The spiritually dead church in Sardis

By Cathleen Cathcart Contributing Columnist

Revelation 3:1 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.

The church in Sardis had a reputation for being active and obedient, but in reality it was infested with sin. They were not commended for any good deeds as with the other churches. They looked the part on the outside, yet were filled with corruption on the inside. They had reached spiritual death and no longer walked in the basic knowledge of Jesus Christ. Simply looking the part is of no value because God knows the heart of every individual.

Without knowledge of the Word and remaining faithful in the basics of Christian faith, we can quickly become deceived and allow our actions to drive us toward spiritual death. Attendance in church services, donating to the poor, and praying for the sick are not what saves us. These are byproducts of what faith produces. The truth is, we are saved because we believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that He sacrificed Himself for our sin. This faith produces new birth as we become a new creature through Christ and the old life is buried. If we are not living for Christ, then we are dead in our sin.

We must be careful to not get caught up in appearances, after all, it doesn’t matter if someone else thinks we are a good Christian, what truly matters is if our name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. We may fool people, but we will never fool God! He knows who is faithful and lives according to His Word. Even through the sinful majority of the church in Sardis, He knew there were a few who had not “defiled their garments”.

Be encouraged that your faithfulness never slips from God’s view. On the same hand, we must realize that He is aware of every evil and unkind action that goes on in this world. Don’t lose heart thinking that evil and corruption are stronger than our Savior, Jesus Christ. Verse 4 states that those who overcome will walk with Him dressed in white, and He will never blot our name from the book of life! How wonderful to know that no matter what we face, there is nothing, or no one, who has the authority to erase our name!

I pray, “Father, forgive my lack of action concerning Your Word. Restore my strength for serving You and let me be a joyful witness of Your grace and mercy. Forgive my sin and show me the ways in which I need to change. I desire to live for You and ask for wisdom and courage to remain faithful in dark times. In Jesus’ name I ask, amen.

Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.