Dear Friend in Christ:
When the Lord leads us to a passage, it is not merely academic; His guidance is always preparatory. Back in February, I tried to cover Matthew 5:1-16 in one letter; I could not. In fact, books could be and have been written, but these are mostly theological or scriptural exposition. That is not my purpose here. When I was 12 years old, I memorized these verses, but I missed the message as preparation for my journey. I wish now that I had seen it as practical and part of my progressing journey. I hope that I can convey it that way to you.
Isaiah 61:1-3 says that Messiah would be anointed to preach the Gospel to the poor, heal the broken hearted, set captives free, and give beauty for ashes. The Pharisees memorized those verses, but missed the message. The disciples walked with Jesus for three-and-a-half years, saw miracles, heard Him teach close up, and came to know He was Messiah, but they missed this very message; they failed to “get it” until after the Cross and Pentecost.
Is it possible that we also have heard it, believed it, sung about it, and yet missed the message? Was He telling us something that we have missed? If so, what must happen for us to get it? What is He saying to us for this time? In what way is He preparing us? Is it really a serious issue? Let’s take another look.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Spiritual poverty is not a blessing, but the revelation of it is a great blessing, because it begins our journey with Jesus. Failure to see our spiritual need is blindness to reality, an indicator of pride and unteachableness. So, it is a blessing to become humble, see our need and be led to Jesus.
Isaiah is my favorite prophet. I did a six-week intensive course on Isaiah in seminary and became deeply involved in the miraculous insights. Isaiah spends 5 chapters pronouncing judgment on Israel. But in chapter 6, he sees the Lord high and lifted up and the glory filled the temple. Then Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am undone.” He begins to confess his own sins and says, “For my eyes have seen The King, The Lord of Hosts.” Humility is the first evidence that we have seen the King. Isaiah’s mission followed that life changing experience.
Every good thing that flows from God happens after we humble ourselves before Him (see 2 Chronicles 7:14). Promotion, favor, endurance, missions, forgiveness, and a host of other “Blesseds” follow true humility that comes from meeting God in His Glory. Now Jesus says, “theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” From humility, were are birthed into the Kingdom. The sinner who can humble himself or herself is better off than the “believer” who will not. Pride goes in a very different direction! It is easy to see the sins of others, but to see our own is so much more difficult. When the Lord shows up in the Holy Spirit with conviction, we cannot escape it. Then we will become childlike and teachable. That is where we begin.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Repentance is turning around and away from our sin with godly sorrow. Mourning and grief do not sound like a blessing, but when we grieve over our condition and are given the gift of repentance, that is a life-transforming blessing (see 2 Corinthians 7:10). Then the Holy Spirit of Truth, “The Comforter,” can guide us into all truth (see John 15:26). We have changed directions. But facing the Truth is essential. Without that, there is no lasting comfort. Even if we tithe, praise God, and do good things, we have not a lasting foundation.
Jesus can handle the truth when we confess it. He already knows it, and besides He is the Truth and Truth is the Way to the Father. In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells the story of the publican and the Pharisee: I hope you will read it. The publican (tax collector) confessed that he was a sinner. He could not even lift his head, but he confessed and cried for mercy. Jesus said that he went away justified. What a blessing! The Pharisee was “just happy that he was not a sinner like the publican.” Yet, apparently, he was not justified.
Jesus never tried to comfort those who would not face the raw truth about themselves. We err when we comfort those who will not deal with their own condition. The blessing was for those who grieved for their own sins, those would be comforted by the “The Comforter.” We must not say “Peace, Peace” to those who have not found peace with God and from God.
In some ways, the sinner who sees and mourns over their sins, and is willing to face God with it, has advantage over the believer who will not face the truth; they move in very different directions. I have had great experiences with sinners who wept over their sins and bad experiences with my own pride and pride among believers.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (the land)” (Matthew 5:5). Meekness is not weakness; it is strength under discipline. Picture a strong horse with a bridle on it. That is meekness. Having faced the truth, repented with godly sorrow, it is now time to learn meekness, how to bridle our newfound strength and our carnal nature. We now must learn sensitivity to the Holy Spirit who birthed us into the Kingdom. We must learn to bridle ourselves and yoke up with Jesus. That is a process that is sometimes painful. That will be a key to fulfilling God’s promise and receiving our inheritance.
