Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit: For Theirs Is The Kingdom of Heaven
After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, we read that He began to preach in the regions throughout Syria, telling the people to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
As I mentioned in my last article, it was about this time that Jesus called some fishermen to be His disciples. As they traveled around the countryside, Jesus preached the Gospel, healed the sick, and cast out demons from those who came to Him. Because of the great things He was doing, His fame quickly spread and huge crowds began to follow Him.
Matthew 5:24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 4:25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
In this passage Matthew tells us that great multitudes of people followed Jesus wherever He went but he does not say that they necessarily became His followers meaning “disciples”.
God sometimes chooses to use miracles to show forth His great power such as in the ministries of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha; and then in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles. When the miracles are truly from God, they bear witness to God’s power and purpose; and they are meant to bring glory to God and not men.
John 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
Hebrews 2:33 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 2:34 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
For instance, when God first called Moses (Exodus 4:1-9) and Gideon (Judges 6:11-22) He gave them signs and wonders to help bolster their faith, confirming that He would be with them and do even greater miracles in delivering their people from their enemies according to His word.
God performed spectacular miracles through His Son Jesus when He was here on earth as acts of mercy and to bring God glory which caused many of the people that saw the miracles to believe that He truly was the Messiah.
John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Throughout history, many people have desired to experience miraculous signs and wonders and some have traveled travel far and wide to witness supernatural and unusual events. Perhaps some people seek after miracles because they want confirmation of the truth of God, and there is nothing inherently wrong with this desire; but most of the time people seek some strange phenomenon because they are curious and want to have the thrill of experiencing something that defies the natural laws of physics and nature.
Like the crowds in John 6:2 and King Herod in Luke 23:8 who wanted to see something sensational, but from the context it shows that they really had no real desire to know God’s truth and then live according to it.
In John 6, John mentions that great multitudes followed Christ, but says plainly that they did so because they saw the miracles of healing.
John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 6:2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
Herod wanted to see a miracle performed by Jesus, not because he was interested in who Jesus was nor in what Jesus had to say, but because his curiosity was aroused by the miraculous things he had heard of Him from others.
Luke 23:8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.
Other times it is because people have something to gain by experiencing a miracle and they seek after the miracle worker only because of what they can get and not because they are interested in His message.
After Jesus fed the multitudes, a large crowd followed Him to the other side of Galilee but Jesus could discern their true motivation for following Him. He scolded them for seeking after only the physical bread, and not after the true “bread of life” that He wanted to give them. In this case the people’s desire was not to know Christ and to hear His messages, or even to see more miracles; it was simply to fill their stomachs again with the physical food He could provide them.
John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Better than seeking miracles, is taking God at His Word and letting it convict our hearts and thereby causing us to make the changes necessary to conform our lives to what He wants for us.
After coming to see that God is who He says He is, and being convicted that His Word is truth; we must then exercise faith to do what God commands and do what it takes to become a true follower of Christ rather than just someone who follows in order to see unusual events or to enrich ourselves materially (somewhat like some of the Pentecostals and/or the “name it and claim it” religions of our day do).
John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
True faith in God begins with coming to see ourselves for what we are: that we are sinners in need of a Savior and that we are truly poor in spirit with nothing to offer God. It is to humbly bow our hearts to God, acknowledging our total spiritual poverty before Him and our utter dependence upon Him. It is the opposite of being haughty and self-sufficient and it is not something we can produce on our own, rather, it is a work of the Holy Spirit.
When God calls us, He opens our eyes to the fact that is He is true and that all His ways are true; and we come to see ourselves as God sees us. God reveals to us that we are sick in need of a physician and because of this conviction, we become so broken over the wickedness we perceive in our hearts and in our actions that we are willing to do anything to become right with God (to be reconciled to Him).
So when Matthew talks about great crowds following Christ (Matthew 4:25), he immediately goes into chapter 5 where he records that Christ went up into a mountain and it was there that His disciples came to Him; and it was there that He taught them the deep spiritual precepts of God’s Word that would stay with them for the rest of their lives if they were to remain faithful (true) followers of Him.
Unlike the miracles that would dazzle for a short while but are often quickly forgotten as time goes by, God’s truth and His principles to live by; last forever “the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them…
When Jesus gave His Sermon on the Mount, He began His discourse by giving a collection of eight character traits that His true followers must internalize into their hearts (have as their attitudes or qualities of their character) as we studied last week. This group of eight character traits have come to be called “The Beatitudes”.
These eight Beatitudes describe godly spiritual character traits of those who choose to humbly submit themselves to the will of God; and at the beginning of each description of these eight traits, Jesus adds the fact that the ones who do them are “blessed”.
