Spiritually Dead – Revelation 3:1-6

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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This author attended a liberal denominational church until his late teens. The minister wore a robe, we participated in responsive congregational readings, used candles in some services, and were required to go through a confirmation process. There was a lot of religious activity. Apparently others there did not see it, but I realized early on there was no real spiritual life in this church, or within me. What I needed was to be delivered from this influence that was keeping me spiritually dead.

The message from the Lord Jesus to the church at Sardis was, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1). Obviously, this is not a reference to them being like zombies pictured in movies today. But many of them were spiritually dead while still physically alive. Notice there is no rebuke for doctrinal error (vs. 4), nor is there a reference to being persecuted for boldly proclaiming Christ. Apparently, neither was present. Sardis had once been a great city of commerce but was in economic decline while largely focusing on the worship of Artemis, one of the nature cults.1 We believe this was a real Jewish church with an earthly kingdom hope existing about A.D. 50. The problems they exhibited will resurface among believers in the tribulation, and mirror many believers and churches today (compare Ephesians 4:18-19). They had once been spiritually vibrant but were now nearly spiritually dead. Perhaps they were resting on past laurels of spiritual vitality or had lingered in apathy after losing a real love for the Lord. Like the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4), their spiritual life was effectively on life-support. Thankfully, there was still hope, particularly for some. The Lord Jesus tells them, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain” (Revelation 3:2). To be “watchful” means to WAKE UP with alertness and take appropriate action. There was still time to come back to life spiritually and be awarded white robes in eternity (vs. 5) indicating salvation and implying spotlessness in their eternal record.

In every dispensation, including today, it is possible to be sound doctrinally yet susceptible to becoming spiritually dead. If you have lost the robust life for the Lord you once had, do what the Savior instructed here: “remember” past zeal once possessed, “hold fast” to truth, “watch” or awake spiritually, and “strengthen” the life of Christ remaining inside (vss. 2-3). Don’t delay, do it today.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."