Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit Sermon on the Mount By Brian Richardson

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1 Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit Sermon on the Mount By Brian Richardson Bible Text: Matthew 5:3 Preached on: Sunday, February 14, 2010 Castlewoods Baptist Church 175 Stonecastle Drive Brandon, MS Website: Online Sermons: If you have your Bibles, please open to Matthew chapter five verse one. We will continue with our lesson which is, of course, entitled The Sermon on the Mount. We began this less three weeks ago with an introduction. And actually today we will begin with our Lord s words which begin in verse three which we refer to as the Beatitudes. The word Beatitude is derived from the Latin word beattis which means happy or completely content. We will actually begin with the sermon itself and please know, again, that I am using an outline and I am following along with what may be the greatest exposition of the Sermon on the Mount that was probably ever preached at least in my opinion by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He has a book entitled The Sermon on the Mount. I think that many theologians would agree the Sermon on the Mount is the greatest sermon ever preached and we thank God that he has given us the opportunity to go through his Word and we pray that he will prepare our hearts. Also I wanted to say this morning, you know, it is quite amazing how God uses his Word. We in this little church were never really quite aware of just how many were hearing the sermons, not only on a monthly basis, but a daily basis throughout the world. We had a wonderful confirmation just a few weeks ago as some were brought to this church who gave a tremendous confirmation how God uses the internet and even in countries where the gospel is forbidden and God brought a family here that encouraged us greatly because they had been listening to lessons on SermonAudio. Again, this is greatly encouraging us to know because every month now we are somewhere, brother Don, I think somewhere around 1000 downloads a month. And what a joy that is to know that sometimes we can become discouraged. I think a fleshly discouragement and it is not spiritual. And we have to be very careful about knowing that our sovereign Lord is in control of all things and that we are to look to him and we are to recognize that we live in his presence and that we answer to him and we please him. We do not people please. It is so hard sometimes in our fallen nature to follow those admonishments. I pray that we have all grown in that we have all learned. And I pray that as we move along here at this church and in this movement as God takes us back to the truths of his Page 1 of 12

2 doctrine that we are to truly grow in grace because, after all, the very doctrines that we teach and we learn are called doctrines of grace. They are our Lord s words. So I pray this morning that through the power of the Holy Spirit and through his Word that we will grow in grace and that we will leave this place allowing that light to shine with his grace that is his and his alone. Let s read beginning in verse one of chapter five of the book of Mathew. Let s pray. Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 1 Our heavenly Father, we have just read your Word, your inerrant and sufficient Word. Father, we thank you for the holy Bible. Father, we thank you for the light that directs our footsteps, that shines on the path, Father, in this world, the path of righteousness that is yours out of which, Father, we have none. Father, we thank you that we know only though the obedience of your son and through the power of the Holy Spirit that has regenerated us can we hunger and thirst for that righteousness that is yours and yours alone. Father, we ask that you would continue to break us, that there would be no pride found in us and that we would truly, Father, walk and be obedient to the command that we are to be conformed to the image of your Son. We pray, Father, that we have that impoverished spirit. We know, Father, without it that we are not citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Have your way with us, Lord. In Jesus name we pray. Amen. Again those words, Rock of Ages. I think the modern song the words are a little bit different than the original words, but they are the same nonetheless. Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling. Naked I come to thee for dress. Helpless I come to thee for grace. Nothing, naked, helpless. Our Lord on that day on that hill somewhere outside of Capernaum in his first year of his earthly ministry, he opened his mouth and he spoke these words. And as we said in our introduction, there was a logical order to these words. They were not random. One must follow the other or one must precede the other in that order. The first words he spoke were these. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 2 There is no one in the kingdom of heaven, there is no one in the kingdom of God who is not poor in spirit. This Beatitude or this characteristic of the Christian is the fundamental 1 Matthew 5: Matthew 5:3. Page 2 of 12

