Summary: Where does one begin to travel down the road that leads to true happiness in this life and the next?
As we began our consideration of the Beatitudes last time, we pointed out four general observations about our Savior’s teaching in Matthew 5:1-12. We said that the Beatitudes speak of God’s personal concern for us; that they declare nine positive facts, that they emphasize proper perspective in life; and that the Beatitudes are progressive in nature.
We talked about how the principles and promises set forth in the Beatitudes explain how we might experience true happiness. We said that as one seeks to apply these principles and promises, he will travel down a path to happiness which, unlike that which the world gives, can never be taken away.
As the old Bill Gaither chorus puts it, “The world didn’t give it to me and the world can’t take it away.”
But how does one begin to travel down the path that leads to true happiness both in this life and the next? Jesus tells us in verse three.
One begins to travel down the path that leads to true happiness when he gains the proper perspective on salvation. A proper perspective on salvation will cause you to . . .
1. Admit your spiritual poverty - v. 3a
Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the poor.” What is Jesus referring to here?
Well, some insist that He is speaking of those who are experiencing material poverty. But remember, the beatitudes are not a special set of blessings for a special group of people who find themselves in a special set of circumstances. Jesus is sharing principles and promises that we can each apply to our lives no matter who we are, where we are, or what may be going on in our lives, because He is personally concerned with each one of us.
No, the poverty that Jesus is speaking of is a kind of poverty that characterizes us all. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The kind of poverty that He is speaking of here, clearly is spiritual poverty.
No matter who you are, no matter what your circumstances, you are spiritually impoverished.
“However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.” - John 15:5 (Amplified)
“No one is acceptable to God!” - Romans 3:10 (CEV)
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” - Romans 3:23 (NLT)
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” - Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)
The word Jesus uses here is interesting. He uses the Greek word “ptokas.” He could have used another Greek word meaning “poor,” the word “penace,” from which we get our English word, “penance.”
The Greek word, “penace” refers to poverty where one struggles just to keep his head above water. He is barely making ends meet.
It is fitting that our English word, “penance” comes from this word because the teaching of one doing penance in order to attain forgiveness accepts the idea that through one’s religious effort, he can keep his head above water as far establishing a right relationship with God is concerned.
But Jesus condemns that teaching as false by using the word “ptokas,” which means to have no resources at all; to be totally destitute.
That is where each of us is before God spiritually. We can’t even be good enough to keep our head above water.
Which brings up one of the primary problems mankind faces with respect to sin. Because we are guilty of sin, we stand condemned before a holy God to pay the penalty for our sin.
But this is part of the reason why Jesus came. He came to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He came to pay sin’s penalty.
A. Christ overcame the problem of sin’s penalty for us through His crucifixion.
“You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” - 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NLT)
But our spiritual poverty relates not only to the problem of sin’s penalty, but to the problem of sin’s power.
When it comes to paying sin’s penalty, we are penniless; and when it comes to overcoming sin’s power, we are powerless.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells.”
- Romans 7:18 (NKJV)
For this reason, we can never be good enough for God; and we can never on our own, attain true happiness. The reason for this is that we do not have the nature to act according to God’s will.
Imagine that you have a lemon tree in your yard. All it can