by Mike Ratliff
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:1-7 KJV)
“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:18-19 KJV)
When I encounter a professing Christian who is joyless and focused entirely on trying to be fulfilled by worldly things, I want to take them aside and tell them that what they are seeking will not be found where they are looking. I want to show them that only genuine Christians who are humble as their Lord is humble find true blessedness.
All truly regenerate believers have what they need to become humble and Spirit-filled, but most of us struggle for many years in the furnace of sanctification before God gives us that first taste of joy that is beyond measure. Why do we struggle so? God knows what is best for us. Each of us is unique and God will use us according to His will in His timing. Some require much more refining than others based on what God has for them to do. However, everyone who is regenerate can experience the blessedness our Lord shared at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount. Let’s take a close look at what some call The Beatitudes.
“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. ” (Matthew 5:1-12 KJV)
The Greek word translated “blessed” is “makarioi.” This word means to be “fully satisfied.” When this word is used in the New Testament it speaks of the joy that comes from salvation. Much like “agapao,” which is translated as “love,” but has a much deeper meaning than what our English translations give it, “makarioi” is a satisfaction that is not the result of favorable circumstances in life. It comes only from being indwelt by Christ. Therefore, it would be wrong to translate “makarioi” “happy.” Why? Happiness is derived from the English word “hap,” which is connected with luck or favorable circumstances.
Blessedness is not static, but progressive. This progress depends upon the fulfillment of the conditions set down in Jesus’ Beatitudes. Therefore, we know that the progression begins in v3 and culminates in v12 with each statement building upon what comes before.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 KJV)
The Greek word that is translated as “poor in spirit” is “ptochois.” This word is used to indicate a “helpless” person as opposed to “penes” which means “poor, but able to help oneself.” The first step toward blessedness is a realization of one’s own spiritual helplessness. Compare this passage with Romans 3:9-20, which tells us that no one is righteous and no one seeks after God. Who then is saved? Only those who come to see their utter spiritual helplessness can be saved. No one else is “poor in spirit.” Instead they are proud and self-reliant and in rebellion against our Holy and Righteous God. How then can these “poor in spirit” be saved?
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10 KJV)
The poor in spirit know that God saved them in their spiritual helplessness. God saves sinners, but only those who are poor in spirit. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Only the poor in spirit are saved.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 KJV)
Jesus tells us here that the poor in spirit also mourn. They sorrow for their sins and the sins of others. The Greek word that is used here for “mourn” is “pentheo.” It speaks of inner grief instead of the external expressions of grief that we see at funerals, for example. I have seen believers making a big deal out of showing their grief over their sin, but what Jesus is talking about here is the sorrow the regenerate will have about sin that is the same sorrow that God has about it. The comfort that our Lord speaks of here is referring to forgiveness and salvation itself.
Look at our progression. The poor in spirit are those who realize they are spiritually helpless and cannot save themselves. God causes this to happen with the washing of regeneration. Sinners see their sin and understand they are lost and cry out to God to save them. They mourn for their sin. This is part of repentance. Whom does God comfort with forgiveness and salvation? Only the poor in spirit and those who mourn and repent are saved.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5 KJV)
Who are the meek? They are those who are willing to see themselves as they really are. This concept they have of themselves is evidenced in their submission to God and His Word, as well as in their dealings with others. Doesn’t this describe being Spirit-filled? Who becomes Spirit-filled? Those who confess their sins, repent, permeate their lives with the Word of God and submit to others. The meek have self-control empowered by the Holy Spirit
“For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Psalms 37:9-11 KJV)
The meek are Spirit-filled and are not out of control worrying about the world going down the tubes or how freedoms are being lost or how wicked everyone seems to be nowadays. They may mourn over those sins, but they remain at peace with God because they know that God saved them for His purposes and according to His will and not because of their own abilities or their own righteousness, therefore, they have total peace with Him knowing that their salvation is secure because it does not depend on them, but on the power and faithfulness of God.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 KJV)
The Greek word translated as, “they which do hunger and thirst” is “hoi peinontes.” A better rendering would be, “the hungering ones.” This indicates a constant and recurrent satisfaction with God’s righteousness. The nourishment received from being filled is expended in hungering anew for another filling. This is the opposite of being self-righteous. Those who hunger after God’s righteousness do not attempt to establish a righteousness of their own. (Romans 10:3; Philippians 3:9) The Holy Spirit is the driving force behind this. He gives this hunger to the meek who are those who mourn who are poor in spirit. The filling also gives us joy, which is our strength, and our Lord says He gives it to those who obey Him so they can continue to obey Him and prove to be His disciples. (John 15:10-11)
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7 KJV)
The merciful are characterized by a caring attitude for those who are in misery. They take the heartaches of others and make them their own. This is also a reflection of God’s character flowing through the regenerate. God saves His people by being merciful to them. He is patient with us, showing us mercy, as we struggle with sin and obedience. Therefore, we are to show mercy to others. We are to forgive and ask God to forgive us to the level we forgive others. (Matthew 6:12)
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 KJV)
Purity of heart can only be acquired through the continuous cleansing that believers experience when they have fulfilled the previous conditions of blessedness. The purer a person becomes, the more clearly he can see God. This is why it is essential for Christians to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of their minds as living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1-2)
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9 KJV)
A peacemaker is not simply someone who tries to stop the feuding between nations and people. It is a believer that has experienced the peace of God and who brings that peace to his fellow human beings. This is one who shares His faith with others and God uses to bring them into the Kingdom. These peacemakers also rebuke the backsliders and apostates while preaching to the atheists and pagans all with the goal of reconciling them with God.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12 KJV)
Being persecuted for righteousness sake causes a person to reach the highest level of the satisfaction of blessedness. (James 5:10,11; 1 Peter 4:12-14) It is a lie from our enemy that states that it is not God’s will for Christians to suffer. God uses suffering to refine His saints, developing in them these attributes we have been studying.
The state of blessedness begins the very moment that a person believes on Jesus Christ for salvation. This is demonstrated by the fact that the promises concerning the kingdom of heaven in v3 and v10 are in the present tense. While in this life one may enjoy the results of implementing these truths, the ultimate condition of blessedness will be experienced when we go home to be with our Lord.
Some teach that these Beatitudes are not for Christians on earth now, but are only for some future sinless state ruled by Christ. This teaching comes from those who also teach that there is such a things as a Christian who has not surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. These fictional Christians live for self and cannot be discerned from lost folks other than they profess to be Christians. No, sorry, that is not found in the Bible. Instead, we see that at salvation, we are New Creations and have begun our journey that God has laid out for us. Jesus said that only those who deny themselves, die to self, and take up their crosses and follow Him can be His disciples.
What we must do is examine ourselves. Are we on this magnificent path of blessedness or are we pretending? That is between you and God, but I pray that you will settle this with Him if He shows you that you are depending upon self for your salvation or anything or anyone other than our Lord Jesus Christ.