Part 2: Narrow Way of Discipleship: Holy Spirit Life (Matthew 5:6-11)
In THE NARROW WAY TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD, we looked at the brand new revelation of Christ’s way of salvation and eternal life. And the exciting thing is we who have been blessed with repentance do not have to wait until we die to receive our reward!
Remember in Matthew 5:5 the Lord promised the meek “shall inherit the earth.” This is a Jewish way of saying that great blessings are for the here and now, not just in heaven after you die! For the first disciples, that was greatly different from their Jewish experience of spiritual darkness and suffering under the dominion of sin. But these next statements left the disciples struggling to understand His enormous promises of a new and supernatural way of life.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice (righteousness), 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.
1/ The first supernatural change of the Kingdom of God within you is a new heart of love gushing out goodness and righteousness. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)
Once God blesses a person with repentance and forgiveness He gives them eternal life. Like a physical newborn, the new spiritual baby immediately is hungry to know God and be like Him. Even the Greek word translated “hunger” is a weak translation. Instead, this word was used to describe being famished and starving. Also, the Greek word used by Jesus for thirst is also extremely strong and was used to describe a deer panting so deeply in need of water that it was near death.
But the great news is God promises to fill the believer with righteousness. But, not the way we use the word filled.
This may help you understand. I am from south Florida and over the years many people lost or released pet pythons into the wild. There are tons of them living in the swamps of the Everglades.
I saw video footage on the news that showed a crazy python who was so hungry he caught a huge alligator, squeezed it until it suffocated, then swallowed it. After that, all you could see was the snake’s head, then the entire form of the gator, and a little snake tail.
He was so gorged he could not move, and his shape was changed from a snake to an alligator.
This is how the Greek word is used and helps us see the promise of Jesus. He promised to gorge Christians with righteousness that they would no longer have the old shape of sin. After Christ returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit bloated them and even bloats us today with His goodness that we are no longer recognizable from our old days. Righteousness stretches us way out of shape and our old sinful souls are overwhelmed by God’s goodness. You cannot miss this change!
Here are the plain words of Jesus when he later describes this spiritual experience. “Jesus took his stand. He cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.’ (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)” John 7:37-39 (MSG)
So what righteousness is flooding and gushing out of us? Long before this day when Jesus introduced the new abundant life, it was already promised by God to absolutely change people. Ezekiel the prophet proclaimed this amazing promise hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth: “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NLT)
When Jesus promised to fill his followers with righteousness, he meant a real life alteration that forces Christians to follow His commands. He meant such a drastic change that the rushing force of righteousness exploding from God’s Holy Spirit within would cause his people to obey His laws. This great force of God’s Spirit would burst out of their hearts like a flood of water rushing and force them to fulfill God’s will! The flood of the Holy Spirit’s righteous is so powerful it explodes in the believer’s heart.
Yes, the true saints can and do follow the will of God!
Surfers experience this all the time. If they actually try to surf against the wind and waves they will exhaust themselves and fail. But, if they work through the waves and then turn around and let the waves push them toward the beach they get the joy of riding the waves.
True believers get the joy of riding the waves of the righteousness pouring out of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside their new hearts. Their hearts and souls are bloated by the love of God. Paul plainly exclaims, “…the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us…” 2 Corinthians 5:14 (AMP)
He always spells it out this way, “Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.” Romans 6:18 (NLT) And, “now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.” Romans 6:22 (NLT)
2/ The second supernatural change is a new heart gorged with mercy. “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (NLT)
Again Jesus later clarifies what he means, for example in Matthew 9:10-13 (NLT) he encounters the resistance of the rabbis, “Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’ When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.’ Then he added, ‘Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.’”
The kind of mercy that pours from the heart of God is the kind that rushes to the side of people all messed up with sin. They have ruined their lives. They are not acceptable sinners but those that are repulsive. He did not join them in their sin, but he helped them in spite of their sin. Like a doctor, he diagnosed their spiritual sickness, and did not approve of disease of sin, but instead sought to help heal them.
All outward religious practice void of this extreme form of mercy is empty religion. Everyone needs forgiveness and salvation. Jesus has a heart that gushes out mercy and compassion to those trapped in darkness.