Moses was the “meekest man who ever lived” (see Numbers 12:3). He was by no means weak! At 120 years of age, he was still virile and strong, even after leading Israel through the wilderness for 40 years! Remarkable! Early in their journey, the people cried out for water and the Lord told Moses to strike the rock. Later, they cried out for water again; this time the Lord said, “Speak to the rock.” But Moses was angry with rebellious Israel. Instead of speaking to the Rock as God had instructed, Moses struck the rock again in anger. For this he was not able to enter Canaan; he saw it but could not go in. For one angry moment, he had removed his bridle, and it cost him.
I often wonder how many good people, because of a loss of discipline, have seen what could have been but were not allowed to enter due to breaking loose in a moment, or a year, with no bridle. Jesus’ promise is to the meek, that they will inherit the land. We must take His yoke upon ourselves. Matthew 11:29 says, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.” Jesus never took off the yoke.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). If we have tasted the salvation and comfort of God, we know that He is good and His mercy is everlasting (see Psalm 34:8; Psalm 100:5). We want more of His nature, His Spirit within us. There are two specific ways that I will discuss. His righteousness is perfect relationship within Himself— Father, Son, and Spirit in the Holy Oneness. Righteousness in us is oneness with Him and others. It is esteeming others better than ourselves (see Philippians 2:3). It is doing unto others as we would have them do to us (see Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). So, how do we receive the righteousness that we seek? We were not righteous when we met Him!
First, He imputes the righteousness of Christ to us. He counts us righteous by our faith in Him. Abraham was counted righteous by his faith (see Genesis 15:6). It is a gift of God (see Romans 4:5; Isaiah 61:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30). He sees us clothed in Christ’s righteousness—our sins are covered by faith in Jesus.
However, what He counts us to be, He works in us to become. He uses “all things” to conform us to the image and character of Christ (see Romans 8:28-30). So we are favored, blessed by God, as we hunger to be like Jesus, and He will continually fill us with His Spirit and nature—as we walk in faith through the “All things,” God will use the journey to change our nature. He will “infuse” us with His righteousness—He will replace our carnal nature.
If we stop hungering and thirsting, and become satisfied with our condition, we decline in that process. Favor is added as we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (see Matthew 6:33). In one sense, the hungry and honest sinner may find more favor than the believer who is not hungry. God gives to us, but only if we want what He gives. He is not a tyrant.
Let us pause here and review progress. We were in misery and wanted no more of it. So we turned to Jesus and found favor. Now we are on a life-changing journey and want more! That is a lot of progress!
Bear in mind, it is all a gift! Let’s not become “proud of our humility.” But do be joyful and very grateful! We have reviewed 4 steps: Realizing our poverty of spirit, mourning over or condition and repenting, learning meekness and hungering for more. We are progressing toward the nature of Jesus. In my view, those steps must remain with us throughout the journey in order to continue in God’s favor and grow. In other words, if we lose humility, we cease to be teachable, and so it is with all previous understanding.
There is comfort when we falter, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (see 1 John 1:9). In our next letter, I will talk about mercy, purity of heart, peacemaking, and persecution. Remember, this message was given by Jesus as persecution was becoming evident. Then, I will discuss “Salt and Light.” I hope this letter has encouraged you in the Lord and that you’ll continue reading as we share in months ahead.
IN CHRIST ALONE
On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 7:30 PM Central Time, we will have our “Virtual Gatlinburg” CSM Conference online. We would love to have you join us via our Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook
Page or our CSMPublishing YouTube Channel. Our very timely theme is, “In Christ Alone.” We will enter into a time of worship with Abundant Life Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. In addition
to myself and CSM President Stephen Simpson speaking, we are honored to have Pastor Tim Parish from New Life Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and Erin Spinello of Saddleback Covenant Church in
Mission Viejo, California.
Please help us get the word out and plan to be with us online. Next year, we are planning to regather in Gatlinburg at the beautiful Doubletree Park Vista Hotel, for our 2022 CSM Leadership
Conference. We will be announcing dates soon!
Thanks so much for standing with us in your prayers and in your giving. Please continue to remember us this month. Your friendship and support have meant so much to us during this very challenging
and difficult season. We are profoundly grateful for God’s provision. See the card enclosed for ministry resources and visit us online at csmpublishing.org. In addition to our Facebook Page and YouTube, you can follow us on Twitter @CSMinPublishing. God bless you!
Scriptures: Matthew 5:1-16; Isaiah 61:1-3; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Corinthians 7:10; John 15:26; Luke 18:9-14; Numbers 12:3; Matthew 11:29; Psalm 34:8; Psalm 100:5; Philippians 2:3; Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31; Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:5; Isaiah 61:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 6:33; 1 John 1:9
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.