The church in Sardis had a reputation of spiritual vitality, but it was nothing more than an image. In fact, the church was on life support and didn’t even know it. Jesus’ message to them was to wake up from their complacency about sin, and take corrective action before it was too late.
Don’t Be So Clueless About Sin
The city of Sardis was a strong fortress that had never been taken by force. Just as this led the citizens to be complacent about their security, the church had become complacent about sin.
Revelation 3:1-2 I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive – but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.
This church was virtually dead without realizing it. There was a problem in their actions – their lifestyle didn’t measure up. They needed to wake up and become aware of their true condition, and deal with it right away, before it was too late. We can also be clueless about the ways we let our culture’s sins creep into our lives. We gradually absorb the greed, violence, sexual ethics, or untruthfulness of our society until it seems normal and we don’t even notice.
Jesus Is Serious About Sin
Jesus’ stern warning to the Sardian church tells us what God thinks about sin. He was prepared to deal swiftly and decisively with their sin unless they did something about it.
Revelation 3:3 If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.
We might get complacent about sin, but Jesus never will. We should not confuse his grace or patience with apathy toward sin. He hates sin because it brings death (verse 2). We should adopt the same attitude ourselves.
Always Be Vigilant About Sin
The fortress of Sardis was never conquered by a direct attack – only by stealth. The people felt so secure that they let their guard down and enemies crept in. In the same way, if we don’t see sin as an immediate threat, we can drift from God. We stop doing what it takes to stay spiritually vibrant. In light of this tendency, Jesus calls us to a lifestyle of constant renewal.
Revelation 3:3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again.
The Christian life should involve continually turning back to God. Don’t wait until it’s almost too late or until almost nothing is left. Make it a habit daily – more often as needed – to wake up and evaluate yourself. Whenever you become aware of even the smallest disobedience, repent of it right away, and go back to what you know is right.
The Battle Against Sin Is Worth It
In Sardis, there were some Christians who had not let sin creep into their lives. To them, Jesus promised a reward.
Revelation 3:4-5 Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
Those who don’t let sin creep in will walk with Jesus. It will be apparent to everyone that they belong to him. They will be celebrated before God and his angels.
Jesus is “the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God” (verse 1). That means he has the power to enable us to live lives that honor him. By the Spirit’s power, we can be alert to the effects of sin and live a life that continually honors God.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- Tell about a time when you thought you were doing really well at something, but you realized you were clueless. What happened?
- Read Revelation 3:1-2. In your own words, explain the problem Jesus identified in the Sardis church.
- In your opinion, what are some ways that the sins of the surrounding culture have crept gradually into the church today?
- Read Revelation 3:3. What do the Sardian Christians need to do? Explain.
- In verse 3, what danger is the church in if they fail to take action?
- Read Revelation 3:4-5. What do you think it means to be victorious in this situation?
- In verse 5, what appeals to you most about the reward promised to those who are victorious?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.