Summary: Do not place your security in the outward forms of church life and neglect your walk with the Lord. Cultivate an authentic relationship with Christ.
The message to the church in Sardis was distinct from those we have seen earlier.
• No words of commendation. Just a blunt statement: “you are dead”.
• Jesus says He saw their deeds. There were activities going on in the church.
• Jesus says “you have a reputation of being alive” – they were known to be alive, but it was just a name.
The reality is that there is no life in this church. Jesus saw through it.
• It is a scary thought but it is real. You can have the forms and no life.
• Paul says in 2 Tim 3:5 “…having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
• The Lord says about the Pharisees: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isa 29:13)
My uncle had an accident last week and was confirmed brain dead a few days ago.
• When he was in the ICU hooked onto the equipments, the machines kept his body running.
• I saw his breathing and thought that it was good, but was told later that it was the work of the respirator.
• The machines kept his heart beating, his lungs breathing, and his body warm.
• But the truth is: He is dead. He looked alive, but he is not.
Spiritually speaking, we can be in such a state. The church in Sardis was, Jesus said.
• You are disconnected with the Lord of life; you are very distant from Christ.
• No longer is there a genuine and authentic walk with the Lord.
• But you deceived yourself into believing that everything is fine.
• The forms make you feel right: your occasional attendance in church, the prayers at meal times, the bible you have on your shelf, the cross you are wearing.
Everything looks so Christian. The “reputation that you are alive” is a dangerous thing. You can be deceived into a life just like the Pharisees.
• You fail to see the Son of God, even if He is standing right before you.
• You are unable to worship Him with your heart, only your lips.
• You know the rules but not God. Yet you thought you are spiritual (religious).
Jesus describes the Pharisees: “You are like whitewashed tombs, which looks beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matt 23:27-28)
You and I need an authentic and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
• There is no proxy for this. No one can help you on this.
• You need to spend time with Christ, to hear Him and talk to Him.
• Don’t take it for granted. Activities in church cannot replace this.
• What we need is a relationship with Christ, not a relationship with the church.
The church can be full of activities, but done in the strength of a human spirit rather than the strength of the Holy Spirit.
In his book, Harvest of Humanity, John Seamands told this story:
"A German soldier was wounded. He was told to go to the military hospital for treatment. When he arrived at a large and imposing building, he saw two doors, one marked, "For the slightly wounded" and the other, "For the seriously wounded."
He entered through the first door and found himself going down a long hall.
At the end of it were two more doors, one marked "For officers" and the other "For non-officers." He entered through the latter and found himself going down another long hall.
At the end of it were two more doors, one marked, "For party members" the other, "For non-party members." He took the second door, and when he opened it, he found himself out on the street.
When the soldier returned home, his mother asked him, "How did things go at the hospital?"
"Well, mother" he replied, "to tell the truth, the people there didn’t do anything for me, but you ought to see the tremendous organization they have!"
The church can have a superb organization. Their people are busy.
• Theirs was a well-oiled machine, but not with the oil of the Spirit.
• Their work is earthly, full of human efforts but no life will be changed.
Without God’s presence, we know we are just going through the motions.
• We need to pray for the Spirit of God to fill us and move us.
• The forms within a church won’t change lives, only the Spirit of God does.
• The church at Sardis has become too comfortable and complacent.