Audacious Attitudes part 1,  (Matthew 5:3-5)

Audacious Attitudes–part 1

Impacting Internal Changes from The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-5

Everyone panics, but you remain calm. The room of parents complain, but you express thankfulness. The spectators scream at one player, but you start to pray. Each story gets more boastful, but you describe your failures and weaknesses, then laugh. There are internal, audacious attitudes you can display that will really impact others for Christ. There are audacious attitudes you have which, when pursued, will result in your happiness. There are awesome attitudes which distinguish born again believers from make-believers. There are internal positions you can take in life which will make the lost take notice. There are audacious mentalities which expose you as one who is humble and meek.

But–and here is the crucial condition, only if you’re in Christ. Christ will teach us that in the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon didn’t tell people how to live, but taught them the kinds of attitudes that would bring about proper behavior and a new inner life that would result in your happiness. Open your Bibles to Matthew 5, as we study this incredible discourse, which is massively radical. As we open the sermon, let me give you some keys to understanding it.

This sermon will not tell you to change your externals, but instead to be transformed internally. The key to happiness, the key to Christianity is to be made new internally by Christ. You have to be perfect before God, and only Christ can cover you with His perfect righteousness. You have to be transformed to follow God, and only Christ can give you a new heart. This is the message of the sermon on the heart.

But this greatest sermon ever preached, by the greatest preacher who ever lived, is both beloved and berated. But for the believer, this is one fantastic banquet of truth–tasty, rich, even brief. If chapters 5 through7 contained the entire sermon, then Christ completed it in twelve minutes. Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2 was only three minutes long and 3,000 people were saved. Yet Paul spoke in Acts 20 until midnight and Eutychus fell out a window and died.

But before you scold me for preaching too long, let me remind you that many people, possibly thousands, came from faraway places to hear this sermon. The sermon was most likely longer than what Matthew wrote and the event of the sermon might have lasted for days. A sermon’s length depends on two things–the gifting of the preacher and the hunger of the congregation. And the people who came to hear this sermon originally were spiritually starving.

This sermon is meant for people today. This sermon is meant for you. There are some who state that Christ’s teaching here is too demanding to be intended for the everyday Christian. They would say this is meant for the future Kingdom–not today. They would make that assertion because Jesus teaches some difficult truth, like Matthew 5:48, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

But use your mind–in this sermon, Jesus does not declare it is meant for the Kingdom, but in fact, Christ promises persecution. Yet there’s no persecution in the coming Kingdom. Plus, certain instruction would be meaningless if it were intended for the Kingdom—like, “love your enemies.” And the most important reason why it’s intended for today and not for the future is Jesus preached this sermon to people who weren’t living in the Kingdom.

No, this message is for his twelve, His other disciples sitting around Him, for all those listening to Christ on that acoustical slope by the Sea of Galilee, and it is for you listening to Christ through his Word today. You need to make it to church this year and hear this sermon. If you’ve lost your distinctiveness in the world today, this sermon will make you into a different person. Everything Jesus teaches is the opposite of what the world teaches. If, inwardly, you are secretly unhappy–this sermon is like a car manufacturer’s manual. If you follow the instructions, you will not only work right, but your engine will purr. If your inner person is shaped by this sermon internally, it will radically change your behavior externally.

Read the first three verses of His sermon slowly, starting in verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” Let’s stop there. The Lord’s intro is profound–He begins with beatitudes–eight declarations or pronouncements of blessing. The word beatitude comes from the Latin word beatus, meaning happy or blessed. It is the Greek word makarios. The word captures the idea of those who are the fortunate, the underserving and blessed recipients of God’s grace, mercy and love–you receive God’s favor. You have the Lord’s constant concern and care.

In my family, we joke about my brother being my grandma Nana’s favorite. As she was losing her filter in a big way, to the horror of my mom–her mother, our nana said, “Maaarrrk–he’s my favorite.” We thought this was hysterical. But imagine for a moment what it feels like to be in a family of “hated” siblings, to be the only favorite. Or on a team of players, to be the only one the coach liked. To be the only one at work who had the boss’s trust.

Yes, there are lots of complications–but when that happens, what does it do in the heart of the favored one? An inner happiness, confidence, secret joy and blessing. A few of you know what that means. But many of you have never experienced this until you met Christ. If you’re God’s true child, then you are the favored one. This is you, my beloved, in Christ–you have His favor. Out of the billions of sinful people rejecting the Lord, Christ chose you. We love because He first loved us.

