To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand…
It is curious that a Church so marked for its patience and purity should be threatened with the loss of its very existence unless it repented. Had sensuality, or violence, or fraud entered the Church? Far from it, the Church is praised for its exclusion of the evil lives. A high morality marked its members, and in maintaining their high standard they had exercised their patient endurance of the world's scorn and opposition. Such a character had seemed to us almost perfect. But God looks upon the heart. He saw beneath this admirable exterior a weakening in the springs of spiritual life. The pride of consistency had continued to keep the Church to its old forms of excellence, but the Divine love in the heart, which had been before its only source of conduct, had lost its strength. The outward life was beautiful, but the heart was decaying. Zeal, orthodoxy, carefulness, boldness, heroism, were all there, but the love of God, out of which all these virtues should spring, in order to be Godlike and permanent, was failing, and on this failing oar Lord rests His eyes as He warns this prosperous Church of its danger. It had begun to lose its spiritual stimulus: to substitute self for Christ, pride for humility; to change principle into routine, and to make the religious life a perfunctory life. It was only a beginning, but God saw the danger of a beginning, and warned the Church accordingly. The beginning was the great departure; all else would be but natural sequence. Hence the beginning was to be stoutly rebuked. The beginning was the sin, the root-sin, to be repented of. We do not know to what influences the Ephesian Church yielded when it began to lose its love principle as the source of its life. It may have been a strong satisfaction with its own attainments. It scarcely could have been a conformity to the world. That side of error it seems to have avoided, and to have exposed itself on the other to spiritual pride. But these extremes meet. They are equally hostile to a genuine godly life. The worldly conformity is the more odious because it is so open and conspicuous, but the spiritual pride is as really a departure from God and a surrender to Satan. It is often hard to detect, because it goes clothed with the garb of a strict outward life, and this fact makes it peculiarly dangerous as a guide to undeveloped Christians. Still, there are marks by which even this type of Christian can be discovered, and its harmfulness avoided. These spiritually proud Christians are apt to show great severity toward all who differ with them. They are right in all their views and practices, and all others are wrong. Dogmatic and dictatorial, they will brook no opposition, and in disposition and in action (as far as they can be) they are as relentless as the Dominican inquisitors. Their faith is presumption, their zeal fanaticism. And all this comes about because their love is giving place to pride. You will see these zealots oversetting the Divine order for their favourite hobby. They will dip the shafts of controversy into poison and spend their strength in aiming them at their brethren who cannot pronounce their shibboleth. In all this they are most sincere. Their lives are pure and honest. They have much that commands commendation, and their steadfastness is a glory to the Church. But they have allowed the principle of love to fade in their hearts, and Satan has found an entrance there to vitiate motive and impulse.
Parallel VersesKJV: Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;