Concerned About Your Health
What happens when believers persist in unrepentant sin? I already showed you that 1 John 5:16 says there is a sin that leads to death. We call it the sin unto death. That is not the unpardonable sin. What is the unpardonable sin? You could only commit the unpardonable sin two times. Once directly in the presence of Jesus Christ to say what He did was attributed to the devil and it wasn’t the Holy Spirit. That was the context when the first unpardonable sin was brought up. The second time, the biggest unpardonable sin is going through your whole life rejecting Christ.
No one goes to Hell because they don’t hear about Jesus. Everyone goes to Hell because they are sinners. The wages of sin is death and if you don’t ever have anything taking care of your sin, you will pay for it forever. If you reject Jesus, you’re rejecting the only hope you have so there’s a big question about whether everybody’s heard about Jesus. I already know what the Bible says. It says in John that He is the light that lights everyone that comes into the world. What that means is, and what it says in Psalm 19, that the word of the Lord goes throughout the whole world and every speech or language hears His voice.
What does that mean? We’re all born with two candles. The candle of creation and the candle of conscience. If we look out at the world we say, hey, this didn’t get here. It’s like seeing an iPhone on the ground. It didn’t evolve. Somebody made that. That’s how the world looks. You know there’s a Creator, so you’re born realizing that. You also have a conscience. You know what you’re doing is wrong. Those are the two lights Romans 1 says everybody’s born with. Most people take the evolutionary way, blow out the candle that will take them to the Creator, and then they blow their conscience by such persistent sin that it muffles and deadens and finally sears the voice of God. All people go to Hell because they’re sinners. No one goes to Hell because they didn’t hear about Jesus. Jesus is the only hope, and He is the one that is knocking on every heart’s door. I could talk to you about that on one of the breaks, but that’s not my topic and I’m not going to talk about it anymore.
What happens to Christians? Let’s get back to Revelation. It’s talking to Christians who persist in unrepentant sin. I showed you in 1 Corinthians 11 “For this reason many are weak” verse 30 “and sick among you and many sleep” within the Corinthian church, which was only a hundred people. How do we know that? Paul spent a year and a half of his life pastoring a church that is smaller than churches that most pastors in America have. If they have a church of a hundred or less they think they have a little church, and they go around with their head hung. I go to pastor’s conferences all the time and the pastors are always saying, yeah, I’m running 2,700, I’m running 4,000, I’m running whatever. You never hear someone saying I’m running 89 because that’s embarrassing.
Paul pastored a church of under a hundred. How do we know that? Because they’ve excavated the homes of Corinth and no home could hold more than a hundred people. Paul said the church met in the home of this Corinthian saint, so we knew it was a hundred or fewer people. What does he say? They were struggling with sin. At communion he said some of you are weak, some of you are sick, and some of you, many of you actually, sleep.
Why does this matter? I’ll get to Hebrews 12 and talk about chastisement, but we’re going to be wearing our good works in Heaven. It says, and let’s go back to Revelation chapter 2. Oh, turning pages is fun. I love it. “I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel,” who causes my servants to commit sexual immorality. “I gave her time to repent” verse 21 “of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.” Verse 22, “Indeed.” This is talking to a local church. This is talking to a person teaching in a local church. Verse 22, “I will cast her into a sickbed.” That’s 1 Corinthians 11 I just read you. Many are weak. Many are sick. Many sleep, and are dead because they wouldn’t repent as a Christian of their persistent sin. “I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.” Verse 23, “I will kill her children.” That’s the people that are following her ways, her converts to her way of sin. These are within the Church, those who are following her way of sin, I will kill them with death. Why? So “all the churches,” verse 23, “shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Wow.
Revelation 19, when we get to it next week, is vital for us to see that in the future we’re going to wear our good work. It says that in 19, I’m not going to talk about it because it’s there. We understand why John chose to stay in the Spirit, Revelation 1, even while he was exiled. Why did Paul box his flesh? Because it does matter, and it will matter forever what we choose to deny and resist every day. We’ll hit that in chapter 19.
