A Brief Review of Lucifer, (Rev. 12:9) the great dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan:
Please read these given scriptures. (Isa. 14:12-15) Here Lucifer is called son of the morning and his 5 "I wills" against God are given. (Ezek. 28:13-17) This scripture describes Lucifer and states he had been in Eden, the garden of God, that he was lifted up (proud) because of his beauty and he is the anointed (to rub with oil) cherub that covereth (defend). He was an especially beautiful angel with a special anointing to do an assigned job concerning Adam and Eve but he rebelled and tempted them so they would fall. Satan is proud, rebellious and willful!
(Ezek. 28:15-17) (V.15) The iniquity (wickedness, evil) in Lucifer had been revealed by his deception of Eve in Eden (V.17) and it had sprang from Lucifer's pride (lifted up) in his beauty (harmony of form and color, excellence of craftsmanship), wisdom (to be wise, to teach) his brightness (splendor), (Gen. 1:26 & 2:7) his pride resulted in his jealousy because God had given special attention to this thing (Adam) He had formed (to mold as a potter) out of the dust of the earth in His own image and had given it the breath of life (Gen. 2:8-25) and then God had started a companionship friendship with who He had formed. See Part 1 for full details. Satan is wise and he teaches!
God changed Lucifer's name to Satan (adversary) due to Lucifer's transgression in Eden (Isa. 14:12-15) because he had become God's adversary through his 5 "I wills" (1Pet. 5:8 keywords: your adversary the devil) and he is also every Christian's adversary. (John 8:44) The devil is a murderer, he is a liar and the father of lying and liars. (Luke 4:2 keyword: devil) The devil tempted Jesus. (Matt. 4:3) He is called the tempter (tester). The definition of devil is a slanderer, a false accuser, a traducer. A traducer speaks falsely, maliciously, to lead. Satan is our adversary, a tempter (tester), a false accuser, a slanderer, speaks maliciously and he leads!
(Rev. 12:9) Satan is identified as the great dragon (to fascinate, to capture, to grasp, entrap, to take). Satan is identified as that old serpent. Old serpent signifies he was in Eden. (Isa. 14:29 keyword: serpent's) Serpent's defined is to hiss like a snake, to whisper, to #1) prognosticate, #2) is an enchanter, and #3) uses incantation.
DEFINITIONS: #1) To prognosticate means to diligently observe and learn by experience and to predict by using present indications as a guide. #2) To enchant means to cast under a spell, bewitch, to attract and delight completely. #3) An incantation is verbal charms spoken, chanted or sung designed to produce a particular effect. And incantation is the basis of sorcery, magic and witchcraft.
Satan fascinates, grasps, entraps, takes, whispers into man's thoughts, diligently observes, learns by experience, predicts by using present indicators such as actions, reactions and emotions as a guide, casts under a spell, bewitches, attracts and delights completely, inspires people by verbal charms spoken, chanted or sung which is designed to produce a particular effect, think Rap, Jazz, Pop, Rock, C&W and etc.. He inspires sorcery, magic and witchcraft which is occultist idolatry.
Using the above tactics Satan's main objective is to "Divide! Divide! Divide and Conquer!" Satan divided ancient Israel and Israel disappeared for almost 2,000 years. Satan divided the early church and it became apostate with just a few dissenting believers hiding their worship. The dissenter faction finally broke away and became the Protestant Church but Satan fragmented that and now we are a church divided into denominations. Satan will divide the individual Christian from God and, as you will see, Satan will divide a pastor from God.
Example: (Luke 22:31) Satan used these powers to whisper embellishments that magnified the danger in Simon Peter's thoughts and emotions (Matt. 26:69-75) until Peter panicked, (V.70) denied knowing Jesus the first time, (V.72) then took an oath (sacred limit) the second time that he did not know Jesus (V.74) and began to curse (to devote to destruction) and swear (promise with an oath) the third time he denied Jesus, then the cock crowed (Matt. 26:34) just as Jesus had prophesied.
SATAN IS THE RULER OF A KINGDOM
(John 12:31 & 14:30) Jesus said Satan is the prince (first in power, chief, ruler) of this world (Eph. 6:12) in which is his kingdom of darkness with an organized hierarchy of fallen, evil angels where he has power and purpose. (2Cor. 4:4) Satan is the god of this world except for faithful Israelites and true Christians. (Matt. 12:25-26) Satan's kingdom is a united kingdom of all devils over which he is the ruler. (Luke 8:27-31) They recognize people (recognized Jesus), have a self-will, have self-awareness, have knowledge, have power over people, speak through men's mouths (James 2:19 keyword: tremble) and have emotions.
