A study of the Lordīs message to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 will reveal that the organized, visible church grew in unbelief, not righteousness. The Lord is prophetically outlining the history of the visible church from Pentecost to the Rapture. Each church represents the spiritual condition of Christendom in seven different periods of time. A casual study of church history will confirm this to be true.
Only the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia kept themselves pure and true to the Lord, thereby receiving no rebuke from the Lord. These churches refused to mix spiritually with these false brethren who loved the world, who belonged to the synagogue of Satan, the church of antichrist. The other five churches, in varying degrees, mixed themselves with the doctrines and customs of the world, and were severely warned by the Lord to repent. Those who were consecrated were being compromised by the counterfeits.
The Lordīs message to Sardis best illustrates and confirms that there is a church within a church. Those who have defiled themselves are the harlot. And those who walk worthy are the bride. They both claim to follow Jesus.
1)"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars. I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2)Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3)Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4)Thou hast a few names even in Sardis that have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. 5)He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6)He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
It is the intention and purpose of Satan to bring unity between the defiled and the undefiled, the harlot and the bride. He can accomplish this by seducing the undefiled believers into thinking that worldly ways are acceptable to God. Those in Sardis who fell for such seduction are here rebuked by Jesus and admonished to repent and look up for his coming. For their worldly wicked way was destroying the watchfulness that He commands all His followers to do. Jesus commends those who would not spiritually unite with worldly Christians, who "played the harlot" and defiled themselves. The harlot Christians at Sardis reveal the cleverness of the devil, who made them think they were "alive", when before God, they were impure and soiled. Jesus loves them, but wants them to repent.
Jesus refers to the works of the churches because what they did and said outwardly was the evidence their inward faith had been perverted. Lies were mixed the truth in the hearts and lives of the defiled Christians in Sardis. They were mixing pagan doctrines and customs into their hearts. The clergy-laity divide, health and wealth extremism, patriotism, Christmas and Easter are a few examples. Therefore, neither their works nor their faith were perfect or pure before God. They were not walking in the Spirit, who alone can produce perfect works from a pure heart of faith. Jesus said a good tree (heart) cannot bring forth bad fruit.
These Christians in Sardis were in trouble, spiritually and eventually eternally, if repentance and turning from their worldliness to looking for Him, was something they continued to resist or reject.
With the exception of Laodecia, true believers are found in all the other churches. They are the remnant who reject the false doctrines of the false teachers. They have kept pure the deity and doctrines of Jesus Christ. They trust the Spirit of God for power to obey and are faithfully awaiting the return of the Savior.
Those defiled assemblies of people who deny or doubt either Jesusī deity or doctrines are rapidly joining forces today, to help governments establish peace in the world. Much movement in this direction has transpired since World War II. The National and World Council of Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and apostate Protestants have been urging and insisting on the unity of the "body of Christ", to help bring about this so-called peace. With deep regret, it seems that even many evangelical, fundamental, and charismatic Protestants are jumping on the bandwagon. This is especially true of those who rely on the government (FCC, IRS, etc.) for the continuation of their ministries. Their political entanglements will prove to be their downfall, unless they are alerted to the danger.
These individuals and groups consider themselves to be the body of Christ on the earth. But what apostate Christians believe and what God says are two separate things. Much of the unity movement is really the "body of antichrist" being gathered together to be burned and baked by God during the 70th Week.
What were the repeated warning of Jesus to His followers? Is the warning being heeded today? Does anyone really care?
4)"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5)For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. 6)And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."
The devil is today troubling many religious men with the threat of nuclear war and its horrors. This fear and complete ignorance of prophetic truth is leading these pseudo-Christians groups to their own destruction. The call for unity is a truth, but you canīt unite with darkness. Truth and doctrine is the basis for unity in the Holy Spirit. One glaring truth is, "there will never be true God-given peace among all nations and all men until the Lord Jesus Christ literally sets His glorious feet on the earth." To think otherwise is fatal and folly. It really exposes the self-righteous spirit that controls those who think they can bring world peace apart from the return of the Lord.
Remember, the closer we get to the Lordīs return, the more deceptive the devil will become. His world appears Godly, but so did the world of the Pharisees. Jesus rebuked them by calling them liars and telling them their father was the devil, not God. In Matthew 24:4-6, Jesus is warning His disciples not to be deceived. The lies of antichrist are very subtle and close to the truth. Remember, deceivers come in Jesusī name, saying that Jesus is the Christ with their lips, but not in their hearts. Our lips can say many things at times, even though the heart is still unsure and peppered with unbelief.