Guarding The First Love
"Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matt. 24:12). This waning of love refers to the dying out of the fire of a holy passion for the Lord Himself and for those for whom He gave His life, the loss of holy enthusiasm in His service and devotion. It refers not to that fleshly enthusiasm in His service and devotion that shouts and rejoices when the crowd is coming, or works zealously when the brass band is playing and the grandstand is filled with admirers.
No! No! It is that enthusiasm that works with a quiet, untiring, unassuming earnestness and steadiness when it must plod on alone unheard and unnoticed except by the Lord – that enthusiasm that is born not of outward encouragement, nor the applause of men, nor by what men call success, nor by the unholy desire for praise, but that which is born of an inward urge implanted by the Holy Ghost, the overflow of the passion of Christ. The waning of this love, said Jesus, will be one of the earmarks of the end-time.
The other characteristics of the last days are easily noticeable, but this loss of love is far more subtle and less easily detected. We may be thoroughly orthodox and have a contempt for heresy and heterodoxy and yet be guilty of a loveless heart. The other features have to do largely with the world and apostate Christendom, but this one has to do with the saints of God.
This is the blighting sin which our Lord so strongly condemned in the Ephesian Church in Revelation 2:4. This is that sin for which our Lord threatened to "remove the candlestick out of his place." "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" was His condemnation. "Thou art fallen" was His solemn charge (Rev. 2:4-5). So important is the possession of this love Divine in its fervent glow that Paul by inspiration said, "If I have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:2).
The waning of this love, said our Lord, would characterize the end-time. And why? "Because iniquity shall abound" (Matt. 24:12). So profuse will be the growth of evil, so completely will the spirit of evil pervade every realm of human activity and relationship, and so subtle will be the injection of evil into the realm of righteousness, that many of God’s saints will become infected with this spirit of evil. Subtle and gradual compromise will result in the "waxing cold" of the love of the heart for Christ.
This condition is self-evident today. There has been such a subtle satanic mixture of religion, secularism, worldliness and sensualism in the realm of religion, business, commerce, stage and screen that many a dear Christian has become trapped and the strength of their love is being sapped from the heart and life. Even in the realm of orthodoxy too often a carnal contention for the faith has taken the place of a passionate personal passion for Christ and His truth. A cold orthodoxy can contend eloquently for the faith. But it is a heart passionately in love with Christ that loves souls into His kingdom. To "contend for the faith" is a God-given command not to be disobeyed (Jude 3). But to "hold forth the form of sound words in faith and love" is its counterpart and complement (2 Tim. 1:13).
Look about you and analyze carefully the spiritual condition today and you stand face to face with this sad earmark of the end of this age. "The love of many shall wax cold" is sadly true too generally (Matthew 24:12). How often have I had to bow my head in shame and confess that my love was waning! How often have I prayed that this subtle earmark of the end of this dispensation may not be true of my own heart!
Let us ask God for a keen spiritual discernment that will enable us to understand and detect the slightest waning of His love in our hearts. Let us wait upon Him repeatedly for a fresh infilling of the Holy Ghost until "the fruit of the Spirit – love" (Gal. 5:22), will burn and blaze in all its holy passion in our hearts.