Here are three dangerous conditions about which the Lord Jesus Christ gives plain warning. Let all who have ears to hear heed the Master’s warnings.
1. APOSTASY FROM OUR FIRST LOVE
The Lord Jesus Christ says, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" (2:4). Does the Son of God speak these words to me? Are they addressed to you? The Ephesians were zealous in good works, patient in the trials and afflictions of life, and thoroughly orthodox in doctrine. But there was a dreadful decay in the matter of love to Christ! Are we like the Ephesians? Does our love for Christ decline? Do we find ourselves more and more concerned about the cares of this world and less and less concerned about Christ? Repent! Turn anew to Christ! Renounce all but him and set your affection on him alone (Col. 3:1-3).
2. THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM ()
When Balak called for Balaam to curse
Israel, God restrained him. Much to Balak's disgust, God forced Balaam to bless his people (Num. 22-24). Yet, Israel became involved in the worship of Baal (Num. 25:1-3) as the result of Balaam’s counsel (Num. 31:16). Balaam’s doctrine is compromise with the religion of the world. He did not advise Israel to give up the worship of Jehovah. He simply told them it would be wise to accept the worship of Baal and go along with the religious customs, traditions, and practices of their pagan neighbors (Num. 25:1-9). Be warned! Compromise with false religion is damning to the souls of men. Compromise is the way of least resistance, the way approved of by the world, the way that is easiest on the flesh. But any compromise of God's truth is an outright denial of Christ (2 Cor. -7:1). We must never give any credibility to the religion of this world. The only way to remove the offense of the gospel is to deny the gospel. Those who preach man’s free will deny God’s sovereignty. Those who preach salvation by the will, works, or worth of the sinner deny salvation by grace. Those who preach universal atonement deny the efficacy of Christ's blood. Those who preach universal grace deny the efficacy of God's saving grace. Such people may talk about grace, redemption, and salvation; but their doctrine is free will and works, and results in damnation to all who follow them in the way of Balaam. We must never seek agreement with such men, even in the name of peace, unity, and brotherly love. The only way we who believe the gospel can get along with those who do not is for us to deny the gospel. That we must not do!
3. THE DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLAITANES ()
The Nicolaitanes were a group of heretics in John's day who taught that it was alright for believers to engage in the sexual immoralities of pagan religions. They "committed fornication, adultery, and all uncleanness, and had their wives in common, and also ate things offered to idols" (John Gill). They were antinomians. They were lawless, licentious rebels who wore the name of Christianity. These people really were antinomian, opposed the law of God. Their doctrine was, "Let us sin that grace may abound. Since we are saved by grace, it does not matter how we live." I know that any man who preaches salvation by grace alone will be accused of antinomianism (
Rom. 3:8). It is not possible to preach redemption, justification, and sanctification by grace alone, through the merits of Christ alone, without some legalist crying, "That is antinomianism! That will lead to licentiousness!" Yet, the fact remains that anyone who really is an antinomian is lost. God's elect seek holiness and righteousness. They are not self-willed, licentious rebels. Their hearts and lives are ruled by the love of Christ.; and that prevents lawlessness.