The Beatitudes were
written for disciples who are committed to living
the Christian life. No one can live up to the
standards set before us in this passage. It is only
through dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit
indwelling the believer that we can live this kind
of life. The kind of righteousness God demands is
far beyond our inadequate self-righteousness. Every
person saved through the grace of God through Jesus
Christ has been credited with God's kind of
righteousness. It is a gift from God that opens up
the possibility for our living the Christian life
the way God expects us to live. It should provoke us
to ask, how then shall we live? How would you
identify a disciple of Jesus if you saw one?
Jesus taught us that the
"blessed" person is one who lives above the chances,
changes and circumstances in life. He is a
spiritually prosperous person who has a right
relationship with God and everything about him is
based on that relationship. There is more to
spiritual prosperity than happiness.
In order to be a
spiritually prosperous person we must be "poor in
spirit" and that means to be convicted of our
spiritual poverty. It is impossible to become a
Christian without first coming to a sense of
conviction of our sin of unbelief. When the Bible
says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory
of God" means just that. Every person is guilty
before a holy and righteous God. We have failed to
be what God wants us to be. We are disobedient to
His righteous demands. We got an "F" on our
spiritual report card. We have to discover our
personal and spiritual emptiness. We are dead in
trespasses and sins and spiritually depraved.
But even as Christians we
have our "blind spots." We can't see out of the back
of our heads spiritually. We have pockets of
selfishness and immaturity that we have not yielded
to Christ. There are areas in our lives where we
need to grow spiritually. We still have a long way
to go in order to be conformed to the image and
likeness of Jesus. We are slow to recognize and
confess our arrogant pride, selfishness, sinful
behavior and bad attitudes. These are the things in
our spiritual life that keep us from being all that
God wants us to be. The growing Christian knows that
he needs God. He has a humble spirit knowing that he
has no righteousness of his own and must depend
totally upon God in His tender mercy. The more we
grow in spiritual maturity the more we grow in
Jesus said, "theirs is
the kingdom of heaven." Those who recognize their
poverty of spirit and confesses it to God and
receives Christ's righteousness in exchange for
their depravity have the kingdom of God as their
possession (Matthew 5:3). Basileia denotes
sovereignty, royal power or dominion. It denotes the
territory or people over whom a king reigns. Here,
of course, it is referring to the kingdom of God and
of Christ. The kingdom of heaven is the territory of
God's rule. It is the place where at any given time
the rule of God in a person's life is acknowledged.
Our spiritual poverty is just at this point where we
have rebelled against God. We choose to do things
our way. We have rebelled against His rule in our
lives, or certain areas of our lives. We put up "no
We cannot see the mystery
of His reign with our natural powers of observation.
Those who have been born spiritually discern it
spiritually. When Jesus Christ returns to rule
universally it will be openly manifest for all to
see. The main idea is that were the King is and
where His rule is acknowledge there will be the
kingdom. Jesus told a company of Pharisees "the
kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21).
God did not save us and
then turn us loose to live the Christian life alone.
His plan is to live His resurrection life in and
through us. It is a growing in the grace and
knowledge of Christ that is vital in our walk as
Moreover, the poor in
sprit realize that they can bring nothing to God.
They recognize they are completely and utterly
destitute in the realm of the spirit. They have
nowhere else to turn but to God. They realize they
have no spiritual assets, no reserves, no merits,
and no righteousness in the sight of God. They must
cast themselves upon God's grace and mercy. Entrance
into the kingdom is through the new birth. A
spiritual birth must take place for us to enter the
kingdom of God (John 3:3; 1:12-13). We are dead in
our trespasses and sins. Our proud, arrogant
self-confidence must be broken and we must become
aware of our poverty in the presence of God.
Alexander Maclaren reminds us that it is a "lowly
and just estimate of ourselves, our character, our
achievements, based upon a clear recognition of our
own necessities, weaknesses and sins." Those who are
not poor in spirit can never enter into the kingdom
What Jesus is describing
is Christian character and conduct. He is not
telling us how to be saved, but how the Christian
who has come to Christ for justification is to live
so as to please God. The Beatitudes and the Sermon
on the Mount demonstrate to non-believers that they
cannot please God in their own self-righteousness
and sends him to Christ to be justified by faith
alone. So the question becomes how can I develop
this heart-righteousness? I can't. That is just the
point. What I cannot do Christ does for and in me.
