Revelation 3:1-2 ESV
“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. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.’”
If you have not died with Christ to sin, if you have not been born again of the Spirit of God, and if you are not walking in obedience to the Lord, as a matter of life course, but you profess faith in Jesus Christ, that is a false righteousness (1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Rom 8:1-17).
If your righteousness is a status only, or a profession of faith only, or if it is an outward performance (pretense, show) only, to impress others that you are a godly person, while you commit willful sin habitually, in secret, that, as well, is a false righteousness.
You don’t have to be a legalist to be a hypocrite. You don’t have to be a legalist to put on a show of righteousness while you commit yourself to a sinful course in private. Any who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but who are living opposed to Christ, are hypocrites.
If you have not died with Christ to sin, and if you have not been resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, but you profess faith in him, then you are trying to add righteousness on top of the sin nature.
But it is not the sin nature PLUS the righteousness of God. We don’t add God on top of our sin nature. If we don’t crucify the flesh with Christ, then the flesh is still boss, not Jesus. We must first die with Christ to sin if we want to live with Christ for eternity (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Lu 9:23-26).
Revelation 3:3 ESV
“’Remember, 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.’”
Remember that we are talking here of those who make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, who are part of the gatherings of the church, so they are those who have heard the Word of God taught, and who have access, most probably, to the Scriptures.
In this context, they are clearly those who were taught the truth but who had strayed from the truth, and their faith was now outward, or surface only, rather than it being lived out in their daily lives. And, that is indicative of them having fallen back into sinful patterns of behavior.
Some professing Christians let the world creep back into their lives. They make small compromises, one at a time, each time giving up more and more of what God has designed and willed for them, and each time embracing more and more of what the world is offering them.
With each compromise they drift further away from the Lord and they desensitize themselves to the evils of the world, and they quench the Holy Spirit of God. And, to soothe their consciences, they begin to listen to the devil whispering “sweet nothings” in their ears.
So, they end up rejecting the truth of the gospel and they end up adopting a false gospel meant to tickle itching ears and to ease the consciences of those who are still walking (living) in sin while professing faith in Christ. But this false gospel gives them a false hope of eternity with God.
So, the strong counsel and warning here is that whoever is living like this, he or she needs to turn away from their sinful practices and turn to Jesus to follow him in obedience to his commands or else face some type of divine judgment which will come as a surprise to those who are spiritually asleep.
Revelation 3:4-6 ESV
“’Yet 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. The 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
But the entire church was not made up of followers of Christ in reputation only, although it appears they were in the majority, much like the church at large in America today. There was a minority within the gatherings of this church who had not adulterated their faith in Christ, as there is in America and across the world, too.
They were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and they were living to Christ and to his righteousness in the power of God’s Spirit living within them. They were walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and they were walking in obedience to the Lord Jesus (Rom 6:1-23).
So, what should our response be to all of this? If we realize that we are numbered among those who are giving off a false impression of righteousness while we are still living to please the flesh, then we need to repent and obey the Lord or face judgment.
If we are numbered among those who are walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, then praise the Lord! By his grace and in his strength we can conquer the flesh and we can live righteous and holy lives to the praise and glory of God. Amen! And, we have the hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
On Zion’s Glorious Summit
By John Kent
On Zion’s glorious summit stood
A numerous host redeemed by blood!
They hymned their king in strains divine;
I heard the song and strove to join,
I heard the song and strove to join.
Here all who suffered sword or flame
For truth, or Jesus’ lovely name,
Shout victory now and hail the Lamb,
And bow before the great I AM,
And bow before the great I AM.
While everlasting ages roll,
Eternal love shall feast their soul,
And scenes of bliss, forever new,
Rise in succession to their view,
Rise in succession to their view.
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Who like me Thy praise should sing,
O Almighty King!
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Holy, holy, holy.
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