The city of Sardis thought it was impregnable because of the way it was built. In fact, it was never taken by a direct assault on the gates and walls of the city—but twice it was taken by stealth, under the cover of darkness. Its very sense of security worked against it.
Apparently, this attitude had crept into the church in Sardis when it came to the Christian life. Clearly, it had a reputation for having a vibrant ministry. Perhaps it was known for its size and influence, or for the way in which it was able to put its programs together and develop certain strategies. But things were not as they appeared. Moral laxity and spiritual complacency had seeped into the congregation.
The risen Christ saw that it was all a sham, because the church lacked the proper spiritual orientation. So He issued a warning: You’d better wake up! Your city was overtaken by stealth. Your church may be overtaken in the same way. He then encouraged the church in Sardis to find incentive by looking to the few who were still awake—the faithful ones who were still living pure lives (Revelation 3:4-5).
Moral laxity can be found in contemporary Christianity, including in our own lives, more often than we might care to admit. It is easy to assume we are doing well, and so we don’t stop to take real stock of our spiritual health. It is easy to ignore a small compromise here and a habitual sin there—especially when others are doing the same.
Don’t let the vibrancy of your singing, the intensity of your preaching, or the consistency of your attendance ever become a cover for an absence of spiritual vitality. If you find you have become complacent or lax in your determination to obey Christ in every part of your life, His instruction for you is clear: Rouse yourself from your slumbers! Strengthen what remains! Remember what you received! Repent and obey!
And what if you are discouraged because you are seeking to live all-in for Jesus and find the compromises and half-heartedness of others hard to bear? Jesus has promised you, “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life” (Revelation 3:5). That promise is surely worth living for and trusting in.
To the Church in Sardis
1“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
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