The Poor In Spirit And The Kingdom Of Heaven

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingom of heaven (Matthew 5:3)

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see ~John Newton

Before a Holy God, humankind, without Christ stand wretched. The Bible attests to the truth of this wretchedness in various places. Humanity is separated from the glory of God because of sin (Rom. 3:23). The prophet Isaiah declares our rigtheousness is like filthy rags before God(Isaiah 64:6). Jeremiah paints a rather troubling picture of our condition. He says our “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick”(17:9). “Desperately sick”–that calls for desperate solution. In Ephesians 2:1, sinful humanity is described as “dead in sins and trespasses”

Apart from these general descriptions of humanity, we also see in the pages of Scripture, the reality of our human wretchedness before God through the experiences of some of its characters.

When Isaiah, a prophet saw the holiness of God, he exclaimed in dread “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”(Isaiah 6:5). Apostle Paul, when he was brought face to face with the reality of the fallen nature in his own life, he, out of the pain of the reality of indwelling sin, wrote words similar to Isaiah; “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:24). You might think an Apostle of his calibre must not utter such words.

All these, I believe finds better expression in David’s confession after his infamous adultery with Bathseba. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive” (Psalm 51:5). In these words, David sums up what is true of all of us– Original SinPraise-06-782013 and Total Depravity.

Original sin is the doctrine which holds that human nature has been morally and ethically corrupted due to the disobedience of mankind’s first parents to the revealed will of God. In the Bible, the first human transgression of God’s command is described as the sin of Adam and Eve in theGarden of Eden resulting in what theology calls the Fall of mankind. The doctrine of original sin holds that every person born into the world is tainted by the Fall such that all of humanity is ethically debilitated, and people are powerless to rehabilitate themselves, unless rescued by God.

Total Depravity is the doctrine that fallen man is completely touched by sin and that he is completely a sinner. He is not as bad as he could be; but in all areas of his being, body, soul, spirit, mind, emotions, etc., he is touched by sin. In that sense, he is totally depraved. Because man is depraved, nothing good can come out of him (Rom. 3:10-12); and God must account the righteousness of Christ to him. This righteousness is obtainable only through faith in Christ and what He did on the cross

We see clearly the biblical account of the condition of the human race. However, the proud, haughty and arrogant will have nothing to do with these description. Not many people agree they are that “bad”. Predominantly, people believe they are good and reject any idea that attempts to describe them in a least favourable way.

The poor in spirit however, acknowledge their wretchedness and accept the truth of the human condition as expoused in Holy Scriptures. Like the publican, they “beat [their] breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The poor in spirit, agrees with the truth of God’s word that apart from His grace and imputed righteousness; they are lost in their sins and bear His wrath. The poor in spirit are totally dependent on God for their salvation. The poor in spirit possess a humble heart as a result of the knowledge of their depravity and unworthy of God’s love apart from His mercy. The poor in spirit are humble and accept the divine verdict of man’s lostness. They acknowledge they are sinners:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.(Psalm 51:17).

This sense of wretchedness leads sinners to turn to God for His mercy, ushering them into His kingdom; “for theirs is the kingdom of God”. The poor in spirit, through faith and regeneration of the Holy Spirit are born again and regenerated. Their sins are forgiven. They become children of God through adoption into His family. They gain entrance into the Kingdom of God and eternal life. Once they were lost, now they are found. Once they were enemies of God, now they are reconciled To God. Once they stood condemned before God. Now, they are justified through faith. Though poor in spirit, now they are rich in Spirit and made beneficiaries of all God’s divine abundance.

Are you aware of your sinfulness and inadequacy to please God? There is hope. There is forgiveness. Come to Christ in faith and repentance and enjoy the blessedness of heaven-forgiveness and reconciliation to God.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s(Psalm 103:1-5).

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4 thoughts on “The Poor In Spirit And The Kingdom Of Heaven

  1. Hi,

    You seem to be interpreting ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ in terms of sinful depravity and wretchedness. How does this interpretation line up with the same words of Jesus in Luke 6:20, where He simply puts it as ‘Blessed are the poor’. Is Jesus talking about sinful depravity and wretchedness here too?

    BTW, I see you’ve followed my tech blog. I think you’ll find my theology blog more useful to you than the tech one. You can reach it at http://www.vicitagnusnoster.org.

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    • Thanks Edem for making the time to comment. I am grateful. Yes I am interpreting “Poor in spirit” in light of our human depravity and our inadequacy of ourselves to please God. Spiritually, we are bankrupt and cannot offer anything acceptable to God outside of Christ. But you will agree that, it is not all who accept this state of “spiritual bankruptcy”. There is the self-rigtheous who believe they can earn God’s acceptance by their good works apart from Christ. However, those who humbly accept their condition of wretchedness and turn to God are those being referred to as poor in spirit. Indeed they are blessed because they receive pardon. I think Luke 6:20 carries the same interpretation I gave to Matthew 5:3 in the article. It is not referring to the “materially” poor. If that were the case, every poor person has an automatic pass to heaven.

      I will follow your theology blog. Do you reside in Ghana?

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      • Eric, I beg to differ with you on Luke 6:20. Jesus doesn’t introduce any “in spirit” in Luke 6:20, and yet somehow Christendom has been quick to still spiritualize it. It’s the same Luke who records Jesus as saying the gospel is being preached to the poor (Lk 7:21-23). Jesus meant exactly what those words mean – the poor as in physical poverty.

        This “spiritual poverty” interpretation is a classical interpretative move that has dominated Protestant Christianity for may years, and which totally ignores IMO the history and background of Second Temple Judaism within which Jesus’s ministry and life is situated. You should read Scott McKnight’s “The Sermon On The Mount” or listen to our podcast here on the Sermon On the Mount, especially on the Beatitudes. https://soundcloud.com/podcastonthemount

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      • The name is Enoch. I have crossed checked and I am convinced Luke 6:20 is consistent with the interpretation of Matthew 5:3. M Again thanks for your comments and the recommended reading and voice. I will work on them. Bless you.

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