At the end of Revelation 2 and the beginning of Revelation 3, the Lord Jesus addresses the widespread corruption that takes place in the churches of Thyatira and Sardis. Both churches received stern warnings from the Savior about facing stiff penalties for their sins if they chose not to repent. Nevertheless, in the midst of all the darkness and devilish occurrences, there were still several saints who stood out because they refused to cave to the corrupt culture.
These saints had to go about their business outside of church in cities full of evil unbelievers given over to the wicked habits encouraged by their pagan cultures and then attended churches where they faced the same evil deeds–churches that should have provided them a spiritual haven away from such evils. Somehow, with the odds stacked highly against them, they managed to stay above the fray with such distinction that our Lord said the following about them:
24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star. Revelation 2
4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Revelation 3
The Lord Jesus was so impressed with them that he had only good things to say about them. All he had for them was his encouragement and abundant promises of his blessings. How cool is that? They were so humble as to take God’s word seriously and to partner with the Holy Spirit so strongly that they attained a notable level of Christian excellence. Their lives influenced by their cleansed hearts and minds caused them to have such zeal, godly love, victorious faith, unwavering patience, and plentiful works that their relationship with God had a virtual force field around it that caused Satan’s temptations to bounce right off.
In order to maintain that shield, Jesus encouraged them about holding fast, remaining undefiled, being worthy in their calling, and being overcomers. It lets us know that if those saints were able to live with such excellence back then to resist their corrupt culture, the saints in our time can do the same thing since we serve the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We serve the God who has overcome the world and anything the devil can conjure up. Just going along with whatever sin is common or accepted in our surroundings isn’t an excuse the Lord will accept. The Holy Spirit in those of us who are true saints has given us the power to be better than that. So kudos to all saints who are determined to be God’s holy counterculture, refusing to cave.