(1Tim 4:1) Seducing spirits and the doctrines of devils, especially in these latter times, have, do and will cause Christians and pastors to depart from the faith to the point they speak lies with hypocrisy (acting in a pretended, insincere manner on a stage, a counterfeit, an assumed character) because their conscience (ability to distinguish wrong from right) is seared (numb). Satan promotes anything that takes people away from God because then they belong to Satan, the Devil. (Acts 17:16-18 keywords: #1)idolatry, #2)philosophers, #3)Epicureans, #4)Stoicks) (1Ki. 11:7, Acts 17:16-22 & Eph. 5:5) Satan is the founder and propagator of idolatry.
#1) Idolatry is wanting something or someone or loving something or someone more than you love your relationship with God through Jesus. Idolatry: The occult always offers thrills, power and release. Idolatry in Biblical times was the worship of the occult mostly through graven images of the gods of the imagination, today is no different, the pattern has remained the same but their occult names have changed. Look in your TV guide at the occult programming available, movie rentals and movie marquee's; Harry Potter is a fine example, witches, warlocks, superheroes with unnatural powers, and etc. are occultist.
There are the games; Atari, Coleco, Intellivision, XBox, Nintendo, Sega, Sony Play Station and etc. are a few of the names on an endless list of occultism beckoning. There are train loads of occult books available. They are all a diversion from reality and they open the door for Satan. THINK NOT? In the 12th paragraph below read the story of Pentecostal Pastor, Jerry DeWitt, and where his Satan inspired fascination with occult books took him. It took his son too.
#2) Philosophy: (Col. 2:8) "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain (empty) deceit (lies and deception), after the tradition of men, and after the rudiments (the beginning: which is evolution verses creationism) of the world, and not after Christ." The 2 things depend on each other. Philosophy searches for wisdom and knowledge and loves the pseudo-authority of its wise statements. Basically philosophy tells mankind we can think our way to perfection, we don't need God to be good, that we can heal our own faults and that we can improve mankind by our own wisdom. Philosophy is filled with empty lies and deception.
Philosophy gave rise to the pseudo-religious secular humanistic movement. #3) Epicureans and #4) Stoicks are 2 branches of philosophy. Philosophy teaches man to be his own idol and through that concept man is victimized into worshiping Satan through the worship of self. (Rom. 3:23) All (every human who has ever lived) have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Job 19:25-27, Titus 2:14 & Rev. 5:9) and we need a Redeemer. Satan is a murderer and philosophy is Satan's false hope. Philosophy is Satan inspired blinding to the true purpose of man.
(2Cor. 4:4) Satan blinds the minds of those who don't believe in Jesus and the gospel (good news) of Jesus, (Eph. 2:2) Satan works in the children of disobedience who disobey God's laws, will and ways; children of disobedience obviously includes Christian and sinner. SATAN HAS A PLAN OF CONQUEST BECAUSE: (John 10:8-16) Satan is a thief who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy which obviously means (Matt. 13:19-22) Christians-the church, (1Chron. 21:1) the Jews-Israel (2Cor. 4:4) and all other people. (Rev. 20:1-9) Satan's plan is to set himself up as the god of this world (Isa. 14:12-14) then he plans to take over heaven.
Using the Above: Satan Attacks all Pastors in all Eras
Pastors are Satan's #1 target. Satan isn't stupid; if he can subvert a pastor he uses the pastor to subvert most of, and sometimes all of, a pastor's congregation or even a denomination. Satan diligently observes the pastor's life for carnal weaknesses. Satan, the devil, learns by experience as he observes and investigates every aspect of the pastor's personality (soul).
Satan learns by observation and experience how a pastor will act or react to various stimulations, provocations and situations. Like any good general Satan constantly probes pastors to discover weaknesses in their character so he can make a stealthy attack (2Cor. 4:4 & 11:13-15) to subvert them on a one to one basis, blind them and transform them into his servants to one degree or another and most of the time the pastor doesn't even realize it is happening.
(1Pet. 5:8) "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" A lion is an active predator. When a lion physically devours its prey the prey becomes part of the lion and adds to its strength. Satan spiritually, stealthy feeds much slower than a lion. When he slowly, spiritually devours a pastor the pastor gradually become part of his strength.
For a pastor it is usually a slow process of spiritual decline from a good place to an evil place, a spiritual decline from a high place to a low place that may take years to accomplish. Modern examples: Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker whose blatant sins terribly hurt their own congregations and people all over the world. They both repented and came back to the Lord, Jim Baker after he was released from jail, and they both have television ministries.
(Phil. 2:5) Pastors are supposed to be on an ever upward curve of spiritual growth toward assuming the character of Jesus but as a pastor falls more and more under Satan's influence because of his ignorance, because of his character flaws, because of his weaknesses the individual pastor gradually and spiritually declines as a spiritual leader.
