Weekly Devotional 7-1-19 Principles of the Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 5:1-20 “1And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. 17Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”(NKJB).
In this passage Jesus has called His disciples away from the masses and gave them principles of the kingdom of heaven. By these principles, they were, and we are to be different than the world. This is to be seen in the Christians attitudes and practices. Jesus began by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (vs.3). What did He mean by those words?
John Walvoord (Bible Knowledge Commentary) answers, “The poor in spirit are those who consciously depend on God, not on themselves; they are ‘poor’ inwardly, having no ability in themselves to please God.” John MacArthur (the MacArthur New Testament Commentary answers), “To be poor in spirit is to recognize one’s spiritual poverty apart from God. It is to see oneself as one really is; lost, hopeless, helpless.”
I believe that the point of the first beatitude is the poor in spirit are those who recognize their total spiritual destitution and their complete dependence on God. They perceive that there are no saving resources in themselves and that they can only beg for mercy and grace. They know they have no spiritual merit. They know they can earn no spiritual reward. Their pride is gone, their self-assurance is gone, and they stand empty-handed before God.
In spirit also conveys the sense that the recognition of poverty is genuine, not an act. It does not refer to outwardly acting like a spiritual beggar but recognizing what one really is. It is true humility, not mock humility. It describes the person about whom the Lord speaks in Isaiah 66:2—“To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word”(NKJB) It describes the person who is ‘brokenhearted’ and ‘crushed in spirit’ (Ps. 34:18), who has ‘a broken and a contrite heart’ before the Lord (Ps. 51:17).
An example of this is found in Jesus parable of the Pharisee and the tax-gatherer. As the Pharisee stood praying in the Temple, he proudly recited his virtues and gave thanks that he was not like those who are sinful, especially the tax-gatherer who was nearby. The tax-gatherer, however, was even unwilling to lift his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, the sinner!’ The tax-gatherer, Jesus said, ‘went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted’ (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee was proud in spirit; the tax-gatherer was poor in spirit.
of being poor in spirit would be when God called Moses to lead Israel out of
Egypt, Moses pleaded his unworthiness, and God was able to use him
And yet another example was Peter; Peter was aggressive, self-assertive, and proud, but when Jesus miraculously provided the great catch of fish, Peter was so overawed that he confessed, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’(Luke 5:8 NKJB).
And a final example; Even after he became an apostle, Paul recognized that ‘nothing good dwelt in me, that is, in his flesh’ (Rom. 7:18), that he was the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), and that the best things he could do in himself were rubbish (Phil. 3:8).
In his Confessions Augustine makes clear that pride was his greatest barrier to receiving the gospel. He was proud of his intellect, his wealth, and his prestige. Until he recognized that those things were less than nothing, Christ could do nothing for him. Until Martin Luther realized that all his sacrifice, rituals, and self-abuse counted for nothing before God, he could find no way to come to God or to please Him. Even at Sinai, when the law was given, it was evident that God’s own chosen people could not fulfill its demands on their own. As Moses was receiving the law on the mountain, Aaron was leading the people in a pagan orgy in the valley below (Ex. 32:1-6). Israelites who were spiritually sensitive knew they needed God’s power to keep God’s law. In humility, they confessed their helplessness and pleaded for His mercy and strength. David began his great penitential psalm with the plea ‘Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy loving-kindness; according to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions…. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me’” (Ps. 51:1, 3 NKJB).
In their comments weren’t Walvoord and MacArthur saying that to be poor in spirit means that we recognize our unworthiness apart from Christ? A recognition of this ultimately results in being blessed of God. Being poor in spirit opens the door to mourning over our sin and in meekness we thirst to stand righteous before God. Seeking to be righteous will cause us to be merciful, we will have a purity of heart, we will be peacemakers, and we will be able to withstand the persecution that comes our way.