Life In The Kingdom Of Heaven – Part 3

Matthew 5:9-10

by Paul George

Blessed are the peacemakers

This seventh Beatitude has to do more with conduct than with character. The first four may be grouped together as the negative character of the heart of the godly. They are not self-sufficient, but consciously poor in spirit; they are not self-satisfied, but mourning because of their spiritual state; they are not self-willed, but meek; they are not self-righteous, but hungering and thirsting after righteousness. In the next three, the Lord names their positive character, having tasted of the mercy of God, they are merciful in their dealings with others; having received a spiritual nature, they now hate impurity and love holiness; having entered into a peace with God they now wish to live in harmony and peace with all mankind.

In a world where there is no strife there is no need for peacemakers. Where the world is filled with malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3): though attempts are often made to conceal this by the cloak of hypocrisy yet it soon comes forth again in its hideous nakedness, as the history of the nations attests, peacemakers are needed.

The desire of peacemakers is to live peaceably with all men and abstain from deliberate injury of others, promote unity and heal broken relationships. Peacemakers pour sooth oil on troubled waters, reconcile those who are alienated, right wrongs, and strengthen the kindly ties of friendship. As the sons of peace they bring into the hostile atmosphere of this world the pure and calming air of heaven.

The disposition of the peacemakers is a vastly different disposition of the easy-going indolence which is often nothing but selfishness, of the wickedness of this world. The peace Jesus refers to is not a peace at any price. It is a peace that is not to be sought at the expense of righteousness. It is a peace God Himself approves of.

It is the duty of every Christian to see to it that we conduct ourselves in such a way no just complaint can be filed against us. It is also for our own peace we do this because it is impossible to be happy when we are involved in strife and enmities. When disturbance and turmoil is aroused, we should diligently examine ourselves before the Lord as to whether the cause for it lies in us and if it does confess the sin to Him and seek to reconcile those offended. Peacemakers must constantly be on their guard against an invasion by the spirit of bigotry, intemperate zeal, and a quarrelsome spirit and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

In order to develop a peaceful disposition we must first cultivate the grace of “lowliness,” which is the opposite of pride, of meekness, which is the opposite of self-assertiveness, and the grace of long sufferance, which is the opposite of impatience. We are not only to do all we can to heal broken relationships we are to reconcile men to God. This is a contrast in the task given to Joshua and his officers under the Mosaic economy, of taking up the sword to slay the enemies of the Lord! In this age the servants of Christ are commissioned to seek the reconciliation of those who are at enmity with God. Peacemakers are the ambassadors of God, calling sinners to come to God, throw down the weapons of their warfare and enter into peace with God. They know there is no peace for the wicked, and therefore they exhort them to make peace with God.

There is still another way in which it is the privilege of believers to be peacemakers, and that is by their prayers. In the day when the Lord’s anger is kindled against a sin-laden people and the dark clouds of providence threaten an impending storm of judgment, it is both the duty and the privilege of God’s peacemakers to stand in the breach and in earnest supplication plead with God to withhold His judgment as Moses did (Exodus 32:10), Aaron did (Numbers 16:47, 48), and David did (2 Samuel 24:14). This is indeed a blessed work of peace: to intercede as Abraham did for Sodom. Only in the Day to come will we know what the wicked gained by the presence of the righteous remnant in their midst.

The reward for being peacemakers is decisive proof that these Beatitudes are not directed toward the moral virtues of the natural man, but rather the spiritual graces of the regenerate. To be called a child of God is to be renewed in His image and likeness and to be a peacemaker. The Lord Himself is “the God of peace” (Hebrews 13:20), and where this peaceful disposition is manifested by His people He owns them as His children. Furthermore, peacemakers are recognized as children of God by their spiritual brothers. Ultimately, God will make it manifest to the entire universe that we are His children (Rom. 8:19).

