To the one who overcomes in the church in Sardis the Lord promises to give him to be clothed in white garments, and He will not erase his name out of the book of life, and He will confess his name before His God and before His angels (Rev. 3:5).
To have white garments means that our living, behavior, and daily walk is unspotted by death but rather pure before the Lord and approved by Him.
We praise the Lord that, even though the churches in Protestantism are in death and are dying, there are some names that the Lord has for Himself, some who have not defiled their garments, some who will walk with Him in white because they are worthy (Rev. 3:4).
We need to take care of our living; what we need is not more revivals and spiritual stirrings – we need to have a daily living before the Lord and with the Lord, a living that is not only pure for Him but also approved by Him.
In particular, we need to stay away from death and any deadness; we need to avoid speaking death or spreading death in the church life by gossiping, indulging in the flesh, or being in the things of the world.
Spiritual death can be wild (like the death of a wild animal), mild (like the death of a cow / cattle), or subtle; we need to stay away from any kind of death and exercise our spirit to be living before the Lord and with the Lord. May the Lord grant us that we have a proper daily living one with Him, a living that is not only pure but also approved by Him.
We want to have a living that is unspotted by death and approved in life by the Lord. We should not be presumptuous thinking that, as long as we do things for the Lord, He will approve us; we should not think that our doing for the Lord in His name is automatically approved by Him.
We need to come to the Lord again and again, deal with anything that He shines on us, remove and reject any death or deadness, and be living before Him by allowing Him to live in us and be expressed through us.
We need to stay away from death, reject death, and do not bring any death to the meeting; rather, we need to be in life, enjoy Christ as life, take Christ as life, and live the church life in the principle of ministering life to the saints for the building up of the Body of Christ.
Living in the Spirit to Overcome any Deadness and be Clothed in White Garments
He who overcomes will be clothed in white garments (see Rev. 3:5); to overcome here refers particularly to overcoming any deadness in the church, overcoming the dead Protestantism. If we overcome deadness by being living before the Lord, Christ as the white garments will clothe us and qualify us to stand before God and Christ.
How can we overcome deadness and be clothed in white garments? It is by turning to the spirit and by living in the spirit.
How can we be produced as overcomers today, those who have a living that is unspotted by death and that is justified and approved in life by the Lord? It is by exercising our spirit and living in the mingled spirit.
If we today live in the spirit and exercise our spirit at all times, we will be clothed in white garments, that is, our living and work will be approved by the Lord; furthermore, the Lord will reward us with being clothed in white garments in the coming age.
What the overcomers are walking in during this age will be a prize to them in the coming age; if today we live Christ and express Christ, we will walk in white garments and this will also be our reward in the coming age.
Having white garments refer to livingness; if we are dead spiritually, we are dirty and naked before the Lord. We need Christ to be wrought into us to be our garments, our covering, and our expression; the only way to have Christ wrought into us is to turn to the spirit and live in spirit.
When we live in spirit, all the righteous requirements of the law are being fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4). When we live in spirit, we fulfill all of God’s requirements because it is Christ who lives in us, and it is no longer we who live but Christ is expressed in us (Gal. 2:20).
But if we don’t live in spirit today, if we don’t turn to the spirit to contact the Lord and live one spirit with Him, we are in deadness, we are naked before the Lord, and He will not reward us in the coming age but rather take us through a process at the end of which we will be qualified to walk with Him in white robes in the New Jerusalem.
Unlike the spiritual movements in Christianity, where Christians are expecting and relying on stirring up and revivals, we want to have a daily living and walk that is unspotted by death, in white and pure, having an approved living before the Lord.
For this, we need to walk according to the Spirit; our daily life, living, and walk have to be in the spirit. May we be those who exercise our spirit today, turning to the Lord in spirit all the time and living in spirit, so that we may have white garments today and be rewarded as His overcomers in the coming age.
Lord Jesus, we want to have a daily living and walk that is unspotted by death but rather approved and pure before You. We want to walk according to the spirit today. We don’t want to do many things or strive to accomplish something for You: we simply want to turn to the spirit, exercise the spirit, and live in the mingled spirit. May our daily walk and living be in the mingled spirit. Keep us touching You in our spirit again and again until it is no longer us but Christ living in us. Amen, Lord, work Yourself into us and live in us to be our white garments!
Having Christ as our Righteousness and Living Christ as our Subjective Righteousness
Based on the revelation in the Bible, every Christian needs to have two garments: the first garment is the garment of salvation (Christ as our righteousness objectively), and the second garment to be approved and well pleasing to the Lord (the Christ whom we live out as our subjective righteousness).
