The Beatitudes, Part 2 Matthew 5:1-12 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down

. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. The Beatitudes represent the highest standard of morality in the world. You cannot find a stricter standard of moral conduct in any other religion. The Beatitudes go beyond do’s and don’ts—they describe a state of perfect relationship with God and man. Thankfully, Jesus is not just a moral philosopher who offers no help. He sets forth a perfect standard and then says, ―Come to me, all you who are weary and laden.‖ He takes our sin and gives us His Holy Spirit so that we are changed to be more like Him day by day. Jesus gives eight characteristics of people who He is making perfect. The first four we covered a couple weeks ago. Those focused on our relationship with God. This week, we will look at the next four Beatitudes that focus on our relationship with other people. v. 7 - Blessed are the merciful God is merciful. Many people mistakenly believe that the Old Testament shows God’s holiness and wrath against sin, and that the New Testament shows His love and mercy. This is not true.

Even in the Law of Moses you can see God’s mercy. Describing the sin offering, God allows those who cannot afford a lamb to bring a pigeon, and those who cannot even afford a pigeon to bring a sack of flour. He specifically says that one of the reasons for the Sabbath is so that donkeys and oxen can rest, along with slaves and immigrant day laborers. Every seven years, God commanded that the Israelites cancel all debts. God is merciful. It is part of who He is. If we advocate economically conservative government policy because we believe that a welfare state is, in the end, not good for individuals because it makes them dependent instead of self-sufficient, then fine. In the end, this could be seen as merciful. But, if we are against a welfare state because of ―fairness‖ and an idea that ―what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours,‖ then that doesn’t represent mercy at all. Mercy, by definition, is undeserved. Mercy can mean compassion for those who are in need, such as with the Good Samaritan. Or, it can mean leniency and forgiveness for those who have offended us, especially when we have power over them. Jesus demonstrated mercy to the woman caught in adultery and to those who crucified Him. ―Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.‖ The opposite of mercy is condemnation and judgment. The name Satan means ―accuser‖ in Hebrew. When we rejoice in our hearts because people ―get what they deserve,‖ then we are more like the devil than like God. Mercy means that we pray people will repent and not receive the punishment they deserve. We can be merciful when we are poor in spirit, mourn for sin, are meek before God. v. 8 - Blessed are the pure in heart Many people believe that their hearts are already pure, and that somehow, we just need to be more ourselves and everything will be alright. Even Christians sometimes think like this: ―I’m just following what my heart tells me.‖ ―I’m just being honest with myself.‖ ―I’m not going to live a lie.‖ But what happens when people follow their feelings? Our honest thoughts offend others. We abandon our commitments because we no longer feel the same way. We chase after happiness but find it was an illusion. Why?    Jeremiah 17:9 – ―The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?‖ Ecclesiastes 9:3 – ―The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live.‖ Genesis 6:5 – ―The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.‖

The Bible says that God made us to be happy (read Genesis 1 and 2), but we said, ―No! I’m going to do it my own way!‖ Adam and Eve were not seeking death and destruction

when they ate the fruit—they were seeking happiness apart from God. This is the root of sin. From that root come all kinds of sinful actions. And these sinful actions result in the exact opposite of what God intended; they result in covetousness, oppression, hatred, addiction, sickness, broken relationships, hopelessness, and eventually death. But Jesus says, ―Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.‖ Who then are the pure in heart? Those who are pure in heart acknowledge their own wickedness. They don’t trust their heart, but rather distrust it. Instead, they turn to God and acknowledge Him as the standard of truth and ask Him to make their hearts pure. Psalm 51:1-12 When he prayed this prayer, King David admitted his own heart was wicked and deceitful. He repented of following his own heart, which led to adultery and murder. He asked God to cleanse him and create a pure heart within him by the Holy Spirit. When you want to know what is right, don’t ask what your heart tells you. Our hearts are incurably deceitful. They’ll promise us happiness but only end up giving us more grief. We need to repent and ask God to ―wash us with the water of His word.‖ (Ephesians 5:25-26) His word is like a mirror that shows us our true moral condition. (James 1:25) His word is like a double-edged sword that penetrates the lies we’ve woven, and exposes our inmost thoughts and attitudes. Once we know what God’s word says, we need to submit to the Holy Spirit and ―take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.‖ We need to police our own hearts. ―Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.‖ (Proverbs 4:23) The pure in heart are those who’ve stopped listening to their own lies, and instead repent and agree with God. For these people, there’s no secrets and no deception between them and God. v. 9 – Blessed are the peacemakers The world says that the way to peace is by making sure no one touches us or our things. As long as we are left alone, everything is peaceful. But Jesus is talking about a different type of peacemaker, one that will be called a son or daughter of God. These peacemakers are not looking to their own interests but rather to the interests of others. They are like Paul and his companions: ministers of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 To be this type of peacemaker, you need to set aside your own interests. In Philippians 2, Paul says that Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing and took on the nature of a servant. Paul, in his own words, in

order to win as many as possible, made himself a slave to everyone even though he was free and belonged to know man. 2 Corinthians 10:33-11:1 “For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Whoever you may have previously thought was your enemy, if they have flesh and blood, then they are certainly not your enemy as a Christian. ―For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.‖ These people who think they are your enemy are beloved by God. He sent His son Jesus to die for them. If I sent my child to die for the sake of someone, then you can be sure that I must love that person quite a bit. God loves these people even though they rebel against Him. Paul said that some do indeed live as enemies of the cross of Christ, but he wasn’t talking about those who oppose the church. Rather, he referred to Christians who live and think as the world does. These people don’t care who they offend. They are proud and combative. To be peacemakers, we need to be mature and know who is and who is not our enemy. Other people are not our enemy—they are the ones that we’re trying to win over. Satan and evil spirits are our enemy. Your job as a Christian is to make peace between God and the rebellious people that He loves. I urge you to be like Paul who became all things to all men in order that he might win some. Don’t compromise on the gospel message, but don’t let anything that’s nonessential get in the way either. That means your ego and preferences. Try to understand people, especially those who you disagree with. You can disagree, but don’t be disagreeable. Listen to people and take them at their word. Don’t put words into their mouth or assume you know their secret motives. If you can listen to someone and then state their case accurately and convincingly, then they will listen to what you have to say in return. If you make your opponent into a caricature, it might make you feel good, but you’re never going to get anywhere. There are many Christians whose entire ministry seems to be fighting something or someone, even other Christians. Yes, there is a time when we need to oppose people. Paul told Titus to warn a divisive person once and then a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. The Lord’s servant should rebuke with all authority, but not quarrel. Instead, they must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and not resentful. (Titus 2:15, 3:10; 2 Timothy 2:24-25) Sometimes we must speak publically for our faith and as the conscience of society. But we must speak with gentleness and respect, seeking peace. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Titus 3:1-2 v. 10-12 – Blessed are the persecuted You’d think that people who lived like this would receive some type of award, but Jesus says that they will receive persecution instead. Why? Because of Jesus. Jesus was humble, merciful, and a peacemaker, but they crucified Him. Jesus told His disciples that a time would come when anyone who killed a Christian would think he was doing a service to God. We will not be persecuted for being poor in spirit, meek, mourning over sin, or for our purity of heart. We will be persecuted because of Jesus. Jesus said that He came to bring the sword, not peace. This persecution was what He meant. Not that we wield the sword, but that it would wielded against us. In fact, this is one of the marks of a true Christian. We should not be worried about persecution—God is all-powerful and will not let anything happen except that which is best according to His plan. Instead, we should be worried if we do not face persecution! If we suffer for the sake of Jesus, we should rejoice because we are doubly blessed.

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