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The Hypocritical Church (Revelation 3:1-6)

Sermon on 13 September 2020 by Ps Justin

Introduction

The church series focuses on the 7 letters that John wrote to the 7 churches in Asia-Minor, which is modern day Turkey. Jesus wanted John to write these letters. Today we go through the fifth part of the church series, the hypocritical church in Sardis, also known as the dead church. We are reading from the book of Revelation.

As a reminder, here are the three instructions to ensure our attitude is right when we approach the book of Revelation:

1) The book is about the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1). Only God can unveil His truth to us and not man.

2) This book is given to His servants (Revelation 1:1). It is meant only for servants of God, to the willing-hearted.

3) This book is given for us to obey (Revelation 1:3). Obedience is an act of humility. God will teach the humble. There are two indispensable qualities we must have if we want understanding of His word: (i) fear of the Lord (Psalm 25:14); and (ii) humility (Psalm 25:9).

Message

“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. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 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. 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. 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. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’ - Revelation 3:1-6

1. God’s opinion about us may be the exact opposite of others’ opinion

The messengers of the church of Sardis had built up a reputation for being spiritually alive. But our Lord had a different opinion about them. Our Lord said that they were dead.

But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. - 1 Timothy 5:6

Some Christians may be impressed by the scale of activities conducted in some churches. But the quality of singing may be mere entertainment without spiritual connectivity and anointing; the content of the sermon may merely be intellectual but without Jesus Christ. They think that their anointing is from God.

But our God is not impressed by these things. God is impressed by a church who is Christ-like in humility, obedience, love and walks according to His will.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

God is impressed by a church with a broken spirit and a contrite heart. God is impressed by those who turn away from evil.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1

Many false prophets have gone out through social media. Let us be guided by the power of the Holy Spirit, through your abiding in Him. By the true grace of God, we stand. Be extremely alert and careful about what you read and hear from the internet.

The church in Sardis had good works, but it did not mean they were spirit-filled. This is a warning for us all. When others consider an individual or a church being spiritual, don’t jump in entirely, for in the eyes of the Lord, they may be spiritually dead. God’s opinion about you may be the exact opposite of others’ opinion of you.

2. Don’t seek satisfaction from others’ opinions

The church of Sardis was not influenced by Jezebel or the doctrine of Balaam or the Nicolaitans. But they had something worse – they had hypocrisy. Our Lord spent considerable time and effort rebuking two groups of people – the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Our Lord condemned their hypocrisy. They were spiritually asleep.

Therefore by their fruits, you will know them. – Matthew 7:20

Worldly cares and the love of money has the ability to put the best of believers to be spiritually dead. The church of Sardis talked about the kingdom of God, appearing to be holy, but in actual fact, they do not care about the lost souls. They are only alive to the temporal wealth of the world. They pretend to be led by the Spirit but in the eyes of the Lord, they are dead.

3. Our Lord expects our works to be perfect

Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. - Revelation 3:2

Many believers are afraid of the word “perfect”. Many think it is impossible to be perfect in serving Him. But Revelation 3:2 tells us that our works should be perfect.

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5:48

The work of the messengers in the church of Sardis was not perfect, because their work was done for the glory of God.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. – Matthew 7:21

All works done to obtain honour from men are spiritually dead. Such works are self-seeking rather than seeking the glory of God. Therefore we need to pray for the spirit of discernment to help us differentiate the earthly good from the heavenly good. We are to strive to be perfect in our relationship with God and with one another, being perfect in love and forgiveness. We are to strive to be perfect in our purity and holiness in Christ.

To be perfect, we need to do one thing. In all you do, do it in the face of God. This is the first step to perfection.

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. – Revelation 3:3

4. Our Lord expects more from those more is given

To know the truth yet not obeying the truth is like building a house on sand. One day, this house will collapse. This is what happened to the messengers of the church in Sardis.

Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. – 2 Timothy 1:13-14

Our Lord exalted the messengers to hold fast to the truth and repent. Those who are spiritually asleep and do not repent will be surprised by the Lord when He comes, like the foolish virgins who will be left outside closed doors when He comes (Matthew 25:10-13).

5. God’s name list

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. – Revelation 3:4

God has a list of names of Christians who have kept their heart pure. They are faithful and fruitful in the work of the Lord, seeking to glorify Him and Him alone. There are only a few names. There are only few who find the narrow gate and the narrow way which leads to life.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:14

The few are worthy to walk with Him in white garments.

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. – Revelation 3:5

Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. – Ecclesiastes 9:8

White garments and oil are the symbols of joy and purity. It is clear that only overcomers are promised with the reward of being clothes in white garments. Only overcomers will be the bride of Christ. A Christian name could be in the Book of Life, but the name could be erased. Only overcomers will not have their names erased from the lamb’s Book of Life. Let us be reminded to be obedient and be overcomers.

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” – Luke 10:20

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:15

Closing

Believers who love life after the flesh will die spiritually.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. – Romans 8:13

And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. – Exodus 32:33

Remember, one has to be an overcomer to retain one’s name in the Book of Life.

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