He may stall somewhere along this path of spiritual decline, hold on to some of God's word, think his every move is Holy Spirit led, think he's still a great pastor but he is simply someplace on the scale of a mediocre pastor to a useless pastor and eventually his congregation (flock) will reflect his situation. It is the death of passion for the work of building God's kingdom.
(Acts 1:4-9) Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:14 keyword: all thru 2:4) and Jesus sent His Holy Spirit back to inhabit, teach, lead and guide His Christians, (1Cor. 12:27) Christians became the only flesh, blood and bone bodies Jesus has with which to perform His work. In exactly the same way: The only flesh, blood and bone bodies the devil has with which to perform his work are those people he has blinded, tempted, or owns by outright possession. (1Sam. 16:14-23 & 18:10-12) Saul is the OT example (Luke 22:3-6) and Judas is the NT example. They show the exact pattern of Satan's work, why should there be more? You can plainly see how Satan the Devil works!
When Satan and self takes a pastor all the way to the bottom in their spiritual decline they are God's enemy and every Christian's enemy, they have gone from friend to foe. Example: Jim Jones, James Warren Jones, who studied the lives of dictators, who loved communism, who was a Methodist student pastor, who organized the Peoples Temple Church. Jim Jones gained international fame when he physically murdered an American congressional delegation, murdered his congregation and murdered himself in Jonestown, Guyana. But worse than that are the pastors who spiritually forever murder their congregations.
Think not? Check YouTube and read about #1) The Clergy Project which is an organization of pastors and preachers who no longer believe in God. #2) Check Greg Epstein, the secular humanist chaplain at Harvard University, he wrote a book; "Good Without God". #3) Also check and read on YouTube CNN Special Report of 3-24-15; "Atheists: Inside the World of Non-believers" and you will see the interview with fallen Pentecostal Pastor, Jerry DeWitt, how his fascination with occult books led him into apostasy and he became a secular humanist teacher with his own congregation in a church-like setting And taught his son his way. (Prov. 12:15) THE WAY OF A FOOL IS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES!
I wonder how many pastors, ancient to modern, did not and have not taught and warned their flock, their congregation, about Satan, their greatest enemy. (Rev. 2:24) I'll bet many of those ancient pastors and you modern pastors didn't even know the depths of Satan did you pastor? Have you got some repenting and some studying you need to do?
Satan is perfectly satisfied to have a declining pastor where he is but he will always keep grinding at that pastor! Satan will take anything he can get, just so it is against Jesus. It is a Satanic grasping, entrapping, deceiving, bewitching, attraction and delighting that results in (Rev. 3:16) lukewarm Satan deceived, spiritually disconnected, lazy, Holy Word ignoring, idolatrous, unloving, grasping pastors descending into varying degrees of failure.
THE CHURCH AT SARDIS
(Rev. 3:1-6) (V.1) THE OBSERVATION: "--I know thy works (toil, act, deed), that thou hast a name (not lifeless, not dead), that thou livest, and art dead (lifeless, deceased)." (V.2) "--I have not found thy works (toil, act, deed) perfect (to make replete, to cram, satisfy, to cause to abound) before God. (V.2, 3 & 5) THE WARNING: "Be watchful (to keep awake, be vigilant), and strengthen (to make stable, fix) the things that remain, that are ready to die: Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast (to attend to carefully) and repent (reconsider, think differently). If therefore thou shalt not watch (keep awake, be vigilant), I will come upon (to arrive) thee as a thief (a stealer), and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." THE QUESTION: (READ--> Luke 16:19-28 & 17:26-37) What happens if you die in that condition or (1Thess. 4:13 thru 5:3) the catching away of the church happens?
(V.2, 3 & 5) THE PROMISE: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain. Remember what thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. He that overcometh (conquer, prevail, get the victory), the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot (smear out, obliterate, wipe away <-- the same definition as sins blotted out in Acts 3:19 they are obliterated, gone forever) out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess (acknowledge openly and joyfully) his name before my Father, and before his angels."
(V.4) THE COMPLIMENT: "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled (pollute, stain, contaminate) their garments; and they shall walk with me in white (light, bright, brilliant): for they are worthy (deserving, due reward)." (Rev. 3:6) THE ADVICE: "He that hath an ear (a willingness to listen), let him hear what the Spirit saith (to speak, affirm over, maintain, to teach) unto the churches (Christian community on earth or saints in heaven)."
The order of events: #1 "I will come upon thee as a thief"- a thief always takes something by stealth- what you have is there, then it is gone and you don't know when and how it was taken! And #2 the blotting out of the names of those (V.3) who did not repent (V.5) and overcome. THE REALIZATION: #1 He will blot out their names out of the book of life #2 (Heb. 6:4-6) and it will be impossible for them to repent and come back.