Yet being blessed is far more than emotion. Blessed refers to the deep inner joy of those who were desperately longing to be delivered from the just punishment of their sins, their evil inner nature, and the coming judgment of God–combined with the gracious, merciful, loving, undeserved gift of salvation lavished on you through the incredibly horrific sacrifice of Christ on your behalf. You are the favored ones. This is why you are blessed. Beatitudes are blessings.

Plus, each beatitude expresses that which makes you happy. You possess the Kingdom, inherit the earth, mourners are comforted, hungry are satisfied, you receive mercy, are called the children of God and see God. Those who live the beatitudes are happy because they have received a great reward and get to taste that reward right now. All the beatitudes are connected.

Verse 3–A person who is poor in spirit has the right attitude toward sin, which leads to mourning, verse 4. When someone recognizes his sinfulness and mourns over it, he develops meekness or humility, verse 5. This leads him to hunger and thirst for righteousness, verse 6. Which manifests itself in mercy, verse 7, purity of heart, verse 8, and a peaceable spirit, verse 9.

When you display those attitudes, you will be reviled, persecuted and falsely accused, verse 10 through 11–why? Because your lifestyle will have so irritated worldly people, they’ll react negatively to you. But in the end, you can rejoice and be glad, verse 12–for when you live the beatitudes in everyday life, you become tasty like salt and attractive like light, verses 13 to 14. The beatitudes are like the fruit of the Spirit–in Christ, you have them all.

Maybe you are stronger at one and weaker at another, but each one and all of these character traits are intended by Christ to be found in every believer, each one of you–and the goal of this sermon for the believer is to see progress in each one in your life. The purpose of Christ in this sermon is to strip away external religion and establish the clear signs of the internal, regenerated heart. For every Christian in this room, these qualities are what you desire, what you esteem, and what you pursue. And if you do not want or apply these heart qualities, you are not one of His.

Jesus will warn you in the conclusion of this sermon, “Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and He will say, ‘I never knew you, depart from me you who practice lawlessness.’” True happiness comes to anyone who depends on Christ for everything. What is your satisfaction? Entertainment, sports, career, kids, grandkids, a spouse, a place, a park, travel, friends, family, your house, food, coffee, your pet, events? True happiness comes to anyone who depends on Christ for everything.

This sermon is how you make a salt/light difference in this world–not by voting down legislation. Not by stopping hunger in our region. Not by sacrificing to get the homeless off the streets. Not by getting elected or any other social expression. But by being born again and manifesting Christ’s audacious attitudes.

Now in verses 1 to 2, join the crowds from a huge region around Capernaum. Jesus sits, so you know this is crucially important and serious instruction. The acoustics are great, the view is amazing, the weather is perfect, His twelve disciples sit around His feet, many more of His followers are close by Him. And you today are part of the massive crowd when you hear Him begin with these words. Listen to just three statements again. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”

#1  Happiness comes from the awareness of your spiritual BANKRUPTCY–Blessing in the form of CITIZENSHIP in Heaven  Verse 3

Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus begins with poor in spirit, because the first quality in the life of anyone who gets saved, or as Jesus calls it here, to enter the Kingdom of God, is to be humble. No one can be saved who’s defiantly proud. Poverty of Spirit is the only way in. Humility of heart is the only way to be saved.

The doorway into God’s house is very low–a person can’t get in unless he crawls. You can’t be filled until you are empty. You can’t be worthwhile until you are worthless. This doesn’t fly in today’s world of me-first self-love, since Christ calls you and I to be nothing and be nobody. True inner happiness is only for the humble. If you pre-occupy yourself with your wants and your needs, then you won’t see the matchless worth of Christ. If you don’t see your poverty, then you won’t see His riches. If you don’t see how doomed you are, then you won’t treasure His redeeming love.

It is in our deadness that we come alive. It is in the darkness, we finally see the light. The only way into God’s Kingdom is to confess our massive unrighteousness and our inability to meet God’s standards. You and I must be poor in spirit. What kind of poor is Jesus talking about? Some believe Christ is commanding Christians to live poor–to give all your wealth away since they say, the Lord wants you to be financially poor in order to be saved. But if that were true, the worst thing you could do is to give money to people, since once you did, you’d be preventing them from being poor and getting saved. That doesn’t make sense–it would not be right to close orphanages, hospitals and missions that reach out to the needy.

Understand your Bible, friends–riches often trip people up. And poor people do have a running start on desiring salvation, since in their desperation, they quickly realize they need help outside themselves. It’s why Jesus said in Matthew 19:24, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Why? Because the rich do not sense their great need of a Savior. There will always be poor and always be wealthy, but this is not the focus of the Lord’s beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

No–the word poor in Matthew 5:3 means to cower and cringe like a beggar. If you were in Jerusalem and crippled, blind, deaf or destitute, you might become a beggar. To be a beggar back then, you didn’t walk around with a sad face with your hand out. A beggar cowered, because he didn’t want to be seen. He was too ashamed to allow his identity to be known. So you’d wear clothes in a such a way as to be unrecognizable as you held out your hand or bowl to receive coins. Like this—“Please give to the new building.”