Eighth: Blessed are those who have been persecuted

The Christian life is one that is full of strange paradoxes which are not understood by human reason, but which are easily understood by the spiritual mind. God’s children rejoice with joy unspeakable, yet they mourn with a lamentation the children of wrath don’t understand. They rejoice because they have been brought into contact with a source of satisfaction which is capable of meeting every longing, yet they pant with a yearning for righteousness like that of the thirsty deer. They sing songs in their heart to the Lord, yet groan deeply and daily over the lost condition of the ungodly. Their life is often filled with pain yet they would not part with it for all the gold in the world. These puzzling paradoxes are among the evidences which they possess that they are indeed blessed of God. But who by mere reasoning would ever conclude that the persecuted and reviled are “blessed”! They are not compatible with the world’s idea of blessed but are actually a manifestation of the miseries of life.

The reason why the children of God are persecuted, reviled, and have all manner of evil said of them is the wicked of this world hate justice and love those who defraud and wrong their neighbors. They hate righteousness. If the children of God would cease walking humbly with God, they might go through the world, not only in peace, but with applause. Because they refuse to cease their walking humbly with God they suffer persecution because their life reveals the ungodliness of men and this provokes their resentment. The wicked in this world hate God and those who bear His image.

The blessed in this world are those the world detests. Although those the world detests are persecution it is really a blessing in disguise. The opposition the child of God encounters in this world enables them to be aware of their own infirmities and needs. They are made aware of the fact they cannot stand for a single hour unless Divine grace upholds them. By persecution they are often kept from certain sins into which they would most likely fall were the wicked at peace with them. Persecution affords the believer an opportunity to glorify God by his constancy, courage, and fidelity to the truth.

This persecution “for righteousness’ sake” calls upon us to honestly examine ourselves before God when we are being opposed: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15). The same qualification is made in the verse which immediately follows the last quoted: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf”: this is a most necessary caution, that the believer see to it that he is suffering for doing what is right and not on account of his own misconduct or foolish behavior.

Jesus warns His servants what they may expect to encounter, and then defines how they are to respond. The glory worldly leaders value and crave is flattery and honor, but the glory the disciple of Jesus crave is conformity to Jesus who was “despised and rejected of men.” Instead of being downcast over and murmuring at the hostility they meet with in this world, they are to be thankful to God for the high honor He confers upon them in making them partakers of the sufferings of His Son.

The Lord Jesus pronounced blessed or happiness on those who, through devotion to Him, would be called upon to suffer. They are “blessed” because such are given the unspeakable privilege of having fellowship with the sufferings of the Savior. They are “blessed” because such tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, a hope that will not make ashamed. They are “blessed” because they shall be fully recompensed in the Day to come. The child of God must not be dismayed because the fiery darts of the wicked are hurled against him. We must remember that “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

The afflictions which come upon the children of God for their faithfulness are to be endured not only with patience and resignation, but thanksgiving and gladness because they come upon them for Christ’s sake. He suffered so they must and they should rejoice to suffer a little for Him. Because they shall be richly recompensed, great is their reward in heaven. These are a reason to rejoice, no matter how fierce the conflict may be.

Life In The Kingdom Of Heaven – Part 2

Matthew 5:7-9

by Paul George

In the first three Beatitudes there is a sense of need, a realization of nothingness and emptiness. There is the judging of self, a consciousness of guilt and sorrowing over a lost condition. There is an end of seeking to justify self before God, an end to all pretence to personal merit, and a bowing in the dust before God. In the fourth Beatitude there is a longing after that which the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and the meek know they don’t have but need.

Fourth: There are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

There have been many questions asked about the word “righteousness.” In many of the Old Testament passages “righteousness” is synonymous with “salvation.” Jesus refers to one who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” To hunger and thirst means to yearn after God’s favor, image, and mercy. The righteousness for which the awakened sinner longs for is an inward and sanctifying righteousness. It is an intense desire of the soul. Just as in bodily hunger and thirst there are sharp pangs and an intense longing to be satisfied, so it is with the soul. The Holy Spirit has brought to the conscience the holy and uncompromising requirements of God for life in the kingdom of heaven. He reveals our lost condition and guilt, so that we realize our spiritual poverty and lost condition and see there is no hope in and from our good works. This creates a deep hunger and thirst which causes us to look to and seek relief from Jesus.