Jesus Christ is the only
individual who has ever lived up to the demands of
this inward righteousness. It condemns and humbles
us and brings us to our knees before Him. The
recognition of our spiritual poverty is to
acknowledge and confess that we are sinners.
Everything that Jesus
says here presupposes a conversion experience and
the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer.
It describes the character of born again believers.
Here are the blessings of the poor in spirit and
this is where everyone must begin. All of the
blessings here are a gift of grace, not something
that we earn or merit. Spiritual life begins with
our acknowledgment of our spiritual poverty and our
spiritual bankruptcy before God and believing on
Jesus Christ as our Savior. We are guilty sinners
before a righteous and holy God. Only the blood of
Jesus Christ can deal with our sin problem. We have
nothing to offer Him, nothing to plead but His
grace. Our salvation is an absolutely free gift that
God provides in His grace to everyone who believes
on Christ. The depraved sinner realizes that he can
offer nothing and achieve nothing in God's holy
The resurrected ascended
Christ sent a letter to the church at Laodicea and
His complaint was, "Because you say, 'I am rich, and
have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and
you do not know that you are wretched and miserable
and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy
from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become
rich, and white garments so that you may clothe
yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will
not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes
so that you may see" (Revelation 3:17-18). Like many
of us in our day they were self-satisfied and
superficial. They were rich, and did not realize
they were poor spiritually. What a difference it
would have made if they humbled themselves and
pleaded God's forgiveness and restoration.
That is the sad state and
the tragedy of the day in which we live. We cannot
enter into the kingdom, nor live in it, without
acknowledging our spiritual poverty. Like the rich
young ruler who came to Jesus they went away empty.
On the other hand, the poor in spirit are mourners.
Let's go ahead and use the surgeon's knife because
the Great Physician has never lost as patient.
PROSPEROUS ARE GOOD MOURNERS
It is really hard for us
to imagine Jesus saying, "Happy are the miserable."
But just like He said, "The spiritually rich are
extremely poor." He also emphasized those who are
comforted are mourners. Jesus said, "Blessed are
those who mourn, for they shall be comforted"
(Matthew 5:4). That is the paradox. Mourners are to
be envied because they are the recipients of God's
blessings of prosperity. They are spiritually
prosperous because they are comforted. God will
comfort them. He comes along side and gives
encouragement. The same word is used in Hebrews 3:13
to "encourage one another day after day." It is the
sorrowing of repentance that brings comfort.
People mourn for many
reasons. They can be sick physically and mourn the
loss of their good health. Most of us have mourned
over the loss of a dear friend or family member in
death. Tragedy befalls a family and we mourn over
our lost fortunes in the economy or natural
disaster. Many mourn over wounded pride, the loss of
a lover, a coveted position, status or self-esteem.
However, in the context before us we are looking at
our spiritual bankruptcy and our hungering and
thirsting for the righteousness of God.
Jesus uses a word for
"mourn" that means to mourn as one mourns for the
dead. It is the strongest word in Greek language for
mourning. The image is a loud mourning like the
lament for the dead. It is a mourning which cannot
be hidden. This is a grief which brings heartache
and which brings tears to the eyes. It is a grief
manifested, that is too deep to be concealed and
cannot be hidden. Such mourning can only take place
in the sorrow of repentance and is the work of the
Holy Spirit in the heart of a convicted sinner.
Let us note carefully
that it is one thing to be a guilty convicted sinner
and another to grieve and mourn over it. We can have
knowledge that yes I am a sinner and flippantly cast
it off. Conviction and confession is one thing,
repentance is another. Godly sorrow returns the soul
to God. Jesus is describing a Godly sorrow that
affects change in the whole person.
The context is to mourn
over poverty of spirit, the fact of sin. It is to
grieve over personal sin.
You cannot read Romans
seven without coming to grips with a man who was
grieving over his spiritual poverty. Paul groaned
over it. Let us not make light of our personal sin.