Number seven, you can go on sinning too long. I read it already in verse 21. “I gave her time to repent.” God said it’s time to repent or else, there’s a limit to His patience. When we press Him too far it happens, and Jesus follows the same three step recovery program Paul outlined. What I already read to you in 1 Corinthians 11 is what Jesus says here in Revelation 2. What are the three steps? Some are weak, some are sick, and some are dead. Why? Each step restores either back to repentance or closer to being recalled.
As a pastor, you run into this all the time. We had a woman, an amazing woman in our church, one of the churches I pastored. She was a writer for Billy Graham, his decision magazine. She wrote articles all the time. She was one of these godly Bible teaching women. All of a sudden, she got sick. They were very wealthy, so the husband took her to Mayo and he took her to MD Anderson and Cleveland General, all these hospitals. They ran all the tests and she started wasting away and got down to, I don’t know what you can get down to, 70 pounds, 80 pounds. She was dying, her whole system. She looked 20 or 30 years older, could hardly move, and was being pushed around in a wheelchair. Finally, the husband came to us, the elders, and said I’ve exhausted all the medical things. I would like you to anoint her with oil, James 5, and pray over her. I said, we’d love to, we do that all the time.
He wheeled her in and she’s there, shaking in her wheelchair and I got the olive oil out. I said before I do this the Bible says in James 5 that we’re supposed to make sure that there’s no unconfessed unforsaken sin in your life because the Lord will not heal you until you confess and forsake that sin. She looked up and those sad eyes looked right at me. I was holding my olive oil bottle and my little paper towel. You wipe it off after you do it because olive oil gets all over you. He said, what do you mean? I said, is there any sin you’re aware of right now that the Lord’s been convicting you about that you’re resisting Him? She said yes. Her husband started crying. Here’s this Bible teacher. They were so generous, wealthy, successful, and loved. He started crying and she said, yes. My husband did something I said I’ll never forgive him for. I’ve gotten so bitter, and we hardly talk. He still pushes me around in my wheelchair. I said well, click, I snapped my oil top and said I can’t give you any olive oil now. I’m not going to pray over you until you come back. She said I’d rather just repent right here and give me the olive oil. She said, Lord, I’m sorry, I was wrong and bitter and it’s a sin and it’s not worth it. We opened the olive oil and put a little olive oil across her forehead. It’s the most remarkable thing going from 70 to 80 to 90 to 100 pounds. I don’t know how much she ended up weighing, 110 maybe. She came back to the most radiant pink cheeked person. She was back to herself.
I could tell you story after story. Be not deceived. God is not mocked; whatever you sow you’ll reap. There’s a consequence engine that operates from God against Christians who won’t repent. Chastening is how God trains us for righteousness. You say, how do you know that? Look at Hebrews chapter 12. I’m glad you asked me how you know that? Whenever someone asks you, how do you know that, show them. That’s what you’re here for. You’re supposed to be learning where to go. I’m showing you where to go for all these topics that are the most important topics of your Christian life. For the rest of your life till you get to Heaven it’s going to matter how well you know this truth because when you know the truth, the truth sets you free. The truth allows you to abound and overflow with the truth of God and the life He wants us to live.
Starting in verse 5 of Hebrews 12. “You’ve forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him.'” My son, this is talking about Christians. The Lord is chastening Christians, rebuking Christians. Verse 6, “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” That is not your best life now, positive thinking, Joel Osteen. I don’t think you’ll hear him ever speak on this. You don’t even know who he is. He’s got that gigantic church I think it’s in Houston. He only stresses the positive.
