Updated: Jun 20, 2022
This series is based on the video produced by Appian Media. Trial & Triumph explores the seven churches of Asia from the book of Revelation. Travel with Jeremy Dehut and watch the video as we explore the seven churches.
The ancient city of Sardis, situated on a high acropolis (a citadel or fortified part of an ancient Greek city, typically built on a hill), considered itself impenetrable. Sardis was a wealthy city with industries such as jewelry, dye, and textiles. A temple to Artemis stood in the city, ruins of which still remain today, making Sardis a center for pagan worship. However, the story of their destruction teaches a powerful lesson.
"When the Persian king Cyrus retaliated against an attack by the
Lydian king Croesus, the battle was brought to the foot of Sardis. The
Persians could not find a way to breach the acropolis. Herodotus tells
the story of how a Lydian soldier accidentally revealed a secret
entrance to the Persians when he descended from the city along a
crack in the cliff-face to recover a helmet he’d dropped. The Persians
promptly followed his example and took the city. The pride and
overconfidence of Sardis was their downfall."(1)
Revelation 3:1-6 (NKJV)
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘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, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 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. 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. 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. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
When Jesus sent message to Sardis, it would seem that an attitude of pride, which had captured the city, drifted into the attitudes of some Christians, "...you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." Pride can and often will blind us from seeing our true state.
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12). We each need to be careful and watchful for the deceptiveness of pride. The living and powerful word of God is able to discern thoughts and hearts. As Jesus warned the church at Sardis to "be watchful", we as well need to be watchful. Holding God's word up in our lives reflects the true attitudes of our hearts and intentions. The Spirit of God can lovingly and redemptively correct our motives so that we reflect His character.
There were some among the church who had not followed the destructive patterns of pride. However, to those who had, Jesus calls them to repent. "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall." (Prov. 16:18). Often when we are sure of where we are standing, resting on our confidence, a fall is not far from us. Sardis was confident in their fortified walls atop a high acropolis and failed to realize their weakness. Within the church, some were slipping into this same deception. The lesson of the church at Sardis and their need for repentance is one we should each consider.
Psalm 139:23–24 (NKJV)
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting."
What or Who do we place our confidence in?
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1. Dehut, Jeremy; Sardis: A Deceived Church, Appian Media