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Audio: Chapter 5 "Your First Love"
Chapter 5 “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? Was your husband your first love? Is your baby or your children first in your life, above your husband and the Lord? Has your career been first? Who 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 our Lord saying to us? He is saying that any time we put someone or something ahead of our love for or our relationship with Him, then we 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 to you” (Matt. 6:33).
Dirty rags. Ask yourself these questions: Do the things I put first have eternal value? Will what I do today help to increase His kingdom? Am I seeking after His righteousness or trying to muster up my own righteousness? Remember, our righteousness is like dirty rags! (See Isa. 64:6.)
What happens when you put someone ahead of the Lord?What does He do to draw you back to Him? If you have put your husband ahead of the Lord, then it was the Lord who has taken your husband from you. “Youhave [God has] removed my acquaintances far from me; Youhave [God has] made me an object of loathing to them. You have [God has] removed lover and friend far from me; my acquaintances are in darkness” (Ps. 88:8, 18). Don’t make marriage restoration first in your life; you must make the Lord first in your life!
Does this mean that we are not to care about what our husbands want and need?Are we to have the attitude that “We serve the Lord, not you”? God teaches us a perfect balance in His Word. “Wives, be subject unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as is fitting to the Lord” (Col. 3:18). When we are subject to our husbands, we’re doing it for the Lord! Even, and especially, if we feel that our husbands don’t deserve the honor we show them, we can rest knowingwe submit graciously to our husbands for the Lord who deserves our submission to Him and to His Word!
Word of God may not be blasphemed. The Lord even gives us a warning that not obeying or not honoring our husbands will dishonor, even blaspheme, the Lord and His Word: “. . . being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored” (Titus 2:5). In the KJV, it reads, “. . . being subject to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be blasphemed.”
Pleasing to the Lord. We are to seek to please the Lord, rather than trying to please our husbands. Then the Lord will cause us to have favor with our husbands. “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7). “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:30). “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).
Obedience Rather than Sacrifice
To obey is better than sacrifice. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you . . .” (1 Sam.15:22–23). “To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice” (Prov. 21:3).
Your outward appearance. Even if your outward appearance deceives others into thinking you’re submissive, God knows your heart! “Do not look at his appearance . . . because I have rejected him; 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). My husband and everyone else thought I was an extremely submissive wife. I was even deceived. God knew that my being abandoned was what I needed. (For more encouragement in this area, listen or watch the “Esther” video available through our ministry office.)
There is a story of a little boy whose father continued to ask him to “sit down.” Finally, the little boy did sit down and the father smiled. The boy quickly exclaimed, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but on the inside—I’m standing up!” Many times we are standing up on the inside. Many times after you do the right thing and go along with your husband’s plan, you exclaim, “But I don’t agree!” or your attitude tells him that you don’t. Have you done this? Has this been your type of “mock” submission to your husband?
Also you will reap what you have sown. If you were a rebel with your parents before you were married, you are probably still a rebel with your husband. To top it off, you married a rebel. Now your husband has become a greater rebel since you married, just like you have. He now rebels against all sound wisdom and has even taken the rebellion as far as to rebel against his commitment to be faithful to you!
Nothing is impossible. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife” (1 Cor. 7:14). Yes, it is true. Obey now and watch as the Lord sanctifies your husband. Does this seem strange? Does it seem impossible, because he is so bad? It’s because you are one flesh: “Consequently they are no longer two but one flesh” (Matt. 19:6). “Neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman” (1 Cor. 11:11).
Can only half a body go one way and the other half go the other? Even if you go separate ways for a while, God will eventually bring you back together. It can happen because “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
He who walks blameless. Once you obey, God will turn your husband’s heart. “He turns it (the heart) wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1). Remember, only “he who walks blameless will be delivered” (Prov. 28:18). If you say you don’t want to obey your husband, then he won’t obey the One who is over him either! “Christ is the head of everyman, and the man is the head of woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3). Don’t give the excuse that your husband is not a Christian therefore you don’t have to obey him. There is noScripture that tells a woman that she does not have to be subject or submissive to a non-believer!
Don’t excuse your present rebellion by saying that your husband is not around, so how can you obey someone who is not there? You obey what you knowyou should do and what you should have done when he was still there! If you can’t remember, then ask the Lord to bring to mind allthose things your husband asked you to do when you weren’t listening or obeying. Then do them. It is not a matter of your husband seeing those changes, but God seeing that you’ve changed.
Suffering unjustly. And what if my husband is mean or even cruel? “Be submissive . . . with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin [disobey] and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right, and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Pet. 2:18–20). The Word goes on to say that we women have an example in the Lord and His life. He asks us to follow in His footsteps as we’ll see below.
Ladies, Lose the Rebellious Spirit!
I’m not young, and I wonder how I could have lived so long by my own understanding. I thought wrongly, and did not know it. I was not a bad person, but I was rebellious in spirit, and tried to be the master of the house. Unfortunately, I succeeded.
My husband came for a visit last evening. Now that I really listen to what he has to say, he (the silent one) is talking nonstop! It has taken much preparation, study, and time alone listening to my Lord, to Whom I eagerly returned.
Ladies, what we read in RMI may initially seem foreign. If we have a rebellious spirit, we need to deal with that first. I now take my issues to God so I am much easier to be with. After that happened, my husband has offered me solutions I never thought of, and help he once withheld.
I know God is smiling! —Karen, NC, Separated
“If You Love Me—Obey”
After you put God first in your life, and begin to obey those in authority over you, you must then cast down the false doctrine that says “you are saved by grace, so it’s really okayto sin, because we are no longer under the Law.” Let’s search the Scriptures:
Do your deeds deny Him? “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they 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, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1–2). “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” (Rom. 6:15).
Faith without works is dead. “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:14, 26). Good works are the “fruits” of our salvation. These are the questions we must ask ourselves: Do my deeds deny that I follow the Lord? Does grace give me a license to sin? Am I, as a believer, to produce good works?
I never knew you. Many believe that you can live any way you wish and then enter into heaven once you die. Is this 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). The answer is then “no!”
Confess your sins. If this is the mind that you had, prior to learning these Scriptures, do as Scripture says: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed . . .” (James 5:16).
Obedience to His Word
Seek wisdom! “Wisdomshouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square. At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: ‘How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? 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” (Prov. 1:20–23).
“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 also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you” (Prov. 1:24–27).
“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 will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil” (Prov. 1:28–33). Seek wisdom!
Obedience comes from the heart. “. . . You became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed” (Rom. 6:17). 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 purifiesyour soul. “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls . . .”(1 Pet. 1:22).
Obedience gives testimonyof 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 of Obedience Is Jesus
He was obedient even unto death.“He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”(Phil. 2:8).“Although He was a Son, He learned obediencefrom the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8).
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 as You will. My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matt. 26:39, 42).
Our submission to our authority. “Wives be submissive to your own husbands, as to the Lord . . . But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their own husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:22–24). “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist areestablished by God”(Rom. 13:1).
The secret to success.“All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.For Your 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. 25:10–15).
Turn aside to myths. Instead of searching for the truth, many want others to agree with their wrong ideas or 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 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 meseverely, but He has not given me over to death. I shall not die but live, and tell of the works of the Lord” (Ps. 118:18, 17).
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). If you continue in rebellion to God’s Word or your husband’s authority, God will continue to punish you.
Read 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!
Personal commitment: to put the Lord first in my life. “Based on what I have learned in Scripture, I commit to do everything as unto the Lord. I will show the Lord my commitment to Him and my obedience to His Word by submitting to those who are in authority over me, especially my husband.”
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