— Brother Phil Enlow: My mind has gone, this week, to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5. And the Sermon on the Mount was an occasion when Jesus…a lot of crowds were following Him. Understandably, they saw miracles and they heard this unusual teacher, and they followed Him, and He led them up to a mountain and He began to teach. And so, we have quite a long record in Matthew.
But it begins with what we call the Beatitudes. And the Beatitudes are blessings. And we think of various human beings as blessed or not blessed based upon human criteria. But, Jesus’ picture was very different, wasn’t it?
You know, you go back to the beginning and you see the context into which Jesus came, and we see a world that has gone into a state of decay, into a state of corruption. In the beginning, the human race had a choice, and the choice was the wrong one. It was a choice of independence. It was a choice of seeking my own godhood, doing what I want, doing it for me. There’s a very selfish spirit that has taken over the world and we call it human nature.
And, we know that it’s not only a problem of human nature, but there is a malevolent power that is at war with God, that is set on having its own way and ultimately destroying all that it touches. And, this is the context into which the Lord came.
And we see the heart of God in just the fact that He came, that He did something about it. He didn’t just say, I’m gonna wipe it all out and forget about this ridiculous experiment. He never lost sight of the original plan.
And so, when…you remember when John the Baptist came. He said, repent, “…the kingdom of God is at hand.” (KJV). And Jesus came preaching the Kingdom. He sent His servants out, sent the disciples out, to go and to preach, the Kingdom of God is coming, it’s at hand.
So now, what we are beginning to see in this passage is what you might call Kingdom nature, as opposed to human nature, because the reason we are the way we are is because of nature. It’s because of a spirit that is born into us. We don’t have to learn how to be liars. We don’t have to learn how to do a lot of things that make the world what it is, it’s just inborn.
You know, in one sense, we talk about people who are born that way, well, we’re all born that way, in one fashion or another. And so, what Jesus is preaching here is utterly, completely…completely contrary to human nature. It’s the polar opposite of how we would react with different situations and different issues.
And so…and I believe we need to see this in the context, at least, of what Jesus said to Nicodemus, don’t we? What did He say to Nicodemus about the Kingdom of God? He said, you’ve got to be born again. You can’t even see the Kingdom of God, let alone enter it unless you’re born again. There has to be another spirit.
What Jesus is preaching here is not a better way of life. It’s not…here are some better rules to live by and things will go better. This is whole different Kingdom. It has a King. There is a life force that literally we have to receive if we’re ever gonna be this. It simply is impossible.
And so, what He is preaching, what He’s teaching here, is meant to instruct us, certainly, but it’s meant to show us, Lord, we need something we don’t have. That’s the starting point for the Kingdom. It’s this is a whole new order of things. Jesus came to invade Satan’s territory, and to rescue people. But what kind of people is He looking for? What is He looking for?
And the other thing I want to point out about this passage is, this is the Kingdom of God operating within the context of this broken world. It’s not just talking about what’s yet to come which we sang about this morning. Thank God for that. There is a new heaven and a new earth coming. And, in preparation for that, God is creating, what? A new life in us. It’s not simply a new way of life.
This is not religion. I mean, you look at the beginning, the Beatitudes, and you will see every principle here played out in the rest of what He said. And it’s obvious He’s not looking for religion. He’s not looking for the religion of the Pharisees who were concerned with the outside and what people thought of them, and their religious practices.
And, this passage is certainly relevant to people that God would awaken to their need, to realize you need something more than a better religion. You need a brand-new life and there’s only one way to have that and that’s through Jesus Christ and what He accomplished.
But here’s the other issue. We who know the Lord, we who have literally been born of His Spirit, He now lives in us, this stuff is not automatic, is it? We live with the tension between what our flesh wants, that is, the life that still animates these bodies until we leave this world…the spirit that is operating in the world still tries to operate and still tries to rule and control us. But Christ is here, too. And so, we are living in that tension between what the flesh wants and what God wants.
