One definition of the word “Revelation” in the modern dictionary is the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world. When we read the book of Revelations it seems clear that it is describing things that have not yet happened. If these things have not yet happened, how could it say that there will only be seven churches given the number of churches which are in the world now? Verse 20 starts by saying, “The mystery of”. This is a clue telling us that we cannot simply read it word for word and take it literally. For example, when it talks about seven churches it is not talking about seven different church buildings or even denominations. Instead, it is talking about seven types of believers and how God responds to each.
Do you ever open up the book of Revelation and seek to understand the warnings which it contains? I have, even when I do not understand and need to seek the Holy Spirit for the truth. One of the messages that has caught my attention for quite a long time are the words of the Lord for each of the seven churches. I read, I study it and I meditate on it with a heart seeking out the understanding of the Holy Spirit. Then, I review my life, my daily decisions and my love for Christ and for others and I pray. I pray that I will strive to be the church of Philadelphia, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” (Revelations 3:8-10, NIV)
However, I have learned I cannot work with my little strength and hope that I can please my God by my works. That’s why I prayed and pray consistently, so that I would not walk in my flesh, but instead that I will live for Christ and deny myself each day. My flesh and my soul submit under the Spirit and desire what the Spirit desires for this life.
There are some questions we need to ask and answer honestly. Have I forsaken the love I had at first? Am I holding on to false teaching and compromising God’s commands? Am I misleading His people? Do I look alive on the outside but am actually dead when it comes to doing His work? Am I lukewarm –neither cold nor hot and thinking how rich I am, but not realizing that I am wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Or I am like the person who lives in affliction and poverty but is rich in God and stays faithful, even to the point of death?
The book of Romans contains a lot of teachings about living through flesh and Spirit. Paul mentions in Romans 7 18b -19 (NIV), “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” In Romans 8:5-8 (NIV), he also tells us, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”