Christ
He was obedient even unto death. “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5–11).
He learned obedience. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:7–10).
He was obedient and submissive to His authority. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but Thou wilt. . . . My Father if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done” (Matt. 26:39, 42).
The secret to success. “All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him” (Ps. 25:10–11).
Foolishness to him. You may be having trouble taking this all in. But I guarantee that you will never understand until you first obey. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things . . .” (1 Cor. 2:14–15).
Self-condemned. Unfortunately, most dispute or argue the true meaning of Scripture, which God says is to their own destruction.“But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:9–11).
Turn aside to myths. Instead of searching for the Truth, some want others to agree with their false ideas or compromising decisions: “But wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4).
Obedience to Be Delivered from Our Trials
Remember that only the blameless will be delivered. “He who walks blamelessly will be delivered, but he who is crooked will fall all at once” (Prov. 28:18).
God watches and blesses what you do. “Thou dost recompense a man according to his work” (Ps. 62:12).
Watch your folly. “But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him” (Ps. 85:8–9).
Wisdom is needed. “He who walks wisely will be delivered” (Prov. 28:26).
Hear and fear. “The one who despises the Word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded” (Prov. 13:13).
Seek and follow wisdom. “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered” (Prov. 28:26).
Be self-disciplined in your obedience to His Word. “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you” (Ps. 32:9).
If you don’t obey, He will discipline you. “The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death” (Ps. 118:18).
God is faithful to His Word. “If his sons forsake My law, and do not walk in My judgments, if they violate My statutes, and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes” (Ps. 89:30–34).
Let us all bow our heads and pray Psalm 51 aloud: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou will not despise.”
May God be with you as you strive to be more like Christ!
“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on, in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).
Personal commitment: To put the Lord first in my life.“Based on what I have learned in Scripture, I commit to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. I will show the Lord, and others, my commitment to Him by my obedience to His Word.”
“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on, in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).