3 Beatitude or fundamental characteristic of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. And all of the other characteristics or Beatitudes, in a sense, are a result of this one, poor in spirit. Really, if we wanted to think of another word besides nothing, naked or helpless, another word that would be very appropriate would be the word empty because, you see, to be poor in spirit means empty. There is an emptying about this command. All of the other characteristics in a way are a filling or a manifestation of a fullness. We need to understand when we approach Christ s words that we cannot be filled until we are first emptied. We cannot fill with new wine a vessel which is partly filled with old wine. First the old wine must be poured out, must be emptied. I think all of us understand here at Castlewoods Baptist Church, we understand this very principle of the gospel. I believe all of us know that there are two sides to the gospel. There is conviction always before there is conversion. There is no conversion unless there is conviction. There must be a falling. There must be a pulling down before there is a raising up. If you would, if you would hold your place there, turn with me to Luke chapter two verse 34. If you remember after Jesus was born he was brought to the temple for circumcision. And if you remember there was the ancient Simeon and he spoke these words to Mary about Christ. He said, Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel. 3 You see, my brothers and sisters in Christ, there must be a pulling down before there is a raising up. There must be conviction before there is a conversion. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs [for theirs only] is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Again as we approach the words of Christ and we talked bout this over and over again in our introduction as we approach is words, we need to understand this day that this passage is a test for each of us. We must face this test as we face the whole Sermon on the Mount. You see, these words that Christ spoke 2000 years ago, these words that he speaks to us today through the holy Bible and through the power of the Holy Spirit, these words speak to us and we understand that these words condemn. Now I know that in a Postmodern church today we don t like to hear those words (along with many other things). But the truth is that these words condemn. 3 Luke 2:34. 4 Matthew 5:3. Page 3 of 12

4 What do I mean by that? I mean this. It means that Christ s words will condemn all of our thoughts, all of our beliefs and all of our notions that there is something that we can do to get into the kingdom of heaven. These very words should condemn any idea that there are any works that can get us in to the kingdom of God. The way our Lord s words 2000 years ago and today to us, it is really a question for each of us. And that question is: What is your attitude about yourself? How do you view yourself? You know, when I think of that in those terms, I think of the prayer of the Pharisee and the prayer of the tax collector. For, you see, their prayer revealed what they thought of themselves. Our Lord s words this morning again is really a question and that question is how do you view yourself? And I certainly hope that our answer that we see today is that there is a clear cut division, there is a clear cut boundary line, there is a clear cut difference between a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and one who is not. There is a clear cut difference between a Christian and one who is not a Christian. For, you see, a Christian is one who has an impoverished spirit. A Christian is one who is poor in spirit. A Christian is one who has the right view of himself. The Christian sees himself as entirely incapable. The Christian sees himself just as that third verse in Rock of Ages. I have nothing that I bring to Christ. I am naked. I come to thee for dress. I am helpless and I look to thee for grace. The Christian knows that he is utterly incapable. In order for us to understand this clearly I think that we need to understand the world s attitude in contrast to the impoverished spirit. We need to understand that the world not only repels this spirit or shuns this spirit, but the world hates this spirit. Ultimately, we must understand that not only does the world shun the true teachings of Christ and Christ himself, but the world ultimately hates Christ s teaching and Christ himself. When we look at the worldly spirit in contrast with the impoverished spirit, I think we can see clearly a boundary line. What is the worldly spirit? The worldly spirit is this. The worldly spirit is believe in yourself. The worldly spirit says, Be self reliant. The worldly spirit says, Be self confident. The worldly spirit says, Be self expressive. And, my brothers and sisters in Christ, this spirit absolutely consumes man. It is because this is the spirit that is in our fallen nature we must always in the worldly spirit, we are taught, give the impression of confidence and assurance. It is the essence of salesmanship. I know years ago when I was working for a large company out of New York, at the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, the very first thing that was taught was that you must express and exude confidence, a new car every two years, new clothes. You had to give the appearance that you were the man. You are the man to look to for the Page 4 of 12

