Sunday 24 May 2020
Ps Ben Hooman
We continue in The Blessed series as we look at the blessings in the Beatitudes as in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5.
Our core Scriptures are from Matthew 5 and Psalm 51.
The Beatitudes are not telling us how to become a Christian but they rather tell what a true Christian looks like.
Everyone wants to be blessed. We want to be blessed in life, blessed in death, and blessed in eternity. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us about the life that is blessed and about the people who are blessed. But Jesus does more than just describe a blessed life, He gives us a way to actually pursue it.
Today we will be looking at how we mourn spiritually, focussing on how to cultivate spiritual sorrow.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
We saw last time that there are three kinds of mourning:
- Natural mourning is when you grieves the loss of someone you love;
- Sinful mourning is grieving over something God never intended you to have;
- Spiritual mourning is grieving over your sins against God, and this what Jesus is telling us here when He says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”.
Christ tells us that this kind of mourning is blessed. Spiritual mourning is so laden with blessing that we are to go after it and get as much of it in our lives as we possibly can. We saw last time that the more you know of this mourning, the more joy you will experience in your life.
We also saw that spiritual mourning is the key to overcoming habitual sins, sins we tend to go back to time and again.
The book of Judges tells the story of God’s people over several generations. If you read the book, you will discover that there is a repeated pattern and it goes like this: God’s people turn to idols; God allows them into the hands of their enemies; they cry out to God for mercy; God raises up a deliverer and everything goes well again; but then God’s people turn to idols again!
The cycle continues throughout the book. If we were to give a popular title to the book of Judges, we most probably would call it “How not to live the Christian life!” going round and round in circles.
You may recognize this pattern in your own life: Toying with sin; then falling into sin; asking Christ for forgiveness; experiencing God’s mercy; but then starting to toy with sin again.
How do you break out of that cycle? How do we avoid being the person who sits in church every week, having faith but remains unchanged for ten, twenty or thirty years? It happens and we see it around us and may even see it in ourselves as well.
Spiritual mourning is the key to breaking that cycles in our lives. Deliverance from that cycle starts with taking sin seriously, and that’s the focus of this second Beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
Today, we focus on the “How?” This is the practical question before us today and it is all about application. How can I practice spiritual mourning? How can I cultivate this godly sorrow that is laden with blessing? How can I break the cycle of habitual sin and go after true repentance?
If we can answer this question today, it will be of great value and that is exactly what we are doing from the Word of God. We have three basic points today and my advice is that you take notes to put into practice what Jesus is saying about spiritual mourning that will lead us into a great and lasting joy.
These three things are: How to see; How to mourn; and How to find comfort.
How to See
There’s an old saying: “What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.” For example; Johnny throws his ball in the house and bumps a vase over, and when Johnny cracks his mother’s vase, he turns the cracked side towards the wall: “What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over,” he says. Nobody gets upset about something they don’t know.
We are talking about spiritual mourning. What the eye does not see, the heart cannot grieve over. But we can only enter into spiritual mourning over sins that we actually see!
How do you get spiritual sight? What is then the answer to that? To mourn over your sinful nature begins with seeing your sins.
There are three ways in which you can come to a clearer knowledge of your own sins: God’s Word; God’s Spirit, and God’s people.
- God’s Word
When you open the Bible, you are reading God’s words and His thoughts. As the Scripture gets into your life, you will begin to see things as God sees them.
By nature, we don’t see well. We justify what we do. We don’t see ourselves as others see us, let alone as God sees us. Reading the Bible is like putting on a pair of reading glasses. You begin to see what God sees. You get to know what grieves Him and offends Him.
Reading the Bible will open your eyes to the sins that lurk in your life.
“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).
Reading the Bible will open your eyes to the sins that lurk in your life. The Word of God helps you to see and this is a wonderful gift of God.
Some good advice as you read the Bible, is to keep these five questions in mind when you read the Bible:
- What does this tells me about God?
- What does this tell me about myself?
- Is there a sin to avoid?
- Is there a promise to believe?
- Is there a command to obey?
Today we are focusing in on the question: As you read the Bible, is there a sin here to avoid?
Reading the Bible will open your eyes to see the sins you must avoid. Let us look at three verses from the Bible that would be familiar to you:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”(1 Corinthians 13:4-6)
As we read these verses it clearly point out at least 7 sins. What are the things that grieve the Spirit of God?