This is what is destroying people’s lives and marriages and families. It’s because they can’t understand why their life is like the wheels have fallen off and everything is going bad. They can’t get along with their parents or their wife or their husband or their boss. Their whole life’s falling apart and they’re a Christian and they think maybe if I memorize another verse or something. No. Look what it says. “If you endure chastening” verse 7, “God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”
Have you noticed how many times the word chasten is used? If you could see my Bible, I have a little circle around all the chastening, I have daisy chained them so you can see it. That’s one of the ways I study the Bible. If God repeats Himself, after about the second repetition I go, what are you doing saying that so many times? I start thinking about it. “For what son is there” verse 7, “whom a father does not chasten?” Verse 8, “But if you were without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”
I remember when I used to have my old King James Bible, the old one, this is a New King James. There was a swear word in the Bible. Did you know that? The old King James has a swear word in it. Do you know what it says in verse 8 in the old King James? It says you are bastards. I remember seeing the old men sitting around chewing tobacco and spitting it out talking about that bastard. That was a disparaging term. This is a very serious passage. God says, “if you are without chastening,” verse 8, “of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” Oh, if you call yourself a Christian and can live persistently in either secret or even unsecret public sins and nothing happens, God says you’re illegitimate. What does that mean? That means He’s not your Father. That’s what an illegitimate child is, one that nobody knows who the father is. That’s what they used to call them. They’re born out of wedlock and they’re illegitimate. It was a cultural thing that everybody frowned at.
What is this saying? That there are people, it says in Matthew chapter 7, who will get to Heaven, and they’re standing in line and will say, Lord, we did all these wonderful things. We were in your church, and we served. He says, yeah, you did that, but I never knew you, depart from Me. Why? You worker of iniquity. You were never chastened. You were never stopped dead in your tracks. You were never spanked by Me, the God of the universe. I spank all My children. If you’re a Christian and you’re cruising along, you’ve got all this secret stuff going on and it’s clearly sinning from the Bible and nothing happens to your life, you are cruising in the wrong direction. You’re going to end up horrified with the worst thing you could ever hear in your life. I never knew you. That’s what Jesus said.
Keep going, verse 9, “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” Verse 11. “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit.”
What is chastening by the way? Chastening is something we feel as emotional anxiety or distress. What used to bring us joy, doesn’t. Pressures increase at work, at home, and our health and our finances. Many Christians bump along at this chastening level of discipline yet fail to read the signs. They feel unfulfilled at church. They feel critical of their Christian friends. They feel on the outs with God. When they pick up their Bible it’s like lead. Sometimes they just don’t even want to pick it up. Their relationship with the Lord seems blighted. Chastening is when God removes from us the joy of our salvation. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you don’t need to go to church a little more. You don’t need to read the Bible a little bit more with a better attitude. You need to look for any ongoing sin in your life and repent because if you don’t, it gets worse.
How do we avoid emptiness and restlessness and boredom? Look what Jesus says in Revelation 2, I shouldn’t shut it, 2:23. “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know,” this is the ultimate chastening, “kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” How do you get out of it? Back up two verses to 21. “I gave her time to repent.” The universal call to holy living or facing the consequence is what Galatians 6:7-8 talks about. Remember I quoted that to you. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Persistent sin in Christians offers growing boredom, a feeling of emptiness, feeling useless, feeling restless, being frustrated, and living in fear. All those are the symptoms of walking in the flesh. That’s a pretty interesting list.
I started as a youth pastor, and I still speak to hundreds and hundreds of people your age. I see so many that are bored, empty, and feeling useless. Their life is restless. They’re just always restless. They’re frustrated about everything and they’re very fearful. Those are all symptoms, God says, of sowing to the flesh and there are many ways to sow the flesh. You don’t have to be around the dancing troops of Thyatiran slaves.
All of you are saying, oh, but what about the grace of God? I knew you were going to ask that. Where would you go to find out about the grace of God? One of the best places I go to is Titus chapter 2. Let me show you Titus chapter 2 because what is the grace of God? What is the purpose? What does it do? How does it impact us as believers? Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God.” That’s the topic we’re on Titus 2:11, “that brings salvation.” Grace is totally attached to salvation. What this is saying, it’s going beyond just simple grace and it’s saying Christ is the grace of God that brings salvation if you think about it. He “has appeared to all men.”