The question has been asked, is it possible for those who have been brought into a vital union with Jesus who is the Bread of Life and in whom all fullness dwells be found hungering and thirsting? It is. Listen very closely to what Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst.” He didn’t say blessed are those who have hunger and thirst. When we were made aware of our need to be delivered from our lost condition, bondage in the kingdom of Satan, we were drawn by the Holy Spirit and led to embrace the Redeemer of our soul, Jesus Christ. When we repented of our sins the Holy Spirit filled our heart with the love and peace of God. He filled us with a Divine blessing to which no sorrow can be added. He filled us with praise and thanksgiving to Him who has delivered us from the bondage of sin and death. He fills us with goodness and mercy of God. We are filled with a foretaste of what God has prepared for those who love Him.

This fourth Beatitude has been a storehouse of comfort to many a tried and troubled believer. There are many who sincerely long to please God and live pleasing lives in the sight of God. There are times when they have not trusted Him. They have questioned their position before Him. They have doubt His love and mercy. If they really and truly hunger and thirst for righteousness, Jesus has promised, they will be satisfied.

Fifth: Blessed are the merciful

In verse 6 the soul is seen hungering and thirsting after righteousness and than filled by the Holy Spirit. In verse 7 we are shown the first effect and evidence of this. Having received mercy from the Lord, the saved sinner now offers mercy to others. It is not that God requires us to be merciful in order to obtain His mercy that would overthrow the whole purpose of His grace, but having received mercy the disciples of Jesus act graciously toward others.
The mercy Jesus refers to is compassion of the soul that is moved to pity and go to the relief of another in misery, a gracious disposition toward our fellowman and fellow Christians. It is a spirit of kindness and benevolence which sympathizes with the sufferings of the afflicted, so that we weep with those that weep. It ennobles its possessor so that he tempers justice with mercy, and scorns the taking of revenge. It is a holy disposition in contrast with that foolish sentimentality which ignores the requirements of justice, and is inclined to sympathize with those in deserved misery. That is a false and unholy mercy which petitions the courts to cancel or modify a just and fully merited sentence which has been passed upon some flagrant offender. It is also a holy compassion as opposed to that partiality which is generous to some and harsh to others.

The roots of this mercy do not have in them anything in the natural man. True, there are some who make no profession of being Christians in whom we often find sympathy for the suffering, and a readiness to forgive those who have wronged them, yet is it merely instinctive, and though admirable there is nothing spiritual in it. Instead of being subject to God’s authority it is often opposed to God’s law. The mercy Jesus refers to is different from and superior to natural graciousness, it is a graciousness approved by God in which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and commended in His Word. It is the result of Jesus living in our heart. He was moved with compassion. He wept with the mourner. If He is living in us the same disposition in Him, however imperfectly manifested, must be reproduced.

This mercy is something more than a feeling it is an active principle. It not only stirs the heart, but it moves the hand to render help to those in need, for the one cannot be severed from the other. Jesus makes it very clear that no work of mercy is shown to those in misery except that it proceeds from inward compassion. The “mercy” Jesus refers to in this Beatitude exerts itself in doing good, being a fruit of the love of God shed abroad in the heart. It is an unmistakable trait of the new man. It is like the “mercy” in Abraham, after he had been wronged by his nephew, which caused him to go after and secure his deliverance from the hands of his enemies. It was the “mercy” on the part of Joseph, after his brothers had so grievously mistreated him, which moved him to freely forgive them. It was the “mercy” in Moses, after Miriam had rebelled against him and the Lord had smitten her with leprosy, which moved him to cry, “Heal her now, O God, I beseech You” (Numbers 12:13). It was the “mercy” in David which caused him to spare the life of his arch-enemy when the wicked Saul was in his hands.