5 answers. Be confident. Be confident in your product. Be confident in yourself. Express yourself. Believe in yourself. Realize the powers that are in yourself. That is the worldly spirit. My brothers and sisters in Christ, that is what is taught in the public schools. That is what is embraced. That is what we see today in sports. Sad to say it has worked its way into the churches. Sad to say we expect people who are teachers of the Word to teach with that worldly spirit. Where is that worldly spirit and where does it come from? Well, I think that we can answer one of those questions by looking to a passage in the Old Testament. I want to share with you I am certain that many of you in here are already familiar with this it is a very interesting passage because some see it as a passage of the casting of Satan from heaven. Others do not see it quite like that. They see it simply for the description of how Isaiah brought that. And that was to describe the worldly spirit of the king of Babylon. But in Isaiah chapter 14 verses 12 through 14 you see these words which is very much descriptive of the worldly spirit. In verse 12 we begin: How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. 5 However you interpret that Scripture, whether you believe it to be a dual Scripture, the king of Babylon and the eternal past of Satan being cast from heaven, we should certainly recognize that song and that song is I will do it my way. I will, I will, I will... That is the worldly spirit and that is what is in the fallen nature of man. And, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we must always beware of this attitude because it is the complete opposite of the poverty of spirit. I think you get a clear picture of the poverty of spirit or a poor spirit. I think we need to look into God s Word a little deeper. But we need to understand this before we look at a few passages. 5 Isaiah 14: Page 5 of 12

6 Let us not confuse what true poverty of spirit is. For, you see, there is a fake poverty of spirit that can grip some people. Please know that poverty of spirit is not something that can be produced naturally. It only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. But be clear and understand that poverty of spirit does not mean weak. Poverty of spirit does not mean lacking in courage. Poverty of spirit does not mean woe is me. Poverty of spirit does not mean we go about falsely crucifying ourselves or involve ourselves in some type of self flagellation or putting on the face of false humility. That is not poverty of spirit. True poverty of spirit cannot be faked. It is produced only through the power of the Holy Spirit. But in order to understand a little bit better, we need to look at some examples. But before we look at those examples, let us see in God s Word that he requires, just as Jesus spoke, Jesus spoke those words, God himself on that hill about the requirement for citizenship in the kingdom of heaven is poverty of spirit. But let us see a passage in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah which greatly contrasts what we just read of the worldly spirit. But in Isaiah chapter 57:15 we see what God require, again, an impoverished spirit or a contrite spirit. In verse 15 of chapter 57 of Isaiah Isaiah writes, For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit. 6 Almighty God is saying, I dwell in the high and holy place and I dwell in the high and holy place with him who is of a contrite and a lowly spirit. Again, my brothers and sisters in Christ, only those who are of a contrite or impoverished spirit are truly citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Now let s look at some examples of this type of spirit in God s Word can help us get a clear picture of what a impoverished, truly impoverished spirit truly is. Let s look in the Old Testament first. If you will turn to the book of Judges chapter six. Here remember the greatest of the judges was Gideon. Now we will read in verse 12 when the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, notice how Gideon responds. And this is a true, contrite or impoverished spirit of a man who possesses this. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor. And Gideon said to him, Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from 6 Isaiah 57:15. Page 6 of 12

7 Egypt? But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian. 7 Now listen to what the says to him and what he instructs of him. And we are going to see the reaction of a true impoverished spirit. And the LORD turned to him and said, Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you? And he said to him, Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? 8 That is the response of an impoverished spirit, of a contrite heart. In the book of Isaiah chapter six. When Isaiah was in the temple we recognize this passage in verse four of chapter six and we read where it says, And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips. 9 That is an example of a true, contrite and impoverished spirit. Yes there is a sort of woe is me, but it is not a self pity woe is me. It is a woe is me in the presence of almighty God and knowing who you are and what you are in his presence. That was the response of a man with an impoverished spirit. Before we leave the Old Testament we certainly need to look at the response of Moses in Exodus chapter three verse 10. God said to him: Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt. But Moses said to God, Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? 10 That is an example of a man with an impoverished spirit. Notice something about these men again. We know that Moses was a man who was not necessarily a type B personality as we would say. Yet the Bible describes him as the most humble of men. We know that Moses, we learn from Moses who had somewhat of a fierce temple, not to excuse that from Moses, but we have to understand when we are understanding what a contrite spirit is, there is a difference between a man s personality whether he be a... I sometimes don t like using these examples, because I 7 Judges 6: Judges 6: Isaiah 6: Exodus 3: Page 7 of 12