It’s not just the topic of grace. We’re talking about the source of grace. Most people stop there. What does verse 12 say? See, let’s talk about the grace of God. Let’s see if we have really partaken of the grace of God. What is the grace of God? Verse 12, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Do you know what Paul told Titus to share in Crete? If you’ve partaken of the grace of God, the grace of God teaches you to say no to sin. If you’re not saying no to sin, you better make sure you’ve really partaken of the grace of God because those two are connected. Today, they’re not connected in a lot of people’s lives and it’s frightening. Wow.
Let’s go on. Revelation 2:24. Back to Revelation 2 verse 24. “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan.” Wow. Jesus said to the believers in Thyatira who were sleeping around and living like God will forgive me, I’ll make it to Heaven, I’m a Christian, living like they want to and grieving and quenching Him, have known the depths of Satan.
Do you know what I wrote? Verse 10. Not verse 10, my 10th observation. Satan kills and steals and destroys. Do you remember that? Remember what Jesus said in John 10? Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life,” and not just life that’s more abundant, but Satan came to kill and steal and destroy. Who do you want running your life? The one that makes it inexpressibly delightful, joyful, confidant, peaceful, hopeful, and stable. Like it says in Proverbs, the righteous are as bold as the lion, but the wicked run when no one is pursuing them. Do you want that bold, full of God life? Or do you want to be constantly empty and listless and feeling useless and feeling hopeless, living in emptiness, looking for a thrill? It’s that simple. Satan’s way, which is attached to sin in the flesh or Christ’s way.
Look at the amazing offer of God starting in verse 25 of Revelation 2. “Hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. He shall rule them,” verse 27, “with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces.” He starts quoting from the rest of the Bible. Revelation quotes over 800 times and alludes to and uses parts of the rest of the Bible. “As I also have received from My Father;” verse 28, “and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” What’s Jesus saying? Nothing different from what He said while He was on Earth.
In fact, since you all know that, let’s go back to see what He said. Look at Matthew 7. Jesus ruffled feathers because He talked to the most religious people in the world and this is what He said, in Matthew 7. This is the Sermon on the Mount, His longest, biggest public sermon, Matthew 7 verse 21. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven.” That’s sobering. “But he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” Jesus defined salvation as something not that we do, but that He does. He changes our hearts. I was born wanting my own way. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone to his own way.” Remember Isaiah 53. I was born that way. When I’m born again, I don’t want to do my will. I want to do His. That’s a miracle. See that’s salvation, that I’m no longer the way I was born, I’ve been born again.
What does being born again mean? I do the will of my Father in Heaven. Jesus goes on “Many will say to Me in that day,” verse 22 of chapter 7, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” Guess what the God of the universe, the judge of all, Jesus Christ says to them? He doesn’t say, no, you didn’t. He says you did do all that. Yeah. You did all those things. You were quite active. Verse 23, “Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you.'” Why? “‘Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” If you’ve never been saved from sin, you’ve never been saved from Hell. Wow. That’s very interesting. No, not perfect, it doesn’t say that. It says that you want to do the will of your Father.
Do you know what Paul said? Did you know Paul’s testimony of the Christian life is Romans 7? Have you ever read Romans 7? I’m sure you’ve already had that class somewhere along the way. Romans 7 is the most personal chapter in the Bible. Paul says, I, me and my so much, it’s uncharacteristic. He’s constantly talking about himself and what does he say? What I want to do I don’t do; what I don’t want to do I am doing. Oh, wretched, man. What he’s saying is I’m still battling. He wrote half the New Testament. He went to Heaven and saw Jesus and came back and wrote about it. Do you know what I mean? He said, Christ turned my canoe around and it’s really hard to resist the world. Sometimes I float, but I get right back, and I beat my flesh under. That’s a Christian. The person that’s just floating along here and says, I’m a Christian is probably not. I didn’t say. I would never say anything like that. I’m glad Jesus said it.