We need to grieve over it as Paul did. Then we can
shout with the assurance of grace, "Thanks be to God
through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Missionary David Brainerd
wrote in his journal on October 18, 1740: "In my
morning devotions my soul was exceedingly melted,
and bitterly mourned over my exceeding sinfulness
One hardened criminal
described his conviction as "I stopped. I was
stabbed to the heart, as if pierced with a five-inch
nail." It was the sorrow of a broken heart. To
sorrow over sin is like the mourning of one who
mourns for the dead. It is to be heart broken and
The believer grieves over
his lack of spiritual growth and sin in his life. As
we read Romans seven we feel the agony and heartbeat
of a beloved apostle who recognizes his poverty of
spirit, and grieves over it. We can feel that same
sensitive pulse beat in Philippians 3:12-14.
In Second Samuel 11-12 we
see the tragic events leading up to King David
committing adultery and murder to cover up his sins.
All of the steps are given in verses 2-5, 15-17. The
chapter ends with the tragic consequences of sin.
"But the thing that David had done was evil in the
sight of the LORD" (v. 27). The God sent His prophet
Nathan to David in chapter 12. How would you have
approached the most power man in Israel who had
already demonstrated that he had the power of life
and death in just a word? It is your job to tell him
that he is guilty and that God will punish him. The
prophet brings out David's poverty of spirit with a
parable and then says to him, "You are the man! Thus
says the LORD God of Israel . . . Why have you
despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His
sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with
the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and
have killed him with the sword of the sons of
Ammon"(12:9). God woke up David with the sword of
His Spirit and brought him to a sense of his guilt
and sin. David realized his poverty and cried out,
"I have sinned against the LORD" (v. 13).
I think those words were
the climax to at least nine months of a man of God
mourning on his spiritual condition. Remember, he is
the only person in the Bible to whom it is
attributed that he was a man after God's own heart.
Yes, he was a guilty sinner. He committed murder,
adultery and covered it up. But he was also a man
who mourned over his sin in the correct way. I think
Psalms 32 and 51 have the correct setting in this
spiritual crisis David faced. They describe a broken
heart, a deep sense of loss and grief stricken
condition over sin. In Psalm 51 we have David's
great catharsis. He is confessing sin when he says,
"my transgressions," "my iniquity," "my sin." Listen
"Wash me thoroughly from
And cleanse me from my
For I know my
And my sin is ever before
Against You, You only, I
And done what is evil in
So that You are justified
when You speak
And blameless when You
judge" (vv. 2-4).
You would think that he
just about covers it when he breaks out again with
"Purify me with hyssop,
and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be
whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and
Let the bones which You
have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my
And blot out all my
Create in me a clean
heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast
spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from
And do not take Your Holy
Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of
And sustain me with a
Then I will teach
transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be
converted to You" (vv. 7-13).
We hear the agony of
murder when he says, "Deliver me from blood
guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my
tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness" (v.
If you want to know what
happens when we do not confess our sins to God and
mourn over them David tells us in Psalm 32:3-4.
"When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted
away Through my groaning all day long. For day and
night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was
drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
The Spirit of God was
pressing deeply upon his soul bring true guilt,
making him aware of his poverty of spirit. He
brought David to the point of acknowledging his sin
to God. "I acknowledged my sin to You, And my
iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my
transgressions to the Lord"; And You forgave the
guilt of my sin. Selah" (v. 5).
To "mourn" means to
grieve over our sins and be convicted enough to make
us quit. Jesus said, "Blessed is the man who mourns
over his sin like one mourning for the dead." That
is what David was doing.
PROSPEROUS SHALL BE COMFORTED
Only when a person mourns
over his own sinfulness will he be comforted by the
only Comforter who can relieve his spiritual
anguish. To those who mourn God grants pardon,
forgiveness, deliverance, strength and reassurance.
Jesus Christ with His own precious blood has fully
satisfied the payment against all our sins, and
delivered us from all the power of evil.
"They shall be
comforted," is Jesus' promise.
Let's go back to the life
of King David and listen in on how God comforted his
heart. If you were comforting him what would you
have said? Remember how David asked God to restore
the joy of salvation, put a song in his heart, and
give him a song of praise in Psalm 51? When we look
at Psalm 32 the song is restored.
"How blessed is he whose
transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
How blessed is the man to
whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there
is no deceit!" (vv. 1-2)
The opening words
literally are like this, "How blessed many times
over." "Oh, how blessed many times over," or "How
blessed many times over, blessing upon blessing,
upon blessing," or "Deeply happy, satisfied,
marvelously blessed over and over again." That is
the song of a soul set free.
