Matthew 5:1-4

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT

AND THOSE WHO MOURN

INTRODUCTION:

 

Jesus has been introduced as the King of the Jews. Before his imprisonment, John the Baptist had been preaching, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, i.e. the kingdom of heaven is near. Jesus has also been preaching, Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Certainly a king has a kingdom over which he is going to be ruling, and his rule is going to be consistent with certain established principles. In the Sermon on the Mount Christ declares the principles of His Kingdom.

 

Now, we must be clear in our thinking regarding the difference between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. The kingdom of heaven is larger than the kingdom of God and includes it. Consequently, some statements, which are made of the kingdom of heaven, are also made of the kingdom of God; and for this reason, some have stated that they are identical. The difference is this: the kingdom of God is the realm of belief. It includes only saved people. The kingdom of heaven is the realm of profession. It includes unsaved people as well as saved people. According to Matthew 13 the kingdom of heaven includes the tares as well as the wheat and bad fish as well as good fish. By contrast the kingdom of God only contains the wheat and the good fish. It does not contain the tares or the bad fish.

 

Many have stated that all we have to do is live by the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and we’ll be all right. Now, it would be wonderful if everyone would live by the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, yet no one except Jesus has ever done this; and the reason He could do this is that He was God and did not have a sin nature like all the rest of us have. It reminds me of Romans 2:1-12 .

 

Romans 2:1-12 – (1) Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. (2) But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. (3) And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (4) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (5) But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; (6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (7) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (8) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, (9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (11) For there is no respect of persons with God. (12) For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.

 

Both the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount tell us about God’s expectations for people. They both show us that we are not good enough for God. They both show us that we are sinners who need to be saved. Both require perfection.

 

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

 

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

The problem is not with the Law or with the Sermon on the Mount. The problem is with sin in the human heart. We cannot keep the Law, and we cannot keep the Sermon on the Mount. Both of these are utter impossibilities for all human beings.

 

Some believe that the Sermon on the Mount is an exposition of the Ten Commandments. No, they are similar; yet, they are different.

 

Some go to the opposite extreme and say that the Sermon on the Mount has nothing to do with present-day Christians. They believe that the Sermon on the Mount only gives the principles under which people will live in the Millennium. However, just as nine of the Ten Commandments are taught in the New Testament, much that is taught in the Sermon on the Mount is taught elsewhere in the Bible. Furthermore, we happen to believe the truth of II Timothy 3:16-17 .

 

II Timothy 3:16-17 – (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

 

The Sermon on the Mount is intended for all believers. It was preached to the disciples according to verse 1. It is a description of the character required in the kingdom and not just a code of ethics. It provides guidelines which are to be true of all believers everywhere. Therefore, don’t discount or disregard the Sermon on the Mount. It has something to say to believers today, and we need to heed it.

 

The beatitudes comprise verses 3-12, and we will begin considering them in this message. Before we begin our first one, let’s take note of several things regarding these beatitudes:

 

            1.   All of them begin with the word blessed, i.e. happy, fortunate, blissful, or to be envied. People go to all ends to achieve happiness. The beatitudes tell us how we can really find it. People seek happiness in the south. They don’t find it there so they go west. It’s not there either. Pleasure, wealth, leisure activities, sports, TV, movies, the weekend, drinking, drugs, sex, etc., are also sought in order to bring happiness.

 

            2.   All Christians are to be like what is stated in the beatitudes.

 

            3.   None of these characteristics taught in the beatitudes comes naturally because none are consistent with the old sin nature.

 

            4.   These characteristics which are taught in the beatitudes demonstrate the difference between the true Christian and the non-Christian. In other words, the true Christian is poor in spirit, he does mourn, he is meek, he does hunger and thirst after righteousness, he is merciful, he is pure in heart, he is a peacemaker, and he is persecuted for righteousness’ sake. I am not saying he is all he should be, but these characteristics will be found in all believers because all believers have new sinless, Christlike natures and the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.