Each character trait in this collection begin with the words “blessed are…” followed by a specific virtue that believers are to incorporate into their lives if they want to be Christ’s disciples. For those who answer God’s call to come and follow Him, who believe in Him and set their hearts to walk as Jesus walked when He was a man here on earth, the Beatitudes are the virtues that His followers must be internalizing into their very being (be-attitudes).
This week we will focus on the Beatitude of being “poor in spirit”.
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their is the kingdom of heaven.
The very first Beatitude that a disciple must embody is to be: “poor in spirit”. This is where a person called to be a child of God must start, for it is in the heart (the mind) where we exercise our conscious will and is the seat of the thinking and mental process. This heart with its capacity to think and will is the spirit which God gives to all men. The Bible speaks of “the spirit in man” a spirit in all human beings… but what kind of spirit is it?
The Greek word for “spirit” in Matthew 5:3 is pneuma (Strong’s # 4151) – Short Definition: wind, spirit, breath.
Job reveals that there is a spirit in man and by it we are given understanding (all normal humans have a consciousness; their intellect that allows them to think as humans do, which animals do not have).
Job says that this spirit does something for us: it gives us the ability to understand, to think and to reason; to come to conclusions and make decisions; to create, design, make plans and carry them out, etc.
Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [neshamah]; and man became a living soul.
The word “breath” is the Hebrew word neshamah (Strong’s # 5397) and is translated as; a wind, an angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect. Or (concretely) an animal — blast, (that) breath(-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
While we as physical creatures tend to think of this breath as the air we breathe, it is also the spirit that the Creator put in human beings to give them the mental capacities that we have. The spirit that is in man (which God gives to all men) does not have life of itself.
Ecclesiastes 9:55 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Psalm 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
The spirit that is in man is his breath (his life), but this is not God’s Holy Spirit which must be added to man’s spirit in order for that man to internalized the character and mind of God. A person must have the added component of God’s Spirit to become yielded to the will of God. God’s Spirit enables a man to understand the spiritual things of God and if the man aligns his life to God’s truth and walks in all of His ways for the rest of his life, he will go on to become a child of God in all its fullness at the resurrection of the just.
The spirit that is in man is not the Spirit of God because Scripture tells us in the following passage that not everyone has the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) dwelling within them.
1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Jesus tells us “blessed are the poor in spirit. It is the “spirit of man” that we must become poor in, and if we do, we are very much blessed for God will then pour out His Spirit upon us and He will send it to dwell within us. The Holy Spirit then empowers us to become rich in the spiritual understanding of God’s precepts and principles (such as the Beatitudes), not only in believing and knowing them, but it enables us to do them as well for the Bible tells us that we are not able to do them on our own.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
The very first Beatitude is about acknowledging our need for God and to recognize our fleshly poverty and short-sighted limitations of our own efforts in measuring up to the righteousness of God. We are to become poor in the spirit of man, for in our human spirit we have been subjected to the ruler of this present evil world and are naturally at enmity against the things of God.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart [spirit of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded [following the spirit in man, and not the spirit of God] is death; but to be spiritually minded [following the spirit of God] is life and peace. 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
There are some commentators who teach that being “poor in spirit” has something to do with being poor in material possessions for only then will we not allow riches and possessions to become before us and God. They compare this Beatitude with Jesus’ warnings against seeking after riches in other Scriptures, but in Matthew 5:3 Jesus specifically says “poor in spirit” i.e. to be spiritually poor.
In His teachings on the Beatitudes Jesus is concerned with our spiritual state and the spiritual qualities that we must internalize in our character in order to develop into the image of God, so this has nothing to do with being poor in material possessions. What, then, does it mean to be spiritually poor?
Christ is calling us to be poor in spirit, which is to recognize our utter spiritual bankruptcy before God. It is coming to the understanding that we have absolutely nothing of worth to offer God of ourselves and that we can do nothing to deliver ourselves from our wretched sinful state.
Being poor in spirit is admitting that because of our sin, we are completely destitute spiritually and that we need God and His saving power. No matter how rich we are or how famous, what our status in this life is, or how much we possess that this world has to offer; we are still of spiritual poverty and it is imperative that we see ourselves as such. We must realize that is is only through Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins that we can come to have a saving relationship with Him.
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Those who see themselves as sinners and know that they are spiritually sick, see their desperate need for the physician. Those who think they are okay spiritually and are well already, do not see a need for the physician and therefore will not come to Christ.
Scripture describes “to be poor of spirit” as the same as having a “contrite heart” as God tells us in Isaiah:
Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
And in Psalm 51:17, David writes in regard to brokenness and contrition as:
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Contrition is spoken of as something God absolutely requires in His people and it is associated with humility, brokenness, and a healthy fear [deep respect] of God and His Word. So what exactly does it mean to be contrite?
