By Cooper Abrams
Introduction: Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount was presenting Himself as the Messiah and the principles by which men will live in the Millennium. These statements of the Lord are promises to Christians in various situations. Contextually, it was addressed to the Jews who were a conquered and oppressed nation, but more specifically, it is a promise of the happiness that will be found in the coming Millennial Kingdom.
These qualities of a person’s like will mark the faithful child of God in the coming Millennium, and also today.
Isaiah prophecies the in Isaiah 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
1. The first principle of the Sermon on the Mount deals with the poor in spirit. Poor in spirit identifies those who are under some sort of oppression. Some try to relate this to material possessions. Being in property is something that can cause a person to be down in their spirit, but I think the statement here is much more involved.
It addresses an important principle of God dealing with His children. He is assuring them of the hope of happiness and an end to their oppression in the coming Kingdom.
In this sense it applies to Israel and also to church age believers. The Lord’s principles are universal and apply in all situation because there are God’s truth.
It can be persecuted as a Christian in all sorts of situations, but the Lord’s statement promises a sure hope.
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? “ (1 John 5:4-5)
Paul, addressing the absolute assurance of salvation says to the child of God, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
2. For a man, unaided by God, it is impossible for him to attain salvation on his own or to live by God's standards and thus be truly happy. The believer's assurance in not in one’s determination or abilities, but in faith and trust in God’s word and His promises.
In the OT, God made provision for man's sin in that the believer who sinned, would go to the tabernacle and later the temple and offer sacrifices as evidence of repentance for sin. God mercifully forgave them based on their faith.
Some thought they could keep God's law and in pride and self-righteousness boasted of their good works. When the rabbis saw that man could not keep the Lord's commandments, they added and substituted their laws that men they supposed would outwardly keep looking righteous.
That's why so many denominations and churches changed teachings of the Bible and added men's laws instead. They try to accommodate man’s spiritual failures with false teachings.
Baptism - became a saving act, instead of a picture of salvation. Sprinkling became the mode as a matter of convenience.
Lord Supper - became an act to remove daily sin, instead of a memorial to remember and thank the Lord for his suffering and atonement for our sins.
Church membership - became the thing that got one into heaven instead of trusting in the Christ as one's Savior.
Churches - became buildings instead of a group of believers under the headship of Jesus Christ joined together to carry out the Great Commission. Churches then became cathedrals instead of places where the body of Christ the church met.
The Bible became not the absolute word of God, but a guidebook, to be followed if one desires. Traditions and rituals of churches were substituted for biblical instructions.
The organization of the ekklesia, (church) as revealed in the New Testament was changed to satisfy the false teachings in churches.
3. You see, many who professed to be the Children of God, found the instructions of God, to be to much to live by so they ...made up their own instructions and then believed their own lies and taught others to follow their commandments instead of Gods.
Alcohol is a good example: Men love to drink. So in spite of God clear instructions to abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages, that perverted passages such as Paul's instruction to Timothy to take a little wine as a medicine and the turning of the water into wine by Christ at Cana, into excuses to justify drinking.
4. Matthew 5:48, says that we are to be "perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven is perfect".
The Scribes and Pharisees had changed the Word of God, the principles of God, made them meaningless, substituted acts such as, not picking up sticks on Saturday, or traveling certain distance from your home, for the purer, the harder principle of keeping the Sabbath day holy by honoring God in their hearts.
If you wish to learn how God thinks of this read Matthew 23, where Jesus strongly condemned the Scribes, Pharisees, the religious leaders of Israel.
Jesus said, ". . . Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 12:20)
5. A man who is not a child of God, who does not have the new nature, cannot live according to God's instructions.
First man must receive the new nature: That nature comes when a man submits himself to God, believer, trusts and accepts God's offer of grace and forgiveness of sins.
6. Once a person is saved, and receives the new nature, then they can begin the progress of becoming what God intended. This is the process of sanctification. They can then start down the road that leads to happiness and contentment and a fulfilling life that brings joy and close fellowship with God.
I. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE POOR IN SPIRIT?
A. The Greek word for "poor", is the word "ptochos" and refers to a pauper. It means to “cower and cringe like a beggar."
The beggar doesn't want to be seen. He is ashamed. It is not describing one's financial state, such as being in the state of poverty, but the emotional state of having to beg.
B. Happy (Blessed) are those that are so destitute in their spirit that they are ashamed and cower, begging for God's forgiveness.
The world says, Happy are the rich, famous, self-sufficient and proud.
C. A man's "spirit" is his inward being. The body is the outward.
Blessed is the man who believes in God and His word and is begging on the inside for the blessings of God.
Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a Broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
Isaiah 57:15 “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15)
God receives those with a broken spirit, Not the proud.