And the easy thing is for us to carve for ourselves a religion, if we are not careful. One of the issues that you see in the scriptures is where people have literally learned how to ‘do’ church, let’s put it that way, put it in terms that we understand. And they know how to be a Christian, quote-unquote, but it’s something that really doesn’t come from the heart.
Notice the very first thing that Jesus said was, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (NIV). I mean, there’s a lot you could dig into there. But this world does not prize, it does not value poverty, does it? In any form.
If you’re poor economically, that’s a bad thing, isn’t it? If you’re poor in terms of, all the values that we have of how to get along and how to really gain something in this world…you need courage, you need smart…you need intelligence, you need ‘something.’ You know, you need to be able to influence people. You need power. You need all these things that we value as human beings, that human beings value.
But here’s Jesus saying, blessed are the poor in spirit, the ones who don’t have what it takes, particularly when they come to a place where they realize that there is a God, that I’m gonna have to stand before Him one day, that I’m not just simply an accident down here, waiting to happen…no, an accident that just has no meaning and no purpose. There is something beyond it, and I do not have what it takes.
Now, human beings don’t like that, because the root of all human nature is pride and self! It’s all about me. It’s all about what I can do and what I can get for me. Doesn’t that make it obvious that all that’s gonna do is create trouble and conflict? But how many times do we still operate too much in the old nature? And it shows itself.
And yet, here’s Jesus talking about a blessed kind of people. And we are prone to look at somebody who has really made it, they’re viewed by society as a success, they may even be doing charitable works, and they’ve got money and people look up to them. They’re smart, they’ve accomplished things in the world. Oh, how blessed they are. Are they?
You know, many times those are the very people that never come to the place that Jesus is talking about here. They’re gonna trust in what they can do and what they have in their own resources. I’ll tell you, the only way we can enter this Kingdom and really participate in it from a standpoint of living in this world, especially, we’re gonna have to come to a place of bankruptcy, in a sense, where we realize, I can’t do anything—not anything that matters.
When God came to gather…let’s think about it this way. If you were somebody who longed to have power in the world, maybe you wanted to start an empire, I mean, what would be the considerations? Are you just gonna sit there and talk about it, or are you gonna have to have people that are smart, you’re gonna have to have an army? You’re gonna have to have technology in our world. You’re gonna have to have a whole lot of stuff if you’re gonna…because you’re gonna have to force your way into power. People aren’t gonna willingly say, oh yes! They’re gonna say, well, who are you? I’ve got my own ideas.
But I’ll tell you, the kingdoms that have risen and fallen in this world have been built on human nature striving to take control of other people and enforce their ideas. And all of it is drawn from human nature.
But when Jesus came, He didn’t go looking for that kind of people, and say, I want to recruit a better kingdom. I’m gonna look for the best army, the most courageous people in the world, the smartest people, and I’m gonna put them to work to build My kingdom. Is that what He did? No. Jesus’ values are very different from ours. Blessed are the poor.
And you know, our pride doesn’t like this. We don’t want to…even as Christians, we don’t want to think of ourselves as, ‘I can’t.’ But you know, in one sense, that’s the truth. You know, how many times did the Lord’s people have to find out? Peter found out the hard way, didn’t he?
What did Paul have to find out? What did he say when he looked back at his life, a very successful life in the eyes of the religious people of his day? He was a rising star in the religion of the Pharisees. Man, he kept it perfectly and he, not only, kept it, but he wanted to advance it, bring everybody into it. Oh, he was a success!
But when he met Jesus, and realized what really mattered, he came to the place where he said, I have no confidence in my flesh. Now flesh is a word that was used by the New Testament writers to refer, basically, to human nature, that happens to reside in our flesh, but it’s human nature that still strives to be proud, to be self-reliant, to do our thing, to be in control.
Folks, that’s the danger of so much religion. Men find a way to remain the lord of their own lives, to remain in control, to feel like they can handle it. My God, I’m so thankful…what a blessed place it is to be brought by the mercy of God to a place where we know we haven’t got it. Thank God!