- Impatience (love is patient)
- Envy, (love does not envy)
- Pride (love is not arrogant)
- Rudeness (love is not rude)
- Insisting on your own way (Love is not self-seeking)
- Irritable (Love is not irritable; it is not easily provoked)
- Resentful (Love does not hang on to past hurts)
All of these are offensive to God. They grieve the Holy Spirit. They ruin character and contradict the way of Christ. God’s Word will open your eyes to what God calls sin.
Read the Word and you will see where sin occupies your life. Leave your Bible closed and your eyes will remain closed to the sins lurking in your life. People not reading the Bible do not often see their own sins. Open your Bible start reading the Bible in this way, and God will open your eyes.
Do not read the Bible like the hypocrites to show the wrong in others. No, read it so that God can also change you. You can’t mourn over what you cannot see. It has to begin here and with you if you want to enter into a joyful life.
- God’s Spirit
Let us look at a very simple picture: Imagine walking through a dark room. There are hidden treasures in there and unopened gifts too. But there’s also all kinds of junk, and trash, and vile things that should never be there. There’s a bad smell because some rats got into the basement and died there, and they’ve been lying there for some time. Hidden in the corners, there are some living ones too!
That’s a biblical picture of your soul. God could show you all the junk in your soul by turning on a very strong LED floodlight. But if He does that to you, you would be completely and utterly devastated and you will never recover from it.
None of us could bear the full knowledge of the extent of our sin if all of it was all revealed to us at once. Thank God who is gracious and kind that He does not show us our souls with a floodlight, but by the Holy Spirit walking with a flashlight.
The Holy Spirit is always shining the flashlight into the hidden corners of your soul. Sanctification is a lifelong process as the Spirit leads us through the murky room of our soul. He illuminates hidden things in dark corners of your soul that we are not aware of, so that by God’s grace we can deal with the junk.
As the Bible opens your eyes to particular sins, ask the Lord to show you where they’re lurking in your life. Where have I been insisting on my own way? What is the hurt I’ve been holding onto? Where is impatience hiding in my life?
The Holy Spirit shows what the sins are, and the flashlight shows me where they’re lurking in my life. When the Word of God through the Holy Spirit highlights certain areas in your sinful nature, use the prayer at the end of Psalm 139:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Let the Word identifies what the sins are, and allow the Holy Spirit let you to see and then leads you to repentance to receive forgiveness that leads to a path of joy.
You do that through three gifts given to a believer: God’s Word, God’s Spirit and through God’s people.
- God’s people
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
Other Christians who know you well can help you see where you need to grow. That’s why relationships with believers are such a gift from God. Therefore it is so important to belong to a body of believers, a local church and its life groups.
We are talking about today about putting into practice, so here is a direct challenge to every man who’s happily married today: Ask your wife, “What’s one sin I should be fighting against more strongly this week?” The person God has placed next to you will be a great help to you in this area. She might identify more than one area in which I need to grow. What she is saying will be insightful and will continued to help us to grow.
Ladies, if your husband asks you this question, don’t waffle with some statement about what a wonderful fellow he is except that you wish he would fold his socks, pick up his clothes, etc. What would help him grow as a Christian? What hinders him from being more useful to God than he is?
If you are not married or if your marriage is not at a place where there is a high level of trust, ask someone else who knows you well. Find someone who can speak into your life and listen to what they have to say. This is also a great area for honest discussion in your Life Group this week.
These are not easy questions to answer. You need spiritual light to be helpful here. Not only God’s Word, or God’s Spirit but also God’s people.
God did not call you to follow Christ with the intent that your life would remain largely unchanged for ten, twenty, or thirty years in your “Christian life”. Let us help one another to be on the growing edge of what it really means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to walk in the comfort that brings joy!
It begins to see by what God gives me: His Word, His Spirit and His people to help me to recognise the areas that keeps me from becoming more like Jesus Christ.
How to Mourn
We want to be able to see sins to be able to enter into what Jesus is calling; “blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted”. Now the question obviously arises: How do I mourn a sin once I have seen it?
Let us look at four steps that answers that question:
- State your sin clearly, without excuse or without evasion
It is important to note that spiritual mourning is always over particular sins. Most of us experience times when we feel a general sense of our own failure. The devil takes us to focus on a general sense of our own failures. That’s not spiritual mourning and it does not move you forward. How then do you address a general sense of failure? You can only address particular sins that you are seeing.