Real quickly. Look at 1 Peter 2:11 with me. Remember they got this verse and I love this verse. Bonnie and I, one of the privileges we have is that we speak about a fourth of our time to Word of Life Bible institutes. The rest of the time what we do is spend a lot of time with the frontline missionaries. In fact, for four years we’ve had the privilege of addressing the medical missionaries that work in closed countries. 65 countries around the world don’t let Christians in so Christians become medical missionaries. They go as doctors and nurses and physician’s assistants and all that kind of stuff into these closed countries. Did you know that even North Korea allows aid workers? You name any Muslim country, and they all allow medical aid people to come in. There are 65 closed countries and there are wonderful Christians, Gospel-centric, believers going there. They bring them out of those countries to a neutral country once a year, hundreds of them, and Bonnie and I’ve had the privilege to go. What they call us is spiritual mental healthcare. Spiritual mental healthcare providers.
Bonnie meets with the women and councils and everything and I meet with the men and then I get to challenge them twice a day. There’ll be an auditorium of 600, 700, 800 doctors and nurses from 65 closed countries coming into a neutral country. This is one of them. They gave their testimony. They’re in Myanmar, northern Myanmar. Listen to what they say. Almost everybody in the audience was weeping when they got done. These are medical missionaries in one of the darkest spots on Earth.
They said 90% of all men in our country over 18 are addicted to opium, they’re heroin addicts, 90%. The woman doctor was sharing. She said, do you know what it’s like to walk from where we live to the market? 90% of the men are looking at you and they’re addicts, and they can’t wait for their next hit, their next fix. They just live for whatever their desires want. She said that’s the country we live in. That’s been in the longest civil war on Earth. They’ve been fighting for over 40 years and what they’re doing in their clinic is constantly patching up the soldiers from both sides that are fighting and killing each other. She broke down in tears and she said why, why, why are we here?
She started reading 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 11. She said, “I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims.” She said, my husband and I decided we could live in America and earn in the high six figures as medical personnel. She was trained, I forget, Bonnie would know, either at Mayo or Johns Hopkins, one of the big places. She had her own practice and had white carpet and had the matching cars and the security system and the gated community and the kids in the high dollar school. The whole life of American success. She said, we thought, wait a minute. We’re sojourners and pilgrims. Look what we were called to do, verse 9. “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
She said we started praying and we said, Lord, what’s the darkest spot on Earth? We want to resign our practice and go there as medical missionaries. Look where we are. She just wept. She said it’s the hardest place I’m aware of on Earth to serve Christ. She said, everybody around you is either addicted to opium or they’re killing each other. On top of that, they have more demonic temples, and Buddhist shrines with demons in them, per square mile than any other spot on Earth. She said it’s the most demonized, the most murderous, the most addicted place of darkness in the world and she said as pilgrims and strangers that’s where we’re called.
Did you know that some people get to Heaven empty handed? It’s because they’re Christians, but they float and the Lord keeps tipping over their canoe. Other people keep telling them you’re going the wrong way and they get saved yet so as by fire. I hope none of you want to be like that. Did you know Jesus is vitally concerned about your health? Did you know that this portion that we’re looking at is one of the most amazing descriptions of what it takes to be a healthy believer?
Let’s go back to Revelation. This is a group of people that were living in the epicenter of temptation, the epicenter of worldliness, and the epicenter of persecution. The best way to survive that, and let’s get there, is to go to what Revelation 3:1 says. Turn in your Bible to Revelation 3:1. We’re looking, let me get there with you, at the church of Sardis. Let me read to you. “To the angel of the church in Sardis.” Jesus is talking. “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive.'” What does the end of verse 1 say? You are what? Dead. This is the worst church. All the other churches have raging infections, heart problems, a little problem with fear, and a little problem with tolerating false teaching. Jesus, like a physician, kneels next to the body of Christ in Sardis and takes their pulse. He says you’re dead. You’re in cardiac arrest.