Christ is saying, those who are beggars are happy. He’s not talking about physical poverty, but spiritual poverty. Jesus says, “poor in spirit”–poor internally. You have nothing to contribute to your salvation. You are totally dependent upon God’s amazing grace. Happy are those who have cowering spirits. Again, this is not about your wallet, but your inner person, your heart–you are begging on the inside–poor internally. God identifies with spiritual beggars, not with the self-sufficient. Happy are those who don’t trust in their own resources, but are empty beggars.

This is just how “Rock of Ages” expresses it. “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling. Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.”

John Piper summarizes poor in spirit by saying, “It is a sense of powerlessness in ourselves … of spiritual bankruptcy and helplessness before God … of moral uncleanness before God … of personal unworthiness before God … that if there is to be any life or joy or usefulness, it will have to be all of God and all of grace.” Piper uses the words “sense of powerlessness” and “sense of bankruptcy” because objectively everyone is poor in spirit, whether you sense it or not. You are powerless and helpless and unclean and unworthy–but only the blessed are those who sense it, who embrace it, who understand it, accept it and live by it.

To be poor in spirit doesn’t mean you lack enthusiasm or have no sense of humor, or have a passive indifference to life. No, the person with a poor spirit is one who lacks self-sufficiency. You are humble, broken, low, and think of yourself as = nothing. Like James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” Poor in spirit” is internal humility. Christ is everything and you are nothing.

Jesus says the blessing of being poor in spirit is “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This is a factual statement–theirs is emphasized in the Greek text. This is a factual announcement and not a wish. This Kingdom of Heaven is present tense—yours now. You don’t have to wait for the 1,000-year Millennium. Yes, the reign of Christ will be fully realized later, but His rule and blessings can be experiences now as subjects of Christ.

It is the poor in spirit who alone enter and own the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is clearly saying, “To get to my Kingdom in Heaven, you have to be poor in spirit. When you are internally poor of heart, then you receive the blessings of My eternal reign.” Heaven, that real place where God’s children will be in perfect bodies, with perfect hearts, singing, serving, supervising, sharing, studying, and joyously delighting forever–those who are spiritual paupers now will be spiritual billionaires in God’s eternal Kingdom.

Today, you must believe–you can’t achieve happiness on your own, and all your efforts with people, circumstances, events or things is going to prevent you from happiness. Happiness can only come from Christ. For the Christian, it’s one who wants Christ as their first love, one who hates anything that competes with Christ as their first love. It is the person who seeks to destroy all forms of pride and self-sufficiency. The poor in spirit are super thankful and don’t complain, since any day they’re not in Hell is a pretty good day. Since you see yourself as a beggar, you really esteem and appreciate the gifts and strengths of others.

The beggar is always asking, so poor in spirit are pray-ers. Poor in spirit don’t add Christ to their chosen lifestyle, but they’re so desperate for Christ, He now directs everything. You will give up anything to obtain Christ. And once you have Him, you continually praise Him and give Him thanks. Right now, are you truly a spiritual cripple who has come to Christ as poor in spirit? True happiness comes to anyone who depends on Christ for everything.

#2  Happiness comes from the awareness of your deep GRIEF over sin–Blessing in the form of COMFORT  Verse 4

Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Wow, Jesus says happy are the sad. What our world values is the opposite of what Christ values. The greatest in this world is the CEO, the greatest in Christ’s Kingdom serves. The greatest in this world are first, the greatest in Christ’s Kingdom are last. The greatest in this world are the healthy, the greatest in Christ’s Kingdom are sick. The greatest in this world are the wealthy, the greatest in Christ’s Kingdom are the poor.

Jesus says happy are the sad. In my own life, I run from sorrow in order to find comfort and hope. But here our greatest friend says mourning actually brings happiness. There are nine different Greek words in the New Testament which describe grief, and this is the strongest one. So what does the Lord mean when He says, to be happy you must mourn? You must grasp that the Bible teaches there is a worldly sorrow and a godly sorrow.

There is a mourning, weeping, sadness that is shallow, empty, even a hypocritical emotion. And there is a mourning which actually comes from God. Second Corinthians 7:10 and 11, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.”

