Every attempt to turn away from sin is marginal and temporary without a Savior.
“Remember the height from which you have fallen.” Revelation 2:5 NIV.
Memory is a good thing. Memories hold special times and people in your heart when they are otherwise gone from you. But some people seem to forget things they should remember while others remember things they should forget. The memory of a poor performance can challenge you to strive harder and do better. Memories of noteworthy accomplishments – your own and others’ – can inspire the personal discipline and further sacrifice necessary for yet greater achievement. Memory is a powerful motivator.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries with a simple, transcending message, “Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” See Matthew 3:2/4:17 NLT. You cannot do the latter without sincerely doing the first. The Kingdom is near, and your only way into its fullness is heart-felt repentance – doing an about face. Any attempt to turn away from sin is of marginal and temporary effect unless you turn to the Savior with a whole heart. The Spirit’s clarion call to yours and my soul is the same, “Repent!” Repentance is the path to spiritual reality. In the Old Testament, God’s stern and frequent denunciation of “high places” where Israel bowed their knees to perverse gods was because Israel’s worship – and yours and mine – was to be given to Almighty God alone. Small things begin a subtle drift that lures you from that singular place where God alone is first and foremost in one’s heart.
In political exile on Patmos, John wrote of such times when spiritual vitality wanes, unnoticeably at first. Commending the church in Ephesus for their, “hard work and patient perseverance, intolerance of wicked men,” and carefulness for spiritual integrity, John then issues a challenge. “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:1-7 NIV. John calls you to remember the prominence and priority of your pure devotion and fervent spiritual practices – when your heart was tender toward God, worship was pure and exuberant, the Word of God warmed your heart, love for one another was real, and Jesus was truly Lord. The memory of those times births a heart for repentance to reclaim the passion of your “first love” from which you may have drifted.
David knew the joy of spiritual passion, “[God] makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights.” 2 Samuel 22:34/Psalm 18:33 NIV. God affirmed David as “a man after My own heart.” See Acts 13:22-23 NKJV. But there came a day when David stumbled badly in his walk with God. When he remembered, “the height from which [he] had fallen,” with bitter tears he repented. Read Psalm 32. Any distance from God was unthinkable for him.
God’s call remains the same: “Remember the height from which you have fallen!” Sin, of lesser or greater degree, causes your fall. Redeemed remembrance clarifies where you were in God and where your heart still longs to be. Is there a time when you walked with God in greater intimacy and fullness than you know now? “Remember [that] height,” of grace. Remembering makes you want to return there; repentance will bring you there.
The powerful act of repentance encompasses more than chagrin or regret for wrongs done. It is God’s path to reclaim where you can and should be in Christ. Paul explained the process, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 NIV. Godly sorrow leads you upward to the Savior, not downward to your sin. See Romans 8:1-6 NIV. I leave you to further explore this liberating, Biblical truth, as I intend to do.
My prayer for you today is that you will treasure the joy of the sacred place in God’s grace.