You see, a hypocrite may admit that he or she is a sinner, but they never get down to naming a single personal sin. A hypocrite always keeps at the general level of sins and never goes further. Mourning over sin in general never moves you forward but just leaves you feeling miserable.
Spiritual mourning has a clear focus. It is mourning over particular sins that you have come to see through the ministry of God’s Word, through God’s Spirit and through God’s people.
Spiritual mourning begins by stating your sin clearly without excuse and without evasion: “I have acted out of envy. I have insisted on my own way. I have deceived and I have covered up, and this is a sin against God.”
You have to take it out of the dark place where the Holy Spirit shines a light on it. What has been internalised, need to be externalised. You need to look at it and see it for what it is and seeing the problem it is causing.
We now look at different verses in Psalm 51 as David goes into spiritual mourning for us to further understand mourning.
“Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4).
Surely others were wounded by what David did, but at its heart, sin is an offense against God, and there is no such thing as a small sin against a great God.
State your sin clearly and without reservation. Then do the following:
- Weigh what this sin has done to you
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:3)
David is looking at the effect of sin on his own soul. It is important otherwise one may just say sorry and carry on and never change. Think about the life of holiness to which God has called you to pursue. Think of where you might have been by now if this sin had not held you back.
Consider how this sin has limited your usefulness to Christ. Reflect on how it has dampened your worship, and dulled your testimony, and kept you at a distance from God.
Think about the other sins into which this sin has also led you: Sins of deception and pretence. Look at what this sin is costing you and count the costs. Think of what your life could be if this sin been left behind.
So state it clearly, look it in the face, and weigh what the sin has done to you.
- Recognize what this sin has done to others
Nobody sins to himself or herself alone. The people God has placed around you are all affected by your sins, even if it remains unknown to them.
Why? Your sins make you less effective in the kingdom of God and robs others of what they might have received from you.
Many of our sins are obvious. Often, they are sins against other people, clear evidence of it to others.
Our sins make us harder to live with, more difficult to work with, and tougher to love. Take an honest look at it and the effects in your life and in the life of others, and also to others you don’t even know.
Also consider what your sin did to Christ and what He has done for you.
- Consider what your sin did to Christ and what Christ has done for you
Jesus Christ did not hang on the cross for sins in general, but for sins in particular; sins with names, dates, and faces on them for which there was real punishment.
How do we know that? On the cross, Jesus bore the punishment for sin, and God being just, does not punish sins unless they are real, and they are particular.
So, the sin I am mourning was a sin for which Christ died. He suffered on account of this sin that has lurked in my life. There was a punishment for this that would have been upon me, but it was transferred to Him.
We have been asking: How do you break a pattern of habitual sin? How can you in your heart of hearts begin to hate what you used to love, and despise what you used to choose?
The diary of Andrew Bonar, a godly pastor from the 19th century, says:
“The answer is that spiritual mourning happens at the cross!
Come and see, come and see. Come and see the King of love
See the purple robe and crown of thorns He wears
Soldiers mock, rulers sneer as He lifts the cruel cross
Lone and friendless now He climbs towards the hill
Come and weep, come and mourn for your sin that pierced Him there
So much deeper than the wounds of thorn and nail
All our pride, all our greed all our fallen-ness and shame
And the Lord has laid the punishment on Him
We worship at your feet where wrath and mercy meet
And a guilty world is washed by love’s pure stream
For us He was made sin. Oh, help me take it in
Deep wounds of love cry out ‘Father, forgive.’
I worship, I worship the Lamb who was slain”
When we look at the cross, there’s more than seeing what sins did to Jesus. It’s also about seeing Jesus Christ in relation to what He did for you. At the cross you see how much you are loved!
You have been sinning against God and what does Jesus Christ do? He bears your sins in His body on the tree. One glimpse of the love of Jesus Christ for you will do more to you in your struggle against sin than a hundred commitments or a hundred disciplines.
Get your eyes up unto Christ to see how much you are loved! Only that can break your heart of what is breaking God’s heart and lead you into the joy of what Jesus is speaking about. Blessed are those who entered into spiritual mourning for Jesus comforts us.
So, we have looked at “see” for what the eye does not see the heart does not grieve; we looked at how to “mourn;” and let us now look at how to find “comfort”.
How to Find Comfort
“Have mercy on me O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.” (Psalm 51:1, 9)
It is all about asking God. You come to see, you come to mourn it and now you are at a place you where you can really ask God. Now what did David ask of God?
