“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.” (Revelation 3:4)
“A few names even in Sardis” the comment is made as if this fact is quite incredible. Although a “Sardis spiritual condition” could happen anytime and still exists today, there has been a spiritual Sardis period of time estimated from 1730 to 1880. This period in history is known for much religious “activity” in the religious movements of people. Jesus spoke of Sardis in Revelation 3 and verse 1 as a period of much spiritual “deadness.”
You see, religious activity does not equate to “life.” To the contrary, religious activity translates into a devil’s “hayday” without pure, unselfish motives under the direction of God’s Word. Without true spiritual life there comes a time of so much religious confusion that it is hard to believe that there are any really true Christians among the confused mess. It is a very “dark” time when so called “Christian” churches multiply, and division, hatred, sin, and false doctrines multiply inside of them. But Jesus states that in spite of the great religious confusion and darkness, there are a “few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”
Jesus refers to them as “a few names.” What is in a name, or what is important about a “name.” What matters is what is associated with that “name.” When the “name” is the name of a person, what is important is what character is associated with that name. What especially matters is what character God ascribes to a “name.”
“A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
Notice the emphasis the original scripture puts on the all capital letters “GOOD name.” It is emphasizing the actual characteristics associated with the name. Jesus knows the “GOOD” names of the true and faithful, and he gives them “loving favor.” Often the FAKE names will blaspheme the names of the GOOD, just as they blaspheme the GOOD name of Jesus, by claiming his name, and yet they are “dead” in their soul. Remember what Jesus said in Revelation 3:1?
“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.” (Revelation 3:1)
But the scripture in Proverbs 22:1 also teaches us that if you honor a truly “GOOD name” that there is favor and a good reward from God for doing so.
“He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matt 10:40-41)
Why does he say “in the name of a prophet” or “in the name of a righteous man”? He means that we need to be particular about who’s name, or who you choose to honor. Much can be known about your character and what is in your heart by observing who you choose to fellowship with and honor. It is important who you associate with and whom you choose to feed and minister to your soul! What really is their “name”? Is it “true and faithful” or is it “religious, half-hearted, politically correct, insincere, fake”? Is their “name” honored and favored by God? The honor of men is not enough!
“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” (I Thess 5:12-13)
But how might you “know them” whether they are faithful and true, or no? Jesus said that you first need to seek and follow the truth with all your heart, and then you are able to effectively watch for their “fruits.”
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:13-20)
A “faithful and true” name will be faithful and true to Jesus, and will not bring forth sin of any kind. They also will bring forth a “faithful and true” message from the Word of God that you can “try” by the Bible.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Now, Jesus said concerning these GOOD names in Sardis, that they “have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” In the old Testament, the priests could not minister before the Lord without being clean and wearing “holy garments” (see Exodus 28:2-4) In addition, they needed to be careful that their garments did not touch anything that was considered “unclean” lest the garments also became unclean.
“If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.” (Haggai 2:12)
So in the New Testament covenant, God expects us to keep the spiritual condition of our soul, (which means our spiritual “garments”), clean and white because this represents “the righteousness of the saints.” (see Revelation 19:8) Consequently, a GOOD name must keep their spiritual garment unspotted from the defilements of sin, and of false spiritual food. The false teachings and divisions of so called “Christian churches” will never be honored or favored by Jesus.
“And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 23-24)
Might this Revelation message “save you with fear” by pulling you out of the judgment fires that are pronounced against the spotted garments of religion? This is why Jesus said about those with a GOOD name and clean garments that: “they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” They present themselves to Jesus as a pure and faithful bride, therefore Jesus accepts them and describes them as “My dove, my undefiled is but one” (see Song of Solomon 6:9), “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (see Revelation 21:2)
“…they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” This same example in “type” was the one that God would only accept in the Old Testament:
“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course: Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:11-14)
Is your spiritual name good enough that God would choose to fill it with his Spirit of holiness? Is your name one of those few good names in Sardis?