“And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.’” Revelation 22:10–11

At first read, urgency may not be the general impression upon the reader’s heart. For that reason alone the passage is worth a more than passing glance.

Spiritual urgency may also take a back seat in our thinking because we inhabit the 21st century and our Lord has delayed His return for 2000 years. Though we live in days of unparalleled leisure, we go about our lives suffering under the tyranny of the urgent, and busy ourselves by putting out brush fires created by every external claim upon our time and attention. It seems that life is ever more complicated and things that appear too simple and antiquated do not shout for our attentive thought. The lessons our forebears knew are lost upon us because we live in such a “sophisticated time” enamored with “artificial intelligence” that there is no room for significant spiritual issues.

I suppose another reason for believers’ general neglect of urgency in spiritual matters is the fact that our Lord consistently proclaims that He is coming quickly but has delayed His return. Yet in Revelation 22 you hear His booming voice declare, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” The chapter ends with these words, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’” The immediate context of our study verses reads, “And behold, I am coming quickly….”

Other references to the imminency of our Lord’s return and urgency of action are found elsewhere in Revelation. Revelation 1:3 starts the book off with a bang, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Revelation 2:5 and 2:16 read, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.” Revelation 3:11 coaches, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” Revelation 16:15 advises, “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” The lesson of these words of Christ were not lost on the Apostle John because his response is given to us in Revelation 22:20, “Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

The first century saints carried about a sense of urgency which we would do well to emulate in our day! We should also live basking in the rays of such a glorious hope and breathing out the same words, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Just in the verses we have reviewed you have discovered that urgency in spiritual matters is extremely important. Obedience to God’s commands is required for readiness at the Lord’s appearing (Revelation 1:3), repentance of sin is prioritized or else your usefulness for God is threatened (Revelation 2:5), the Lord’s patience does have an end (Revelation 2:16), secure your eternal rewards that you will receive at His appearing (Revelation 3:11), and keep yourself prepared, for He is coming (Revelation 16:15).

There is at least one more lesson to be gleaned, concerning the imminent return of Christ: The blessed hope is an impetus to attend to spiritual things today because there is coming a time when nothing more can be changed. Our study passage tells us that the status of both good and evil will one day be fixed forever. There is no mention in the Bible, let alone the book of Revelation, of a second chance. There is coming a day in all of our lives where the book of records of what is believed and done in this life will be closed until the day of reckoning.

For the unbeliever the day of reckoning is known as “Judgment Day.” Our text says, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy [makes foul], let him be filthy still.” The verse hints at the persistence of the lost state of the unsaved. “Still” could be translated “yet more.” Not only is there a coming day when the door to heaven is shut to the unbeliever but every day passed without repentance solidifies the hardening heart against God, obedience to the Gospel, and divine mercy. Ignoring God’s warnings determines eternal destiny, and persistence in unbelief determines the severity of punishment.

For the believer the day of reckoning is known as the “Bema Seat,” a review for the purpose of rewarding the saints. “…he who is righteous [do right], let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” Real achievement in virtue for eternity and actually becoming more like Christ is the responsibility of every believer until the Lord returns.

The practical truth of the imminent return of Christ is underscored by John in 1 John 3:2f: “…but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” There is eternal consequence to spiritual delay. Deliberately live your Christian life with a real sense of spiritual urgency. Trust and obey.