There is a reward for those who are merciful. The one who shows mercy to others gains mercy, “the merciful man does good to his own soul” (Proverbs 11:17). There is a personal satisfaction in the exercise of pity and benevolence, which the fullest gratification of the selfish man can not be compared. He receives mercy from God. Mercy will be shown to the merciful in the Day to come (2 Timothy 1:16, 18; Jude 21).

Sixth: Blessed are the pure in heart

This sixth Beatitude has been grossly perverted by the enemies of the Lord: those who have, like their predecessors the Pharisees, posed as the champions of the yruth and boasted of a superior sanctity to that confessed by the true people of God. All through this Christian era there have been those who have claimed an entire purification of the old man, or have insisted that God has so completely renewed them that the carnal nature has been eradicated, and as a result they not only commit no sins, but have no sinful desires or thoughts. But John tells us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Of course, such people appeal to the Scriptures in support of their vain delusion, using verses which describe the legal benefits of the Atonement, or one as that has nothing to do with the sixth Beatitude.

The purity of heart in this Beatitude does not mean sinlessness of life is clear from the inspired record of the history of all God’s saints. Noah got drunk, Abraham lied. Moses disobeyed God, Job cursed the day of his birth, Elijah fled in terror from Jezebel, and Peter denied Christ. While it is true these occurred before Christianity was established, it has also been the same since then. Where shall we go to find a Christian who is superior to those of the apostle Paul? And what was his confession? Read Romans 7 and see. When he would do good, evil was present with him (v. 21); there was a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin (v. 23). He did, with the mind, serve the Law of God nevertheless with the flesh he served the law of sin (v. 25). The truth is we do possess a pure heart that is to be conscious of and burdened with the impurity which still indwells us.

In the Beatitudes Jesus exposes the thoughts of the natural man, who errs greatly in his ideas of what constitutes real blessedness. He refutes the Pharisees, who contented themselves with a species of external ceremonialism or mere outward holiness, failing to realize that God requires “truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). In this sixth Beatitude, it equally condemns most of that which now passes for genuine religion in Christendom. How many today rest satisfied with a head religion, supposing that all is well if their creed be sound; and how many more have nothing better than a hand religion, busily engaged in what they term “Christian service.” “But the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7), which includes the mind, conscience, affections and will.

By nature the heart of fallen man is totally depraved and corrupt, deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). How can it be otherwise when each of us must make the humiliating confession, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5)? This purity of heart is by no means to be restricted to inward chastity or simplicity, without guile and deceit but has a far more comprehensive meaning and scope. The heart of the Christian is made pure by a fourfold operation of the Holy Spirit. The imparting a holy nature at the new birth, bestowing a saving faith which unites its possessor to a holy God, by sprinkling him with the precious blood of Christ, which purges his conscience and a protracted process of sanctification so that we, through His aid, mortify the flesh and live unto God. In consequence thereof, the believer has a sincere desire and resolution not to sin against God in thought, word or deed, but to please Him in all things.

What is this purity of heart? Spiritual purity may be defined as undivided affections, sincerity and genuineness, godly simplicity. It is the opposite of subtlety and duplicity, for genuine piety lays aside not only hatred and malice, but guile and hypocrisy. It is not sufficient to be pure in words and outward behavior, purity of desires, motives, intents, is what should, and in the main does, characterize the child of God. Here, then, is a most important test for each professing Christian to apply to himself, Have I been freed from the dominion of hypocrisy? Are my motives pure and intentions genuine? Are my affections set upon things above? Do I meet with the Lord’s people to commune with Him or to be seen of men?

