Blessedness Is a By-Product of Character (3-27-11)
Series on the Sermon on the Mount
Listen to this news clipping. “Gambling, robbery, sexual immorality, and violence is prevalent. Half of all children are born out of wedlock; purity and fidelity to the marriage vow are sneered out of fashion. Corruption in politics is rampant. The world is broken.” This clipping is from 1694.
It was in this time that John Wesley began preaching to the poor, a message of new life through the free grace of Christ. His message was one of assurance and the power of the Spirit. He taught that while sin remained it could not reign. In addition to a great preacher Wesley was an organizer, and those who accepted Jesus as Lord where put into bands. In these bands people strived to put scripture into practice and they called it holiness.
They called their small group ministry “Bands” and these bands helped bring England, into a great awakening. These groups did not look much like a Bible study; they were designed to help keep the believer to a live a holy life. They usually asked a few questions:
1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What temptations have you met with?
3. How were you delivered?
4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
Last Sunday we looked at the first 4 Beatitudes that primarily dealt with our relationship with God, this morning we will exam with the next 3 that primarily deals with our relationship with others. And then next week we will look at what happens when we truly live out the Christian lifestyle in an unfriendly world that doesn’t treat those who are differently to kindly.
The order of the Beatitudes is important because it is when we have a healthy relationship with God that we can have a great relationship with others. Listen to Maria as she reads this familiar passage from NLT
1 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you[c] and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad!
For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
There are major differences between those who profess Christ as Lord and Savior and those who don’t. The major differences are found in the Sermon on the Mount.
- Jesus said BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL for they will be shown mercy: One of the major differences is how we treat others. Jesus begins with requiring that we show acts of mercy, not piety or religious rituals. Mercy, strictly defined, has reference to the forgiveness of offenses; it is more than pity it is an act of forgiveness.
- The merciful are blessed because they shall obtain mercy; that is, as they are merciful to others, God will be merciful to them.
- Mercy is a sense of compassion plus a desire to relive the suffering. In other words, mercy = forgiveness + action. Therefore, just to be emotionally moved by a story or event is not being merciful.
- Those who pardon or show forgiveness; do not act like the saying “Too heavenly minded to be of any earthly value.”
- The person that shows mercy is doing it in a very practical ways. A good illustration comes from an example that Jesus gave called The Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37.
- Here is the thing we need to be like the Good Samaritan acting without judgement but with love and mercy.
- Jesus says that those who are merciful will be shown mercy. The mercy we receive from God is measured by the mercy we show to others. Just as much as we need the merciful hand of God each day, likewise we need to extend our merciful hand toward others.
Illustration - Mercy
A pastor friend recently told the true story of one of his church members, an attorney, who after meditating on several scriptures, decided to cancel the debts of all his clients that had owed him money for more than 6 months. He drafted a letter explaining his decision and its biblical basis and sent 17 debt canceling letters via certified mail.
One by one, the letters began to return, unsigned and undelivered.
Perhaps a couple people had moved away though not likely. 16 of the 17 letters came back to him because the clients refused to sign for and open the envelopes fearing that this attorney was suing them for their debts. (Illustration from Sermon Central)
How profound! We owe a debt for our sin and God is willing to cancel it but too many people will not even open the letter that explains that.
- BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART for they will see God (vs.8): This beatitude shifts our attention from loving others to purity; from practical Christianity to internal holiness.
- What is meant by the heart? We discussed last week that God is interested in what is inside of us our heart. If one contains purity of heart then it’s almost a guarantee that the rest of him/her is pure as well.
- The opposite is also true: if a person’s heart is impure then you can be sure so is the rest of him.
- Jesus later in His ministry talks about this purity 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'" Matthew 15:18-20 (NIV)
- Jesus is telling us that we need to purify our inner attitudes. A pure heart is a heart without defilement or contamination.
- The word “pure” literally means clean. A pure heart is a clean heart that is free from dirt. But purity is more than the absence of dirt. It is also the presence of good things.
- Paul says that we must fill our minds with Christ. Because each and every day we are being bombarded with the filth of this world.
- Therefore, it is necessary to as much as possible to stay away from such harmful and impure activities. Is it realistic for you and I to even think it is possible to be pure? In the world in which we live it certainly is not easy…
- TV programs exploiting sexuality and the family unit,
- Peer pressure to conform to the world standards,
- Global erosion of morals and values (starting at government levels)
- Considering the type of person you are and the world that bombards you – is it possible for you to have a pure heart? ABSOLUTELY!!! HOW??? We can never do it on our own. It can only be possible through the grace and mercy of God.
