Jesus addressed the church of Sardis in a unique way. He refers to himself as the one who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.
All through the Bible we find the number seven. The number 7 is the most important symbolic number in the Hebrew Bible. It symbolizes completion and perfection.
The seven Spirits of God are the seven-fold operation of the spirit of God, as referred to in Isaiah.
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. Isaiah 11:1-5
The seven stars are the seven angels of each church, and church age.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; Revelation 1:4
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. Revelation 1:20
The seven churches are the seven churches that existed at the time this prophecy was given but also the church ages. Of which we are in the last church age.
However, every individual can learn from the address Jesus makes to the churches, pertaining to specific things that please and displease the Lord. In this way we can have our hearts dealt with and come into alignment with God’s perfect will.
It is important to note that salvation is a free gift not based on our works. However, blessings in this life and rewards in the next are dependant on the way we live our lives in this world. God wants us to be overcomers, not just sinners saved by grace.
That being said, lets take a look at the Lord’s exhortation for the church of Sardis.
First of all, Jesus exhorts Sardis to be watchful. Being watchful was an exhortation Jesus continually made to his disciples.
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6
Then Jesus tells Sardis, strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die. To tackle the meaning of this verse we have to break it down.
Strengthen sterizo in the Greek means to set fast, turn resolve, to confirm in ones mind.
Remain loipoi in the Greek means to remain as a remnant.
Which are ready to die apothnesko in the Greek means to be slain, at the point of death, perishing.
In other words, make up your mind with firm resolve to be a part of the remnant of God and die to that which hinders you from achieving that goal! (my paraphrase)
Jesus tell Sardis this because I have not found thy works perfect before God. Revelations 3:2
Obviously, Sardis was asleep, not watching and not dying to self. To find out what may have been the cause, we need to look at what kind of environment they were living in.
Apparently, Sardis was a flourishing city. It was known for its great wealth. The decline of Sardis was gradual but final.
There is an important lesson here. During times of prosperity God’s people may be tempted to let our guard down. Not being watchful in prayer. Not dying to our carnal nature.
God in his mercy sends waring. Always warning before judgment.
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and
If therefore thou shalt not watch,
I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt
what hour I will come upon thee. Revelations 3:3
Prosperity in this world is a double-edged sword. It can be used for good. To further the gospel, blessing in this life, BUT it can also be used to destroy. Make us weak in spirit, slothful in prayer and watching, concerned with the affairs of this life.
Jesus warns his church of this tendency towards spiritual apathy during times of blessing. He says STAY AWAKE! BE WATCHFUL IN PRAYER! STAY SEPERATE FROM THE WORLD.
Then the Lord gives Sardis an incentive for obedience to his word.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Revelations 3:4,5
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelations 3:6