The Biblical definition of “contrite” is:
“Contrite: to break or bruise; to rub or wear. See Trite. Literally, worn or bruised. Hence, broken-hearted for sin; deeply affected with grief and sorrow for having offended God; humble; penitent; as a contrite sinner. (A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51.)
Contrition: 1. The act of grinding or rubbing to powder. 2. Penitence; deep sorrow for sin; grief of heart for having offended an infinitely holy and benevolent God. The word is usually understood to mean genuine penitence, accompanied with a deep sense of gratitude in the sinner, and sincere resolution to live in obedience to the divine law.
Contritely: adv. In a contrite manner; with penitence.
Contriteness: n. Deep sorrow and penitence for sin.”
(KJV Dictionary Definition)
The Hebrew and Greek words translate “contrite” to actually mean “crushed, crippled, or broken.
Hebrew word for contrite is dakah (Strong’s #1794) and is translated: to crush, break sore, contrite, crouch (stoop, bend) A primitive root (compare dak, daka‘); to collapse (phys. Or mentally) (Strong’s Concordance)
The Greek word for crush is suntribó (Strong’s #4937) and means to: break by crushing, break in pieces, shatter, crush, bruise.
The Greek word suntribó is translated as “brokenhearted” in the following verse:
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
So we see that Scripture also describes being poor in spirit as contriteness and being broken in spirit. In the following verse God says through Isaiah, that He will look to one who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and then defines such a person as one who trembles at (who is at awe to the point that he desires to wholeheartedly obey and revere) God’s Word.
Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
When someone comes to the place of having a contrite heart [meaning a broken and crushed spirit of pride], they are in essence crushed and brokenhearted by the weight of their shame and guilt over their sins. In our carnal human nature we usually try to justify our sin, or to blame other people (even our parents) or our circumstances for who we are and what we do; but when we come to the place where we can take total responsibility for the kind of persons we are and begin to see the depth of our own heart’s depravity; then God’s Spirit will lead us to brokenness and to grieve over our condition, and that is when we will begin to desire to change ourselves into what God wants for us.
We must then humbly accept God’s righteous condemnation of our sins, confess them and forsake them. This is what it means to have a contrite heart. A contrite heart accepts full responsibility for its sin and refuses to blame others or offer up any kind of excuses for the kind of person he is.
The man or woman in this condition fully agrees with God about how evil he or she is. Knowing that there is nothing we can do to remedy our sinful state, we then throw themselves upon the mercy of God, knowing that we can never earn forgiveness and that there is nothing worthy within ourselves that we can offer to God for His forgiveness except to repent and turn from our sinfulness.
Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Psalm 41:4 I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.
God says that the place of contrition and brokenness is a blessed place to be; and when we humble ourselves before Him, He says that He can dwell with that one. And He, Himself, will revitalize such a person who is contrite and is of a humble spirit.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that in habiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
A contrite heart leads to mourning (or grieving) over our sins which is addressed in the very next Beatitude. We will study into “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) next week as we continue the series of articles on the Beatitudes. But we will just mention that the mercy and forgiveness of God will comfort those who see their sin the way He sees it, who then repent, and mourn for that sin enough to do something about it.
In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector which illustrates for us one that is of a contrite heart or poor in spirit contrasted to one that is full of pride and does not see any need to become poor in spirit and seek God’s forgiveness. In this parable the proud Pharisee prayed eloquently and listed examples of righteous deeds and then self-congratulated himself before God, but the parable tells us that none of those things impressed God.
The Pharisee was self-righteous rather than of a contrite heart like the tax collector who was praying at the same time with him in the Temple. They both were in need of mercy, but only the person with a contrite heart was in a position to receive it.
Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
In the Gospel accounts we read how the Pharisees believed that their own righteous acts were so impressive that they could not possibly be unacceptable to God. The religious leaders held rigorously to their ceremonies and their own traditions of the law making a public show of their worship and piety, all to be seen of men. They despised those that were not as “righteous” as they were, and they thought of others as being beneath them.
The Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is an example of one who thought very highly of himself and by praying the way he did, his prayer actually showed how self-righteous and self-justifying he was. He mentions nothing about having any kind of sin, for he believes that he has no sin. His prayer is all about himself with no praise or thanksgiving toward God except to thank Him for the fact that he is not like “other men” (“extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican”).