I couldn't help but wonder if those who refused to overcome had descended so far into sin, so far into their backsliding, so far into their hellishness they wouldn't even have realized the Holy Spirit was gone (Rom. 1:6-7, 21 & 28) just like the Christians in the church at Rome, OR (Heb. 6:4-6 keyword: impossible) would they have been like the Christians who realized the Holy Spirit was gone and it was impossible to get back to their place with Jesus, OR (2Cor. 4:4 & 11:13-15) had the god of this world, Satan and his helpers, deceived them that Jesus would not or could not take their names out of the book of life regardless of works and/or sin?
After the above writing I suddenly somehow "saw" the inside of the church at Sardis. (Rev. 3:1-6) The church was in session, the pastor behind the pulpit was but a vague shadow somehow far away from them, the whole interior was in a vague dimness but with muted lights here and there that held an even greater darkness at bay, every seat was filled, the crowd was friendly and talking, quiet laughter and contented, satisfied, confident voices filled the place.
Unnoticed, Jesus started a slow walk from the front door down the main aisle toward the pulpit. He carefully gazed from side to side, over and over, as he slowly walked. Suddenly I realized happy voices and smiling faces were disappearing and becoming tombstones with vague names written on them that I could not read. (Mark 12:30 & Rev. 3:5) With horror I realized their names had been and were being blotted out of the book of life. Then I remembered that (Acts 3:9 keyword: blotted & Rev.3:5 keyword: blot): Strong's #1813: both have the same definition: to smear out, obliterate, erase and my blood ran cold.
The lights I saw scattered throughout, here and there, were a few tender, kind, loving faces that emanated the soft light that held complete darkness at bay and the lights were people! Then I knew I had spiritually "seen" the secret of Sardis and I understood. (Rev. 3:1-2) They were contented, satisfied and confident. They were losing their will to learn, grow and work to build the kingdom of God. Most of them had lost their Holy Spirit fire. They had lost their passion to serve God. And only a few people were the light of their church!
On the heels of that I immediately thought about the 3 abandoned churches I see on the 17.5 mile trip to my Mother's house. A small detour of 1.5 miles and there is a 4th abandoned church.
I couldn't help but wonder if Jesus, in His Holy Spirit form, sometimes walked the cold emptiness of those aisles and looked at the spiritual tombstones of those people whose love for Him had wilted, grown cold and was now an awful, sickening stench in Jesus' nostrils, those whose passion for Jesus had cooled and died, those whose sanctification had not endured, those whose dedication had waned, those who had quit, those who had ran away. My heart was broken within me (2Pet. 3:9) when I saw the longsuffering of the Son of God.
In their now empty, dusty, forlorn church houses, those Christians had surrendered to Satan their tear stained altar the agony of Jesus had won for them when He had endured the sneers and curses and bloody, hard knuckled fists of the Jewish temple guard and the Roman soldiers, when He had endured the endless, burning slashes of the horrid, 9 lashed Roman scourge that had slashed His skin and flesh to the bone while He was tied to the bloody Roman whipping post, when He had endured His bloody cross at Calvary where He had writhed, bloody and dying, to win their lonely, abandoned altar for them.
There in their gloomy, vacant churches they had become (Prov. 12:15) THE WAY OF A FOOL IS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES.
I wonder what would have happened in those abandoned churches if they had found for themselves a praying, God sent, strong, bold, daring, God's Holy Word believing, Holy Spirit filled pastor who would have gallantly stood on their now dusty, abandoned, desecrated altar, read the obituary "we used to be God's church" and preached the funeral of those fallen congregations.
And ended with; "Go straight home this afternoon, forget your entertainment, forget your food, get out your Bibles, wipe the dust off, read-> (Rev. 3:1-6), enter into your prayer closet with your Bible, read (Psa. 66:18) "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.", repent of your sins, repent of your neglect, repent of your laziness, repent of your stagnation, repent of your coldness, repent of your uselessness in building God's kingdom."
"Return here this evening at 7:00PM dressed in the sackcloth of humility with the ashes of sorrow upon your head. We will not indulge in the foolishness of our nonblessed, do nothing, fake rejoicing, BUT: in unity, as one, we will repent of our cold heartedness, our lack in understanding the personal relationship Almighty God wishes to share with us, we will beg the God of all glory to forgive us our awful sins and to renew us through His Holy Word and through the power of His Holy Spirit. We will study to show ourselves approved, (Eph. 6:18) we will learn anew how to pray. We will learn together the works we must do for our Lord and our God."