8 really don t enjoy the world s psychology, but I think it is so engrained in our speaking sometimes and we know what we mean the difference between an aggressive type A and a laid back type B. We are not necessarily talking about the laid back type B personality. We are not talking about that all because contriteness of spirit, poverty of spirit has nothing to do with the natural spirit that is all of the Holy Spirit. And you may notice that many of these men whom God raised up were very bold, sometimes very brash men, sometimes very impulsive. Yes, sometimes very type A. As a matter of fact, if we look to the New Testament we see an example of another impoverished spirit and that was Peter. Now we know that Peter was a man who could be aggressive. We know that Peter was a man who was a business man and in his fallen nature very often times he could be of the worldly spirit and self assured. We know that Peter often showed this bold, sinful self confidence. But we also know that there were times when Peter exhibited his tremendous contriteness and impoverished spirit. Please remember, Peter did not lose his boldness as he went about after Pentecost. He retained that. So understand the difference between the true impoverished spirit. It has nothing to do with the natural personality. But look at what Peter said in Luke chapter five verse eight when Peter truly saw Christ. In verse eight of chapter five we read where Luke writes, But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 11 That is an example of the poor in spirit. I think another example of how Peter grew and how he exhibited a impoverished spirit was how when we read in the book of Galatians when we read that the apostle Paul actually chewed Peter out in front of others we see displayed from this apostle who was chosen by God himself as the leader of the apostles, but yet he humbly took the admonition and we even read later in 2 Peter of his very loving and encouraging words about the apostle Paul. I think that is an example of a man who grew in poverty of spirit. And I certainly think we also need to mention the apostle Paul as being an example of the impoverished spirit. I think if there was ever a man that dealt with pride and dealt with capability and dealt with a worldly spirit it was the apostle Paul. Before he met Christ on the road to Damascus, we know that Paul saw himself as being entirely capable. And even after Paul came to the Lord we know that Paul certainly battled with his pride. We read in the word of God where he uses the word boasting and you have caused me to boast and Paul was a man of great capability, but yet Paul was also the man of impoverished spirit who in the light of what he was called to do in terms of evangelism Paul wrote, Who is sufficient for these things? Luke 5; Corinthian 6:12. Page 8 of 12

9 You see, that is the example of the impoverished spirit. Paul recognized his utter incapability in the presence of God. And then, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we please need to understand that the greatest example of the impoverished spirit was our Lord himself. Now that might shock some people. But, my friends, that is exactly what our meditative scripture was about this morning. That is exactly what Philippians chapter two verses six through eight was about. Our Lord became a man. He took on the likeness of sinful flesh although he knew no sin. Though he was equal with God, he did not grasp or clutch at the prerogatives of the godhead. That is what Philippians chapter two verses six through eight is all about. We read the words in John chapter five verse 19 where he said, I can do nothing of my own accord. I can do nothing of myself. He was totally reliant on his heavenly Father. In John chapter 14 verse 10 we read his words where he said, I do not speak on my own authority. 13 Again, my brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look at the way Jesus prayed over and over again as the disciples were missing him and they couldn t find him, they knew he would be praying. Jesus prayed all the time. This shows his reliance on the heavenly Father. This showed the impoverished spirit. We see this very clearly in the Garden of Gethsemane. You see his poverty of spirit, again, was a total reliance on his heavenly Father. So what do we mean by poverty of spirit this morning as we come to the end of this lesson? What it means is this. It means a complete absence of pride. It means a complete absence of self assurance. It means a complete absence of self reliance. It means a consciousness that we are nothing in the presence of God. It is the tremendous awareness of our utter nothingness as we come face to face with almighty God. Nothing do we bring to God. We cling to the cross. We are unclothed. We are naked. We have no righteousness. So we come to him to be clothed. We are helpless. We have no grace of our own. We must come to him for grace. For we have no works Poverty of spirit means that we bring nothing to him. We don t bring our rights. We don t bring our works. We don t bring our education. We don t bring our positions. We don t bring our money. We don t bring our morals. We don t bring our good behavior. We must realize as Paul realized all of those things were dung, were rubbish. That is poverty of Spirit. And, my friends, if anyone feels anything in the presence of God other than an impoverished spirit then they have never faced almighty God. 13 John 14:10. Page 9 of 12