Then in his prayer, he speaks to God about how much better he is than these others and shows the disdain he has for these “sinners” in his heart. In his prayer he exalts himself and places himself above the poor tax collector which happens to be praying in the Temple with him and he shows his disdain in his very prayer to God. This kind of prayer does not make it past the ceiling. Compare it to the kind of prayer that Jesus recited to His disciples as an example of how to pray; all centered on God and attributing all power and glory to God with a focus on God’s kingdom and His will to be done on earth.
The tax collector stood “afar off” or “at a distance”; perhaps to avoid offending the Pharisee. Tax collectors were generally hated by their countrymen because of their association with the hated Romans. They were seen as traitors to Israel so therefore they were detested and were treated as outcasts. This man’s posture is indicative of how he had come to see his sin and his unworthiness before God.
The tax collector [or publican] stood afar off, and would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner“. He was ashamed of the kind of person he had become and the burden of his guilt overwhelmed him. But what does God say of this person in contrast to the self-righteous Pharisee?
Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Overcome with his shame and guilt the tax collector prayed the prayer that God wants to hear from those who are poor in spirit, who confess their sins, and seek to be forgiven; this is exactly the kind of attitude that God wants to see in all those who come to Him in repentance and with a contrite heart. The tax collector displayed the Beatitude as Jesus describes in His sermon:”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“.
This man shows us what it means to be poor in spirit, admitting that he had nothing to offer to God to atone for his sin. A person who is poor in spirit can see how much he has sinned and it grieves him deeply; a man or woman in this condition does not take the forgiveness of God for granted for he or she realizes what their sins have cost Christ.
Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he [God the Father] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
To have a contrite heart is a key factor in genuine sincere repentance. If we refuse to become poor in spirit we become like the arrogant Pharisee who goes through the motions of being righteous but still harbors in his heart a prideful attitude with the self-satisfaction that he no longer needs God. On the other hand the humble tax collector knew what kind of person he was and that he needed to die to self.
2 Corinthians 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
A person who is humble and has a contrite heart is in agreement with God: that if he wants to follow his Lord and walk with Him, he must reject evil in all its forms starting from the very depths of his heart. One who has a broken spirit will no longer harbor desires to do wickedness and to disappoint the One who died for him; rather, he prays with all of his heart for the strength of God to overcome sin and to enable him to move on to become holy as God is holy in all that he does.
1 Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
We must come to God with contrite hearts, knowing that we have nothing to offer for we are bankrupt sinners desperately in need of God’s mercy. Just like the tax collector, we must recognize that we are sinners and that we are impoverished and that the only thing that can make us right with God is for God to shower His mercy upon us. “God be merciful to me a sinner” the tax collector cried, and so must every child of God who sees how sinful he still is.
Jesus tells us in this parable that the humble tax collector was justified, accepted by God; while the Pharisee was not “….for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
Once we become poor in spirit and sorrow over our sin, we must have faith that God is a God of abundant goodness and forgiveness. He has promised in His Word that He will forgive us when we come to Him confessing our sins. He will forgive us and He will accept us, and then revitalize us again through His Son just as it says in 1st John 1:9 and in Colossians 2:13.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
No amount of works on our own can take away the stain of sin and allow us to stand before a holy God. Only Jesus by his death on the stake can wash away our filthiness and make us new. His atoning sacrifice is the only “work” that is able to cleanse us and make us acceptable to God. Once we are cleansed we are to go and sin no more in order to stay reconciled to Him.
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector also shows that we must not make the big mistake of comparing ourselves with others and become prideful because we see their sins as being much greater than ours. Jesus warns us specifically to avoid this kind of attitude at the very beginning of the parable. “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9).
Just like the Pharisee, when we try to justify ourselves by comparing ourselves to others, we are tempted to despise those whom we see as not measuring up to our righteousness and then we tend to judge them and think of them as beneath us.
Our standard for comparison should be the righteousness and holiness God Himself, for it is His standard that we are to measure up to. This is what the Sermon of the Mount is all about.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Mathew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Paul reminds us in Colossians to focus on God and on His sovereignty over our lives and the lives of others, while at the same time filling ourselves up with the love and peace of God and being thankful for all that He does for us and for all of His blessings. Being in a state of gratefulness for all that God is and for all that He does will help to keep us from becoming full of pride.
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
The Sacrifices of God are a Broken Heart
When David sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered, he was confronted by Nathan the prophet for his sin and David instantly acknowledged that he had sinned. He wrote Psalm 51 as a response to the inner agony that it caused him and how having a broken and contrite heart brought him to repentance and renewed his fellowship with God.
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Because David became convicted in his heart that he had committed these horrible sins against God, it broke his heart and he became heart sicken by what he had allowed himself to do. Once he was confronted with his sin by Nathan, He quickly repented and prayed to God to forgive him and to wash him clean of his sin.