(Eph. 2:4-22 esp. V.12 keywords: commonwealth of Israel & V.19 keywords: fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God); "We will read, read, read (Eph. 2:10) "For we are his workmanship (product, that which had been made), created (to make habitable) in Christ Jesus unto good (pleasant, agreeable, joyful) works (toil, act, deed, labor), Which God hath ordained (to fit up in advance, prepare) that we should walk (to live, deport oneself, be occupied with, progress, make due use of opportunities) in them." "and understand when Jesus ascended into heaven He took His body with Him. (1Cor. 6:19 & 12:12-13) We are the body of Jesus. We are His hands, feet, eyes, all of each of us. We are one with Jesus and we will do His work as He, through the Holy Spirit, directs us!"
"God is faithful. (Rev. 3:1-6) Just like Sardis should have done (Psa. 27:8) we must seek His face (Jer. 6:16) and beg Him to show us the old paths. (Rev. 3:2) We must beg His mercy and His help so we can become watchful, so we can strengthen the things that remain, so, through His mercy, goodness and love we may strengthen the things that are ready to die. If, here at His blood bought altar, we cast down our pride, our selfishness, our heedlessness, our ignorance, our pretense, (John 4:23-24) if we worship God in Spirit and in truth, (Mark 12:30) if we love Him with all our hearts He will restore us and we can once again (Matt. 5:14-16) become the light to the world the precious, precious, Son of God wishes us to be."
(Psa. 22:3 key: God inhabits the praises of Israel & Eph. 2:4-22 esp. V.12 keywords: commonwealth of Israel & V.19 keywords: fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God); "We, along with the Jews who have accepted Jesus are spiritual Israel. We will praise God until the heavens ring that God hath not forsaken us and cast us away. We will praise God that Jesus took what we deserved then spiritually came and offered us the gift of salvation free of charge with His nail scarred Hands. We asked for salvation and received in our souls by the Holy Spirit the PARDON: NO CHARGE: PAID IN FULL SIGNED IN THE BLOOD OF THE SON OF GOD! Our God deserves our praise until there are blood on the words and God will inhabit our praises!
(Matt. 25:31-46 esp V.32, 34 & 46) "Understand this; there will be those of you who will not return this evening. If you do not return this evening then stay gone for good because we do not want you here to drag us down. (Luke 15:11-24) Tonight, if our Lord God will forgive us, if our Lord God will let us return like the prodigal, (Eph. 6:10-18 keywords: put on) if He will help us put His spiritual armor upon us, (Eph. 6:17) if He will help us take up and sharpen His sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, if He will accept our prayers we will go to war with the world, with our own flesh and with the devil."
"Those of you who do not return, your criticism does not count against us, you can sit on your seat of the scoffer and point out how we sometimes stumble and you can point out how we, the doers of deeds, could have done them better. But for our Lord and Master we will strive valiantly, we will err and come up short many times, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. But, we will not stop. We will not quit. You can sit on your seat of the critic if you please but you are a cold, timid soul who will never know the joy of victory, nor will you know the bitterness of defeat, nor will you know the tender humility of rescue."
"You will never know our great enthusiasms, you will never know our great devotions, you will never know what it is like when we spend all of what we are for our God's great cause. You will never know our triumph of high achievement. You will never know our failures but at least we failed while daring greatly for our Lord and our God. You will never know the cleansing of His blood nor will you ever know our joy and thanksgiving when He lifts His own cup of blessing to our battered, wounded, parched souls made so by our service to Him."
"You will never know the feeling of victory when we hold the blood stained banner of Jesus high in the parking lots and malls, at the flea markets and in lonely, Christless homes, in church, at the hospitals and quick stops for gas, in grocery store checkout lines, everywhere we go we will herald the risen Son of God and what He can do for them.
Jesus will be there even when we are stunned from tongues like yours, even when we are wounded by the whisperers and rumor mongers, (Josh. 5:14-15) even when we fight at the gates of hell for the souls of men the Captain of the host of the Lord will stand with us." (1Sam. 17:29-32) Our cry to battle will be; "Is There Not a Cause" when we fight the Philistine to honor our Lord and our God with our lives."
"And you will never know our great joy (Matt. 24:13 and 25:21 & 23) when the Son of the Living God throws His arms around us, loves us and shouts; "Well done my good and faithful servants, let's go home, I want you to spend an endless day with Me!"
Had this happened would the abandoned church houses doors have never closed? Would they have remained open until Jesus comes? I guess we'll never know because they were afraid, they were deserters, they ran away from the Lord's battle, they ran away from the Philistine and gave Satan their altar, gave Satan their church and gave Satan their hearts!
Then I was horrified when we stood in front of my church house and we looked at its name. I was sick inside when I thought about my friends, my brothers and my sisters, in there. There, I did know their names. They are familiar and real. We smile at each other. We look into each other's eyes. We touch each other's hands. There, my church family has happy voices and friendly faces that I love.