 

By contrast these characteristics which are taught in the beatitudes are never found in the non-Christian. He is not poor in spirit, he does not mourn, he is not meek, he does not hunger and thirst after righteousness, he is not merciful, he is not pure in heart, he is not a peacemaker, and he is not persecuted for righteousness’ sake. It does not matter that some unsaved people are kind and moral people. These characteristics found in the beatitudes will not be found in any unbeliever because they are characteristic of the new sinless, Christlike natures which unbelievers do not have.

We see –

    I.     THE SETTING OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT – 5:1

 

Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.

 

The setting is on a mountain.

 

His disciples came and Jesus taught them.

 

In verse 1 after Jesus saw the crowds of people, He ascended into the mountain. After He sat down, His disciples came to Him.

 

And seeing is understood in the sense of after He saw, after He observed, because He saw, or because He observed.

 

What Jesus saw was the multitudes (i.e. the crowds or throngs). Multitudes speaks of a rather large group of people who have gathered together.

 

He (i.e. Jesus) went up into a mountain, i.e. He ascended into the mountain. Matthew does not identify the mountain.

 

And when he (i.e. Jesus) was set does not mean when He was ready. It means after He sat down. Although your modern-day English teacher would not approve of your using set when you mean sat, set did mean sat in 1611 when the King James Bible was translated.

 

His (i.e. Jesus’) disciples came unto him suggests that only those who regarded themselves as Jesus’ followers came to Him rather than all the crowds which He had observed. It suggests that His ascending into the mountain was intended to limit the size of the group He would be instructing in the Sermon on the Mount. Although His disciples refers to those who were following Jesus as a teacher or who claimed to follow the teachings of Jesus, it does not necessarily mean that they were saved. Some of His followers would eventually abandon Him.

Next, we see that –

  II.     JESUS IS THE TEACHER OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT – 5:2

 

Matthew 5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying.

 

In verse 2, Jesus began to teach His disciples.

 

And he (i.e. Jesus) opened his mouth is understood in the sense of, And He began teaching them. Saying introduces what Jesus said in the entire Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3-7:29 .

After the setting and the teacher of the Sermon on the Mount, we see –

 III.     THE BEATITUDES – 5:3-12

 

We begin with –

            1.   The First Beatitude – 5:3

 

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

According to verse 3, those who are poor in spirit are blessed because they possess the kingdom of heaven.

 

Blessed, which means happy, fortunate, or privileged, or to be envied appears in verses 3-11. In each verse blessed has been placed in a position of emphasis, and this emphasis is retained in the King James Bible.

 

People try all kinds of things to find happiness, but the beatitudes show that there is only one way people can find real and lasting happiness. All believers should possess the traits stated in these verses, but none of them comes naturally. They are inconsistent with the old sin nature and demonstrate the difference between genuine believers and unbelievers.

 

Are appears in verse 11; but, as indicated by the italics, it has been supplied by the translators in verses 3-10.

 

The poor in spirit are those who, in contrast to God, recognize that they are lacking in spiritual worth. Poor in spirit does not mean financially poor. Furthermore, it does not refer to those who have a low self-esteem.

 

Two words are translated poor in the New Testament.

 

One is found in II Corinthians 9:9

 

II Corinthians 9:9 As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

 

The word translated poor in this verse means that he is poor to the extent that he must earn his livelihood by daily labor, but he is not destitute or a beggar.

 

The word found in Matthew 5:3 refers to a man who is so poor that he must obtain his living by begging. He is dependent upon others for support. He is beggarly.

 

Poor in spirit means that they are beggarly in their inner lives. They recognize that they are lost, helpless, and hopeless sinners who deserve to spend eternity in the lake of fire because of their sin. They recognize that they have no merit in God’s sight. They view themselves as God views them. They realize that they are totally dependent upon God in their spiritual lives. They recognize that they are not able to come to God on their own terms or on the basis of any merit in their lives. It is the opposite of someone who is proud in spirit.

 

How does one become poor in spirit? By viewing himself as God views him.