A “pure heart” is one which has a pure Object before it, being attracted by “the beauty of holiness.” It is one in which the fear of the Lord has been implanted and the love of God shed abroad, and therefore it hates what He hates and loves what He loves. The purer the heart, the more conscious it becomes of, and the more it grieves over, indwelling filth. A pure heart is one which makes conscience of foul thoughts, vile imaginations, and evil desires. It is one that mourns over pride and discontent, unbelief and coldness of affection, and weeps in secret over unrighteousness. It is sad how little is this inward purity esteemed today: the great majority of professors content themselves with a mere form of godliness, a shadow of the reality.

The blessing promised the pure in heart is, “they shall see God.” The promise of this Beatitude has both a present and a future fulfillment. The Christian’s purity of heart is only in part in this life, but perfected in the life to come. Now we see through a darkened glass, but then face to face; now we know in part; but then shall we know even as also we are known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). To “see God” is to be brought nigh to Him, to be introduced into intimate intercourse with Him, which is the consequence of having the thick cloud of our transgressions blotted out, for it was our iniquities which separated us from Him (Isaiah 59:2).

The pure in heart possess spiritual discernment and with the eyes of their understanding they obtain clear views of the Divine character and perceive the Excellency of His attributes. That which pollutes the heart and clouds the vision of a Christian any sin that has not been confessed. Any sin that is not confessed communion with God is broken, and can only be restored by genuine repentance and confession. Since, the privilege of seeing God is dependent upon heart purity, how essential it is that we give earnest heed to the exhortations of Isaiah 1:16; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 3:15.

Life In The Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 5:1-16

by Paul George

The many miraculous cures wrought by Jesus in Galilee were intended to make way for this sermon, and to prepare the people to receive instructions from one in whom there appeared to be a divine power and goodness. This sermon was probably a summary of what Jesus had preached in the synagogues of Galilee.

The sermon is preached on a mountain in Galilee. As in other things our Lord Jesus had no convenient comfort place to preach in. The scribes and Pharisees had Moses’ chair to sit in, with all possible ease, honor, and state, and there corrupted the law; our Lord Jesus, the great Teacher of truth, is out on a mountain seated on a nard rock or the stump of a tree. The sermon is an exposition of the law. The law was given to Moses upon a mountain. The difference is when the law was given the Lord came down upon the mountain, now the Lord goes up on a mountain. On Mount Sinai He spoke with thunder and lightning. On this mountain in Galilee there is no thunder or lightning. When the law was given to Moses the people were told to keep their distance; now they are invited to draw near. To this mountain we are called to learn to offer the sacrifices of righteousness.

If we are going to follow Jesus there will be times when we must climb a mountain.

The Sermon on the Mount does not present the way of salvation but the way of righteous living for those who are in the family of God. It is a contrast between the new way with the old way of the scribes and the Pharisees. It is a comparison between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. It is for the benefit of the disciples of Jesus because they are to teach others and it is necessary that they have a clear and distinct knowledge of these things. Although this discourse was directed to the disciples, it was in the hearing of a multitude.

On this mountain Jesus will teach the disciples and the people according to the promise in Isaiah 54:13. He taught them what evil they should avoid, and what was the good they should do. He begins His sermon with blessings because in Him all the families of the earth are blessed. The Old Testament ended with a curse (Malachi 4:6), the gospel message begins with blessings and each of the blessings has a double intention. They identify those who are to be accounted truly blessed and what their characters are. The sermon is designed to rectify the ruinous mistakes of a blind and carnal world; the blessed are the strong and rich, the great and honorable men and women in the world.
Jesus corrects this error and advances a new way of life. He gives His disciples a different idea of blessings and who the blessed are, however paradoxical it may appear it is in itself a rule and doctrine of eternal truth and certainty, by which all mankind must be judged.

