Let’s pick it up today in Revelation 2:5 where it says, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Last week we discussed the fact that sometimes we do leave our first love. We stray away from the things of God for one reason or another, but we also learned that it’s never too late to come back. The way to do that is threefold. First, you must remember from where you have fallen. Remember when you first gave your heart to Jesus, the feelings of love, joy, and peace that flooded over you?
Second you must repent. Tell God you’re sorry. Turn away from your sin. There is a process in the Bible that we would all do well to learn. Luke 17:1-4 says, “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”
What we see here is that repentance must come before forgiveness can be given. Now this passage is speaking specifically of our relationship with our brother or sister, but it is also speaking of our relationship with the Lord. The process is as follows: God rebukes us, we remember, we repent, and God forgives. So then, it must be argued that repentance is the requirement for forgiveness. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness.
As a pastor, I’ve had conflict in my church. I’ve had people do and say things that they should not have done or said. When they are confronted with it, they choose to either repent or go into denial. It’s within our very nature to deny our own sin. When God confronted Adam in the Garden after he and Eve had disobeyed His commandment to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge, he chose denial instead of repentance. God said in Gen 3:11-13, “Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” Listen to what Adam said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” He had the audacity to blame God and the woman that God had given to him for his sin! Eve didn’t do any better. God said to Eve, “What is this that thou hast done?” and she said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” She also refused to acknowledge her sin and blamed the serpent! Denial can never lead to forgiveness: only repentance.
It’s the same thing in our relationship with God. Once we’ve done and said things that we should not have done and said; their must be repentance before forgiveness or the fellowship will be broken. Are there some things that you need to repent of to a brother, sister, or your church? Do it today so that forgiveness can be given and the relationship can be restored.
And then finally, after remembrance and repentance, you must return and do your first works. Start going back to church, praying, fellowshipping with fellow Believers, etc…
Now, the question must be asked, “What if I don’t return to my first love?” “What if I don’t repent?” The answer is given in v.5, “…or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
That’s pretty strong language from God Himself. Usually when someone uses the words “or else”, there is a threat forthcoming! God is saying to this church, “If you don’t repent, I will remove your church.” "If you do not repent quickly, I am going to remove your light.” “You are going to lose your testimony." “I will write Ichabod (the glory has departed) over your doors.”
You don’t have to go very far to see the crippling effects of unrepentant sin. Towns all across America are filled with churches that are empty shells with no reality, no joy, no enthusiasm, and no burden for the lost. Why? Because of unrepentant sin!