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Spiritual Prosperity

No one can live up to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Many have tried to, but it exposes our spiritual depravity.

A proper view of the Sermon on the Mount always points to God’s grace, and then tells us how we are to live as God’s redeemed people. When we examine the nature of the kingdom of God we realize our depravity, and our need for the atoning death of Jesus Christ. This sermon of Jesus forces us to turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, and then demonstrates how we are to live as believers. When we study it we realize that we cannot possibly live up to its demands without God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ.

Here is a description of the person who has received the special favor of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This person lives above the chances, changes and circumstances of life. What are the spiritual characteristics of someone who is blessed by God?

The person described as “blessed” (makarios) is identified with pure character. It is “a sense of God’s approval founded in righteousness.” He is the spiritually prosperous person because he has experienced God’s favor.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” (v. 3). The word “poor” is used for a person in abject poverty who begs for everything he eats. However, Jesus is not advocating living in poverty. I see the ravages of poverty every day where I live and there is nothing good about it. Jesus is stressing our spiritual poverty in relationship with God. It is to be bankrupt spiritually. We cannot do anything to affect a right relationship with God because we are sinners. We are spiritual beggars. It is to be in utter spiritual destitution and helpless before God (Rom. 5:6; Isa. 1:6; 6:5). The only thing we can do is plead for God’s mercy and cast ourselves upon His saving grace in Christ. To be “poor in spirit” is to confess that I am a sinner, and that I cannot save myself.

“Blessed are those who mourn” (v. 4). The idea is to mourn as one is mourning for the dead. It is to mourn over our depraved spiritual condition. It is spiritual grief manifested which is too deep to conceal. It is a deep sense of conviction of sin. The comfort that comes is the effect of the saving gospel. God comforts us when we confess our spiritual poverty before Him and believe on Christ Jesus as our Savior. The Holy Spirit comforts those who mourn over their sin.

“Blessed are the gentle” (v. 5). The King James Version uses the word “meek.” Jesus is describing the person who quietly submits himself to God. He accepts the true view of himself under God’s control. Here is the God-controlled person who yields every passion of his life to the Holy Spirit. There is an absence of pride in a life in submission to the will of God.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (v. 6). Jesus is stressing the actual righteousness of the believer who yields his daily life to Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is the imparted righteousness of Christ living in us that characterizes our lives (vv. 10, 20; 6:1, 33). We depend, not upon our own efforts to achieve righteousness, but upon God to produce it in us. This is a righteousness freely given to us and received by God's grace. It is not  self-righteousness. The spiritually prosperous person hungers and thirsts for it. The person who has a strong intense desire for a right relationship with God will also want to live that way.

This righteousness is a gift of God to the person who confesses his spiritual poverty. It is not something we can produce in our own self. God in grace fulfills the longing in our hearts for this right standing before God. God fulfills His promise in full measure.

Do we have a passion to produce God’s kind of righteousness in our lives? The only way a believer can have a right relationship before God is through Christ’s atoning work on the cross. How then shall we live? The gift comes to those who seek it wholeheartedly, but not of themselves; it is a gift of God. Only those who “hunger and thirst” after righteousness will be “filled.”

Christ brings about a radical change in our lives. We are new creatures in Him (2 Cor. 5:17). He creates a hungering and thirsting, like a beggar, to be like Christ.  Just as it is impossible for a sinner to be justified by good works of self-righteousness, it is just as impossible for a justified sinner to live without producing good works as a result of a right relationship with Christ.

“Blessed are the merciful” (v. 7). This is the character of the believer who has received God’s mercy. We do not deserve it, but Christ had mercy on us and saved us. We give back what we receive. God has been merciful to us; therefore we treat others with that same kind of mercy. It is compassion in action. We see the hurt caused by sin in others and we want to do something about it.

“Blessed are the pure in heart” (v. 8). “Those who have experienced the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit become pure in heart.” Only the pure in heart will “see God.” One day we will experience our full redemption and “when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). The next verse tells us, “And every one who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (v. 3). Do you have that single eyed devotion with absolutely unmixed motives focused on Christ?

“Blessed are the peacemakers” (v. 9). Once you have experienced peace with God you want to tell everyone about it. You tell other beggars where they can find the Bread of Life and feast on Him.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness” (vv. 10-12). This is the acid test of our new relationship with God. The emphasis is on the persecution that comes to all believers because they are like Christ. If you have a right relationship with God through His free grace you will be persecuted. The world system hates Christ and His values, and it will hate you, too. Persecution demonstrates that we are in the company of the committed.

The Beatitudes of Jesus Series of 10 full length messages on Jesus' Beatitudes. "If you want to have power in your life and to be blessed, go straight to the Sermon on the Mount. . . .as you do so the promised blessings will come . . . it is a description of what we Christians are meant to be . . . " (D. M. Lloyd-Jones).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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