– Ask God for total forgiveness
Notice the emphasis on completeness, “abundant mercy” and “blot out all my iniquities”. Sins are blotted out by the shed blood of Jesus Christ because of the love for us. When your sins are blotted out, they are covered, never to be seen in God’s presence again.
God does not forget our sins as if He had amnesia. God knows all things. He knows who you are and what you’ve done. That’s what makes His love so remarkable. He knows everything about us, but in love He says He will remember our sins no more!
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, I will remember their sins no more.”(Hebrews 8:12)
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord; I will put My laws into their hearts, and right them on their minds,’ then He adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)
Sins that are under the blood of Christ are never in the mind of God! Does God know your past sins? Yes, every one of them. Are they on His mind when I come to Him in the Name of Jesus Christ? The answer is no. When you come to God in Jesus Christ, know that the mind of God is for you and with you in love, and without reservation, no matter how many times you have come before and will come again.
Remember, we are justified by Christ’s blood, not by our tears. Forgiveness does not flow from the depth of your sorrow. Forgiveness flows from the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ.
“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:9)
The question is never: “Have I become sorry enough to earn forgiveness?” The question is: “Is the sacrifice of Jesus enough to release forgiveness?” Definitely the answer is yes!
It’s not: “Have I done enough in order to be forgiven?” but “Has Christ done enough for me to be forgiven?” The answer to that question is yes!
Ask God for total forgiveness, but don’t stop there; also ask God for a clean heart.
- Ask God for a clean heart
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! (Psalm 51:2)
Notice how David keeps coming back to the effect of his sin in his own soul. He is asking God, “Cover my sin in your presence. But more than that, wash its effects from my life.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7)
Sin brings guilt in the presence of God, but it also brings pollution into the human heart. Sin makes the sinner unclean. It spoils the life and ruins the character.
Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me.” (Psalm 51:10)
David’s heart led him into sin. Sinful acts come from a sinful heart. So he asked, “What will keep me from doing this again?” He didn’t want to go on repeating the same sin, so he said, “Create in me a clean heart. Give me a heart that hates what I once loved, and despises what I once chose.”
- Ask God for a renewed spirit
Spiritual mourning is always marked by and infused with hope. But when you get serious about mourning your sins, the enemy has tactics for stalling your spiritual progress. He can dull your conscience so you lose awareness of indwelling sin, and the junk remains in the room.
But when you get serious about addressing sin in your life, and the Holy Spirit is shining the light, Satan switches tactics. Once you see the weight of sin in your own life, the enemy will use that to try and crush you, “Look at all this junk! There’s no hope for you. Look at this mess.”
When Satan tempts you to sin, he tells you there is no harm in it. But when you have fallen into sin, he tells you there is no hope because of it! When he says, “You can never overcome this,” you need to remember that the devil is a liar, and ask God to renew your spirit.
“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm51:8-11)
Look at Jesus Christ and remember it is the Holy Spirit that holds the light in the dark of your soul that brings hope. Ask God for a clean heart and a right spirit.
- Ask God for a useful life
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good, for those that are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
All things has to include your sins and failures. You may just find that God’s greatest work in your life begins at the point of your greatest failure.
When Satan tempted you, he meant it for your destruction, but God can use it for your everlasting good. That’s what the power of redeeming love looks like and it points to what God does through the cross.
Don’t waste your sins! Don’t waste your failures!
What good can God bring out of your greatest failures? Here are a couple of things that will come out of it:
“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” (Psalm 51:13)
When you see what God’s grace can do in your own life, you are motivated to share this with others.
“O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 15:15)
The one who has been forgiven much, loves much!
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
There’s great joy to be found here! You will never mourn this mourning. You will never be sad over this sorrow. You will never repent of this repentance. This mourning is blessed. This sadness leads to joy. This repentance leaves no regret.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Believers are people who know their own poverty. They look to Jesus for what they do not have, and know that in Him they have all that they need: “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
Believers are people who know their own sins. They look to Jesus Christ for mercy and find joy in pursuing a holy life:“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4)
Is that you?
Let us pray:
Father God, teach us we pray the spiritual mourning in which a life is changed and joy is found that we may pursue it all our days until every tear is wiped from our eyes and there is no more. Because there is no more sin and You have made all things new through Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. In His Name we pray. Amen.