What we’re going to see is what happens when He has to take out those defibrillators? Have you ever seen them when they charge them up and their whole body jumps? They keep doing it until they hear beep, beep, beep. Their heart starts coming back. See, Jesus is vitally concerned that we do not get into cardiac arrest, that we do not have our veins full like the Ephesians did and had hardening of their arteries. What does He say? Verse 1, I know your works, I know you have a name, you’re alive. Jesus knows all that is going on everywhere including the condition of His messengers, and each of the local gatherings. He knows what we’re feeding our souls on. Don’t worry, the Lord is tracking with you. He knows what you’ve learned here, at home, and in your church.
Secondly, Jesus is the only one that gives us an honest spiritual life assessment. Jesus knows if our walk matches up to our talk. The Sardis people had works, and they had a name, and they were known as a church that was alive. That’s the problem. Christians can go through all the motions. We learn the language, we can pray, we learn verses, we can lead, and we can share the Gospel. How many people in Church History do we know about like Billy Graham’s original partner that ended up being a Christ denying infidel, yet he was one of the greatest zealous soul winners back in the forties, the 1940s when he worked with Billy Graham. What he said is, yeah, I can do that. You can learn to do anything, but when Jesus looked at him, He saw his true spiritual condition.
Jesus gives them a diagnosis in verse 2. This is why he says they’re dead. You need to be watchful, which means they weren’t. You need to strengthen what remains, which means they were very weak. “That are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect.” Perfect? What that word means is mature. That they have gone through the process of maturity. They were stunted. Do you know what they call a child that’s born and they weigh them, and measure them, and they are behind? When you were little, your parents took you and they were always putting you in the percentile. Your parents knew your percentile. They knew where you were on the weight and heights for what you were supposed to be at how many months old. If you didn’t, there’s a classification for that. It’s called failure to thrive.
Jesus reaches down, does the medical inspection and He says you have a failure to thrive. What was the problem? A lack of vigilance. They weren’t watchful. They were spiritually weak. They needed strengthening. They lost their discernment. They were ready to die, and they didn’t even know it. They were operating in the church and their health was just falling apart. They had a lack of maturity; they weren’t perfect in their works.
By the way, how did they get so bad? I’m glad you asked that. Peter wrote a warning to these people. It’s in 1 Peter 5 verse 8. Back up to 1 Peter 5. I hope that this is one of those verses that you have underlined in your Bible because it’s really an important one. 1 Peter 5:8, Peter said to the very people that Jesus is writing to in Sardis. Look at 1 Peter 1. Let me show you the map. 1 Peter 1:1, “To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” Sardis was in Asia, the Roman province of Asia. Peter wrote this letter, and it was circulated through these churches.
Look at what he says in chapter 5 of 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may” what? “Devour.” When Jesus came to the church in Sardis, the body of Christ was laying on the ground after an attack by a lion, the devil. That’s what a devoured Christian looks like. Remember I told you two times ago that the seven churches represent not only seven local geographic entities. They also represent seven types of believers that are always going to be present in Christ’s Church. Do you know what Sardis, Sardinian type believers are? They’ve been devoured by their adversary, the devil.
How do you know? They’re not vigilant. We’re supposed to always be vigilant. Look what it says. “Resist him,” verse 9, “steadfast in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” If you resist him, what happens? Verse 10, “the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” That’s a healthy life. Needing the paddles to get resuscitated is an unhealthy life. Yet I would say from my anecdotal experience, from my observation after pastoring churches in the west, in the south, in the northeast, in the center of the U.S. that there are so many devoured Christians in churches and ministries. It’s horrible.
