by Mike Ratliff
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:8-10 ESV)
The most peace I have in this life is as I meditate on passages like Matthew 5:2-12, which is The Beatitudes. On the other hand, one thing that causes me to take on a countenance of righteous indignation occurs as I observe Christian preachers, teachers, and writers functioning in the role of “prophet” leading their followers to discount personal holiness. The seeker-sensitive paradigm deliberately does this in order to be more inclusive. This form of ministry makes a very huge error, however, in that it has as one of its major foundational points that people can be reconciled to God, to be a genuine Christian, without true discipleship, which includes active repentance.
I and others in the CRN camp have been taking some heat lately from some who have a completely unbiblical understanding of the nature of truth. Their major complaint is that as we stand on solid Biblical truth we are unwilling to see that there may be “another” truth or that others may be right outside of that truth. This form of reasoning comes from those who believe that no one can know for certain what truth is. This is a product of intellectual barbarism as we saw in my post Warning Against Apostasy.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-12 ESV)
The Beatitudes is the opening part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord gave the Beatitudes in a progression, which shows us the true nature of regeneration and its product, which is spiritual maturity as God works in the heart to make the believer more and more Christlike before He takes him or her home to be with Him forever. The 6th Beatitude states, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” What does it mean for the believer to be “pure in heart?” The believer who is “pure in heart” has also become “poor in spirit” (v3), which causes him or her to “mourn” (v4). The “poor in spirit” believer mourns over sin and evil, especially his or her own. Only the regenerate believer is made “poor in spirit.” We know this for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and it belongs to no one else.
The “poor in spirit” believer “mourns” over his or her sin and the sins of others. Why? Sin is rebellion against God and for the one who is redeemed, sin is an even greater affront. This “change” in a person drives them closer and closer to the cross where he or she sees their utter spiritual bankruptcy before God. This causes meekness (v5) to become a major point in his or her character. This is an attitude of humility and submission to God, which results in our Lord’s gentleness to become a manifest part of his or her character.
The “poor in spirit” believer “mourns” over his or sin and takes on Christ’s “meekness” in character. He or she will then “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (v6). You see, the Bible know nothing of genuine, regenerate believers being complacent about his or her spiritual bankruptcy. No, the real believer will deeply desire to be Christlike in character and action. When the Holy Spirit works through these things in the heart of the believer, he or she will then begin to display mercy (v7). This is speaking of the believer having a caring attitude to those who are suffering.
Now we come to the part of our Lord’s sermon, which, I believe, must be manifest in a believer in order for him or her to be an effective apologist. Note that all that came before from vv5-7 must become manifest prior to this. Oh, the seeds and sprouts of these things may have been planted and are growing from the beginning, but it isn’t until the believer becomes manifestly meek and humble and merciful that their purity of heart grows and expands and then they become effective peacemakers in the Kingdom of God (vv8-9).
What does it mean for the believer to be “pure in heart” (v8). This purity of heart can only be acquired through the continuous cleansing that comes through the previous conditions of blessedness (vv3-7). The “pure in heart” believer has zero tolerance for evil. They have set their faces like flint against everything that is contrary to God and His holiness. This part of the believer’s spiritual maturity may take some time to become mature before he or she is ready to be an effective apologist, to use their God-given discernment to be the Body of Christ cleansing tool that God uses to keep the Church healthy and vibrant.
At this level of maturity, the believer will then function as a “peacemaker” (v9). This is speaking of spiritual peace, not the cessation of physical violence between nations or people. This term does mean that the “peacemaker” helps others find peace with God, but it also means that he or she has make their own peace with God and is called His child as we see in the following passage where we see that the children of God make peace, even with their enemies, but without compromise.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)
The believer who matures unto being a “peacemaker,” as we see in v9 and vv44-45, will find that even though he or she has peace with God and is actively working in the Body of Christ as commanded by God, he or she will be misrepresented and misunderstood (vv10-11). They will be “persecuted for righteousness sake.” This should not surprise us though, for even our Lord Jesus Christ , the Prince of Peace, brought fire upon the earth. In Isaiah 53:3 we see that our Lord was “despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” This evil was brought upon our Lord because He preached against the apostates and heretics in His day who had changed God’s truth into something that kept people from finding the narrow gate. When His apologists exercise the discernment He gave them, why should we be surprised when many in the visible Church have a problem with it?
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)
The mature believer is salt and light in the earth, but if he or she does not stand against the growing apostasy in the Church then they have lost their savor. Their light has become hidden (Matthew 5:13-16). My brethren, I am not advocating continually attacking other believers with whom we do not agree. No, I am telling all who read this that our role in the Body of Christ is to mature as our Lord outlined in this passage that we can be used by God to stand against the evil that is continually attacking the Church as He directs. We do this for His glory alone, and for the edification of the Body. When we do this then we are Salt and Light as is our Lord. He was persecuted and crucified by those who hated Him for doing these very things. Why should we be surprised when we are threatened and denigrated by those who love the darkness more than the light?
Soli Deo Gloria!