An awful dread filled me that we would enter and I would see familiar faces disappear and be replaced by tombstones upon which I could read their names and the obituaries would all be the same; " I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead."
I was spared the horrifying task of spiritually entering my church but I knew what I must do, what I must think, what I must write.
Examination of the Sardis Pastor in the Light of the Widow's Gift
(1Cor. 9:6-14) The scripture authorizes the financial upkeep of a pastor by his church. But how much? Nearly all Christians like to feel they are doing their part in contributing to God's kingdom, (Mark. 12:38-44 esp. V.42) "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing." Even the poorest widows contribute when they throw in their tiny brass coins, two mites. A farthing is a British penny. The widow's 2 coins equaled a penny. It was everything, it was all she had, and Jesus had paid particular attention. What would Jesus say if the Sardis pastor coldly wasted the widow's gift of all she had?
There were 3 types of wheeled conveyances in use in the Roman Empire at the time of the 7 churches of Revelation; #1) wagons from the size of one donkey carts up to heavy wagons drawn by teams of oxen used for hauling goods, #2) 1 and 2 horse carriages for transportation #3) and 1 and 2 horse chariots for transportation and war. Poor people generally walked to church, hitched a ride with someone richer than they or the family rode a rickety cart pulled by a bony donkey. The carriages and chariots were of various classes of value depending upon the serviceability, ornamentation and etc.
I wonder if Satan diligently observed the pastor of Sardis and found pride then magnified that pride until the pastor felt he and his wife each deserved their own 2 horse chariot operated at the church's expense, how fancy, how valuable? And his poor congregants walked! 2 mites wasted.
Archaeological evidence has been found of ancient Roman public dining establishments that even included menus carved on a wall. Ancient documents show these menus included everything from fast food, meat, cheese and bread to go, on up the scale to fancy establishments serving the finest food and wines. The food most poor Romans ate was a grain pottage (a thick stew) usually of wheat, millet, or barley that sometimes contained bits of vegetables and even bits of meat when it was available.
I wonder how often the pastor of the church at Sardis took his family to an expensive place, "ate out" at the church's expense then took in the show at the theater or arena while the poorest of his congregants ate their pottage at home? Had Satan enchanted the pastor's opinion of his self-image until the pastor sold out his empathy for a meal? 2 more mites wasted and Jesus is watching.
Ancient Roman frescoes show the adult, professional players in a Roman ball game called Harpastum. Ancient documents and artifacts document that Harpastum was a Roman national pastime played from childhood to adulthood. It is recorded that Harpastum was the Romanized version the Greek ballgame Phaininda (Episkyros).
I wonder if the children of the pastor of the church at Sardis played ball? Was he a coach and/or attended their ball games. Satan in his wisdom learned of the Sardis Pastor's great desire for a children's championship and whispered an angel of light message into the pastor's thought process; "You can make a heroic, godly difference in the ballplayer's young lives." while the pastor strove mightily to lead the children to his highly desired championship and taught them by his actions, speech and values that idolatry is OK?
And while the pastor of the church at Sardis was away and occupied with his Satan inspired godly duties some of his congregants desperately needed counseling, were sick, were sitting with their dying, or were going back into sin? Had the pastor of the church at Sardis sold out his desire to serve his sheep and his sympathy for his flock for the fame of holding aloft an idol representing his idolatry and proclaiming; "God was with us!", and he was except it was the wrong god! 2 more mites wasted and Jesus is frowning.
I wonder if Satan had diligently observed and learned the pastor of the church of Sardis was lazy and considered himself entitled. Did Satan whisper, charm and delight the pastor's thoughts with sweet praise until the pastor knew he was a special man and no other pastor could match his talent? And the pastor did not repent!
Was that why the pastor of the church at Sardis, still drawing his salary, visited other cities in Asia to watch when the pros played and left his church in the hands of one who he considered a "lesser light" even when a beloved member of the family of one of his congregants had died and needed the funeral preached. Had Satan charmed and delighted the pastor until the pastor turned his love away from his congregation and turned it inward to himself? The pastor did not repent. All the wasted mites went into the book of remembrance.
I wonder if Satan had learned by experience just how proud, greedy, arrogant and selfish the pastor of Sardis was and he easily predicted what the pastor would do so he enchanted, taught, led and attracted the pastor to; take his family on nice vacations to see the wonders of Asia or even went all the way to Rome, Italy and/or Athens, Greece, his salary paid by the church, while some of his congregants worked their poor parcel of land or their job in the hopes they could have enough food to see them through the next winter. Had Satan enticed the pastor at Sardis to sell out his compassion? 2 more mites and Jesus is still recording.