When we first believed into the Lord, the Father received us back to Himself as prodigal sons, and He covered us with the best robe – Christ as our righteousness objectively (Luke 15:22). This best robe, Christ as our righteousness, justifies us and approves us before God; in Christ we are justified and He became our justifying cover simply by our believing into Him.
All believers in Christ have this first robe: we are all covered with Christ as our righteousness by believing into the Lord; this is the garment of justification for salvation. This first garment is the objective Christ as our objective righteousness covering us before God and enabling us to stand before Him.
In addition to this garment of justification, we need the second garment which makes us approved and well pleasing to the Lord (see Matt. 22:12; Rev. 3:5). This is the garment of approvedness for our acceptance, and it signifies the Christ whom we live out as our subjective righteousness.
This second garment is the “fine linen, bright and clean” in Rev. 19:8, and it is typified by the second garment of the queen in Psa. 45 (see vv. 8, 13-14).
Paul wanted to be found in the Lord, not having his own righteousness which is out of the law but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is out of God and based on faith – this is the subjective righteousness which we have and gain by allowing Christ to be lived out through us.
We must run the race and reach the goal. As we are running the race, there are many things that would frustrate us from reaching the goal. But after we have been saved, we need to mature and overcome all frustrations and distractions. Yes, we have been saved and justified and have the first robe for our salvation. But we must go on to maturity and reach our destination (Heb. 6:1). If we do so, then we will receive a reward. This is not a matter of Christ as our objective righteousness but of experiencing Christ as our subjective righteousness. Christ as our objective righteousness has been put upon us, whereas Christ as our subjective righteousness comes out of us. We must live out Christ as our second garment. This garment is for the reward. The white garments mentioned in Revelation 3:5 refer to this second garment. When we have this second garment, we are well pleasing to the Lord and will receive the reward. Witness Lee, The Conclusion of the New Testament, msg. 411
Praise the Lord, we all have been saved and justified, and we all have the first garment: Christ is our objective righteousness covering us before God for our salvation!
Now we need to go on to experience Christ as our subjective righteousness so that we may have the second garment wrought into us little by little day by day so that, when the Lord returns, we would be clothed in white garments, approved by Him.
The first garment qualifies us to stand before God, and the second garment qualifies us to come before Christ at the judgment seat. Christ as our objective righteousness has been put upon us, whereas Christ as our subjective righteousness comes out from us, being lived out of us.
When we let Christ live in us, He as our subjective righteousnesses is being expressed through us and lived in us. In order for us to have the reward of entering into the Lord’s kingdom and reigning with Him, we need to have this second garment, that is, we need to have Christ wrought into us and lived out of us as our subjective righteousness.
We all should overcome the dead situation in religion, conquer all kinds of death in our personal life, work life, and church life, and we should all wear the white garments. The call in Sardis is specifically that we overcome death, that is, overcome the absence of life; this means that we need to be living and strong, and we must have an impact.
When we stand and speak in the meeting, we need to exercise our spirit and speak in a strong and living way. When we are at home, we should exercise our spirit to overcome any death and deadness, and we should live one spirit with the Lord to have Him wrought into us and lived out through us.
Lord Jesus, thank You for saving us, justifying us, and covering us with Yourself as our objective righteousness for our salvation before God. Praise the Lord, Christ is our righteousness: He is the best robe covering us before God, qualifying us to be sons of God walking before Him. Lord, we want to go on with You and overcome any frustration to the growth in life, overcome any death, and conquer any deadness in our environment or in the church. Work Yourself into us, Lord, until You are lived out through us as our subjective righteousness, the second garment that causes us to be pleasing to Christ before His judgment seat.
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, The Conclusion of the New Testament, msg. 711 (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:
# God’s Christ, who is my righteousness, / My beauty is, my glorious dress;/ Midst flaming worlds, in this arrayed, / With joy shall I lift up my head. / Lord, I believe Thy precious blood, / Which, at the mercy-seat of God, / Forever doth for sinners plead, / For me, e’en for my soul, was shed. (Hymns #295)
# Oh, that fine linen garment / Which on that day we’ll wear / E’en now, Lord, work within us / And stitch by stitch prepare. / For this we would redeem / Every moment opportune / For the wedding day that’s coming / Very soon. (Hymns #1316)
# Christ comes quickly for His Bride, / Wedding feast He will provide, / Garments bright and pure supplied— / Dress in time! / Taking Christ as life she’s dressed, / By much suffering stitched and pressed; / Righteous acts are thus possessed— / Dress in time! (Hymns #1304)
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