Soiled Garments

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. Revelation 3:4 ESV

You might be surprised at how many times scripture references clothes. Particularly washed clothes.

We find our opening scripture in Jesus’ address to one of the seven churches in Revelation, penned by the apostle John. John opens the book with a blessing included in no other book of scripture.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3

I don’t know about you, but I could handle a little blessing. After all, the opposite of blessing is still cursing. And God declared that those who hear and keep His words written in Revelation are blessed.

Are you listening?

Since God has captured my attention with garments, we will focus today on Jesus’ words to the church in Sardis.

He begins His address with some unsettling words.

“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1

Do you know your reputation, dear one? What do those who know you believe about you? Does it match what God sees?

I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27-28.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Jesus shows great concern that our outward appearance matches our inner reality. That shouldn’t surprise us, really, when we consider that Jesus is the Truth and His enemy deceives.

Yes. Jesus desires authenticity.

I know this from experience, dear one. Several years ago, God used Revelation 3:1 to get me to deal with an area of sin in my own life I’d been trying to ignore.

At the time, God was in the midst of opening doors and expanding my borders in ministry.

Yes. God still uses imperfect people.

And to the outsider looking in, God’s hand was apparent. I had dedicated myself to earnestly living my faith, and God was actively using me to reach people and awaken them to His truth.

But God desires far more from us than our service, dear one. He wants our whole hearts. And He requires us to freely offer them so that He can transform them into the likeness of Jesus. That means holding nothing back.

So one day during my study of scripture, He spoke straight to my heart through His words to the church at Sardis. “I know your works, and I know your reputation. You have a reputation for being alive, but in this area, you are still dead.”

His next words through those verses brought me straight to my knees in repentance.

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. 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. Revelation 3:2-3

Jesus spoke these words to one of His churches, beloved. And He spoke them to me.

I wonder, dear one. What does He desire of you?

Repentance is the precursor to every blessing available to us in Christ. Without sincere, repentant hearts we will never transform and become His righteousness. And that leaves Jesus unable to use us to pour out His blessing on this desperately needy earth.

Jesus is asking us to trust His Word, dear one. To believe it and live according to it so that He can manifest our faith as righteousness. When we don’t live by what we have received and heard from Him, we soil our garments.

Thankfully, scripture also reveals that what Jesus requires of us is absolutely possible to accomplish, even in our humanity. It’s possible because God Himself provides the power to succeed when we choose to trust Him.

“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.” Revelation 3:4-6

What will you choose, dear one? Will you overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of your testimony? God longs to see it, beloved, to make you a living witness to His glorious power.

And consistently throughout His Word, He offers an unbreakable promise. God fights for and rescues the righteous.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands . . . These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. …Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Revelation 7:9, 14, 22:14

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