I wonder if (Matt. 7:15-23 & Acts 20:29-30) the pastor (shepherd) of the church at Sardis was a false prophet in sheep's clothing and was a ravening wolf that was bleeding his flock dry? Or was he a greedy, insensitive, uncaring, selfish, unloving pastor (Jude 18-19) out of touch with the Holy Spirit and concerned only with his own sensual desires. (3John 1-14 esp. V.9-10) Did he love the preeminence of being a proud pastor more than he loved being a servant to his flock and thus a servant of God? And he did not repent!
We have seen how these ancient churches each had access to the same Holy Scripture the modern churches have today but the Sardis Church was dying.
I wonder if Satan inspired the pastor at Sardis to preach his own parables comparing Jesus' blood to the crushed bodies of tiny, oak tree inhabiting insects that produced the red dye used to dye the red in the priest's garments and Satan had blinded the pastor and he couldn't see the flock's need to know about Jesus' bravery, gentleness, kindness, mercy, grace, grief, longsuffering and tender pity that brought Him to the cross:
OR the identity of the Holy Spirit, OR the personal relationship Jesus wants with His Christians through the Holy Spirit, OR identifying the fruit of the Spirit, OR spiritual growth through the Word of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit, OR that passion for Christ is far more important than the rote of superficial worship, OR that God's house is a house of prayer? There are many more OR's.
Why was the Sardis pastor ignoring God's Holy Word? Had the Sardis pastor become so spiritually detached he couldn't hear the Holy Spirit anymore? I wonder if the Holy Spirit had departed from the proud, cold hearted, selfish, greedy pastor of the church at Sardis and he didn't even know the Holy Spirit was gone? Are you listening pastor.
THE SARDIS CHURCH IS TODAY'S CHURCH
(Eccl. 1:9) "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."
This scripture spiritually tells us we only have to look at today to see 100 years ago, to look at today to see 1,000 years ago, to look at today to see almost 2,000 years ago and see the church at Sardis (Rev. 3:1 keywords: art dead & V.4 keywords: a few) and to look at Sardis to see us. WHY? Because basic human nature does not change (John 15:1-6) unless one grows spiritual fruit through Jesus.
GOD TALKS TO US IN HIS WORD
God offers us a free choice to make a fresh start (born again). There's something fair, and clean, and generous, and gracious, and beautiful about that. God didn't have to do that. Nobody forced Him to do that. God loves us so God offers this; (John 3:16) "I love you, I don't care where you've been, I don't care what you've done, I don't care who you are, I am God, I can erase it, I can fix it.
(Acts 4:10-12) My Son Jesus made salvation possible for you through the shedding of His sin cleansing blood because He loves you. Here's your only chance to have eternity with Me and all that I possess, please take it. (John 14:9 & 23 then 15:14) I am offering you a personal relationship with me. I love you. (2 Cor. 6:2 keyword: today) I want you to come to Me now."
(1John 4:8 & 16) God is love. (2Pet. 3:9-10 & Eph. 4:30 keywords: longsuffering, grieve) Love, especially perfect love, hurts when it is rejected. You know this from your own life;--> (Matt. 12:30) Love recoils from refusal, (Mark 12:30) Love shrinks away from non-love, (Luke 14:26-27) Love eventually turns away, (Heb. 6:4-6) Love does not return to who was cruel to Love. These scriptures show that God is the same way; (Gen. 1:26-27 keywords: in our image & 2:7) after all you are made in God's image.
WRITER'S NOTE: I have experienced the end result of the (Prov. 1:23-31 esp. V.28-30) refusal, rejecting and turning away from God's drawing by a dear, dear friend to three generations of my family and it was a horror story. If you wish to read about it please click on the commentary The Holy Spirit & You, scroll the menu to the article The Holy Spirit is Truth, scroll the article a bit more than half-way through to the paragraph that begins with the words PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: and read the true story of the event. Yes, I have seen it result in salvation because it is a revelation of the seriousness of God's calling to accept salvation. END OF NOTE.
(Prov. 1:23-31 esp. V. 25-28 and 29:1) "If you do not take my salvation, if you refuse my offer of eternal happiness with Me, if you choose to revile the blood of my precious Son Jesus, don't cry about it later. I offered you all I had, I offered you a relationship with Me, you didn't want it, it is insulting to Me that you would regard Me as a spare tire God you put on the vehicle of your life only when trouble comes!"
"For those of you who accept My salvation (John 14:23) you will become one with My Son and Me because We will make Our abode within thy soul. (Phil. 2:5-15 esp. V.5 key thought: think like Christ and V.15 key thought: be God's personal light to the world) I expect you to do your part in building My kingdom.
(Heb. 13:5-6) I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. Through My love you and I together will build My love kingdom and share eternity (1Cor. 2:9<--please read this) in a place of love, of beauty, of pleasure, of peace, of joy that is beyond anything you can presently imagine. I am the creator God, I can do anything, you will see!"