The sermon is designed to remove the discouragements of the weak and poor by assuring them that His gospel does not make only those that are widely known and honored for the gifts, graces, and comforts they have received, but that even the least in the kingdom of heaven whose heart is right in the sight of God can find blessings in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus makes it very to His disciple on that mountain and in today’s pews what God expects from them and what we may expect from Him. No where in the Bible is this more fully set before us and in fewer words than in this sermon or a more exact reference to what God expects from us and what we may expect from Him. The highway to blessing is opened and the barriers taken down. In this mountain top message there are eight characteristics of the blessed, their inner qualities, and their future blessings. The inner qualities contradict the proud thinking of the scribes and Pharisees who believe they can attain righteousness through their good deeds and their relationship with Abraham. Jesus points out this error in their thinking when He tells us righteousness, blessings, and happiness are not through good deeds or a relationship with Abraham, but through a relationship with Him.

In the sermon Jesus reveals the secret which is hidden from the ungodly and unrighteous who believe the comforts and luxuries of this world are indispensable. He strikes at the root of the carnal conceit of the Jews, who vainly believed external peace and prosperity were to be the result of the coming of the promised Messiah. He describes the blessed in this world.

First: There are the poor in spirit.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” The poor in spirit are not blessed because they are poor but because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The ungodly and unrighteous of this world claim it is the rich who are the blessed because theirs is the kingdoms of the world. What they don’t understand the kingdoms of the world are fading away. The kingdom of heaven is eternal it will never fade away. The kingdom of heaven is a kingdom far greater than all the kingdoms of the earth.

We must confess what Jesus said about the poor in spirit. There is a vast difference between being poor in the spirit and financial poverty. There is no virtue and often disgrace in financial poverty. Financial poverty doesn’t produce humility of heart. This poverty of the spirit Jesus speaks of is not generally found in the majority of the religionists. Many books are written telling us how to be “filled with the Spirit,” but where can we find one telling us what it means to be emptied of self? In His sermon concerning wealth Jesus said, “That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15), it is equally true what is of great price in His sight is despised by men. This generation feeds on pride. Spiritual poverty is the opposite of the proud, self-assertive and self-sufficient disposition which the world admires and praises. It is opposite of the independent and defiant attitude of men and women who refuse to bow to God, who say “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?”

The poor in spirit have arrived at the point in life were they know they have nothing and can do nothing in themselves, to rise above the condition they are in, and have need of all things. Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of their emptiness, the result of the Spirit’s work within. All their righteousness is as filthy rags, their best deeds are unacceptable, an abomination to God. Poverty of spirit brings us to our knees before God, acknowledging our utter helplessness and deserving the judgments of God. It corresponds to the initial awakening of the prodigal in the far country. Poverty in spirit is realizing God’s great salvation is free, “without money and without price,” the most merciful provision of God’s grace. If God put a for sale tag on His grace and salvation no sinner could purchase them because he has nothing with which he could possibly purchase them. Most people don’t understand it is the Holy Spirit who opens the eyes of the sin blinded. It is those who have passed from death unto life who become conscious of their spiritual poverty, take the place of beggars and are glad to receive Divine charity, and begin to seek the true riches. Poverty of spirit is the realization of our utter worthlessness which precedes the laying hold of Christ. It is the Spirit emptying the heart of self that Jesus may fill it: it is a sense of need and destitution. The one who is poor in spirit is nothing in his own eyes, and feels that his proper place is in the dust before God. He may, through false teaching or worldliness, leave this place, but God knows how to bring him back; and in His faithfulness and love He will do it because this is the place of blessing for His children.

It is the spiritual poor and not the financial poor who are pronounced “blessed.” The poor in spirit are blessed because they have a disposition the opposite of what was theirs by nature. They are blessed because they have in themselves the evidence that a Divine work of grace has been wrought in their heart. They are blessed because they are heirs of the kingdom of heaven in the present and in the hereafter.

Second: There are those who mourn.

Mourning is hateful and irksome to the human nature. Jesus said the blessed are those who mourn. If they mourn, how can they be blessed? It is totally contrary with the world’s logic. Men have, in all places and in all ages, deemed the prosperous to be the blessed but Jesus pronounces blessed those who are poor in spirit and who mourn.

