Even though the church in Sardis is dead, dying, and incomplete in her works, the Lord still has some in there that have not defiled their garments; these will walk with Him in white because they are unspotted by death and are approved in life by the Lord (Rev. 3:4).
The general situation in the Protestant church is deadness and incompleteness, even though they may have quite a lot of works and labor and even revivals; however, in the midst of this entire situation, some walk with the Lord with white garments, having their living pure for Him and approved before Him.
In these last days we pray and look to the Lord that He would recover many from the Protestant churches to bring them to the full knowledge of the truth, that they would have an open and interpreted Bible and know God’s economy, enjoy His dispensing, and be functioning members in the Body of Christ.
We need to be the precious ones in the Lord’s eyes, for He will come as a thief at an hour none of us expects to steal what is precious in His eyes. Are we steal-able before the Lord? Does He treasure us so much that He would come as a thief to steal us before His open return?
May we be detoxified from the drugging in today’s world and especially in Christianity, and may we be brought back to the pure revelation in the word of God to see that the Lord’s imminent return has a secret aspect in which He will steal those who are transformed and matured, those who are living and who have their works complete before Him.
Our concern shouldn’t be when will the Lord return but how we live: do we live daily in the Lord’s presence, watchful and being prepared for His return? Do we love the Lord with the first love, give Him the first place in everything, live to Him, and are living before Him?
A spiritually dead person doesn’t care for when the Lord returns, but if we are living and active, if we are growing in life unto maturity and our soul is being transformed, we will become precious in the Lord’s eyes – precious enough for Him to come and steal us in His secret return.
Having White Garments by Living with the Lord and not being Stained by Death
In spite of the dead, dying, and incomplete situation in Sardis, there are a few names there who have not defiled their garments but they walk with the Lord dressed in white robes (Rev. 3:4). Garments in the Bible signify what we are in our walk and living; it’s not merely a matter of having a revival or works for the Lord but our walk, our living before Him.
What we need is not revival after revival – with falling back in between; we need a general constant living with the Lord. Having our garments stained or defiled here refers not to sin but to death and deadness; death is more defiling before God than sin (see Lev. 11:24-25; Num. 6:6, 7, 9).
In Sardis the defilement was not the defilement of sin but the defilement of death; in God’s eyes, death is dirtier than sin.
According to the Old Testament, if someone sinned, he could be forgiven simply by offering the sin offering (Lev. 4:27-31), and he could go on with the Lord; however, if anyone touched anything of death (a dead body), he had to wait seven days before he could be cleansed (Num. 19:11, 16).
We may be conscious of the fact that we need to repent for our sins, but we may not be aware of the spiritual deadness we are in and therefore we do not repent. If we would gamble or take something which is not ours, we will definitely repent before the Lord, but if we are in a dead situation and come to the meeting, this may be fine with us.
Christians condemn sin, but they do not condemn deadness. Many believers “go to church” in a dead situation and condition, and they may not be aware of it nor repent for this.
Bringing death into the church and being in a dead situation is something serious before the Lord; death stains our garments and defile us in our walk before the Lord.
Death is ugly before God, and He hates it; we need to repent not only of our sins but also of the dead situation and condition we’re in, and we need to be living with the Lord, for the Lord, and to the Lord.
In the local churches, we all must hate death. I would rather see the people in the churches wrong than to see them dead. Many times I have asked the brothers and sisters why they do not function in the meetings. Often their reply was, “I’m afraid of making a mistake.” To this, I responded, “The more mistakes you make, the better. Living children make many mistakes. But the dead children in the cemeteries make no mistakes at all.” If you simply sit in the meeting without doing anything, you will never be wrong. Although you may be right, you will be dead right. I would rather be livingly wrong than dead right. I may make mistakes, but everyone will know how living I am. Which do you prefer—to be dead right or livingly wrong? Witness Lee, Life-Study of Revelation, p. 174
To defile our garments means particularly to have our garments stained with deadness; the defiled garments indicate the presence of death or the absence of life. We may be more concerned or conscious of sin, but we may not be conscious of being in a dead situation.