(John 6:26-29 esp. V. 29 keyword: work) "But, there is much work to be done in building My kingdom and I want your help so you can prove your love for Me to Me by believing My Son Jesus. (James 2:17-26) "Your works are a test of your faith. No man can ever make Me owe him heaven by his works but he can prove his love for me by his works because he loves My Son Jesus and Me. Please understand this; (John 14:5 thru 15:6) it is a concept of attitude, a concept of a personal, loving relationship between Me and you, a concept of you surrendering your life to Me through My Holy Spirit."
(John 1:1-4 & 1John 1:1-4 keyword: Word) "My Son Jesus is the living Word of God presented in the flesh of His body to you. (John 14:23 & Acts 1:4 esp. V.14 keyword: all thru Acts 2:18) When My Son was resurrected and came back home to Me we sent our Holy Spirit back (2Tim. 3:16) and He inspired men to write the New Testament (2Pet. 1:21) just like we inspired men to write the Old Testament. (John 6:63) That New Testament is My Son's Living Word to you, they are the words of life (1Cor. 2:10-13) and My Holy Spirit will bring that Word to life within you."
(2Tim. 2:15) "In that New Testament are all the instructions you need to build a personal, loving relationship with Me, (Rom. 12:2) and all the instructions you need to do your part in building My kingdom. I will settle for nothing less than a loving, personal relationship between Me and you and (Mark 12:30) I will settle for nothing less than your loving, personal surrender to Me because, in love, I am surrendering all I AM to you.
(Acts 10:35 & Rom. 6:13-20) BUT: It will be in the way of My righteousness (justification, innocent, holy) for I AM holy. Think! (John 14:20) Jesus said; At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. How can it not be a personal relationship if I am in you and you are in me?"
(John 15:5) "I am the strength of our relationship. You can do nothing toward building My kingdom without My strength, inspiration and guidance. (Mark 10:43 & Gal.1:10 keyword: servant) You are My servant but I'm your servant too. (Psa. 23:1-6) I am the Shepherd and you are My sheep. You have already read about the shepherd and the sheep. (Gal. 3:26-29 keyword: children) In reality My dear children (Rom. 8:14-17) you are My children and like children you will sometimes make mistakes, you will sometimes make bad decisions, sometimes you will be foolish and sometimes you will sin."
"I am a holy God. (Isa.1:4-6) I see your sin as putrefying sores in your soul, (Matt. 5:27-28) I see your lust as adultery, (1John 3:15) I see your hatred as murder, (Isa. 59:2) your sin separates you from Me, when you sin I will hide My face from you, when you sin I will not hear you. BUT: (Gal. 2:11) Simon Peter sinned, (Rom. 7:19-25) Paul sinned, (Rom. 3:23) All the great apostles sinned, (1John 1:8-10) any of My Children, my sheep, my personal acquaintances, who say they have not sinned are calling me a liar. BUT: I love you."
(1John 2:1-2) "If you cry out for help; My precious Son will advocate with Me for you, (1John 1:7) His blood cleanseth you from all your sins, (2Chron. 7:14-16) then I will hear you from heaven (Psa. 23:3) I will restore your soul and I will lead you in the paths of righteousness for My name's sake. BUT: If you do not cry out for help, if you continue to disregard my reproving (2Pet. 2:1-15 esp. V.2-3) and if you follow your pernicious (profitless, unprofitable, detrimental) ways (Prov. 29:1 keyword: destroyed) you will be destroyed (loss, perishing, eternal ruin) and there shall be no remedy (cure, solution)."
(Matt. 16:24) "I expect you to come after Me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. (Matt. 11:29-30) "Take My yoke upon you. and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
When I, the writer, heard those words I could not help (Acts 7:2-53) but remember the wonderful message Stephen preached that so enraged the Jews (Acts 7:54) they assaulted him with such fury they actually bit and gnawed on Stephen with their teeth (Acts 7:55-56) but Jesus showed up (Dan. 3:22-25) just like he did for the 3 Hebrews in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace of fire. (Acts 7:57-60) The Jews kept up their assault all the way out of the city where they stoned Stephen but Jesus' burden was light in that He protected Stephen from the pain, Stephen was only concerned with the Jew's awful sin even as they murdered him because Jesus took care of Stephen.
If you doubt any of what has been written in the above paragraph please click on the commentary The Holy Spirit and You on this website, scroll down the menu and read the two articles I HAVE EXPERIENCED CHRISTIAN PHYSICAL DEATH Parts 1 & 2 to read the scriptural proof Christians do not have to die like other people. (Heb. 13:5-6) Jesus will always be there for us. Are you listening pastor?