Today we will continue in our series The Upside Down Life, looking at the first 16 verses of Matt 5. Today we will do some review work and unpack a few concepts in Matt 5 and then we will move into Heb 12.
(Review) Both Gene and Chris did an excellent job defining the words “blessed” (and what it means to be “poor.”) Those notes are available here on the blog…
Review “poor in spirit”…
- Two weeks ago Chris said being “poor in spirit” is seeing our desperate need for God.
- And then last week Gene said some pretty heavy things…
- He said that as a church we are to be thankful that SBF has been privileged to go through all the struggles we have. God must be thrilled that there is somebody here who is broken and hungry for more… (Heavy words…a perfect message to begin our week-long fast as a church).
- Gene went on to say SBF has lost pastors, people, programs, reputation, visible success, and a downward trend in the bank account… [God comforts the afflicted – and afflicts the comfortable]
- Your church is flat broke, you do not have it all together, you do not have it all figured out, and you cannot muscle, or buy, your way out of this one.
- Blessed are those bankrupt in spirit, because they are entering the eternal reserves of the reservoirs of the God of true riches.
- As a church we’ve been taken out to the woodshed…we’ve been spanked. Are you glad yet? [I have a tremendous amount of respect for those of you who have stayed.]
Where do we go from “bankrupt in spirit”? We mourn…
Today, we will look at 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted”
Once we see and acknowledge our deep spiritual poverty, it gives way to a deep and utter repentance. (There’s a difference between repentance and “relentance.”)
There is a transforming grief, or repentance, that surfaces – not only for our own lives, but also for the injustice, greed, and suffering that grips our world. (“Meanwhile we groan.”)
I’ve titled the message this morning, The Unlikely Route To Joy (borrowed from a chapter heading in Dan Allender’s’ book Wounded Heart).
- In order to become rich, we need to acknowledge and own our poverty.
- And in order to know “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet 1:8) we must mourn. This is the essence of living the upside down life (or counterintuitive).
I would like us to refer to mourning as a lifestyle of repentance.
For those of us who have read Pete Scazzero’s book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, we remember that the 3rd principle of the EHC is to live in brokenness and vulnerability.
This means living and leading out of our failure and pain, questions and struggles…
This is how Paul led. In 2 Cor 12 – Paul speaks of being caught-up to the third heaven – and then he shares about his thorn in the flesh… “a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
Dr. Dan Allender – “An about face movement from denial and rebellion to truth and surrender… Repentance involves the response of humble hunger, bold movement, and wild celebration when faced with the reality of our fallen state and the grace of God…It is a shift in perspective as to where life is found…It is melting into the warm arms of God, received when it would be so understandable to be spurned.” (Wounded Heart)
**Mourning, or lifestyle repentance, is living WITH our failures, but not UNDER them.
With that said please turn to Hebrews 12…
If we had to boil down the book of Hebrews to a one-word description, the word would be perseverance. It is written specifically for a group of Christians who were about to quit.
Vs. 14-17 are full of some very specific admonitions to help us with engaging in a lifestyle of repentance…
14Pursue peace with all [people], and the sanctification without which no one will see [to perceive, to know, to become acquainted with by experience] the Lord.
15See to it [Looking diligently – episkapao] that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled [stained];
16that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
17For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance [NIV – he could bring about no change of mind], though he sought for it with tears.
This is a heavy passage: Esau found no place for repentance – even though he sought for it with tears. (What are we supposed to do with this text?)
This passage offers us some insight into the reasons for Esau’s inability to come to a place of true repentance – and I believe it will help us to consider some possible issues that may be keeping us from fully knowing the privilege of repentance.
Listed in this passage are (at least) 6 admonitions that will move us toward embracing a lifestyle of true repentance…
1. Pursue peace with all people.
Pursue: to run swiftly [NIV – Make every effort]
Peace: from a primary verb eirēnē (harmonized relationships)
“If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:23,24 (NAS)
Roms 12:18 – “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
(In a few weeks we’ll be talking about Mat 5:9 – Peacemaker vs. peacekeeper.)
I once flew from Reno, NV to Tulsa, OK and then rented a car and drove 3 hours just to ask someone’s forgiveness after reading this passage and taking it to heart.
2. Pursue sanctification.
Sanctification: hallowed [NIV – Make every effort… to be holy] The Lord’s Prayer (Mat 6) hagiasmos (Heb 12 – noun), hagiazō (Mat 6 – verb)
The Gospel Is for Believers. We Christians need to hear the gospel all of our lives because it is the gospel that continues to remind us that our day-to-day acceptance with the Father is not based on what we do for God but on remembering what Christ did for us. (That is what communion is all about…)
**Esau was rejected by God because he steadfastly refused to serve the purpose of God and instead served his lust for the immediate and the tangible.
3. Pursue grace.
“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.” (v.15)
Grace: All that God is lavishly poured into you. If God has acted lavishly toward you, could you not be lavish to others? Or yourself??
Jerry Bridges, in his masterpiece says, “The idea portrayed here is analogous to the ocean waves crashing upon the beach. One wave has hardly disappeared before another arrives.
Pursue the truth in love (Eph 4:15).
“See to it that…no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” (v.15)
Notice the word, “many.”
Like a small root that grows into a great tree, bitterness springs up in our hearts and overshadows even our deepest relationships.
A “bitter root” comes when we allow disappointment or expectations to grow into resentment, or when we nurse grudges over past hurts.
Eph 4:15: But speaking the truth in love we are to grow up…” In my view this passage speaks to the epitome of what it means to be spiritually and emotionally healthy
5. Pursue purity.
“See to it that…there be no immoral…person like Esau.” (v.16)
pornos – male prostitute. Again, Esau steadfastly refused to humble himself to serve the purpose of God. Instead he served his lust for the immediate and the tangible.
6. Pursue God.
Instead of being godless (or, “unhallowed, profane” – Vine’s]
Esau found no place for repentance (metanoia), though he sought for it with tears.
We usually associate tears with repentance. And it’s true that tears very often accompany true repentance. But here we have the instance of Esau crying for repentance but not finding it. Why? Esau was in “relentance,” not true repentance.
“Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19 (NAS)
Nothing will cause a renewed soul to hate sin so much as a realization of God’s grace; nothing will move him to mourn so genuinely over his sins as a sense of Christ’s dying love. It is that which breaks his heart: the realization that there is so much in him that is opposed to Christ. But a life of holiness is a life of faith (the heart turning daily to Christ), and the fruits of faith are genuine repentance, true humility, praising God for His infinite patience and mercy, pantings after conformity to Christ. —The Doctrine of Sanctification by A.W. Pink.