People in the denominations may say, What is wrong with the denominational churches? – the answer is clear, these churches are not just wrong but they are filled with death.
Yes, there are some there who have white garments – they are pure before the Lord, being approved by Him, but the general situation is deadness. May the Lord save us from deadness, and may we hate death as He hates it!
Lord Jesus, show us the seriousness and ugliness of death and deadness in the church life. Save us from remaining in death and from bringing in spiritual death. Lord, we want to have white garments by living with the Lord and not being stained or defiled by death. May we be sensitive and conscious of any deadness in our being or living, and may we condemn death as we live before the Lord, with the Lord, and in the Lord. We want to hate death, stay away from death, not bring death into the church, and be living before You and with You as those in white garments!
Having a Daily Walk and Living Unspotted by Death and Approved in Life by the Lord
Those who have not defiled their garments with death or deadness will walk with the Lord in white (Rev. 3:4). White signifies not only purity (having a pure heart toward the Lord and living in a pure way a life to Him absolutely) but also approvedness (Rev. 7:9).
The overcomers walk with the Lord in white garments; in their daily living they are before the Lord, living a pure life for Him, and being approved by Him.
Today we need to have a new revival – a revival not like the ones seen in Christianity, but a new revival that has never been seen before, which affects our daily living, and which will bring the Lord back.
This is the revival in our living, a living of having white garments; we need to have a walk and living one with the Lord, and we need to have a pure and approved being and living.
Otherwise, we may be like those who came to the Lord saying, Lord, Lord, have we not done so many works in Your name? And He replies, Depart from Me, I never knew you (here knew means, approved – see Matt. 7:23). We may do good works in the Lord’s name, but He may never approve them.
Having white garments signifies the life and living that are unspotted by death (not defiled) and that are approved by the Lord; this is a qualification for walking with the Lord, especially in the coming kingdom.
In the coming kingdom the reward of the overcomers will be to walk with the Lord in white robes, having their living unspotted and approved by the Lord. In principle, this must be applied to our walk with the Lord today.
We must hate death, stay away from death, and not bring death or deadness in the meetings of the church; rather, we must have a living that is unspotted by death and approved in life by the Lord.
A little gossip, a little indulgence in the flesh, a little time spend in worldly things, all these bring in not only sin but death. Having a loose talk and joking around brings in death.
Indulging in the things of the flesh, spending time in worldly things while cutting down the time we spend with the Lord and the saints, mere talking about others situation without praying or exercising our spirit, all these stain our white garments and render us impure and unapproved before the Lord.
May our living be unspotted by death and approved in life by the Lord so that we may be qualified to be His overcomers, those walking with Him dressed in white garments!
Lord Jesus, may our daily walk and living be unspotted by death and approved in life by the Lord. Bring us into a new and ultimate revival that affects our daily living, a revival that brings us into a daily walk and living one with You which is approved by You. Save us from any gossip, indulgence in the flesh, or worldly things; keep us in life and away from death. Give us a sense of life so that we may hate death, stay away from death, and not bring death to the meetings but rather live one with Christ and minister life to others.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother James L. for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Revelation, pp. 173-175 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 6 (week 6), The Church in Sardis.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Lord, take us all the way to life / To overcome the deadness rife. / Away from deadness we would flee / That full of life we’ll always be. (Hymns #1274)
# Will you be an overcomer? / Trust the living Lord! / Keep your “garments” from the deadness, / Win the life-reward. (Hymns #894)
# Life needs our maintaining, / Otherwise we’re suffocating. / Calling on His name we breathe Him in. / Everywhere we breathe Him, / Makes us fresh and makes us living. / O, this life is full of hope and meaning. / In our daily living / It’s this life that we are sensing. / Are we in the flesh or in the Lord? / If you’re dead and empty / And the troubles you have plenty, / Saints, get out of there and flee back to the Lord! (Song on experiencing Christ as life)
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