Summary: This the first of a series on the Sermon on the Mount
BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT
Text: Matthew 5:3 Evangelist W. Max Alderman
Mat 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
So reads my Text… to properly understand the context in which it was written, it would be helpful to consider also Matthew 5:20, and Matthew 6:33. These verse tell us that everything hinges or rests upon the righteousness of God. A person will never come to an awareness of needing God’s righteousness until he first feels beggarly poor as he appraises his own righteousness, thus agreeing with the Scriptures that his righteousness is no more than uhfilthy rags as Isaiah 64:6 words it…
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The blessed favor of God described in the beatitudes comes only from God and is related directly back to having His righteousness as clearly indicated in verse number 20, and in Matthew 6:33. To not have the righteousness of God is also not to have his blessed favor. The pagans believed that blessedness came from having knowledge, rather than from having God’s righteousness. Their thinking was, if they had a problem with being moral it was not a heart problem, as it speaks to ones virtue, but an intellectual problem that had to do with ones mind. That is one reason that the Lord said “Blessed are the pure in heart…” He took that which was external and visible and turned it back into ones heart. Having a pure heart is to be blessed or have the favor of God.
When considering the concept of being truly blessed, “Our Saviour here gives us eight characteristics of blessed people; which represent to us the principal graces of a Christian. On each of them a present blessing is pronounced; Blessed are they; and to each a future blessing is promised, which is variously expressed, so as to suit the nature of the grace or duty recommended.” (M.Henry)
This study shows the way that the righteous man thinks and feels towards himself, towards others and also towards God. There is a humility and desire that is found in the true believer that is not found in the unbeliever. The believer is characterized and identified by these eight beatitudes. The degree to which these spiritual character traits are revealed is in proportion to his attachment to the Word of God. God places, as an example in these beatitudes, the word hunger. In our human existence, we know that if we fail to eat, that our appetite or hunger pains will leave or at least be diminished, and such could also be said about our spiritual hunger. If we fail to eat the bread of God’s Word, we will certainly become weak, no longer hunger, and also lose the state of blessedness that comes from the steady diet of God’s Word.
Introduction: To understand the fullness of the meaning, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" one must recognize what is meant by the terms, "Blessed," "Poor," and the word "Spirit."
1. Blessed - has a root meaning of happy, fortunate, blissful.
a. Homer used the word to describe a wealthy man.
b. Plato used the word to describe one who is successful in business.
c.The fullest meaning of the word, however, has to do with having an inward contentment that is not affected by outward circumstances. When Jesus used the word blessed or happy here, he elevated the word giving it a meaning that had not been known before. It is sad that the word happy as now commonly used does not still retain this value of meaning.
2. Poor - is from a verb meaning "to shrink, lower, or cringe" as beggars often did in that day. (not simply poor - but begging poor)
3. Spirit - Man is a trichotomy
a. Body - unconscious existence (a tree is alive but unconscious)
b. Soul - conscious existence
c. Spirit - God conscious existence
FOR THE UNBELIEVER…ONE WHO IS RENDERED POOR IN HIS SPIRIT TO BRING ABOUT CONVICTION for HIS SALVATION…
It is no accident that the first beatitude speaks of being poor in spirit, because no one will surrender his will to God until he first sees his absolute total need, having nothing in and of himself and also as being totally depraved. Such depravity is pictured as Isaiah describes Israel in Isaiah 1:4-6,