Blessed are the poor in spirit
This first Beatitude sets the standard for being blessed. From Feb. 2nd 2020
Last week we started our Sermon Series by defining what we mean when we say “blessed”:
To be blessed, means that God is working in your life to bring you to a place where you are in right standing with Him.
Nothing to do with the STUFF in your life, and nothing to do with the STATION of where you are in your life.
So today, were going to keep that in our mind, as we step into The Beatitudes.
We can find the first of them
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Short and sweet, but we are going to look at other Verses later on, to help us understand this
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Remember to keep in your mind, the definition of what it means to be blessed:
“Having God work in you heart to bring you to a place of right standing with Him.”
So when Jesus says that people who are poor in spirit are blessed, we can think:
“God is working in the hearts and minds of people who are poor in spirit, to bring them to a place of right standing before Him.”
Ok so, here we are with the first Beatitude
This is the first truth that Jesus lays down out of the list, and this list is the first thing He lays down at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus doesn’t do things, or say things in any flippant order.
When I was preparing this sermon, I wrote down a bunch of notes and thoughts and verses, then prayed about, thought about it, then organized it all in the order that you're hearing this morning…...it wasnt like that for Jesus------He already knew which one He was going to say first-----and second-----etc
He didnt go over the list in His mind hemming and hawing over their order and which one He should say first.
It was deliberate and intentional
He did this, because this one “being poor in spirit” is something that all humanity struggles with, and something that everyone must experience prior to salvation.
So those are going to be my points this morning.
Something that is divisible across all humanity
Something that everyone must experience prior to salvation
Something that all humanity has in common
When Jesus came to earth, He came to give everyone the chance to believe, because of this, He made statements such as “blessed are the poor in spirit”
You see, we all by our very nature, arent poor in spirit
We rely on ourselves
We rely on our self determination
We build our lives
We form systems of government that we feel are the best way that things ought to be handled
We think things about God and teach things about God that fit in with what we believe
And when things arent the way we think they should be ….we do something about it.
We raise our voices
We rally together with other like minded people
We organize and act and move and riot and protest and rebel and fight-----all for what we believe in our hearts and minds to be “right”
Humans have an innate characteristic to put themselves and their thinking--- first before anything else.
If you don’t believe that this selfishness is a part of us, simply take a toy away from a baby and see how they respond.
We need to be taught and raised and parented, in such a way, that the “me first” mentality takes a back seat.
This is part of what it means to be human.
We want to be the end all be all, for everything in our life
We want to make our own fate
Build our own life, based on our own beliefs
Make our own choices, free from influence, free from criticism
Another example that will us understand this, is think of how you each feel if you realize someone is trying to sell you something.
I personally hate it.
“Dont try and alter the way I think”
We use self esteem, self-reliance, and self-confidence as the compass for how to navigate the world.
And it started with the first humans.
When Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God, sinless, walking with God, fellowshipping with Him, etc etc
When the opportunity was presented to them, to “do things their own way” they took it.
Back then, is when this aspect became a reality for humans.
They wanted to “be like God”
They wanted, right then and there, to be the ones who makes the rules.
They decided that they were the ones who were in charge, and this has carried on to every human ever.
And to some extent, God let them. He could have marionetted them away from the tree
He could have created them from the beginning, in such a way that they couldn’t have made a free choice
He could have exercised His omnipotent power and controlled them how He saw fit
But He didnt ----- He warned them about the danger, and let them make their own choice
He warned them that they would die if they ate of the tree,
He made them with the ability to understand His instructions, and with the ability to make the choice
We all know the story.
They ate of the tree, and as a result, they themselves, and all of humanity exists as spiritually dead.
This means, that before we repent of our sins and confess that Jesus Christ is God…...we aren’t neutral.
Before salvation, we aren’t these amorphous beings that can be swayed to choose good or bad.
Like we hear a good idea or a bad idea, then weigh it in our minds and make a choice
not neutral to the things of good and evil.
Romans 5:10 & Colossians 1:21 both teach us that prior to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ, we are alienated from God, and not only that, we are His enemies.
Prior to salvation, we are counted as enemies of God whose wrath rests upon us.
Well …. maybe for some people, right? Sure thats true for the really bad people, right?
The child molesters
But that can’t possibly be true for all of us, can it?
Yeah ive done some bad things here and there, ive had some bad thoughts every now and then
But “an enemy of God?” Really?!
You see prior to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ, we are counted as His enemies not because of how bad or how not bad we are------- we are counted as enemies of God precisely because of how God exists. It’s not based on us, it’s based on Him.
He is absolutely, completely, fully, and totally perfect.
In every sense of the word.
God is perfect.
Perfect in His actions, and perfect in His inactions.
Perfect in His motives, and His emotions.
He’s perfect in His love, and perfect in His wrath.
He’s perfect in His justice, and perfect in His grace.
He the most perfect being that could ever and will ever exist.
God is perfect.
And He demands and commands complete perfection from us.