Mourning is hateful and irksome to the human nature. Jesus said the blessed are those who mourn. If they mourn, how can they be blessed? Mourning is totally contrary with the world’s definition of blessed. Men have always claimed the prosperous to be the blessed but Jesus said the blessed are those who are poor in spirit and who mourn. Who is right?

It is obvious that it is not every form of mourning Jesus is referring to. There are thousands of mourners in the world who do not come within the scope of this verse. The “mourning” Jesus is referring to is a spiritual one. The previous verse indicates clearly the line of thought here: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are the poor,” not the financially poor, but the poor in heart: those who realize they are spiritual bankrupt the opposite of the Laodicean who says, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Jesus is referring to a spiritual mourning. Further proof of this is found in the fact that Jesus pronounces these mourners “blessed.” They are blessed because the Spirit of God has wrought a work of grace within them, and they have been awakened to see and feel their lost condition. They are “blessed” because God does not leave them at that point, “they shall be comforted.” The mourning Jesus is referring to is the initial mourning which precedes a genuine conversion.

There must be a real sense of sin and a godly sorrow before the remedy for it will even be desired. Thousands acknowledge that they are sinners, who have never mourned over the fact. The prodigal in Luke 15 before he left the far country said, “I will arise and go to my Father and say to Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son.” The publican of Luke 18 “smite upon his breast” and said “God be merciful to me a sinner”? The prodigal and publican felt a sense of sin in their heart. The mourning Jesus is referring to springs from a sense of sin, from a tender conscience, from a broken heart. It is a godly sorrow over rebellion against God and hostility to His will. In some cases it is grief over the worldly things the heart has trusted, over the self-righteousness which has caused complacency. It comes from an agonizing realization that it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. It is these tears and groans which prepare the heart to truly welcome and receive the Savior. It is mourning over the felt destitution of our spiritual state, and over the iniquities that have separated us and God. Such mourning always goes side by side with poverty of spirit.

But this “mourning” is not to be confined to the initial experience of conviction. It is a present and continuous experience. The Christian has much to mourn over, the sins which he commits both of omission and commission that should be a sense of daily grief to him, or should be, and will be if his conscience is kept tender. The surging of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and his failure to produce good fruit should make him cry “O wretched man that I am.” “Blessed are they that mourn” refers to the convicted soul sorrowing over sins. Jesus does not say they are blessed because they mourn. They are blessed because they will be comforted. True comfort is not to be found in self, but in Jesus. When the Holy Spirit produces in the heart a godly sorrow for sin, He does not leave us there, but brings us to look away from sin to the Lamb of God, and then we are comforted.

This gracious promise of comfort is fulfilled first in the removal of the burden of guilt that is an intolerable burden on the conscience. This comfort is the peace of God which passes all understanding, filling the heart with the assurance we are “accepted in the Beloved.” It is a continual comforting by the Holy Spirit. The one who sorrows over his departures from Jesus is comforted by the assurance that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The one who mourns under the chastening rod of God is comforted by the promise, “afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). The one who grieves over the dishonor done to his Lord is comforted by the fact that Satan’s time is short, and will soon be cast into the pit. The final comfort is when we leave this world and are done with sin for ever. Then shall “sorrow and sighing flee away.” To the rich man in hell, Abraham said of the one who had begged at his gate, “now he is comforted (Luke 16:25). The good news is the comfort of heaven will more than compensate for all the mourning of earth.

Third: There are the meek.

Jesus said the blessed in this world are the meek. There have been many debates as to exactly what this meekness consists of. Some defined it as humility. This definition does not fully reveal all that is included in meekness. Its usage in Scripture reveals a link between meekness and lowliness that cannot be separated (Matthew 11:29; Ephesians 4:1-2) It is associated with and cannot be separated from gentleness (2 Corinthians 10:1; Titus 3:2). The psalmist tells us God “leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way (Psalm 25:9). In the Beatitudes Jesus is describing the orderly development of God’s work of grace in the soul.

