The church at Sardis was probably a large church with many members. However, only a few people there were really living in a right relationship with God.
Christ describes them with a word-picture that appears in several places in the Bible. An example is Isaiah 1:18. That word-picture describes peopleís sin (evil deeds) as dirt. As dirt makes our clothes unpleasant and unclean, so sin spoils our lives. Of course, we can clean dirt from our clothes, but we cannot remove sin from our lives. Only God can do that. Only God can forgive our sin, because we are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23).
That is why Jesus died. He died to suffer the punishment for our sins, so that God can forgive us. Godís act to forgive us is like when someone washes dirty clothes clean. As the water removes the dirt from the clothes, so God removes the sin from our lives. So, white clothes are a word-picture for a person who is in a right relationship with God. The priests in the temple (Godís house) in Jerusalem wore white clothes. So, white clothes also express the idea that someone is serving God.
Christ had a special promise for the Christians in Sardis who were serving God. He said that they would walk with him. That describes an especially close friendship. In Genesis 5:24, we read that Enoch walked with God. It is Godís desire that his people should have that kind of close relationship with him (Hebrews 10:19-22). He has forgiven their sin so that they will be his children. He wants to do wonderful things for them, and with them (Romans 8:28-30).
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© 2016, Keith Simons.