Growing in the Faith :: by Sean Gooding

Matthew chapter 5:1-12 (continued)

“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

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 filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Sadly, I fail the Lord more than I would want to admit.But I must admit it for there to be any growth in our relationship.You see for too many of us, me especially, there is a desire to live the Christian life under your own steam.Being a self-made Christian is how we try to live.We admire self-made men and women, those who rose from the ashes of life, so to speak.

We write books and make movies about them; they speak at our schools and inspire us to step out of our excuses.All too often we bring the same mentality into the Christian life.Jesus saved us, that much we will admit to, but we took the reins from there are by sheer determination we have made ourselves into the image of Christ.

To be a true disciple and a true follower of Christ, my first and foremost deny himself and any perceived human strength. He must come to grips with the fact that he is incapable of living the Christian life in and of his own power.He can’t save himself and he can’t sustain his salvation in any way shape or form.

He must admit that he has no righteousness in and of his own to offer God. Jesus did not come to top up our supply of personal righteousness, rather He came to give us His righteousness since we did not have any of our own at all.Romans 3:10 and Ecclesiastes 7:20 both offer the same observation about all men in general, “there is none righteous, no not one.”

There has never been a righteous man on this planet except Jesus. He alone was and is 100 percent righteous, all others have failed God in one form or another.

The Beatitudes then help us to really see if we are allowing God to transform us into the image of Christ and to see if we are truly surrendering ourselves to God.These 12 verses challenge any sense of personal holiness that we may have and holds it to a purging fire so that we can truly see if we are growing in grace or living in self-righteousness.

Jesus taught these Beatitudes in a culture of self-righteousness that the people had been fed by the religious ruling class. They knew the talk and the saw the walk of the Pharisees, the religious folks.

We see the same thing to day and in every generation that has passed since the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry.The question is this: Does your walk match your talk?I speak about God’s mercy to me, am I merciful to others?This is where it really gets to you.Because many of us have gotten really good at living two lives—one in our minds and the other outside.

But true Christianity will always challenge the way we think before it challenges how we act. Proverbs 27; tells us that “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” This is the essence of true Christianity, changing the way we think.We desire first and only to give glory to the Lord God; this is so contrary to our natural nature that it must come from the Lord.

We seek the well-being of others even at cost to ourselves, this again is the essence of the person of Christ and this does not come naturally.These are the kinds of changes that God makes is us, we can take no credit ever, ‘the natural man does not receive the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Today, we will explore two more of the Beatitudes again exposing ourselves to convicting power of the Living Word of God and His Holy Spirit. May we grow and be like Jesus.

Blessed are the pure in heart, verse 8:

1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that God looks deep in to the heart of Man.God wants to see what drives you, what makes you tick as they say.This is where God seeks purity.What were you thinking when you did a certain thing?Why did you do a certain thing?Who were you trying to impress?Whose glory were you seeking?Whose approval were you seeking?

These are the questions that challenge whether we are pure in heart. Pure in heart does not mean that you will not have sinful thoughts; what it does mean is that you will find that you do things to please the Lord more often, simply for His pleasure and that sinful action and temptations will be measured in light of how they honor the Lord. You see a lot of us try to use physical discipline to stop sinning.

Yet, 1 John 1:7-9 reminds us that we are sinners even after we are saved.When we sin, and we will, a person with a pure heart will feel shame before the Lord and come and ask forgiveness. This is one of the main reasons that king David was a man “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

First, David sought God’s glory but when confronted with sin, he was quick to take responsibility and repent. This is how a “pure in heart” person behaves.Are you “pure in heart?” This is a spiritual transformation.Not some mystic cleansing or some holistic medicine. No, this is about God changing why we do all of what we do.

All of us desire to see God.All too many saved people go through their lives and never see God. But when the Lord changes your heart and He begins to put His glory, His way, His will and His honor as your first and only goal—He will gladly reveal Himself to you as He did to Moses, Abraham and many others throughout the ages.

Do you wish to see God?

Let Him change you and you will.You cannot change yourself and think that you have God indebted to you.

Blessed are the peace-makers, verse 9:

Jesus came to give us peace. John 14:27: “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” In Philippians 4:7, we are told that the “peace of God” will guard our hearts.Jesus came to build a bridge of peace between us and God the Father.God expects us to be “peacemakers” as well.

The ultimate way to bring peace is to offer someone the gospel of Jesus Christ.

People who are at peace with God will often find it easy to have peace with others.As Christians we are to seek to live peaceably with all men and women (Romans 12:18). In the book of Proverbs we are encouraged to “turn away wrath” with a soft answer.We are told in James to “bridle our tongues” as we do horses; these are all in the name of peace.

One of the signs of a transformed mind is that of seeking peace even with one’s enemies, even and especially when those enemies refuse to seek peace with you. Jesus called us to “love our enemies” and to be “kind to those that use you” and to “turn the other cheek” when hit.

These are not to actions of someone who is a doormat as the world would see it, but the actions of someone who is at peace with God, one who seeks to honor God first and is empty of all pride, so that offenses have little or no power.When we behave as peacemakers people will be able to see that we are the sons (children) of God.

There is nothing more humbling than to have an enemy become your friend because you offered them true, lasting peace.Think of Nicodemus in John 3, he was a Pharisee, a true enemy of Christ.But Jesus offered him eternal peace and the man who was once his enemy was the same one who washed His body and prepared it for burial. Blessed; truly happy and satisfied are the peace-makers for they shall be called the sons of God.

Sean Gooding

Pastor, Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church