Matthew 5:3 “The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”(HCSB)
Our Lord has a way of saying things which are clearly not found in the human mind. He opens his public sermon by basically saying that people who realize that they have nothing good in themselves at all to make them in any way acceptable are blessed people who possess the kingdom.So what is Christian good, beloved? Christian good is having a regular and ongoing and continuous sense that you are unrighteous, undone, unworthy, and in need of a righteous substitute, a doing for you, a worth for you. Our Lord here clarifies what Christian goodness is really about and simply said Christian goodness is having a deep sense of our badness before God. Let us notice something first, where does spiritual poverty come from? How do we live as people who see no good in them at all and only see good in Christ being good for them? Well our text says that the poor in spirit are blessed not those who are poor will be blessed. Being aware of sin is not some man-made product, it is not some effort of man’s will to be poor in spirit; spiritual poverty on earth is the result of sovereign blessing from heaven. So let us be clear, God’s blessing by grace makes us have this Christian goodness of knowing and embracing our absolute badness. We must not make poverty of spirit some moralistic product of self-effort.
That said, consider this, my dear Christian, Jesus says this is the foundational and first characteristic of the true Christian, meaning that if this is not at the core of everything that you think is spiritual and good, it is in actuality, worldly. True holiness is having a sense of your unholiness! So what is Christian good, beloved? Christian good is having a regular and ongoing and continuous sense that you are unrighteous, undone, unworthy, and in need of a righteous substitute, a doing for you, a worth for you. Brother or sister, if your Christian life is defined solely by being better, being good, performing more than your view of Christianity is Popish (yea, I said that), Pharisaical, earthly, and proud. The blessed are poor in spirit not the rich in works. The Christian’s regular cry should be, “I am a spiritually homeless person good only in Another!” When we are told about our sin our response should be, “Yes, of course, I am a sinner. The poor in spirit are blessed!” Should I not affirm this when someone sees it? Should I be angry and depressed and downcast when people remind me of my Christian good? Blessed are the poor in spirit not the righteous, victorious, morally praiseworthy! Brother or sister, Christian good is Christ-centered, cross-centered hope that goodness is in a person whose name is Christ and whose Spirit is the Holy Spirit. May we stop seeking to grow in commendable goodness without seeking to grow in a sense of having a damnable badness that Christ’s grace covers us in.
I must say something else about this grace-produced, cross-centered goodness and that is that it comes from looking to Christ. We grow in being poor in spirit when we see that the best things that we do on the best day demanded the sinless Son of God to suffer eternal wrath for us. We grow in being poor in spirit by seeing that though we were enemies of God worthy of eternal judgment, God, solely by His grace and goodness made Christ the guilty one, the condemned one for us. We need to see, beloved, that all of our obedience for a million years would only make us a million more times condemned and that only the obedience of Christ for us makes us righteous. We need to see that God did everything for our salvation, everything for our sanctification, everything for our glorification in Himself outside of us. We will never grow in poverty of spirit if we do not look at the one who was broken for us because the best we have demands and deserves a bloody death.