The Expository Files


White Garments
“...and your name not erased from the Book of Life”

Revelation 3:5

“He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” (Revelation 3:5)

When it comes to pleasing God with our lives, those who failed did so for a reason. Those that succeeded did so for a reason. Success or failure do not happen in a vacuum. Neither “just happens.”

The problems are often caused by a lack of dedication or love as some try to simply do as little as possible. Others simply put off needful changes or obligations. Sometimes it is a matter of ego. Some have failed because they have allowed themselves to be deceived by others into believing something false. Some have simply not taken the time to prepare for a successful life of true faith.

Jesus makes seven promises, beginning each with the words: “To him who overcomes I will…”. We seek to understand what Jesus is picturing for us as He uses various descriptions of the blessings for those who overcome. We will now look at the fifth of seven such statements.

The White Garments
Another thing Adam and Eve lost in Eden besides the tree of life was their sense of pure, guiltless joy; a sense that everything was just right. No shame, no doubt, no hurt, no sorrow, no sin.
The best of us today cannot begin to compare to the purity of perfect sinlessness. We simply do not know what it is to have perfection. Our souls are not pure, and are constantly threatened. The best we can do at this time is reach for perfection and purify ourselves by repentance, and confessing our sins when we fall short. Through the grace and mercy of God, this life is a purification process for those who live by faith.

Coming to God involves a conscious and sure effort to overcome sin (James 4:8). God's grace is given so that we can overcome sin, not so that we may remain in it. (Titus 2:11-14). Our goal is to seek higher moral and spiritual ground each day. We put away bad habits and the daily flirtation with sin; our daily lives become typically more righteous by habitual practice. Sinning is no longer the habit, but the exception, and when we fall short we take advantage of God's grace and mercy (1 John 1:5-10). All the while, our goal is not to settle for any sin (1 John 2:1; Romans 6:1,2; Hebrews 10:26). Our hope of eternal life motivates us to grow in our righteousness (1 John 3:1,2).

Jesus promises that those that overcome in this life will be arrayed in white garments. The word “arrayed” means “to throw around, to put round, to clothe” . While our purity is at best imperfect in this life, if we will overcome by God's grace He promises that we will be clothed with a perfect righteous purity and glory in heaven, and that state is symbolized by the wearing of white garments. It does not take perfection here to reach that spiritual, eternal state, but it does take reaching for perfection (Philippians 3:12-14). If we will do the pressing on, the reaching…. God will supply all that is necessary by His grace and power.

Understand what a gracious and wonderful invitation is given to us sinners by God ( Isaiah 1:18). Also understand what a foolish thing it is to ignore it! It is by the sacrifice of Jesus that we enjoy this hope (Revelation 7:9, 14). The sin and guilt gone, forever.

Book of Life

The phrase “Book of Life” occurs seven times in the New Testament. It is a register of those who are the citizens of heaven; those who are spiritually alive in Jesus. They are disciples; faithful Christians; workers in the kingdom (Philippians 4:3). Whether this is a literal book or merely illustrative of the mind of God, the point is the same.

Those who reject God and live worshipping at the feet of Satan are not in the book (Revelation 13:8). On the day of judgment, this book will be opened, and you need to have your name written there (Revelation 20:12; 15; 21:27). We also read of the book of life (remembrance) in the Old Testament (Malachi 3:16-18).

One's name can be blotted out of the book. To avoid this, we must walk faithfully (Revelation 3:4,5). Yes, one can have his/her name removed from the book through turning back to sin.

“ I Will Confess His Name”
Jesus promises to speak to the Father in behalf of the faithful. The faithful will confess Jesus today. They will not deny Him for money, for fear, out of neglect, or for any other reason (Matthew 10:32,33).

We must not be ashamed of Jesus or His gospel (Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:7-10; 2:12). On the day of judgment, We want Jesus as our friend and advocate. (John 14:6; Romans 8:34). But we must be willing to confess Jesus by our words and deeds in this life to receive His support in that hour.

Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Jesus has shown us the way. But this is not something to be casual about. Overcoming by faith means being steadfast, diligent and dedicated. It is to those who overcome that Jesus promises access to the tree of life and that the second death will not hurt them. He also promises hidden manna and a white stone. And He promises authority over the nations, and the morning star. He promises white garments to those who's names remain in the book of life and that He will speak for us in that final hour when no other friend will do. What wonderful hope these things symbolize!

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 18.6; May 2011