In the letters to the churches at the beginning of Revelation, the names of each city relates to the content of each letter. Sardis means “escape” or “to escape,” which speaks to the chapter of church history this letter addresses—the Protestant Reformation. The Protestants risked everything to protest the unbiblical practices and doctrines of the prevailing powers in the church of that day. They gained a name that was synonymous with courageous faithfulness and contagious loyalty to Jesus.
But something happened to that Back-to-the-Bible revival. Over the course of time, their faithfulness and loyalty lessened. They had an outward reputation, but no inward reality to match. What began as a movement of the Holy Spirit became a man-made manual, which became a monument, which ended up as a mausoleum—dead.
Could the same be said for our church? Could the same be said of you? How is your walk with Jesus? We must heed the lesson from the church of Sardis—individually and collectively. We must continue walking in the Spirit and resisting the temptation to perfect a genuine movement of the Spirit in our flesh.
If we are not careful, we can be lulled into a self-confidence that causes us to cease being watchful and strengthened through the simplicity of loyalty to Jesus and His word. If we are not watchful, the enemy can sneak right in and attack our intimacy with Jesus on the inside, even as we hold to doctrinal purity on the outside. And if we are not careful, we will find ourselves holding on to dead orthodoxy—simply going through the motions of vain repetition.
Set a watch! Be on guard! And purpose in your heart and mind to strengthen the simplicity of walking with Jesus in the Spirit.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8