Revelation 3:1–6 (NKJV)
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
Jesus starts this letter off once again showing His complete authority, the number seven being the symbol of completeness in the Bible. Jesus saying He holds the seven Spirits and the seven stars, proves His control over both the Spirit and the church.
Sardis would have been a city of tremendous wealth, so we can assume that the outward appearance of this church was probably pretty spectacular. We see once again however, a church that while having the right look, does not have the right heart for the Lord. To the outside world, this church probably had everything a person would have been looking for, a nice clean building, probably comfortable seating, the best sound equipment of the day, okay, probably they did not have those particular things but I am sure it was nicer than neighboring churches from the money that could be invested alone. You get the point, alive and vibrant on the outside, but spiritually dead on the inside.
Jesus has a strong rebuke for this church, and rightfully so, but He does deliver a glimmer of hope. Be watchful He says, and strengthen the things that are ready to die. Sardis had fallen to idol worship and immorality, but Jesus says there is some hope, He still sees some works that prove, while they are barely clinging to spiritual life, they are still alive. We may not be worshipping idols and practicing immorality, but can we not all get to this place? It seems our natural tendency when we step away from God is to take two more steps when we realize we are doing so. We keep stepping further and further away until we get to the point where the outside world still sees a Christian, while God sees a spiritually dying soul. Jesus telling this church, and us as believers collectively to avoid that separation and instead protect and strengthen what remains. When we feel that distance with God, we must do everything we can to pull closer and closer to Him instead of pushing further and further away.
While many have tried to predict the return of our Savior, the truth remains that nobody is to know the time nor day of His great return. If we do not know the hour of His return we must prepare as if His return is imminent. We must be continually thinking about that! Think about it, you live a pretty good life, don’t drink much, but decide to have a bit more than normal one night and He returns to a drunken believer, how would that look? You don’t lose your temper often but He returns while you are screaming at your spouse (His child.) You can place any sin you want in that thought, drugs, lust, envy, backbiting, any of them. What if He returns as you are in the middle of any of them? Not a great look. So we must take this warning seriously, He could return at any given moment.
Thankfully He closes this letter with the promise that He will not blot names out of the Book of Life to those who overcome.
Are you alive on the outside but spiritually dying on the inside? Turn to our awesome and merciful God. He is ready to wrap us in the white garments. Turn to the Lord and hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.