Psalm 51:51 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 51:2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
From this attitude of contrition and brokenness which Christ lists first in the Beatitudes, David went on to repent and to want to never do those kinds of sins ever again. He asked God to create in him a clean heart, to restore his joy in God’s salvation, and to uphold him (bear him up or to sustain him) with a willing and noble spirit, the kind of spirit that brings freedom.
Psalm 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 51:9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free [willing, noble] spirit.
“When You Were Little in Your Own Sight”
King Saul started out as a humble king but his kingship went to his head and in his pride he did only what was right in his own eyes and refused to obey God.
1 Samuel 15:17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?
See 1st Samuel 16:10-35 to read the story of King Saul who became full of pride and stubbornly refused to yield to God’s commands. When confronted by Samuel for his sins, he was not sorrowful for what he had done (as David was) but made excuses for why he did not follow God’s orders. He was the opposite of what it means to be poor in spirit and of a contrite heart.
1 Samuel 16:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Because Saul did not have the contrite heart that David had when he sinned, he lost the Kingdom to the one that God said would be a man after His own heart.
1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
Saul the Blasphemer, Becomes Paul the Apostle
Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, was not contrite before God called him, but as soon as he was struck down that day on the road to Damascus, he immediately repented of his pride and his persecution of God’s people; and humbly submitted to God.
Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Paul went on to become a humble servant of God because of the fact that he became poor in spirit through his ordeal; this was very evident in the ensuing years after his conversion right up until his death. Even though he had been completely forgiven by God for his crimes, the memory stayed with him that he had once persecuted to the death many of God’s people and this kept him little in his own eyes throughout his ministry.
1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 15:10 And to make men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
We also see what a contrite heart looks like in the story of the Prodigal Son who sinned against his father and wasted his life in partying and riotous living. But when he began to experience poverty (be in want), he came to himself and realized what he had done seeing his sin for what it was. Feeling so very unworthy, he repented and turned back to his father seeking his forgiveness and to be accepted back into the household, humbly requesting his father take him back as a hired servant and not as a son.
Luke 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 15:13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 15:14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15:15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 15:16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 15:19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
A person becomes increasingly poor in spirit as God reveals Himself to him and as the person comes to realize just how incredibly HOLY God is. This realization then brings home the painful fact that all of OUR righteousness is like filthy rags, as Isaiah declares, and that no matter what righteous acts we do, we are still full of iniquity and are unholy beings. This brings us down from any lofty idea we may have of ourselves as we throw ourselves down before a Holy and Merciful God.
Isaiah 64:6 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.
Even though God is holy He is also rich in mercy as He calls men and women to repent, seek His forgiveness and to come and follow Him. And then He teaches them how to become made into His spiritual image in order to give them a place in His family!.
“…For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”
Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount says that we must be poor in spirit and then implies that we must have this Beatitude in order to enter God’s kingdom. Why does being poor in spirit have anything to do with entering the “kingdom of heaven”? Why is “poor in spirit” something God wants us to be? And why and how does being poor in spirit result in “for theirs is the the kingdom of heaven”?
We must be contrite in spirit and poor in spirit in order to even be in God’s kingdom. God will not allow anyone in His kingdom who refuses to repent or to see themselves for who they are. He will not allow hypocrites to be His priests and kings ruling over His people.
God offers us salvation as a gift through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who by dying on the stake, paid the penalty for our sincerely repentant sins on our behalf. Before we can receive this gift, we must see our sin and be so broken over it and disgusted by it that we commit that we will not do those things again, just as David did when his spirit was broken, not only by the sins that he committed, but also for the sin attitudes that he perceived in his heart.
We, just as David, must acknowledge that we need God’s forgiveness to go on to live a life that is pleasing to God and that leads to eternal life as members of His Family. Therefore, we must humbly acknowledge that we as humans can do nothing on our own that can make us worthy, and that salvation comes through faith in the redemptive power of our Lord and Savior who alone can save us.
After confessing our sin and genuinely repenting of them, we must by faith set our hearts that we will not do the things again that we repented of, in essence we “go and sin no more” and even then we must cry out to God to help us to live according to His righteousness and that He will perfect us. And why do we need God to help us every step of the way? So that God gets the glory and not ourselves. Paul describes this redemptive process so very eloquently in the following passages:
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
It is through the redemptive process that God provides and by overcoming our sinful nature that we inherent the Kingdom of God. It all starts with being poor in spirit for we must admit our spiritual poverty before we can receive the spiritual riches that God offers.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
“BLESSED” are those who are poor in spirit [humble before God]: we are blessed in this life if we choose to answer God the Father’s call and then by embarking on the spiritual journey to the Promised Land. As we live out our lives living for God and zealously serving Him for the rest of our days, we will be blessed throughout eternity. We have God’s promise of inheriting “the Kingdom of God” if we become contrite and broken before Him and mourn for our sinfulness, seeking His forgiveness, and then yielding to God’s Sovereignty in all aspects of our lives.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If we in our human pride will not admit our sinfulness and we refuse to see a need to change our wicked ways, we will continue in our sins and then God cannot save us.
Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:12 Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. 33:13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. 33:14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 33:15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 33:16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” He is stating that, before we can enter God’s kingdom, we must become humble and see ourselves as poor in our own human nature and that, we, by ourselves, cannot do anything or pay any amount to become whole and well spiritually; it is only through Christ and what He has done for us that we are saved.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 17:10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
In many scriptures God pleads with His hearers to understand their utter inability to be righteous enough to be a part of His future Family in their own strength. This understanding is essential if we are to believe that Jesus’ mission on earth was to teach repentance and then to save sinners: those who know they cannot save themselves and know that they need a Savior.
The forgiveness and grace of God is so readily available and abundant, all we have to do is admit that we need His forgiveness and see ourselves for what we are and repent; and then God will lift us to a right standing with Him and only He can save us. But He will not allow anyone that is full of pride and refuses to be broken over sin to enter into His kingdom.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
When we recognize our need for God’s help to overcome our human nature, it humbles us to think that we cannot do this on our own; we need God and we need to ask Him for courage and empowerment on a daily basis. God is very near to all His children and we can cry out to Him daily to help us to keep us from pride and from becoming like the Pharisee in the parable quoted earlier.
David and Paul: Object Lessons For God’s Children
Was David a weak and sinful man at certain points of his life? We can read the many accounts in God’s Word that he was, just as we all are. But David like the apostle Paul was used by God, and both of their lives were used as object lessons to show us that God uses weak people. Because both of these men exemplified what it is to be poor in spirit. They saw their weaknesses and then cried out to God to forgive them of their sins and their pride and to renew their hearts making them clean. With God’s help they overcame their weaknesses; and then God could use them as His mighty servants, zealous for Him and all of the ways of God because they were willing to humble themselves.
Paul said that he was the least of God’s people (1st Timothy 1:13-16), yet God chose him to show forth a pattern (example) for others; to demonstrate that God can take the weakest and the most despised among men to fulfill His purposes; and if that person will admit his sins, repent, and humble himself to seek God for His grace and forgiveness, and to go on “to sin no more”, then God can use that person to become a David, a Joshua, a Samuel, a Daniel, a Noah, a Paul etc.; men and women of God who go on to become champions for Him and the Way that leads to eternal life. Humble servants of God, in effect, become trophies of God’s grace of what He can do in their lives and not what they can do by their own strength nor by their own stratagems.
In the second half of Psalm 51, David could say with assurance:
Psalm 51:13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. 51:14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 51:15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. 51:16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
It took David many years to learn and then to be able to teach these important principles in the many psalms and writings that he wrote including Psalm 51, David’s prayer for God’s forgiveness and restoration.
Our Almighty and Loving Father delights in using weak, ill-equipped, unskilled and untrained people in positions of great influence; everyone from Joseph, Ruth, Esther, Ezra, to Paul and many others. It is all to show that it is not by human prowess or by our own skill and intelligence; but it is all by God’s design and by His power that we become what God wants us to be: righteous and holy children that are made in His spiritual image.
We understand that this was what God was doing in David’s life and what He is doing in the lives of His called out children now in this present age, and it’s worth studying and deeply meditating on these important principles. For just as David had to live and learn to have this love for God’s ways and to have appreciation for God’s goodness engraved in his heart, we, too, are going through our own life’s experiences which are teaching us these very same things if we are wholeheartedly seeking God and passionately living for Him.
David will be king over Israel in God’s kingdom (Ezekiel 37:23-24), because he was willing to admit his mistakes and go to God in sincere repentance and brokenness to be forgiven and to ask to be restored.
David learned that God’s ways are much better than his ways and he will be equipped to implement God’s ways throughout all eternity. He will be king under Christ over all of Israel because he was willing to have a contrite spirit and a broken heart and learn from his mistakes and to then go on to give God praise “continually” for His goodness.
David in many of his psalms speaks of the goodness of God that covers us with: His mercy, forgiveness, strength. By David’s example and by his many psalms, he teaches us that God will accept us when we come to Him with a contrite heart, and then He will graciously give us the opportunity to renew our broken hearts by living for Him for the rest of our lives.