Not in the way a sports coach would demand perfection from their players
Not in the way an overbearing parent would demand perfection from their child
But He commands us to be perfect, from a position of ultimate authority,
With absolute perfection as the standard by which He judges us…..with that as the rubric that He uses to grade us with, it is obvious that all of us fail.
Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
If weve ever had an angry thought----we are a sinner
If weve ever made a mistake-----we are a sinner
If weve ever done something we know we shouldnt have
Thought something we know we shouldnt have
If weve ever lusted // or lied
If weve ever been selfish // or looked down on someone
If any of that applies, we are a sinner unworthy of eternity in heaven.
No one deserves to go to heaven. God owes us no favor.
That ------- is ------ heavy
That is grim. Bleek. That is a dark and gloomy truth that all of humanity must deal with……… Thank God there’s more to say
So what does any of this have to do with “being poor in spirit” ?
When God gave us these Beatitudes, He wasnt simply talking about nice things that nice people should be like.
These aren't some spiritual mantras that your great aunt is going to stitch on to a pillow; Or a caption for your next instagram post
The Beatitudes are a description of what it’s like to be a human.
Remember our defenition of “blessed”
To be blessed, means that God is working in your life to bring you to a place where you are in right standing with Him.
So when Jesus says that the poor in spirit are blessed, and that the Kingdom of heaven is theirs-------He is saying that He is working in the hearts and minds of people who are poor in spirit, thusly the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Which brings me to my 2nd point this morning.
1st ---- It is something that all humanity has in common (and its a problem)
And 2nd ---- it is something everyone must experience prior to salvation.
You see, to be “poor in spirit” is to have a willful, honest, and intentional view of yourself, when compared to the perfection of Jesus Christ.
And this ...is …..hard.
Charles Spurgeon said: “Our imaginary goodness may be harder to conquer than our actual sin”
Our entire culture has been force feeding us the lie that we are inherently good, and that if heaven exists almost everybody will be there one day, except those really bad people we mentioned earlier
But the Bible teaches us that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
That none of us are righteous
That we arent inherently good or inherently neutral
The Bible teaches us that if we live our life however we see fit, and dont repent of our sins, that nothing but eternal damnation awaits us
But that doesn’t sell. People don’t like hearing that. People don’t even like hearing that in a Church, when it’s read out of the Bible.
The denying of self is not appealing. It goes against our nature
Not only are we confronted from the outside with the belief that we are the ones in charge
we are confronted by our very own nature- that tells us that we are in charge
We are confronted from the outside, and we are confronted from the inside
The odds are stacked against us. Immensely stacked against us.
In fact, it would be correct to say that we are entirely and completely helpless.
No good behavior can save us, no donation to a church can save us, we will never be able to try hard enough to earn being saved, we will never be humble enough to earn being saved…….we are helpless
You see, when I said that being poor in spirit is something that everyone must experience prior to salvation…..I wasn’t saying that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t enough.
If we honestly and truthfully believe that Jesus Christ is God and repent of our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive.
He will forgive us, and when we stand before the judge of the universe, His sacrifice will be counted as our punishment, and we will enjoy eternity in the presence of God
Period. End of story.
But (and this is a BIG BUT) ------we will never come to that place in our hearts, we will never think those thoughts ----- have those beliefs ---- feel those feelings ------ unless we are poor in spirit.
We will never confess our dependence on God, unless we are “poor in spirit”
And we will never be able to be poor in spirit----if God wasn’t working in our hearts and in our minds to bring us to a place of right standing before Him.
When God says “blessed are the poor in spirit” He is saying: I am working in the heart and mind of that person, telling them about myself, teaching them, guiding them, I am breathing life into their dead soul”
And as a result, that person will see God for who He truly is----see themselves for who they truly are---- and will be “poor in spirit.”
We will see our need
We will see our helplessness
We will be seeing the truth of Jesus’s words in John 6:44 when He says: 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
If God left us to our own devices...we would be doomed. Thanks be to Jesus Christ that He chose to save us.
So what can we do about this?
There are only two choices:
When we hear of God
Hear or read His words
When we listen to the gospel being preached
When we learn of our fate outside of Him,
When we learn that we fall short…. when we learn that we are helpless part from His intervention…….
Do we pick and choose what were going to believe?
Do we use our own thoughts as the measure, and dismiss whatever doesnt fit?
Do we look up at the sky and say “who do you think you are?! OR “How dare you tell me how to live?!”” Does our anger get stoked and our tempers flair when we hear His words and read His laws and think them to be unfair?
To help us see the alternative to that, were going to read a few verses:
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James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”
Mark 2:17 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”
Mark 10:46-52 46 Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” 50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
When we realize we are in the dark …. do we cry out to Him?
Do we run to Him?
Do we admit who He is and cry for mercy?
Do we admit our fault
Admit our need
Does our very heart cry out for mercy from the God of the universe
If you do….He will answer you …. He will forgive you …..make you new
And you will have a place in His kingdom that can not be taken away
This is what it means to be poor in spirit
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