by John Lowe
22 October 2005
Sometimes I like to sit around an airport and watch people. I have discovered that there is a difference between passengers who hold confirmed tickets and those who are on standby. The ones with confirmed tickets read newspapers, chat with their friends or sleep. The ones on standby hang around the ticket counter, pace, and smoke, smoke and pace. The difference is caused by the confidence factor.
If you knew that in fifteen minutes you would have to stand in judgment before the Holy God and learn your eternal destiny, what would your reaction be? Would you smoke and pace? Would you say to yourself, “I don’t know what God’s going to say--will it be ‘Welcome home, child,’ or will it be ‘Depart from me; I never knew you’?
Do you doubt, or are you unsure of your salvation? Why? Is it because you continue to make mistakes? We can self-examine ourselves to determine our relationship with God and to know with certainty whether we are saved or not, by displaying three attitudes that Jesus Himself gives us.
In fact, we call them Beatitudes.
Attitude 1--- We must display an attitude of humility.
Jesus was teaching His disciples about humility when Matthew made these notes:
5:1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
5:2 and he began to teach them, saying:
5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Now, the first thing I want to say in this study, is that there are only two groups of people here that this is in reference to. The blessed and the not blessed. The blessed are the ones going to heaven, i.e. saved, and the not blessed, well, their headed for hell, they are the unsaved. Blessed comes from the Greek word “Makarios” - MAK-AR-EE-OS. The word literally means happy, it’s where we get our word bliss or blissful. Jesus is describing the divinely-bestowed well being that only belongs to the faithful. Blessed, “Happy” are the poor in spirit. This seems opposite of what it should be to us, we would seem to think that it should say “Happy are the rich in spirit,” not poor in spirit.
Poor in spirit-- Jesus is saying that this is the opposite of self-sufficiency. It speaks of those who realize their total helplessness and lost state, apart from God. When we think we are OK because we are a “GOOD PERSON”, we work hard; we go to Church--don’t steal, don’t drink, don’t chew and don’t date those that do. This is self-righteousness, and it won’t get you into the Kingdom of heaven. Apart from God we are totally lost and going to hell, it is by His Grace and His grace ALONE that we are saved.
We are told in Luke 18:10-14:
10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank
you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
"ISA. 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Take the word CHRISTIAN, and remove CHRIST, all you have left is IAN, which means without CHRIST I AM NOTHING.
STORY OF SHEEP
In the Highlands of Scotland, sheep would often wander off into the rocks and get into places that they couldn’t get out of. The grass on these mountains is very sweet and the sheep like it, and they will jump down ten or twelve feet, and then they can’t jump back again, and the shepherd hears them bleating in distress. They may be there for days, until they have eaten all the grass. The shepherd will wait until they are so faint they cannot stand, and then he will put a rope around himself, and he will go over and pull that sheep up out of the jaws of death. Why doesn’t the shepherd go down there when the sheep first gets there? You see the sheep are so very foolish they would dash right over the high ledge and be killed if they did! And that is the way it is with us, when we try to save ourselves thinking that we are a good person, and that we are kind, generous, and honest. If we believe that, then we are foolish and deceive ourselves, which leads to our eternal destruction. If we are truly saved we will display an attitude of humility.
Attitude 2--- We must display an attitude of repentance.
Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Blessed “Happy” are those who mourn. This also seems opposite of what we would think it should say, we would think it should say “Happy are those who rejoice or laugh”.
Those who mourn, -- Jesus here speaks of mourning over sin, i.e. -- the Godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation. This doesn’t mean the superficial sorrow that comes from bad behavior, because of the fear that God is going to punish you. This is the true sorrow that one has because he or she has disobeyed the one that has paid the price of their sin by dying for them, and this sorrow comes not from fear but from pure love, love for Christ. This is the true sorrow that is agreement with God that they do indeed deserve punishment. Listen to a part of King David’s Psalm after he committed a horrible sin.
“Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.” (Psalm 51:4)
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This speaks of the comfort of forgiveness and of salvation. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that you are forgiven and that you are saved and going to heaven. Look at Psalm 51:17 ---The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” I would like to make something clear at this point.
There are two things that you need to distinguish between, and that is (1) The conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and (2) Condemnation, which is guilt from sin, and that is from Satan. Satan is the accuser; he hates us and wants to destroy us. Zechariah 3:1 states: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.”
And then verse 2 says, “The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" That is us; God has literally SNATCHED us from the fire. And Satan is right there accusing us of all our wrongdoings, causing us guilt and reminding us of our past.
He not only accuses us to God, but he will also cause you to doubt yourself. How can you be a Christian?--look what you’ve done. Yesterday, you stared at the woman next door who was sunbathing in a bikini. Then you got mad at junior when he asked what you were looking at. No one likes you at church, because you are depressed sometimes, and you don’t fit in. Christians are always happy, but you’re not, so how can you be a Christian? Just think about what you did today at work. You got hot under the collar with Jim during the Quality Assurance Meeting. You said some things that must have really hurt his feelings. A Christian wouldn’t do that. You don’t measure up, so just quit trying, and do and say whatever you feel like. The devil will try to get you to believe a lie; that you are not good enough to be a Christian, or one of a hundred other lies that he places in your mind. Don’t believe Him, because he hates you, and He would kill you if he could.
Over in Zechariah 3:3 we are told:
3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.
4The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you."
When a stick is snatched from a fire it is charred, and so are we; our garments are soiled just like Joshua, but God removes our sin and clothes us in His righteousness. Condemnation is guilt and shame and it comes right from the accuser. Satan literally means adversary or accuser; he hates us and wants to keep us in doubt. But conviction is sweet, when “and I mean when not if”: when we sin, God the Holy Spirit brings conviction, which in turn brings repentance which leads to salvation and that is sweet.
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