 

Proverbs 6:16-19 – (16) These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (17) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, (19) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

 

Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

 

James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

 

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

 

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward [i.e. perverse] mouth, do I hate.

 

In verses 3-10 for introduces the reason those described in each of these verses is said to be blessed. In each case it is the word ordinarily translated because and is to be understood in this sense in these verses.

 

The reason those who are poor in spirit are blessed is for (i.e. because) theirs is the kingdom of heaven, which means that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

 

Theirs refers to those who are poor in spirit, and it has been placed in a position of emphasis in the Greek text. It implies that the kingdom of heaven is theirs rather than someone else’s, that the kingdom of heaven is theirs and theirs alone, or that the kingdom of heaven is only theirs. This also indicates that the kingdom of heaven does not belong to those who are not poor in spirit.

 

Is indicates a present and ongoing reality, and its mood indicates that this is something which is definitely true at the present time.

 

The kingdom of heaven is also mentioned in verses 10, 19, and 20. In verse 10 it is learned that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. In verse 19, it is learned that whoever breaks the law will be called least in the kingdom of heaven but that whoever keeps the law and teaches others to keep the law will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. In verse 20 it is learned that if someone’s righteousness does not exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, he will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is the rule or reign of the God of heaven over the earth.

 

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever (emphasis added).

 

In Matthew 5 the kingdom of heaven refers to the rule or reign of heaven in the lives of individuals. Although it sometimes (as in chapter 13) refers to professing believers, in chapter 5 it seems to be referring to genuinely saved people.

 

We move on to –

            2.   The Second Beatitude – 5:4

 

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

 

Again, blessed means happy, fortunate, privileged, or to be envied.

 

Are they that mourn is are the ones who are mourning, are the ones who are sad, or are the ones who are grieving.

 

They are mourning over the fact of sin in their lives. They recognize that they have new sinless natures in addition to their own sin natures, but they are constantly bothered by the fact that they still have sin in their lives. They hate sin, but they find themselves sinning. They want to be completely Christlike now and long for the day when they will be.

 

They know all too well the truth expressed in Jeremiah 17:9 , The heart is deceitful above all (things), and desperately wicked: who can know it?

 

They understand from their own experience what Paul expressed in Romans 7:21-25 ,

 

Romans 7:21-25 – (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

The reason those who mourn over sin are blessed is for, i.e. because, they shall be comforted, i.e. because they will be encouraged, because they will be cheered up, or because they will be consoled.

 

It is something which will definitely happen in the future.

 

The use of they is emphatic and suggests they and they alone or only they. This also indicates that those who do not mourn over sin will not be comforted.

 

For believers, some of this encouragement will come in this life. God the Father provides comfort for all believers. Paul wrote in II Corinthians 1:3, Blessed (be) God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. In addition, the indwelling Holy Spirit brings comfort to believers. Jesus said in John 14:16-17 ,

 

John 14:16-17 – (16) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (17) Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

 

Believers are also comforted through the Scriptures. Paul wrote in Romans 15:4 ,

 

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

 

Furthermore, some of this encouragement believers will experience will come in eternity future. They recognize that at death or at the rapture, whichever comes first, their old sin natures will be permanently removed and that they will never sin again. Furthermore, they recognize that at the rapture their salvation will be completed when their bodies are raised from the dead and reunited with their souls; and they long for this day.

 

Believers not only mourn over sin in their own lives, but they also mourn over sin in the lives of their fellow-believers.

 

Furthermore, they mourn over sin in the unsaved because they know the end result for those who do not receive God’s forgiveness for their sins which the Lord Jesus provided when He died on the cross in payment for the sins of all humanity, including the sins of all who reject God’s offer of salvation. Although believers mourn over the rejection of Christ by some, they rejoice over the fact that some are truly born again by their receiving Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior.

CONCLUSION:

 

Are you poor in spirit?

 

Have you received Christ as your personal Savior?

 

Are you mourning over sin, not only in your own life, but also in the lives of others?

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