‘From Whence Thou Art Fallen’August 29, 2019
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen…
— Revelation 2:5
In yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, we saw that Christ confronted the illustrious church of Ephesus about the fact that they had left their first love. He urged them to put everything on pause and to remember the fiery love they’d had for Jesus when they first repented several decades earlier. Although they were perhaps the largest and most sophisticated church in the world at that time, they had lost the wonder of it all as they became consumed in the busyness of ministry. That’s why Jesus told them that they needed to “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen…” (Revelation 2:5).
It is important to note that Greek word translated as “remember” is in the present active imperative, which means Jesus wanted the Ephesian believers to remain continually mindful of their past. What God had done in their midst was a wonderful memory that needed to be memorialized in their congregation for all generations. But if they took an honest look at their hearts and compared their present to their past, they would see what Jesus knew about them — that they had fallen from the zeal and spiritual passion that had once burned in their hearts. Regardless of the adulation the Ephesian church received from other churches and spiritual leaders throughout the Roman Empire, Jesus could see the true state of this body of believers. Therefore, He admonished them, “Remember from whence thou art fallen…”
The word “whence” is the Greek word pothen, which points back in time to a different place or a different time. It is intended to draw one’s attention to a specific moment or experience in the past to see what life was once like. In addition, the word “fallen” means a downfall from a high and lofty position. The Greek tense doesn’t describe the act of falling; rather, it refers to one who has already completely fallen and who is now living in a completely fallen state.
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For the past multiple decades, the church at Ephesus had hosted the world’s greatest Christian leaders, experienced the power of God, and become more advanced in spiritual knowledge than any other church of that time. In fact, the Christian community at the time viewed this congregation as the ideal church. However, we must never forget that what can be carefully hidden from human eyes can never be concealed from Jesus. Hebrews 4:13 tells us that “…all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Jesus is often unimpressed with the things that impress us because He sees a different picture than we do. Others may have been impressed with the heritage of the Ephesian church and its roster of famous personalities — but in Jesus’ eyes, the church was “fallen.”
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This is reminiscent of the apostle Paul’s words in First Corinthians 10:12, where he said, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The word “thinketh” comes from the Greek word dokeo, which in this context means to be of the opinion, to reckon, to suppose, or to think. In this verse, the word dokeo expresses the idea of what a person thinks or supposes about himself. There is nothing to verify if that individual’s opinion is correct — only that it is the prevailing opinion he has regarding himself.
The word “standeth” comes from the word istemi, which simply means to stand, to stand fast, to stand firm, or to stand upright. But when the words dokeo and istemi are combined in the same thought as Paul used them in this verse, the phrase could be read: “Wherefore let anyone who has the self-imposed opinion of himself that he is standing strong and firm…” Then Paul added the next critically important words: “…take heed lest he fall.”
The words “take heed” are from the Greek word blepo, which means to watch, to see, to behold, or to be aware. The Greek tense indicates the need not only to watch, but also to be continually watchful.
The word “fall” in First Corinthians 10:12 is a form of the same word Jesus used in Revelation 2:5 when He told the believers in Ephesus that they were already fallen. This word depicts one who falls into sin, falls into ruin, or falls into some type of failure. In other words, this isn’t merely the picture of someone who stumbles a little; it depicts a downward plummet that causes one to tragically crash. This verse could therefore be interpreted, “If anyone has the opinion of himself that he is standing strong and firm, he needs to be continually watchful and always on his guard lest he trip, stumble, and fall from his overly confident position — taking a downward nosedive that leads to a serious crash.”
Spiritual smugness is an attitude that deceives a person into thinking more highly of himself than he ought to think (see Romans 12:3). Often this self-congratulatory attitude emerges among those who “think” they are more advanced, educated, or spiritually sophisticated than others. It is a spiritual pride that blinds one from clearly seeing his own areas of shortcoming and need the way he once did and causes him to be overly impressed with himself.
It is vital that we take this as a divine warning that directly pertains to our own walk with God. We must understand that our own opinion of ourselves or the high opinion of others concerning us is not a trustworthy measure. Proverbs 16:2 says, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” According to this verse, flesh is always prone to be self-congratulatory and to excuse its own failures and weaknesses. But there is nothing hidden from Jesus’ sight; He sees it all from the beginning to the end. All the public relations in the world will not change what Jesus sees in a person’s heart. Therefore, it is what Jesus Christ knows about us that is most important — not what we think about ourselves or what others think or say about us.
The church of Ephesus had a glorious past and a famous name. It was large, well-known, and recognized by others as a spiritual center and a model church. Nevertheless, Jesus saw the situation very differently from what human eyes could see. If Jesus could call this illustrious church with its list of remarkable accomplishments “fallen,” it is clear that any church, regardless of its notable beginning or enduring fame, can also be “fallen.” This means one’s past is not a guarantee of one’s future. If an individual or a church is not completely devoted to doing whatever is necessary to retain spiritual passion, it is likely that over time, the initial passion will slowly dissipate, as was the case with the church of Ephesus.
That is why Jesus lovingly pointed the Ephesian believers backward in time, reminding them of the spiritual vibrancy they once possessed but had lost. Then He enjoined them to take action to rekindle their fire. If they would recognize the religious routine into which they had fallen — and allow this knowledge to produce conviction of sin about their backslidden condition — they could repent and turn the situation around.
I covered the subject of repentance in the March 17-21 Gems. However, this subject is so vital in the Church world in this present hour that I am going to cover it again in the following Sparkling Gem. If there was ever an hour to issue a clear teaching on the need for repentance — what it is, how it is done, and what the effects of true repentance are — it is in the hour in which we live.
Oh, how far the Church has drifted from the simple, powerful, fiery beginnings of revival that once burned in the hearts of early believers! Today Christ is speaking from the Scriptures and calling His people to repent, just as He called on the church of Ephesus to repent nearly 2,000 years ago. Let’s hear what the Spirit is still speaking to His Church!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Dear Father, I confess that the Church — with all of its sophistication and technology — seems to be lacking in great demonstrations of the power of God. But rather than take a critical role, I admit that I am a part of this great Body of believers, and that, I too, need to remember from whence I have fallen. Help us to remember the early days, the early passion, the early fire that burned in our hearts. Help us to do a corrective self-analysis of where we are compared to where we were. There have been so many wonderful advances, and I recognize that, but there is a simplicity and fire that is missing. Lord, restore it to us and help us burn brightly and simply as we once did.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that admitting what is wrong is the first step in repentance. Therefore, I repent for allowing the busyness of life and worldliness to usurp the place in my heart that belongs only to the Lord. I press in to receive a fresh visitation of the Holy Spirit’s power and the heartfelt willingness to receive it with open arms. I confess that I am open-hearted, willing, and ready for the Lord to restore His Church to the power that He destined for it to possess!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you recall an earlier time in your Christian life — a simpler time — when you relished and cherished the gifts of the Holy Spirit and could hardly wait for a move of the Spirit? What changed?
- Do you attend a church where the moving of the Holy Spirit is appreciated? If God wanted to mightily move on your congregation, would it be welcomed or rejected? Does that response reflect your personal belief and desire?
- How would you honestly gauge your own spiritual life? Are you more advanced than you once were, or are you “fallen” compared to the fiery passion you once had in your earlier life with Jesus?