"You are my hiding place;
You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with
songs of deliverance. Selah" (v. 7).
"Many are the sorrows of
But he who trusts in the
Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.
Be glad in the Lord and
rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all
you who are upright in heart" (vv. 10-11).
Those who mourn now God
will comfort. Parakaleo is future passive
emphasizing the certainty of those blessings. It
means to "be comforted, receive comfort" through
words, or a favorable change in the situation. This
is the work of the Holy Spirit who comes along side
and gives encouragement and strength. It is the
comfort of full forgiveness, the consolation of God
with a sense of pardon. He stands by our side and
gives us comfort. Only God can pardon sin.
Only God can give us a
sense of comfort in a situation in which we cannot
cope with ourselves. When the circumstances are
quite beyond us the Spirit gives us wisdom and
The Holy Spirit makes us
stand on our own two feet and face life under the
most difficult situations. When we have failed
miserably and we are faint hearted He comes along
side and encourages us. He enables us to pass
the breaking point and not break.
Have you experienced that
in your life? Have you been flat on your face before
God mourning over your sins and failures and found
Him to come and place His hand on your shoulder and
deep within your soul you know His peace that passes
all understanding? If you are carrying a deep burden
of sin and you sense that grief even to the point
that it is beyond you to carry, drop it at the feet
of Jesus and receive His pardon and grace. He speaks
to the soul with pardon and release and assurance
that all your sins are under His blood. These words
of the apostle John are sweet words to our soul:
"If we say that we have
fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we
lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in
the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have
fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus
His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we
have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the
truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that
we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word
is not in us" (1 John 1:6-10).
There is no more precious
promise than that. There is no reason anyone reading
this today cannot have a sense of God's forgiveness.
Take these promises of the Word of God seriously and
you too can find peace with God.
Mourning over the
sins of others
There is another aspect
of mourning in the heart of Christians that must not
be overlooked in this Beatitude. After we have been
comforted by the Comforter of our own personal grief
our hearts will be sensitive to the righteousness of
God and we will grieve over the sins of others.
Remember Paul's brokenness over the sinful condition
of the church at Corinth. With brokenness he wrote
to a church that was tolerating gross immorality
within its membership. He wrote to them, "It is
actually reported that there is immorality among
you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist
even among the Gentiles, that someone has his
father's wife. You have become arrogant and have not
mourned instead, so that the one who had done this
deed would be removed from your midst" (1
Corinthians 5:1-2). Things like that in a church
ought to cause us to weep before God. We don't
understand why revival doesn't come to our churches.
This is where it has to begin. It is heart breaking
for the believer when he sees people dishonor God,
or curse the name of Jesus. James 4:6-10 gives us an
There is a mourning that
is man-centered rather than God-centered. It is
futile. It will not issue in the blessings of God.
However there are many promises for us to claim with
the assurance that if we will mourn He will comfort
us (Cf. Isa. 61:2; Jn. 16:16-20; Isa. 40:1;
Rom. 8:1; Matt. 11:28-30; Jn. 14:26-27).
God is not hostile toward
us. He is all for us. He wants to give us
encouragement, help and comfort. But it must be
according to His principles. The Holy Spirit is the
encouraging one. He gives comfort if we grieve over
our spiritual poverty.
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
1. During our time
together in God's Word the Holy Spirit has had an
opportunity to probe our hearts with his scalpel.
Where is your area of spiritual poverty? Where is
the Holy Spirit pointing His finger? Where do you
hurt spiritually? Only you and God know, but He has
probably put His finger on it on other occasions.
When we are willing to acknowledge and confess it to
Him He is willing to cleanse and forgive.
2. Are you willing
to mourn over this area of need? When we are willing
to grieve like one mourning over the dead He comes
to our aid and comforts our broken hearts with His
3. When we take
time to grieve now, we will enjoy the blessings of
eternity. One day there will be no more mourning
(Cf. Revelation 7:17; 21:4). God's ultimate comfort
will come in the day of triumph at the return of
The condition for help
hasn't changed. It is still the same. Jesus said,
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and
I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and
learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke
is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
Title: Matthew 5:4
The Gift of Mourning