- To those who are pure in heart, Jesus promised that they will see God. I’m not sure if you count that a privilege or not, but it is certainly meant to be one. Remember when Moses went up Mt. Sinai and saw only the back of God. He said the experience was too overwhelming for a human being.
- I wonder how we are going to react when we finally get the opportunity to see Jesus face to face.
1. Some of us think we’ll just walk up and talk to Him – scripture says that the angels can’t even do that – they cover their faces.
- We sing… “We shall see Jesus just as they saw Him, there is no greater promise than this…” (you better believe it!!!!!!!)
A little girl was in Sunday school one day and had just finished reading the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5. She was asked by her teacher which of the beatitudes she would most like to possess. She replied with the sixth beatitude, the one that says "A pure heart." When she was asked why she preferred that, she replied again, "If my heart were pure, I believe I would have all the other virtues mentioned in this chapter.”
- Matthew 5:9 (NIV) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are the peacemakers, deals with the Christian’s social responsibility. How does my faith impact not only on me or my personal life, but how does it impact on the world around me, on society and culture at large – family and friends?
A. What does it mean to be a peacemaker? A peacemaker is not someone who settles for peace regardless of the cost. For example, not to cause some controversy, the person brushes the issue under the carpet – that’s not being a peacemaker.
1. Again, being easygoing or passive is not the same as being a peacemaker.
B. A Peacemaker is someone who is prepared to pursue peace and pay the high price if necessary. At times peace is costly, like the grace of God.
C. There are three realms of peace:
- First in the home. If you cannot keep peace at home among family members because of the arguments or disagreements or some cases violence, then chances are you will have a difficult time in your other environments. Your home life will set the stage for further arguments and disagreements at your work, social activities, church, or school.
- Secondly, in the community of Believers – the church. Paul writes in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.” (Ex. In my position that becomes difficult at times because I deal with people and people’s issues every day. Not all the time will people agree with every decision – make it personal.)
- Finally, in the society at large: Society does not always agree with the morals and values of the church and Christians. Yet, we are called and expected by God to uphold them. If someone takes exception to us because of what we stand for then that’s unfortunate.
- Scripture says the peacemakers will be called sons of God. Because they reflect the work of the Son of God who brought peace Himself.
A pastor ran into the grocery store one day to pick up a couple of things he was needing – he was in a big hurry because he was running behind trying to get to his next appointment.
He quickly went through the checkout counter – paid for his stuff – grabbed the receipt and change and out the door he went. As he was getting into his car, stuffing the change into his wallet, he noticed that the checkout girl had given him too much change. “Oh man!”, he thought – “What should I do? I’m already behind schedule – I’ve got to get on the road!”
As he saw it he could do one of three things – he could go back in right now, delaying his plans even further – and make things right. He could go on to his appointment and come back later and make them right. Or, he could just forget about it and go on about his business - people made mistakes like that all the time right?
Well, he decided he ought to go ahead and go in and make it right. He walked up to the same checkout stand he had been in just a few minutes before – and as he approached the checkout girl he said, “I’m sorry – but it looks like you may have given me too much change by accident.”
With a big tear rolling down her cheek, the checkout girl looked up at him and said, “No sir, I did it on purpose. You see, I came to your Church Sunday and sat on the back row. You preached about honesty and how important it is to be honest as a Christian. I gave you too much change so I could see if you really meant it.”
The unsaved are watching you all the time. They listen to the words that come out of your mouth – they look at your actions to see if they match your words – they are looking to see if you are REAL. They are hungry for SOMETHING REAL. And you may be the only one that let’s them see the PURITY of Jesus.
How pure are you – what do others see in your words, your actions, and your life.
When you look at this passage as a whole, it can be very easily seen that not everyone is going to go to heaven; not everyone who says they are a Christian is a Christian.
Being a born-again believer is not just a title that you wear (like a badge that you find on the ground and put it on your clothes), although some are living their lives like it’s a title.
Being a Christian involves set criteria and guidelines NOT just because you say that you are. It involves a solid, deep relationship with Christ and a character and actions as described in the beatitudes. If your life is not measured according to that then God needs to do some restructuring. (illustration from Sermon Central)
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.