People cry and/or mourn for different reasons. In the Scripture, we find people crying because their lust was not satisfied, or they are unwilling to let go, often because of their guilt over sin. But godly sorrow and weeping is found in David, who cried out for the Lord in Psalm 42, or Paul who cried over concern for the Church in Acts 20, or Timothy’s tears of difficulty. True godly sorrow is over sin–it’s a poverty of spirit when you recognize you are nothing. It’s a deep internal agony, like mourning over the death of a loved one, and it results in forgiveness. My friends, if you bottle up your sin, it’ll ruin your life. But when you confess your sin, you will have joy.

So to biblically mourn according to the will of God, you will be constantly broken over your sin. Yes, you can still laugh, but not over your own sinfulness. So many respond to their sinfulness improperly–they deny it, ignore it, think themselves above sin, beat themselves up over it. But instead, you must admit it. The prodigal son did not say, “Hey, pig slop isn’t so bad–I’ll survive. I can do this.” Don’t say, “All my friends are going there, so Hell can’t be that bad.” Or when in a pattern of ongoing rebellious sin, don’t say, “No worries, I’m under God’s grace.”

No, to mourn biblically is to repeatedly, continually say, “Oh, wretched man that I am.” With Paul, to have a heart that believes I’m currently and continually the chief of sinners. Jesus says, that kind of heart will be, verse 4, “they shall be comforted.” You are not blessed or happy by mourning, but blessed by being comforted. Second Corinthians 1:3 and 4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Having broken us, a good and gracious Father now blesses us with a holy comfort. Your Savior is always admonishing, consoling, strengthening and forgiving–comforting. Comfort is a place of safety. Comfort is a confidence that the Lord loves you, is all-wise, all-powerful, and you can trust Him. Comfort is a calmness of heart in the midst of difficulties. Comfort is the peace which comes knowing your eternity is secure in Christ. The Greek tenses tell us those who mourn over their own sin will be comforted. And as long as you continue to mourn, you will be comforted in the future. Happiness comes to sad people–not because they are sad, but because their sadness leads to comfort.

If you want to stifle your happiness, then love sin, harbor secret sin, excuse sin–saying things like, “I’m not that bad, or I am not as sinful as Shawn Farrell,” or delay in dealing with sin, or drown out your awareness of sin with noise, friends, or activity. And finally, do not confess, repent or get help with sin. All of that stifles your happiness. To confess is to agree with God in prayer—specifically, that you are responsible for your specific sin. To repent is to change your mind, leading to a 180 degree change away from your sin. And getting help is telling friends in the church to hold you up in prayer and relationally support you with your specific sin struggles.

What is your sensitivity level to your own sinfulness? Are you sensitive to your internal battles with selfishness, pride, faulty motives, distorted thinking, lust, anger, fear or envy? Sometimes, you get a dab of wetness on your clothes–but there are times when you’ve been soaking wet. When it comes to sin sensitivity, is it a dab or are you soaked? Christian, you will mourn biblically as you recall Christ’s love for you–proven by His suffering and sacrifice for your sin. Only when you personally own–hear me, only when you emotionally own that your Savior died, bearing the punishment you deserved. Only then will you mourn and enjoy His comfort. Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” True happiness comes to anyone who depends on Christ for everything.

#3  Happiness comes from the awareness of your DEPENDENCE on God–blessing in the form of Eternal REWARD  Verse 5

Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” This statement shocked the Lord’s audience–it would be totally foreign to them. This first century audience knew how to be spiritually proud and self-sufficient–but instead of Jesus commending them for their religiosity, He teaches, “Blessed are the gentle.” Gentleness or meekness is different than being broken in spirit. The previous beatitude focuses on man’s sinfulness, but this one, meekness, focuses on God’s holiness. We must be broken in spirit because we’re sinners—and we should be meek because God is so holy.

Jesus is telling you that happiness is for people who are realistic about their sin, repentant over it and responsive to God for it–realistic, repentant and responsive. Are you meek? Titus 3:2, “To malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration [meekness] for all men.” Ephesians 4:1 and 2, “I, … implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance [meekness] for one another in love.”

The Pharisees wanted a miraculous Messiah. The Essenes wanted a monastic Messiah. And the Zealots wanted a militaristic Messiah, But Christ came as a meek Messiah, and the only people who will ever be happy are the meek. You need to know what it is. First, meekness is gentleness–the root word means mild, gentle, and soft. A meek person is tenderhearted, patient and submissive. Second, meekness is power under control. It doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader, a lion, bold, or strong. Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry yet do not sin.” Proverbs 25:28, “Rule over your spirit.”