Oh…I’ll tell you, it’s something…our tendency is to say, oh, I should be different. Oh, poor me, I can’t do this. I’m just nobody. I don’t matter. And here’s the Lord saying, if you feel that way and you’re looking at you and your resources to serve me and to be the kind of person I want you to be, you are blessed. I have a Kingdom for you. I have a Kingdom that’s designed for people exactly like you.
I’ll tell you, if you’re here this morning, and God’s brought you to, maybe to a fresh realization that you just haven’t, in yourself, got what it takes, and you tend to be down about it, you think that something is wrong, something is bad, I’ll tell you, God wants you to lift up your eyes and realize His Kingdom is for people exactly like you, because until we come to that place, we’ll never enter that Kingdom.
We’re gonna remain in charge. We might adopt a religion and feel good about ourselves, but we’ll never let go and say, oh God, I just come to you as I am. I’m broken, and I come to be mended. But I come because the life that I have cannot possibly participate in that. I need Your life.
See, then it’s a matter of learning how to live out that life within the context of this world. But you know how easy it is for us to get to a place where we suddenly think we’ve got a handle on it. Anybody been through that?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah. What about the people in Laodicea? I mean, if you had looked at the church that Jesus spoke about in Revelation chapter 3, the writer…Jesus didn’t say anything about, well, you’ve fallen into false doctrine, you’ve done this, you’ve done that. It’s just that they had come to a place of such pride and complacency that they said, we’re rich, we have need of nothing, we’re doing great, things are good!
And Jesus was outside knocking to get in, as we’ve said many times. They had lost the essence of living in the Kingdom in this world. It is a life of joyous, restful dependence upon another life. It is letting go of pride. It’s a way of seeing ourselves as we really are. It’s a total honesty about what we are and what we aren’t.
But it’s not feeling bad about it, as though, oh my God, it should be different. No, that’s the way it is. Thank God! It’s a joyous place to come to a place of rest, to realize that’s not a bad thing. That is an awesome thing! Because God has a Kingdom that is just for you, because He’s provided everything that you’re not, and He’s done it willingly. Don’t you see, not only our place and what we are, but God’s heart?
You know, human society runs on pride, runs on power, runs on some people up here looking down and exerting control. Oh, I’ll tell you, this Kingdom that He’s building is not built on fear! It’s not built on a tyrant who says, you do this or else! This is built on a God who says, I know where you’re at…My nature is so…is such that I’m just not like you. I don’t run to the strong. I don’t reward the strong. I don’t reward those who make me feel good and help me out. I’m not selfish in this. I want, sacrificially to reach out, I delight in reaching to the weak, and giving them of Myself.
I’ll tell you, that’s the kind of heart that God wants us to see that He has, to be willing just to let go and let God, and take our place, and participate in the Kingdom. Man, there’s peace in that. I don’t have to struggle and strive to be something I’m not. I can just look to Him and trust in Him.
I praise God for that this morning! I mean, are you in a place of turmoil and struggle and strife about stuff? See, that’s not the kingdom that He’s come to establish. What did Isaiah say…I didn’t even think about this scripture, but, “Of the increase of his government and peace….” Of the increase of his government, that’s Jesus’ government…there will be no end. And it’s His government and peace! God wants every one of us to have a place of peace and rest.
And you know, it comes to the second verse…but what positive statements. “…Theirs is the kingdom….” They will be, they will inherit, they will…and it’s obvious that every little thing here is God stepping into a situation that human nature would say, this is terrible! This shouldn’t be this way! And God says, you are blessed if this is true, because I’ve got what you need. I am what you need. I am all you need.
“Blessed are those who mourn….” In a sense, you could say the first Beatitude gives us a picture of what we are. But I believe, in part at least, the second beatitude deals with, how do I feel about that? Because, we could come to a place where we sort of give in and acquiesce and say, yes, God, I just can’t do anything…and we could sit there and poor-mouth. We could sit there and feel sorry for ourselves, which is nothing more than pride. We could feel resentful. Well, I’ve got to do this because I’m just so bad. I mean there are a thousand and one human emotions that are anything but saying, I’m blessed!
