Matthew 5:3 The Poor in Spirit

I have a couple questions for you to lead us into the verse for today’s sermon-
1. Who needs a doctor? The Sick
2. Who needs a savior? Sinners

From the Lord’s lips came the Words, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mk 2:17).

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

This beatitude will echo throughout the entire sermon. It is important that we grasp what Jesus means by this first statement!

Discussion 1: BlessedThis is the first of what we call the Beatitudes. “Beatitude” comes from the Latin word meaning “Blessed.”

Definition of Blessed- Happy, Satisfied, To Be Envied

Discussion 2: Poor in SpiritLet’s take the spirit part first. “In spirit” means the attitude of the soul.
SEE Psalm 103:1 “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!”

The OT provides the background for this beatitude like most, if not all, of them. The word “poor” first meant those in literal, material need, but over time gave way to a definition with spiritual overtones. The needy have no refuge except God and that idea spread to the general idea of spiritual poverty before God. Thus the psalmist could call himself “this poor man” in Ps 34:6
“This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.”

Let me say what “poor in spirit” does not mean before I say what it means. It does not mean:
1. Low Self-Esteem
2. Showy Humility
3. Artificially Induced Self-Hatred
4. Weak Faith

To be poor in spirit is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, spiritual bankruptcy before God. Someone has said that the poverty of spirit “is the conscious confession of unworthiness before God. As such, it is the deepest form of repentance.”

Jesus consciously fulfilled, in the Nazareth synagogue, the Scripture which says, “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt 11:5).

This was, in fact, God’s plan from the beginning:

Through Isaiah the Lord said, “For thus says the High and Lofty One, Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’” AND “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word” (Isa 57:15; 66:2b). The psalmist said, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise” (Ps 51:17).

Discussion 3: Kingdom of HeavenSo far in Matthew, John and Jesus both have proclaimed that the Kingdom of heaven is “at hand.” Then in 4:23 we read that Jesus was preaching the Gospel (Good News) of the Kingdom. Then Jesus gathers a large crowd to Himself and the first thing our of His mouth is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” is the same as “Kingdom of God.” Heaven is simply a Jewish way of respectfully substituting God’s name.

This kingdom idea is a Biblical theme that runs throughout and is vital to our understanding because we are citizens of it! It does not refer to a specific place or time, rather to a condition in which creation is fully restored.

Thus, the kingdom is at hand yet has not arrived in its entirety:
Jesus said, “Indeed, the kingdom of God is with you.” At this point God works through the Body of Christ, the church. His kingdom is a condition within us where God’s will is done as it is in heaven. There will be a Day of final restoration. There will be a final Day when all of creation will physically see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. And we are citizens of His kingdom! We have no guilt in life nor fear in death.

For the complete background of this kingdom picture we must go to the Old Testament.
SEE Daniel 7:13-14, 27 “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed…
Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”

Major Point: Sticking Point

It is a sticking point for many who do not recognize their own spiritual poverty or at least are not willing to admit that the are spiritually bankrupt before God.

A leading cause for people to enter Hell will be their complete reliance on themselves. For some reason it is part of the sin-nature that people think they can save themselves. In arrogance, they think they have all the knowledge, strength, and resources needed to climb out of the holes they have dug themselves into. They know they have fallen short of the glory of God, and not only Him, but they’ve also fallen short of their responsibilities to their husbands, wives, children, family, and friends… In the unbeliever’s darkened heart, he/she will not admit that they are poor in spirit, but vow time and again to make things better. And…It will…not…work…

Not only is this a problem for unbelievers, but it is also a problem in the church. Jesus revealed to John a message for the church at Laodicea along these lines-
SEE Rev 3:14-17 “These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…”

At the onset of the sermon we are told that we do not have the spiritual fortitude or resources in-and-of ourselves to put any of the sermon’s teachings into practice.

Yet, God makes a promise through Isaiah in 41:17-18:
“The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, Their tongues fail for thirst. I, the LORD, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water.”

We need to have an “Ah-Hah!” moment when we realize that we are poor in spirit. When God looks at us, He looks past our bank account, the vehicle we drive, the house we live in, the clothes we wear, the education we’ve acquired, the career we’ve built, and all the good things we have done in the name of righteousness ---> He looks directly into our hearts.

God Almighty pierces to the depths of us to find that we are like the Laodiceans,
“wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

Do we realize this? Do you realize this?

Do we admit this?
Do you admit that you are poor in spirit?

If you do, then yours IS the kingdom of heaven.