To be meek, you’re like a soothing medicine, or a broken horse, or a gentle breeze. A medicine under control is helpful, but out of control it can kill you. A horse under control is useful, but out of control a horse can stomp you. A breeze under control is refreshing, but an out-of-control hurricane can destroy. To be meek is a leader, a husband, an elder, a discipler who is power under control.

Third, meekness is descriptive of Christ and of Moses–therefore, it should be our desired target. Second Corinthians 10:1, “I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” Power under control–Abraham could have pressed Lot and his shepherds into the desert, but in meekness he gave Lot the choice of land and Lot chose the best pasture. Joseph could have thrown his brothers in jail in revenge for selling him into slavery–but he embraced them and in meekness said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

David could have taken King Saul’s life twice, but in meekness spared him. And Moses could have elevated himself, accepted authority–but instead, in meekness acknowledged the Lord as the one in charge. As Numbers 12:3 says, “Now the man Moses was very humble [meek], more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” I believe Paul was meek, “we…put no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3).

What happens to those who are, in salvation, given a meek heart? You will be happy. Meekness spiritually, almost surgically, removes all striving from your heart. And Jesus says in verse 5 that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Part of your inheritance is to inherit the earth–you and I get the planet. Dibs on Maui. This is the eschatological hope for all who are meek–to inherit the earth. Normal interpreters of the Scripture see this clearly as the future coming Kingdom. Christ describes this literal, earthly Kingdom, where we reign with Christ on Earth in Revelation 20, and in our future home when Heaven and Earth are together forever, chapter 21.

But there is a sense where the Kingdom of Christ is also ours now–it’s merely in escrow. Jesus is saying, “You don’t have to fight for your kingdom, like Russia, China and the US. Instead of being militaristic, fighting for your rights, claiming what is yours—be meek. Meekness is necessary for salvation. Psalm 149:4 says, “The Lord will beautify the afflicted ones [that’s meek] with salvation.” God commands you and I to be meek–it’s the only way we can receive God’s Word, be an effective witness and glorify God. It is only the meek who are self-controlled, obedient to God’s Word, able to make peace, and receive criticism well. So are you meek? True happiness comes to anyone who depends on Christ for everything.


A.  Are you AWARE?

Examine your heart, my beloved family. Are you aware of your powerlessness, of your spiritual bankruptcy, of your helplessness before God, of your moral uncleanness before God, of your personal unworthiness before God? Do you daily recall that if there is to be any life or joy or usefulness, every action has to be all of God and all of grace?

Each of you are powerless, helpless, unclean and unworthy. But only the blessed are those who are aware of it, accept it and live by it. Do you sense you are soaked with sin, or merely dabbed with a little disobedience? And are you broken under God’s holiness, recognizing that everything you are and everything you do only matters if it’s empowered by God’s Spirit, for the glory of God? Are you aware?

B.  Are you into APPEARANCE?

What you look like today, even speak or act like, is not really the issue Jesus is getting at. He is speaking to religious people and He is doing open heart surgery, exposing who they really are. The Lord is doing that with you today. Appearance is not the issue, but your heart is. Don’t walk out of here and go back to the way you were. Pray that if you are saved, then your heart is transformed and these audacious attitudes become your passionate desire.

Dependently, humbly, passionately, seek to live them out. There are so many of the core of our church, where I see glimmers of Christ’s beatitudes–but these are for each of you who claim Christ–each one of you. Yes you. To live out becoming a spiritual beggar with a biblical hatred for their own sin, and someone who recognizes their sin as a mourner and as a result develops a meek heart. That’s the people who are realistic about their sin, repentant over their sin and responsive to God for their sin, making them helpful, useful and refreshing. Are you driven by your internal heart for Christ, or merely appearing like a Christian?

C.  Are you truly ALTERED

That’s the “A” word for converted, saved, born again–are you a genuine Christian? Conversion is not a one-time event with no affect upon how you live. No, salvation is a moment of radical change. You might become aware of it gradually, but you’ll look back at now and say, “I know I am a new person. What I want is different. I see things biblically now.” You’ll always surrender your entire life to Christ and turn from your sin in repentance.

Don’t miss this–Jesus is telling you today what the transformed heart looks like. Is this you? Being saved is not repeating some formula prayer–it is literally a U-turn in the rebellious sinner’s life. You are turning from idols to serve the living God–from self-justification to Christ’s-justification, from self-rule to God’s-rule. Conversion is what happens when God awakens those who are spiritually dead and enables them to repent of their sins and live by trusting faith in Christ.

Are you truly altered, converted, born again, saved–truly a Christian? If not, today is the day to cry out to Christ to transform your heart. Let’s pray.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.

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