Ezekiel 37:23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 37:24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
Part of our challenge in the Ekklesia in our time is this: Can we look into God’s Word at this time and prove all of the things from the Bible, the things that we currently believe and practice? And when we see that we have been in error; become broken (poor in spirit) enough to say “I have sinned against the Lord” (2nd Samuel 12:13), and then return to zealously keep every Word of God and His commandments as David did?
Psalm 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. 25:10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. 25:11 For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. 25:12 What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
Broken Hearts in Need of Healing
Back to the subject of miracles; the greatest miracle of all is the healing of a carnal heart and the miracle that takes place when God fashions a broken heart into a new heart; one that is like unto God’s heart. The Beatitudes, when they are instilled into our very being, fashions and renews our hearts and minds to be like unto the heart and mind of God.
When Jesus was here on earth as a man, He perfectly demonstrated the qualities contained in the Beatitudes in His own person, and He requires that His true followers do likewise. The Sermon on the Mount is preached immediately after Jesus began His ministry of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and the way into that kingdom by saying “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. (Matthew 4:17)
The Sermon on the Mount (contained in Matthew 5, 6, 7) immediately follows Jesus’ call for repentance in the previous chapter; repentance meaning that there is a genuine, heartfelt, sincere and radical change in the way a person thinks and how he lives his life. This change is the beginning that begins the process of conversion to God’s way of thinking and of living according to God’s heart and by His every Word.
At the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes are given as an introduction to the rest of Jesus’ sermon which instructs us in the way we are to keep God’s laws in their deepest spiritual intent from the heart, which is truly what it means to be converted. This exemplary sermon, that teaches us the way we are to live for God, is vital instruction for all God’s disciples who have repented and are being converted.
It all begins with allowing ourselves to be “poor in spirit” for transformation to become like God begins in the heart. The Beatitudes show the heart we are to have and the attitudes God wants in all of His children. When we become little in our own sight and become poor in spirit (like little children) and then have sorrow for the kind of persons we have been; it is then that God can begin the redemptive process and place us on the road to eternal life; it begins with poverty of spirit and a broken and contrite heart!
A Cardiologist may be able to mend a heart that is malfunctioning, but the mend will only last for a short time, for eventually all physical hearts stop beating and die.
But when God spiritually heals a broken heart, even though the body may die, that person will be raised up to everlasting life and he will be a spirit being after God’s own heart for all eternity. To have a healed heart is to develop the mind of God and to measure up to the full stature of Christ.
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
The Bible contains many stories about real people like you and I, people like David, Moses, Paul and many others; and there is much we can learn from their examples. If we learn the lessons and apply them in our lives, then we, too, will be like David, and God will use us to be a king, a priest, and a teacher in His eternal Kingdom. That is the wonderful message and lesson of David’s life to us and it is the promise that is attached to the second half of this Beatitude: that for those who are poor in spirit, theirs is the Kingdom of God.
Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 36:28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Developing a heart for God means wanting to live to please Him for the rest of our lives and to become like Him, and it starts with being poor in spirit. We can find out what pleases God through His Word and one very good place to start, is to study the Sermon on the Mount that begins with the Beatitudes for they show us the very heart of God.
Have a wonderful Sabbath, everyone,
We Are to Become Poor in Spirit; Which is the Opposite of Man’s Spirit of Rebellion Against God
Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The word “breath” is the Hebrew word neshamah (Strong’s # 5397) and is translated as; a wind, an angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect. Or (concretely) an animal — blast, (that) breath(-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
While we as physical creatures tend to think of this breath as the air we breathe; it is also the spirit that the Creator put in us to give us the mental capacities that we have; and that spirit of intellect and life was good.
Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
Lucifer himself was created very good, until iniquity was found in him and he rebelled against the goodness of his godly nature to become evil in nature.
The nature of God is very good; therefore rebellion against the nature of God as revealed in his Word is very evil.
When we are born, we know nothing, and Satan rushes in to imprint his nature and spirit of rebellion and wickedness on our spirit.
We who were created good, can be influenced to become evil; by Satan who was created good and then became evil falling away from the goodness of God.
This is why the scripture speaks of the spirit of man as:
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart [spirit of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded [following the spirit in man, and not the Spirit of God] is death; but to be spiritually minded [following the Spirit of God] is life and peace. 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Now, if we keep the Word of God, we become like God in his goodness; but if we will not be zealous to learn and to keep the whole Word of God; we are carnally minded and following the evil spirit of rebellion imprinted on us by Satan.
To reject zeal to live by every Word of God; is the mark of following Satan in his rebellion against keeping the Word of God!
The rejection of zeal to learn and to keep the Word of God, which makes us like God, in order to follow ways contrary to God’s Word; is the mark of Satan and his representatives and is the true mark of the beast in its fullness.
