Training for Reigning - 51 - Recovering our first love

EVERYWHERE WE TURN these days we seem to find two large groups among the Lord’s people. They are those who feel they have left their first love, and those who never think anything about that solemn word in Rev. 2:4 Even the thought that all their disappointments and frustrations could have anything to do with the subject never enters their heads!
When some of us first were saved we were so filled with joy to know that the Lord Jesus had loved us "unto the death of the cross," paying our debt with His precious blood, that we felt we simply couldn’t help but love Him in return. It was easy, then, to sing, "All for Jesus, all my being’s ransomed powers." But things, it may be, are not the same now; yet we can hardly figure out why it should be so. And the fact that they are not the same has been troubling some dear ones, making them to wonder if they are really saved. For this reason it is well that we should understand, clearly, why things have changed.
Usually, we blame our many responsibilities and cares for it, or else, neglect of reading the Word and prayer. However, if I mistake not, such neglects are the fruit of yet another condition, rarely recognized. Let us consider the problem for a little while.
Before conversion we were in the world, and of the world - which means that our thinking, attitudes, interests and way of life belonged in every way to a natural pattern - one from which we now find it most difficult to break away. All our days we have been surrounded by the demands of creature needs. In addition, there have been the needs of our spirits and souls: we have needed to know many things relating to ourselves, to people, to our environment and times. We have needed the society of friends, to love and be loved, in order that our emotional being should not be starved or warped. Also, we have needed some measure of pleasurable experiences in order to retain emotional balance. Thus we have lived, and continue to live, in the surrounds of creature needs at all times . . . and may be in danger of regarding them as the chief requirements of life. (Contra Deut 8:3). Hence, it is in trying to strike a satisfactory balance between what we know ourselves to be, and to desire, and what we ought to be, and to desire, that CONFLICT (Gal. 5:16-18) begins to trouble us. Then, more often than not, we find we don’t know how to keep up that joyous state of soul some of us knew when we first trusted in Christ. Besides, we’ve gotten used to being saved. The frown and cold shoulder of the world have hurt and dismayed us. There just does not seem to be any impulse to feel excited about our salvation any more. Then, our enthusiasm having waned, all too often we begin to long for the flesh-pots of Egypt (Exodus 16:2-4) once more. When we turn to find our supply, or outlets in the Assembly, it is only to find, "There’s nothing in the Assemblies for the young people"- even as there is nothing in them for anybody else, that is nothing but Christ (Matt. 18:20; Heb. 13:13). Disappointed, counting the Heavenly Manna (John 6:48, 57) as somewhat "light bread" (Num. 21:5), and knowing only the former things to satisfy the strong desires (lusts of our creature level), we lean back in spirit toward the world and its ways - as Lot’s wife did toward doomed Sodom. For we expect them to supply us with the needed satisfaction, especially if we can argue that we "can’t see any harm in them."
That this is a very common picture I feel sure most of our readers will agree. It does seem to take some of us so very, very long to learn that not only have we been "spoiled for the world," but also how to go about it to enjoy - really - our portion in Christ. So, it is often for this very reason that God allows disappointments, frustrations and dismay to come into our lives. Because, before He can get us out of "the old man’s" way of living into enjoyment of "the new man’s" new "life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:4, 8:2; Gal. 2:20). He has to bring us to an end of ourselves all over again!
Now let me try to explain what lies back behind all this. The chief obstacle to our making progress in the new "life in Christ Jesus" seems to be the COLLECTION of ATTITUDES we have been building up all through the years, and to which we still cling. We believe this and feel that (Acts 26:9). We have our ideas about right and wrong; about what is important, or unimportant; what is needful for our welfare and happiness; what other people ought to be, to do - and many other such matters.
Therefore, because it is the way we think and feel that makes us what we are, governing how we act and react, it is necessary that our all-wise Heavenly Father shall allow us to eat the fruit of our "old-man" habits of thinking and feeling (ef. Isa 55:8; Prov. 1:13) in order to pry us loose from the former Pattern and into harmony with Himself, allowing our disappointments, frustrations and dismay to become our teachers. The great need, then, is that we shall give the hindering attitudes the place of death in order that restored Spirit-begotten ones can take their place. Only through these, renewed as when we first were saved, will the Lord be able to work in us freely "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13), thus enabling us, really, TO LIVE UNTO HIMSELF.
Now to get to the point before space runs out, Rom. 6 tells us how to get the restoration of this Spirit-begotten attitude. It comes through KNOWING (vs. 3), RECKONING (vs. 11), then YIELDING (vs. 13). In this latter verse we are commanded: ". . yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." This just means that we are going to our knees and hand ourselves over - all we are and have - unto Himself. (The aorist tense, repeated in vs. 19, as also Rom 12:1; 2 Cor 8:5, indicates a "once-for-all," "completed action," say the grammarians).
What will happen then? Shall we have some wonderful experience, or receive a great influx of spiritual power? NO, indeed! All that will happen will be a restbration of the first-love attitude toward the One Who bought us with His own blood (1 Cor. 6:20). Yet upon this basis it will be possible for God to restore unto us, progressively, an even greater measure of loving devotion to the Lord than we knew at the first - a love, which will find its expression not in mere sentimentality, but in "doing the first works" (Rev. 2:5), that is, in obedience to His Will (John 14:15). - And for all who will seek this renewal of their first love there is a blessed promise (Rev. 2:7).