Meekness is a by-product of self-emptying and self-humiliation; or, in other words, a broken will and a receptive heart before God. It is not only the opposite of pride, but of stubbornness, fierceness, and vengefulness. It is the taming of the lion, the making of the wolf to lie down as a lamb. In the ungodly and religionist the meekness that is found in the love of ease, absence of sensibility, stability, and other passions, is susceptible to change in form or nature, must be separated from biblical meekness. It is susceptible of being modified in form or nature, from good, and persuaded to evil. It is often found in ungodly men and in the character of the religious.

Biblical meekness to which the blessing of gracious is added enables men of the most intense, passionate, impetuous, and merciless character, by looking to Jesus through the grace of God, learn to curb their tempers, cease from resentment, avoid offending by injurious words and actions, and forgive injuries. It is the opposite of self-well toward God, and ill-will toward men. It is quietly submitting to the will of God, His Word, His rod, and follow His directions and comply with His plan for their lives and are gentle toward their fellowman.

The fruits of meekness are first God ward. Where this fruit is dominant the enmity of the carnal mind is subdued, and its possessor bears God’s chastening with quietness and patience. Second it is man ward, inasmuch as meekness is that spirit which has been schooled to mildness by discipline and suffering, and brought into obedience to the will of God. It causes the believer to bear patiently the insults and injuries which he receives at the hands of his fellowman and makes him ready to accept instruction or admonishment and moves him to think more highly of others than of himself.

Meekness enables the Christian to endure provocations without being provoked to anger or vengeance. Paul told the Galatians, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6:1). This means, not with a lordly and a domineering attitude, a harsh and censorious temper, with a love of finding fault and desire for inflicting discipline but with gentleness, humility and patience.

Contrary to what is believed in this world meekness is not a sign of weakness. It is manifested in an individual by the yielding to God’s will and will not yield to or compromise with evil. God-given meekness enables His people to stand up for God-given rights. When God’s glory is profaned we must denounce the profanity and those who profane God’s glory. We need to follow Moses’ example. He was “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3), yet when he saw the Israelites dancing before the golden calf he broke the two tables of stone, and put to the sword those who had dishonored Jehovah. The apostles firmly and boldly stood their ground when they were beaten for preaching the gospel message (Acts 16:35-37). Jesus in concern for His Father’s glory made a whip of cords and drove the desecrators out of the temple. Jude tells us we are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (v 3). Biblical meekness is never in conflict with the requirements of faithfulness to God, His cause, and His people.

The spirit of meekness is what enables us to get enjoyment out of what God has given us. It delivers us from a greedy and grasping disposition, what “a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked” (Ps. 37:16). The proud and covetous do not “inherit the earth,” though they may own many acres of it. The humble Christian is far happier in a cottage than the wicked in a palace. The author of Proverbs wrote, “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble with it. (Proverbs 15:16).

Writing to the Corinthians Paul said, “Let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollas or Cephas or the world or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all things belong to you” (1 Corinthians 3:21-22). Our right or title to the earth is twofold: civil and spiritual. The civil is approved by men according to their laws and customs. The spiritual is approved by God. Adam had this spiritual right to the earth before he fell, but by his sin he forfeited it both for himself and his posterity. But Jesus has regained it for all God’s children.

Our inheritance is an Old Testament promise with a New Testament meaning. The value of this spiritual grace and the need to pray for an increase of it is found in Zephaniah 2:3. As a further inducement to “seek the Lord” is the promises, “The meek shall eat and be satisfied” (Psalm 21:26), “The Lord lifts up the meek” (Psalm 147:6), “The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord” (Isaiah 29:19). From these passages we should be able to see it is foolishness seeking earthly possessions without any regard to the Lord’s will. Since all right to the earth was lost by Adam and is only recovered by the Redeemer, we can have no part of it until we have a part in Him. Just as we can not purchase or possess an earthly inheritance, we can not purchase or possess any heavenly inheritance.