What does the Lord offer? I call it spiritual chemo. Look at Revelation 3:3. If someone has cancer, get them on chemo, right? “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” The Lord says I’m not going to let you persist in this behavior. You need spiritual chemo. Spiritual lethargy and dullness are only treated by reminders of the work of the Gospel. That’s when He says how you’ve received and heard.
I like to put it this way. People would come to my office all the time as a pastor and now I talk to people all the time and they all say, I don’t know what’s wrong. I don’t feel saved. I feel so far from the Lord. I said let’s just go over the Gospel. Let me remind you what the Gospel is. That’s what He said, how you received and heard. You need a reminder that when you were saved the Spirit opened your mind and He implanted the word. Then, God gave you new life, and He gave you the strength to grow. Then you have to grasp truth and hold onto it to grow. It’s like plants that you’re planting. You put them in, and you’ve got to water them. The water recedes in the pot. Their roots are going down and if they can’t get down to the water they wither on the top. God says you’ve got to keep close enough to what you need, the truth. You have to grasp it. Your roots have to be in it. You have to guard your supply. You have to hold on to it for life, otherwise, Jesus will come like a thief.
Look at what He offers in verse 4. I called it intimacy. “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” Wow. You have a few people who are not lying by the road attacked by the lion, the devil. What’s the difference? Sardinians had defiled their garments. Remember what Jude verse 23 says? Jude only has one chapter. It says, “some have compassion…hating even the garment defiled by the flesh…pulling them out of the fire.” There were Christians who were so involved in sin that they needed other Christians to come and pull them out and say, stop that! They’re defiled. They didn’t want them to be, they needed to be pulled out. That’s how these devoured ones were, they were defiled.
Some were resisting Satan’s toxins. Jesus offers to all who will pay the price to resist sin and walk with Him, the indescribable joy of fellowshipping with the God of the universe. That’s how the lady that gave her testimony when all of us wept who was in Myanmar, that’s how she made it. She went on to say that the only thing that keeps them going in that darkest spot on Earth is that they’re walking with Christ.
What it says here, verse 5 of chapter 3, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Wow. You talk about the best life possible. The best life possible is to be introduced by Jesus Christ to God the Father, that’s what we look forward to. Who will be introduced by Jesus Christ to God the Father? The ones that are walking with Him through life and He said that’s what I’m offering you, that’s what you should want.
Jesus is offering the best life possible now, which is going through life clothed in Christ, feeling eternally secure, and waiting for the grand welcome into Heaven. How do we know if we have that? Look what it says in verse 6. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” If you hear the teaching of the word of God, the preaching of the word of God, the reading of the word of God, your personal study of the word of God, if you hear it and in your heart you say, that’s what I want. It’s hard. I’m like Paul, what I want to do I don’t do, what I don’t want to do I am doing, but I want it. I want to live based on my being crucified with Christ. The Lord says you have ears. What you need to do is make a conscious choice for right now. Most people make decisions by saying for the rest of my life I’m going to do this. Don’t worry about the rest of your life. You’ll never be doing later on what you’re not doing right now so just do it right now. Live constantly right now in obedience to the Lord. We’re password protected. We hear His voice. Okay.
We have eight minutes. Let’s jump into church number six. Look at verse 7 because. I’ll read to you how I introduce the Philadelphia church. Here we go. There aren’t many truths that can change your life forever. Some truths change us momentarily and others affect us for a while, but in Jesus’ simple introduction to the church in Philadelphia, there are four truths of a forever changed life.
Why do I say that? Look at this. When Jesus introduces Himself, this is the introduction to this book. You all see it? I put it up there for you. Jesus doesn’t come and say hi, it’s Jesus just stopping by. No. Look at what He says. “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things.’” Remember I told you there’s a city and then there’s Jesus’ introduction of Himself. Jesus introduces Himself most unusually to this church. All the other churches get an introduction about an attribute of His that He’s already said in chapter 1. Eyes of fire, feet of brass, whatever, but not them. Jesus reaches back to one of the most obscure chapters in the Bible. Isaiah 22:22 if you want to know where it is. He introduces Himself and reveals something in an unbelievable way.
“‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David.'” What is that? Isaiah 22:22. It’s amazing what that means. “‘He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens’: ‘I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.'” That’s probably one of the most powerful collections of truths condensed anywhere in the Bible.
For just a minute, let’s look at it. I call it the four keys to spiritual health to live in a hostile world. Jesus first says I’m holy, it’s the only attribute of God that gets the ultimate emphasis. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'”
What does holy mean? I learned about holiness when I was a little boy. My mother used to bake and decorate cakes. She baked them, stacked the layers, put frosting between them, and put frosting on them. It was beautiful. She would put them on a pedestal, and I was the bad little boy. She had to get down and lean over and say to me, don’t touch that cake. That is for your father’s birthday or your sister’s birthday or dinner tonight, don’t touch that cake. I’d say, but can I lick some frosting? No. What she was saying is it was set aside for something special. That’s all that holiness means, set aside. Hallowed, consecrated. It was limited because it was special. God says I am holy, and you should limit yourself so that you can respond to what I want because you grieve Me and quench Me when you’re not.
It’s the only attribute of God that gets the ultimate emphasis. Jesus never says I am love, love, love. I am grace, grace, grace. What does He say? I’m holy, Isaiah 6. He doesn’t stop there. He says I’m true. Jesus speaks the truth. He says I’m the last word. I’m the source of truth. I am the way the truth and the life. He says I want truthfulness. I want you to actually live in a way that reflects My truth.
Then we get to this obscure verse. The key of David is in Isaiah 22:22. There’s a man named Shebna who introduces himself as a steward to the king of Judah. Everyone would have known what the key of David was. The steward had the key of David for the king, the descendants of David, the Kings of Judah. First, the steward served the king by dispensing his wealth. Always in the Old Testament, the king had a steward. The king didn’t carry around payment for stuff. He had a steward that did it, so he dispensed his wealth. Secondly, the steward was the only person that scheduled you to come in before the king, the steward opened the door to the king. Finally, the steward displayed the king’s power. Remember how Joseph had Pharaoh’s signet and could display Pharaoh’s power that he authorizes.
The steward did three things. The steward is the one that dispensed the wealth, entered the presence of the king, and authorized things in the name of the king. Jesus said I’m the only one that can open God’s unlimited wealth to you, God’s unlimited presence in your life, and God’s power authorizing what you do for Me.
What does all that mean? It’s the final truth. He says I open the door of ministry, and no one can shut it. A lot of you are thinking about being in ministry. The only way you can be sure that you can go into a ministry God is going to bless, is if you say, like the Philadelphians, You’re holy and I want to be as holy as is possible for a born again former slave of sin now redeemed in Your temple, to be. I want to follow after Your holiness. I want to know Your truth. I want to live Your truth. I believe You’re the One that can open the door to God’s power and presence and authorization and wealth. I want You to lead me to ministry because when You do, no one can shut the door.
That’s what happened to that lady that was weeping from Myanmar. No one should be in that dark country preaching the Gospel, it’s Satan’s stronghold. Christ opened the door and she said, we’re here and God’s protecting us and we’re going forward. What that means is that Jesus opens doors to ministry. He opens doors for us to do what He desires. He places the doors before us. He awaits our response. He can keep the door of ministry from being closed, a ministry that can’t be stopped, but it’s just for a time. It’s not like permanently whatever we do is going to last forever. As Paul put it, I want to finish the race that God has laid down for me.
What is the healthy life Jesus offers? It’s an abundant life. A confident life. A joyful life. A guilt free life. A peaceful life. A hope filled life. Overflowing life. Purpose filled life. It’s faithfulness. God doesn’t want us perfect, sinless. He just wants us faithful, and He’ll make us joyful, overflowing, and everything else He promised.
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