“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
"Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up." James 4:10
This is not popular today. Humility is not a 21st Century attribute.
Example: Suppose husband or wife is having marital problems: Instead of seeking counseling with a submissive, forgiving spirit and showing love without regard to whether it is returned - modern "Christian counseling teaches: stand up for your rights!" It is selfish and where both spouses seek to justify themselves. This is why I never recommend non-biblical counseling.
Religion teaches, divorce is OK in most circumstances instead of teaching:
There is peace and contentment in Christ, whatever your circumstances, yet false religion teaches, something good is going to happen and fosters dissatisfaction.
II. WHAT IS THE RESULT OF BEING POOR IN SPIRIT.
A. First the Bible says they will inherit heaven. Why?
They will seek God. This is more than a future promise. It means we inherit the kingdom of heaven now. We become a part of God's plan now and He uses us. God is building His kingdom now.
B. They will be destitute of pride, self-worth, arrogance.
They will be wholly dependent on God. God says;
Matthew 10:39 “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Matthew 16:25 “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
C. Losing one's life means to let God be in control. To submit our desires to God's and accept whatever He gives.
Ephesians 5:18-21 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
III. HOW DO YOU BECOME POOR IN SPIRIT?
A. Seek to know God. A lot of folks are satisfied with their knowledge of God and relationship to God. They know bible stories. Know some facts, yet the way to be poor in spirit is to intimately know God. Many want just enough of God to keep their consciences from bothering them to much.... but they are not interested in an intimate relationship with God. That means setting aside one's will to God's will.
Seeking God is be seeking His influence in your life. Judging what you all day everyday all day in light of whether it would be pleasing to God or not.
As you look upon God, you will lose yourself in Him.
B. Pray. Make a time to consult about the daily affairs of life.
C. You take to heart your goal to please God, to imitate the Lord Jesus in everything. You make that the prior. You consciously, make each decision of the day, based upon whether it would be what the Lord would want you to do.You deliberately, vow your commitment to make Christ first in your life.
D. You see you first, see that you at best will make a mess of your life.<
You know, in truth that only God can lead you unto happiness and fulfillment. So you seek Him as a blind man, seeks help to lead him. You live a life of crying out in desperation to God.
It is not a prayer telling God what you, or things you need. But a prayer begging God, to guide you in your blindness.
IV. HOW CAN YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE POOR IN SPIRIT?
A. You will deny "self." READ: Rom. 12:1-2, I Cor. 2:1-5...
B. John 14:8, Philip said, "...Lord show us he Father and is sufficeth us.”
C. You will not complain: If you are truly poor in spirit, you will not be constantly complaining about your circumstances.
You will not be critical of the life God has given.
You will experience the Grace of God when you have needs. You will know and trust that whatever your circumstance, God has lead you to it, ordained it, or allow it. Thus, you trust Him, You know Him. He wants only for you the best. So you resign in thanksgiving for even the problems, the hurt, the sacrifices, glad to be able to suffer anything for Christ who saved you.
D. You will see the good in others. The Bible says "We ought not think more highly of ourselves than we are." (Romans 12:3) If you know God, you know your own frailty, you correctly know what you are...no lies..no pride to blind you..just the naked and rare truth. Thus, you know you are not really any better in God's sight than anyone else.
E. You will pray. The beggar is always begging. He knows where his life comes from and thus be begs desperately for it.
F. The proud sinner, will want heaven, but on his own terms. The poor in spirit, will take what he is offered, gratefully. He will accept the Bible, and God's plan for his life, his family, his church and all he does. He will not rebel at God's plan. He will be a humble learner... He will not seek to exert himself over others.
E. You will praise God and be truly thankful. The beggar is grateful for what he receives to sustain his life. You will be grateful.
1. Being poor in spirit, is against our very nature. It in truth is impossible for us to do, apart from outside help.
2. That help is Christ Jesus. That help is receiving Christ as Savior and then being filled with the Spirit of God.
3. For the Christian, in sin and out of fellowship with the Lord... its first throwing off the mask.
Looking reality in the face, and in God's strength, accepting the hard and soul wrenching truth of the fact we are sinners and not what God would have us to be.
Folks, it takes God's strength to even look at yourself as you truly are. Our carnal nature fights against us, it is not easy, but it is necessary to be the child of God, that the Lord wants you to be.
Christ did not die, to put a band aid on our deep emotional and spiritual needs. He died to effect a total and complete cure.
4. Would you today, now where you sit, put that first foot forward, that first step, in being what Christ intended you to be.
5. What if you don't. What if you refuse? You will forfeit truth, happiness, true satisfaction of being able to live a life fulfilling and rewarding.The choice is ours. What will we do?