The church of Sardis is a very interesting analysis because it is so applicable to our life today. It is virtually impossible to leave this study without getting anything out of the problems this church faced; however, I do not believe this body of believers realized it was happening in their walk with Jesus Christ.
(1) "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest. and art dead. (2) Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. (3) Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. (4) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy. (5) He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. (6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:1-5.
Five hundred years before the Apostle John wrote this letter to the church of Sardis this city was very rich and powerful. There was much sin in the city and was taken over by Cyrus of Persia and then eventually Alexander the Great. Years later an earthquake really damaged the city but people did get together under the direction of Tiberius Caesar and the city was rebuilt.
Today the city is still an important location but not nearly as powerful as it once was so realize that when people marvel over how strong an area in the world is it is subject to change. That is history. It does repeat itself but powers tend to shift.
The church of Sardis did get caught up in the corruption of the city and that was probably the main downfall of this body of believers. I am sure the idolatrous worship of the goddess Cybele enticed this fellowship in one way or another.
If we have this type of influence around us we have to predetermine that we are going to keep our devotion to Jesus Christ because the temptation to sin will be enormously high. We are surrounded by this over here in America and it is very difficult to keep our focus on Jesus Christ.
Jesus describes Himself as the one who has ... "The seven spirits of God"... which refers to the omnipresent and omniscient nature of God. Jesus said that He has the spirit but they did not so obviously they got caught up in something worldly that surrounded them which is not synonymies in being filled with the Holy Spirit because our Lord referred to them as a dead church.
What is a dead church? It is a body of believers not filled with the Holy Spirit to feel His love, joy and peace. Just because a church is Pentecostal does not necessarily mean they are filled with the Holy Spirit. Just because a church is Conservative does not necessarily mean they are filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is a conscious decision on the part of individuals in a fellowship to allow the Holy Spirit to work through them. I have seen both Pentecostal and conservative churches quench the third Person of the Trinity and as a result sin ruled in the church. I have seen it in my own life. I only compared Pentecostals to Conservatives because they seem to be the two types of forms in whatever denomination you are at present but not necessarily by choice.
There were a few people that did not soil their garments. These people did not conform to the world but walked with Jesus Christ. They probably were either so thankful of their salvation or understood that the real riches are in Jesus Christ. These few people reasoned they did not want the leftovers of the world but the riches of God were worth pursuing because that is where the eternal value is for the long term.
Sardis was behaving good on the outside but had sin issues on the inside. "And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness." Luke 11:39. Pergamos was fine on the inside but had behavioral problems on the outside. Sardis had past victories in Jesus Christ but was riding on them and not living for the Son of God in the present.
Perhaps they had some bad things going on and did not focus on their blessings. We are supposed to learn from the past and apply those truths to the present so we can grow in Jesus Christ. If we just rely on the past then what we have at present will die. Maybe that is why Jesus called Sardis a dead church.
Not only does God desire us to grow but He is calling us to be more responsible. If we approach the Christian life the way Sardis did then we want to go on spiritual welfare. God I'm not going to do anything but just write me out a check for present payment. You would be surprised as to what we can get ourselves to believe if we become spiritually complacent.
This church received three promises from Jesus. Promise one was If they overcame these problems they would be ... "Clothed in white raiment." Revelation 3:5. This color represents spiritual purity. (4) "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (6) Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, (7) Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. (8) Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Romans 4: 4-8.
The second promise was God would not remove his name out of the book of life.
The third promise was ... "But I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels." Revelation 3:5. The gospels also have something to say regarding this issue. (8) "Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: (9) But he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God." Luke 12:8-9.
Like all of the seven churches Sardis has a prophetic implication from the years 1517 A.D to 1750 A.D. This was the reformation era. Doctorial reform did take place but a revival did not follow correct theology. Legalism came into the church and as a result only a few born again believers were filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Theologically correct but dead just like the Sardis church.
We as Christians should be putting into practice biblical precepts progressively as time continues but to rely on the past and just stop is wrong because we will forget what we learned in the past. Even if we know a passage of Scripture read it again because our spirit needs this manna from God.
If we do not keep moving forward by faith the Christian principles will still be there but we won't be able to claim them by faith through our obedience to Jesus Christ. (24) "And He said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. (25) For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." Mark 4:24-25.
God is giving believers in Him a choice to move forward in grace and truth or stay stagnant and rely on past victories. I think the choice is pretty obvious.
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your very own personal Savior and Lord invite Him into your heart today/tonight by repenting of all your sins and make the wise choice of moving forward in your fellowship with Jesus Christ. If that decision has been made you just entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ but your fellowship with Him should be consistent because growth depends on you abiding in the Son of God which is a continual process in our daily routine.
God bless you,