Sunday, 4 October 2020
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
As noted in the previous verse, the Lord has been addressing the entire church. Specifically, his words are to the “angel,” meaning the leader, of the church. He stands as representative of the whole. In the previous verse, He gave a dire warning that if they don’t repent, He will come upon them as a thief in the night. The whole church would fall under judgment. But now, he gives words of great encouragement to faithful believers who are stuck in an area that has only a bad church to attend, saying, “You have a few names even in Sardis.”
The word “names” is given to represent individuals. There are some individuals who are in the church “who have not defiled their garments.” The meaning of this permeates Scripture. Garments stand as representative of the spiritual state of the person. Jude spoke on the same lines as the Lord does here –
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Jude 1:23
Jude uses a different word, but the intent is the same. The book of Leviticus describes how to handle the effects of leprosy. One of the effects of this disease is that the garment itself could become a carrier, and therefore it was to be burned in order to prevent its infectious spread (Leviticus 13). Further, to touch any person, or any article touched by a person with a bodily discharge, would render the one touching him or it unclean (Leviticus 15, etc.). All of this was intended to convey spiritual concepts. Reading or watching the Superior Word sermons on those Leviticus verses will provide understanding on how this is so.
Again, this idea is seen also in the book of Zechariah –
“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’
5 And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’
So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.” Zechariah 3:3-5
As is seen in that passage, the filthy garments are indicative of iniquity. The rich robes are then a state of being purified from that. Some individuals in Sardis had kept themselves pure and undefiled, even in the midst of this dead church. Jesus next says, “and they shall walk with Me in white.”
The “white” here signifies complete purification because of the righteousness of Christ. These people stood justified because of their faith in Christ, they were not a part of the dead church, but were rather acceptable to Him. Their reward awaited them for the lives they lived. To complete the thought, Jesus next says, “for they are worthy.”
Here, the state of these people is settled. There is no question concerning their salvation, nothing to pray about (Luke 21:36), and there is no hint that they could lose this. Rather, they were accepted, they were justified, and they will be glorified.
For these worthy people at Sardis, there must have been the thought that they were all alone in the world. But such is not the case. Throughout the world, and even in crummy churches, the Lord has a group of people who do understand His word, they accept Him by faith, and they live their lives in anticipation of His coming.
Life application: When people point fingers and accuse other churches of being wayward, they need to be careful to understand that even in bad churches there are good people. Jesus has had strong and disapproving words for the church at Sardis, and He certainly has strong and disapproving words for many churches and denominations in the world today. But Jesus searches the hearts and the minds of every person. In this, He seeks out those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. He will find good people in bad churches and bad people in good churches. He will weed out the bad and gather the good unto Himself.
Isaiah speaks of the state of the sinner before God, calling out for each to come to Him through Christ and be purified from their unrighteousness –
“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’” Isaiah 1:18
Lord God, may we trust in nothing less than the perfection of Jesus Christ and in His righteousness alone. In Him alone can we be cleansed, and so let us never put our hope in our own works. The things we do are already tainted with sin. How could that be pleasing to You? But by faith in what Jesus has done, we can stand before You pure and clean. Thank You for the perfect righteousness of Christ – granted by faith alone. Thank You for our Lord Jesus. Amen.