Agonizomai: Rev 3:1 - Sardis the Counterfeit Church<br>Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Monday, June 01, 2009

Rev 3:1 - Sardis the Counterfeit Church
Appearances Can Be Deceiving

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Rev 3:1 “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.

Sardis is a dead church. It is spiritually dead - largely inhabited by professors of the faith who have no real relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They apparently have a fine outward religion that gives them a good odor amongst men. Who knows but that they are fine, upstanding citizens by human standards, engaged in all sorts of wonderful works, giving alms to the poor and being seen in much that is socially "good".

But the Lord sees the heart. He says that whatever is not wrought in Him is useless. He knows the works of all men. He does not say that men are not capable of human goodness. He says that mere human goodness is always tainted by corrupt motives and is, thereby, sin. Believing otherwise betrays a misunderstanding of the holiness of God and a failure to see the horror of all sin. God is a consuming fire of purity, and only the holiness from God Himself can abide in His presence. From His presence earth and sky flee away and no place is found for them. {Re 20:11} How much more then, shall they flee in whom there is the least uncovered sin. But those who are covered by the blood of Christ and abide in His righteousness alone are able to draw near in His Name.

What applies at the Great White Throne judgment at which all works of men shall be judged is the same criterion that applies in the life of all men. Is what we do wrought in Christ, and thereby acceptable to God for Christ’s sake, or is it unholy fire offered up (or not even offered up at all) in the power of fallen, corrupt flesh out of a sense of self importance, self-righteousness and self-empowerment?

Thus Sardis is largely made up of people who have a form of godliness (religion), but they deny the power of it. They are living right in the very midst of the means of truth and light and grace without actually participating in it. They have learned and co-opted the Christian words, but not the Christian meaning that those words represent. What great tragedy and poignancy there is to see people in such a condition. As people being saved by the grace of God we know that, there but for the grace of God go we, yet we understand God’s righteous indignation at not only the fruit of their natural sinful nature, but also their willful blindness to the means of grace which they both handle and profess.

The very first thing this ought to do is to humble us - not to evoke judgment. We may recognize and speak of God’s judgment upon such things, but always from a humble and contrite heart, thankful for the grace of God which has delivered us, and which keeps us from such blindness. But final judgement will nevertheless reflect the light of grace which has been resisted by such as inhabit this church of Sardis.


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