I’m blessed, because not only do I see the need in myself…I don’t want it to be that way. I don’t want to be a person who’s striving for self. I don’t want to be full of unrest, and anger and hate and all the things that possess this world. Oh God, I not only see what I am, I don’t want that. I need You.
Not only that, you see the world and all of its glory, if you want to put it that way. Boy, it’s getting worse and worse though, isn’t it? But you see all of man’s achievements and you say, oh God, I long for the day when we’re out of this, when this is over. I don’t see any value in living here, apart from living for You as long as you’re gonna let me live.
But there’s no other purpose, there’s no future in this world. Oh, they’re trying to save the planet. Good for them! God’s gonna burn it up and there’s not a thing anybody can do about it and it’s gonna happen on His schedule. The question is, where are we gonna be on that day?
I’ll tell you, I want to be part of this Kingdom and He is the One who has opened the door where we can be a part of that Kingdom, not by our achievements, not by our abilities, not by any good thing in us. There’s nothing good in us! That’s what Paul had to learn the hard way. There’s no good in this flesh. “O wretched man that I am!” he cried out. “…who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (KJV).
And then he realized the answer is in Jesus. He has given me His Spirit and all that He longs to produce in me comes not from my efforts, it comes from just yielding to Him and allowing Him to live in me, instead of this old nature. Which is in control? That’s the question. I believe God wants to help us to see a fresh picture of this, because it’s so easy for us to be religious and not really walk in this.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (NIV) What a positive statement. I’ll tell you, if you feel bad about who you are and long to be different, there is somebody who says, you are blessed. Not only that, I’m gonna take care of the issue. I’ve got the answer. I just need to have people who get to the place where they need me, because I am all you need. I’m not looking down my nose at you. I’m not demanding things you can’t do. I’m not…all the things that you see in human society, I’m not like that. I just need you. Praise God!
“Blessed are the meek….” Oh, how we love that one. You talk about something that is the polar opposite of human nature. There is a humility…didn’t Jesus say, come and learn from me, for I am meek, in one translation, humble and gentle in heart? Oh, how we react to life.
See, the first deals with…these first two deal with kind of our relationship with God. Am I who I think I am or do I have to just come clean and say, oh God, I need You and I want You? That’s the foundation. You don’t even get into the Kingdom until you come through that door. See? You don’t bring yourself in and say, I’m gonna do this and God’s gonna reward me.
But now we’re beginning to deal with living in this world and our reactions to it. And, I think we don’t have to look very far in comparing ourselves with how Jesus reacted. I mean, what did they do to Him? This is the Son of God! This is the Creator they are looking at, in the eye, and they’re reviling Him.
Many people are saying, You’re doing this by the power of Satan. They’re just telling lies. They’re doing everything in the world to oppose Him and He’s just…how is He reacting to that? How dare you say such things about the Son of God! Don’t you know who I am? I’m gonna call thunderbolts down.
You know, they wanted to do that…Peter wanted to do that in Samaria one time, didn’t he? They were going through and the people didn’t receive Jesus, because He was on His way to Jerusalem, and you know the antagonism they had with the Samaritans and the Jews. And Peter said, do You want us to call down fire?
( laughing ).
No. You don’t know what kind of spirit you are of. Isn’t that revealing? See, Peter was getting his inspiration, not from the Spirit from Kingdom nature, but from human nature. You see, God is trying to teach us how to live by Kingdom nature, because that’s the only way His Kingdom is gonna actually exist here and be seen.
Oh God, do we need this. We cannot simply take the heritage that we have received from Brother Thomas and others, and say, well, we’ve got it, we’ve got it. All we have to do is do church right, believe the right things, come to services and sing the songs, and stay out of jail and we’re okay. Oh Lord, we need to exhibit Kingdom nature in our relations one with another, in our lives and our relations to the world. I need Him every day.