“O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”-Psalm 15:1-2
One of the running themes in the Scriptures is the Kingdom of God. In the New Testament, especially, our Lord Jesus speaks often of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is one of the greatest expositions of the Law and the theme throughout His sermon is the Kingdom. Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beattitudes, which are the characteristics of the citizens of the Kingdom. The Beattitudes are not prerequisites to enter the Kingdom, but are characteristics of those who have entered. It is anticipated that one is a believer already. These qualities are manifested in the believer as a result of the Spirit of God working in the hearts of God’s people. The character of a citizen of the Kingdom must reflect the character of our King.
The first Beattitude that Christ speaks of is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In this portion of Scripture, the word “Blessed” means “Happy,” or “Fortunate.” Jesus says that those who are happy or fortunate are those who are “poor in spirit.” Now then, what does “poor in spirit” mean? It is the opposite of self-sufficiency. This characteristic includes, as MacArthur states, “the deep humility of recognizing one’s utter spiritual bankruptcy apart from God. It describes those who are acutely conscious that they are lost and hopeless apart from divine grace.” These ones are aware of their complete dependence upon God’ grace for salvation. More than that, they are completely aware of their dependence upon God for their entire existence. They have nothing in themselves to boast about before the Lord who is the Holy One.
There are numerous examples of what it means to be “poor in spirit,” but one example stands out, in my opinion, more than others, and this is the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:9-17. The Publican or Tax Collector knows his utter hopelessness without God’s grace. He is unable to raise his eyes, and he beats his chest saying, “Have mercy on me the sinner.” He is aware of hi sin and appeals to the Holy One for mercy. When we view men like Isaiah calling down a divine curse upon himself while standing in the presence of God, or Peter who fell at Christ’s feet saying, “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man,” we must ask ourselves what was it that made them react this way. For both Isaiah, Peter, John, and others, they saw the holiness of God put on display. When this happened, they were immediately aware of their sinfulness before God.
Beloved, when we catch a glimpse of the holiness of God, our response should be nothing less than to cloak ourselves with humility. Do you recognize your sinfulness in comparison with God? Do you understand your utter hopelessness apart from the grace of God? We have nothing, absolutely nothing, to boast about in and of ourselves. We must realize that we are totally dependent upon God’s mercy and grace. He had mercy on us because He chose to, and He grants us the privilege of inheriting His kingdom. That reality, indeed, should bring happiness to our hearts.
Joshua Banks is senior pastor and founder of Shepherd’s Rock Bible
Church in Kingsport, TN. He holds a Bachelors degree in Ministry from
Luther Rice University, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a
Master of Divinity both from Liberty University. Joshua and his wife
Amanda, along with their 5 children, reside in Gate City, VA.