In Rev 3:1 we read; and to the angel of the church in Sardis write; He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars says this; ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
The messenger in Sardis was one who had built up a tremendous reputation before others as a spiritual man. But the Lord’s opinion of him was the exact opposite of that of his fellow-believers in Sardis. This shows how carnal and gullible most believers in Sardis were.
More than 90% of believers are unable to differentiate between a carnal preacher and a spiritual one. And more than 99% of believers are unable to distinguish between human-soul-power and Holy-Spirit-power.
Most believers are impressed by the display and exercise of spiritual gifts and that is how they evaluate a preacher or an elder. And that is how they are deceived. God however looks at the heart. The messenger at Sardis may have had the gifts of the Spirit. But he was spiritually dead.
This is a warning for all of us to take heed to: The opinion that 99% of our fellow-believers have about us can be 100% wrong! God’s opinion about us could be the exact opposite of their opinion.
The same applies to a church. Others may consider a church to be “spiritually alive”. But God may know it to be spiritually dead. And vice-versa. Churches that God considers spiritually alive could be considered dead by undiscerning men.
Most believers evaluate a church by the warmth of the welcome they receive when they come to the meetings, the size of the congregation, the amount of noise and emotion in the meetings, the musical quality of the singing, the intellectual content of the sermon and the amount of the offering!! But God isn’t impressed by any of these things.
God evaluates a church by the Christlike humility, purity and love and the freedom from self-centredness that He finds in the hearts of its members. God’s evaluation and man’s evaluation of a church can therefore be at total variance with each other. In fact, they usually are.