10 In closing I want us to ask ourselves these two questions. And I think we would certainly be amiss because Jesus spoke this first Beatitude moving us really to view ourself. And that question was: How do we view ourself? And we asked that question when we began and there are two more questions I would like to ask you and it is this. Are you like that? Do you have an impoverished spirit? And if you don t then that other question is: How does one become poor in spirit? Here is what is so hard to grasp, but through the power of the Holy Spirit if we know him it is so simple. How do we become poor in spirit? Quit looking at yourself. You say, Wait a minute. I don t understand that because this is a question we are supposed to ask. What is the attitude about ourself and you are telling me not to look to myself? That s right. Quit looking at yourself. Because if you look to yourself then you will not see almighty God. The answer is to quit looking at yourself and look at God. Look at Christ and him crucified. Turn your eyes and look at him. That is the answer. Quit looking at the Scripture and going through this examination of all of these things and viewing yourself through this microscope. That is a stumbling block. Quit looking at yourself. Look at Christ. Look at him. He will show you just as Isaiah went into that temple and he first saw God and hen God revealed to him who he was. Go to the cross and look at Christ and he will reveal himself and he will reveal you to yourself. And you will find yourself transfixed on the love and perfection, righteousness, holiness and mercy and you will see yourself as you are. And you don t look to the left over at John or over at Matthew or over at Thomas or over at Bob or Don or Angela. You look at him and he transfixes your eyes on his love for you and you recognize the depths of his love because you know you are responsible for putting him on that cross. You don t even look at Angela and Bob and Don and Thomas and Peter and Matthew. You look at him. And this great paradox that only citizens of heaven know. The lamb, the lion looks at you and says, You put me here and you I love. Quit looking at yourself. Quit looking at others. Quit looking at your hurts. Look at the hurts you placed on him and hear him say, I forgive you. I love you. If you don t know an impoverished spirit when you look at God one thing I can tell you is you have got to quit looking at yourself and everybody else. If you are his and if you are an elect, you are a sheep, you are going to have to look at him. You are going to have to quit pleasing people. Page 10 of 12

11 You look at him. He will show you how to please him. You will have a impoverished spirit and all your relationships will be done with boldness and you will be persecuted and you will be reviled and they will say all types of evil things about you just as they did the prophets. And you won t even notice. You won t even notice because it is not about you. It is about Jesus. You don t even notice when you are hurt. You are dead to self and alive to him. My brothers and sisters in Christ, the rest of the Beatitudes we will not know, we will truly not understand, but we must go through the gateway. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 14 For theirs alone, for if you are not of impoverished spirit than you will not know about what mourning is. You will not know true comfort. You will not know what meekness is. You will not inherit the earth. You will not know what hungering and thirsting for righteousness is for you will not be satisfied. You will never know what mercy is. You will never receive mercy. You will not know what being pure in heart is. You will never know what it is like to see God. You will never know what being a peace maker is. You will never hear of the words of the Son of God. You will never know what true blessing is when you are persecuted for righteousness sake. And you will not know the kingdom of heaven. You will not know the blessing when others revile you, persecute you and utter all types of evil falsely on Christ s account. You will not really know rejoicing. You will not really know gladness. You will not know reward in heaven. 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. 15 The only entry way is through Christ and through the first Beatitude which is verse three of chapter five. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs [and theirs alone] is the kingdom of heaven. 16 Do you have that spirit? If you don t, you have been told how you receive it. Look to him. Look to him now. Turn your eyes upon Christ now. 14 Matthew 5:3. 15 Matthew 5: Matthew 5:3. Page 11 of 12

12 Let s pray. Our heavenly Father... Page 12 of 12

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