The more we follow the ways that seem right to us, instead of learning and doing what God’s Word says: the further from God and the less godly we become, the more we become like Satan.
When Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“, he was talking about those whose spirit of rebellion and resistance against the whole Word of God had been broken. He was speaking of those whose pride of spirit has been crushed to contrition, and is no longer present to resist the Spirit of God. He was saying: blessed is the man whose heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh:
Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 11:20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
The spirit in man is a hard-hearted, stiff necked, stubborn, rebelliousness; for our own ways above the Word of God.
Psalm 40:4 Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Blessed is he who is poor in the spirit of Satan and the spirit of resistance to the Word of God; who is poor in the spirit of carnal hardheartedness.
Blessed he who is rich in the Spirit of God!
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2014, which I then completed for posting.
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
We must learn to control and keep our human spirit under subjection and in submission to the Spirit of God; to have a place in the kingdom of heaven.
This world is full of people of superior talents, great education, renown, heritage, and with the courage, determination, charisma, and wealth they acquire or inherit they manage to become the leaders of many people.
The mess that they have made of the world in which we live and over which they rule, mirrors the mess that they have made of their own personal lives. God will not tolerate such misrule in His kingdom.
Further, God is preparing His people to rule in righteousness for the good of those over whom they rule and so that their rule gives glory to God.
How do you and I prepare to rule in the world?
We learn to rule over others by learning to rule ourselves, to rule over our emotions, impulses, and our spirit, in a godly way:
Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
An example of the above proverb can be found in:
Numbers 20:7 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
20:8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
20:9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
20:10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
20:11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
20:12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
Here Moses failed to control his anger, he lost control and failed to do what God had told him (which command was intended to teach a valuable lesson to those he was responsible for leading).
Christ and His bride will be given a rod of iron with which to rule in the kingdom of God.
In other words they will be given the power, only if they have learned to control themselves and handle it in a godly manner; to teach and to enforce the Word of God.
Revelation 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
After Moses let his emotions get the better of his understanding and did not control himself to do what God had told him to do; Moses was excluded from leading the people into the Promised Land.
Neither will God entrust such power and authority to others who cannot control their spirit and the emotions that animate it.
Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
We know that David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22); however, David’s involvement with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah the Hittite, shows that even such a person as David can lose control if he is not carefully and continually watchful over his own spirit.
Proverbs 26:12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him.
When those in power and authority in the world and in the Ekklesia confuse themselves and rely on their own courage, their cunning, their strength, their human traditions, their intelligence, their own wisdom and ways, or their human alliances; then they are on the road to personal disaster.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 16:19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
The example of Nebuchadnezzar shows these principles at work. Whenever God wanted to get the attention of the king, He gave him a dream beyond his comprehension which needed the help of Daniel to interpret.
Nebuchadnezzar’s inability to understand the dream was a beginning of his humbling process.
Daniel 4:24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king.
4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
4:26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.
4:28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
4:29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
4:30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
4:31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
41:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
4:33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
4:36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
4:37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
Nebuchadnezzar learned this lesson the hard and humiliating way. All who are granted eternal life and rule with Jesus Christ will also learn this lesson or they will not be there occupying such positions.
1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Proverbs 29:20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him.
We can never know the impact our words might have on others as well as ourselves, therefore, it is wisdom to consider our words carefully before we speak (or write) them.
We learn to rule the coming world, by learning to rule our own lives God’s way today; and by living His commandments, His laws, His statutes, His judgments, His testimonies, and His precepts.
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Psalm 119:1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal [how] shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Psalm 94:12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;
Psalm 94:13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.
Psalm 94:14 For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.
God gives understanding to those who keep His law with their whole heart.
Psalm 119:134 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
God grants mercy, deliverance from evil, and peace of mind to all those who love and diligently keep His law.
Psalm 119:77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
Psalm 119:92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
The diligent keeping of God’s laws, statutes, commandments, judgments, and testimonies; transforms the person who does so.
Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
We learn to rule the coming world by having God enlarge our understanding of ourselves and others; and God himself through His Spirit dwelling in us.
The story of Solomon is particularly instructive in this matter. By his own testimony, Solomon was “a child” totally inexperienced in matters of judgment, administration, and rule over a vast and wealthy kingdom. God appears to Solomon in a dream and effectively offers to fulfill any wish Solomon might make for the sake of his father David’s dynasty.
1 Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
3:6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
3:7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
3:8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
3:9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
3:10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
3:11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
3:12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
3:13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
3:14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
3:15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.
Learning to rule ourselves and to depend totally on God for guidance is a big job and part of the obligation of our calling. When we can rule ourselves properly, we show God that we are also capable of ruling and teaching others.