What was John telling the Church in Sardis they needed to remember? It was the Gospel Message…the Good News of Jesus. We should never discount or dismiss the wonder-working power of the Gospel. For within its message is the Holy Spirit at work in hearts and minds. And when we hear and receive the Good News, it’s then our responsibility to obey and repent. For true repentance is a moral reorientation of our soul…a acknowledging of the error of our ways and a turning towards truth and righteousness…of turning to God.
Turning away from the Lord can be very subtle. Every time I tell myself that I believe God…but then in the next breath lament that I’m not worthy enough to be used by Him…I’m turning away. Or every time I’m confronted by God’s truth and I distance myself rather than allow His truth to change me…I’m turning away. The deception of sin will always be veiled in mistrust and disobedience.
The Amplified Bible pens the above Scripture this way, ” If you will turn (repent) and give heed to My reproof, behold, I (Wisdom) will pour out My Spirit upon you. I will make My words known to you.” This admonishment then is two-pronged. First, we must stop and agree with God we’re going down the wrong path. Now our stubborn carnal nature will usually reject this idea at first…that’s because nobody likes to be told they’re wrong! But it’s the second part of this Scripture that’s even more important. For if we do turn back to God, He promises not only a renewed relationship with Him, but an outpouring of His Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding…that we may know Him more intimately.
In this very well-known and often quoted Scripture, we like to gloss over the first part and instead focus on the end…the promised things God will do for us. But in doing so, we miss two small but very important words contained in this verse. The first, is how this Scripture starts, “If My people…” “If” puts the burden and responsibility squarely on our shoulders to follow through with the conditions God has placed here…namely, for us to have a radical change of heart, mind, and spirit. It is only at that time and after that is completed, (marked by the second important word, “then”) that God will forgive and heal the land. You could call these prerequisites…things God requires of us beforehand…not because He’s a mean tyrant, but because He’s a good and just God.
Admitting we’re wrong and asking forgiveness is hard to do. And when it comes to acknowledging our sin before God it gets even tougher. It’s not that we’re deliberately rebelling against Him…of blatantly and conspicuously sinning for all to see. No, it’s rather sins by omission that really mess us up. These are secret sins that are easy to hide…things that only we may know about. These sins of omission are things neglected and left undone in our lives…like regular time in the Word, or prayer. Or they’re things we chose to turn a blind eye to…knowing the Lord wants us to act, but choosing to be apathetic instead. These sins of omission are disobedience at its best and need to be dealt with, for as time goes on, it becomes easier and easier to allow these sins to hide in our sub-conscience and justify them rather than admit they are wrong.
The Lord says to you today…come back. Turn around and face Me, for it’s only by Me that you can be delivered from all the evil that still clings to you. You may have accepted Me in the past, but you are still a slave to things you have not been able to give up. You have been set free of those things, but you either don’t fully realize it or just don’t want to leave them behind. Change directions today… for those chains that have bound you in the past have been broken off – you are no longer a victim…you are a victor.
Unfortunately, when we become Believers, God doesn’t wrap us up in cotton batting and place us carefully in a box for safe keeping. No, we’re subject to every evil and despicable thing the world can throw at us. But in the midst of all the pain, suffering, anguish and grief, we as Believers have one thing the rest of the world doesn’t… when we cry out to the Lord…He hears us. This verse says that He hears my voice…He knows and recognizes my voice above the din of the whole universe. But God doesn’t stop there…He acts when He hears our cry to Him…for when we summon the Lord, He will come to our aid.