“Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments…” –Revelation 3:4-5a
“And yet there was a salt in it, or it would have been rotten as well as dead,” (MacLaren’s Expositions). We do not know the value of living men among the dead, and what mercy they bring to a community which might be discarded if not for their preserving presence (Eze 22:30). And if you find yourself in such a position, take heart. Jesus is not just aware of the number of faceless subject, He knows your name. So there is a great reward for those “who have not soiled their garments,” who have not defiled themselves by idolatrous sin (1Co 8:7).
Sardis was known for its wool production and its dyes (especially red). Dyes and chemicals are often used to cover blemishes. But covering our sins does not remove them. Our pretty dyes may deceive the world and make ourselves presentable to them, but God is not impressed. Only God provides the garments necessary to enter the Kingdom (Mat 22:11-14). And we cannot earn them. To even attempt this is to make a god in our own image and serve it—which is idolatry.
Yet for those who trust in Christ, we will receive new garments of pure white (Rev 6:11; 7:9). Not blank and colorless, but the bright and illustrious dress of the heavenly state. Since we are united in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom 6:5), we will be clothed in the appearance of our King and model (Rev 1:13; 19:14). “We will be like Him” (1Jo 3:2). Although there is a huge difference between deity and creation, the chasm of separation between God and His image bearers is removed. Jesus is the perfect man—what man should have been and will be. Therefore, our future appearance mirrors His.
So why is this a comfort? What might we be missing if this does not trigger within us a desire for these future robes?