The heart of our Lord was constantly expressed through his encounters with the Jewish rabbis. In Matthew 23:23 (NLT) he confronts them about what is the priority of God. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice (righteousness), mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
God blesses those who give mercy because when you are born again, the Holy Spirit floods you with mercy for the hurting, lonely, broken sinners of this world! Our new hearts driven by God himself powerfully influencing us by altering our priorities. The important things to God become the important things to us. God causes us to fulfill HIS WILL. It is a miracle!
3/ The third supernatural change is a new heart glowing with purity “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NLT)
Our Lord makes it clear the spirit of holiness is pumped into the new creature in Christ. Later Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NLT) Putting the two together shows us the “pure in heart” are the born again who can only see heaven.
The Pharisees were full of corruption and defilement, but remember they were the best the Jewish religion could produce under the law. In contrast, the new Holy Spirit filled Christians became so gorged with righteousness that their pure lives outshined the only spiritual leaders the disciples knew before they met Jesus.
Many years later Paul agreed and tries to explain this incredible change. First, he describes the way of the Pharisees without being born again. “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT)
Despite their best efforts the old way of the life the disciples were taught to live they were stuck in impurity, and their lives proved it.
But Paul continues by contrasting the new way of life that Jesus brought through a new heart and new spirit. Let’s read it, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Galatians 5:19-24 (NLT)
This is not spiritual idealism, but the drastic change of life as the Holy Spirit supernaturally floods the souls of the born again believer. He is not saying Christians ought to, or are supposed to or hope to live this way some day. As clearly as he stated hell waits for those who live in sin, heaven waits for the pure-hearted saints who LIVE THE NEW WAY of Jesus! The Holy Spirit produces, submerges, and saturates the hearts of the saints with the fruit of the Spirit. And again I quoted Paul, “…the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us…”
4/ The fourth supernatural change is a new heart pouring out peace. “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NLT)
In selfishness, Americans see this statement as personal rest and quietness. But the Lord Jesus reveals the fourth life altering change of a born again saint by explaining that just like he was a peacemaker, he makes his disciples peacemakers. Like Father, like Son. Christ came to make peace with God’s enemies by legally paying the full price for all men’s crimes against God.
Paul goes into great length to explain this, so we must read portions of his letters. First, he says, “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” Colossians 1:19-22 (NLT)
Then Paul explains what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:9 and how it relates to all of us. He says, “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (NLT)
God does not leave us to decide how we live out this life but gives further instruction through James. Contrasting the way everybody in the world thinks because of the Satanic darkness he says, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17-18 (NLT)
Righteousness, righteousness and an abundant harvest of more righteousness pours from the lives of the church that God fills with His Holy Spirit. As James explains the flood of righteousness that flows from God’s people, he makes his point by using the four foundational blessings God gives to the newly born again.
Paul declares, “…What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.” Galatians 6:15-16 (NLT)
God blesses the fully repentant person, yes the new people of God by giving them a new heart and spirit. This fully transforms them pouring through their souls: righteousness, mercy, purity, and peace. The force of the Holy Spirit within drives and controls the church creating a new breed of people.
All four of these blessings from God reveal your new identity in Christ. What is your new identity? The non-optional character change that grips your whole being, changing your focus and direction for the rest of your life. You are like Jesus, following His every move and command!
Now, does Jesus mean this is the new transformed way of life? Yes, He immediately warns the disciples that the world will hate them and oppose them. “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:10 (NLT) This narrow way of life will tick off the ungodly because they will feel guilty for their sins and feel condemned just being around this supernatural lifestyle. The contrast cannot be any clearer, our God expects us to get pushback for just obeying Him.
5/ The supernatural flood of the Holy Spirit is what drives us to live MORE righteously (verse 20)
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 (AMP)
You must understand this righteousness is not just an applied righteousness from God like a coat, but the real righteousness that transforms your behavior. You cannot live like the Pharisees and just believe you are more righteous because of Jesus. He makes this abundantly clear through the next whole section by of His talk.
He compared the lifestyle demanded by the Law that the Pharisees taught (“You have heard…”) to the FAR MORE righteous life of the new heart and new spirit that He provides to His followers (“But I say…”). The very Greek word that is translated “more” or “exceed” does not mean the same as we use those words in English. Superabound is the true meaning and that is the difference between I giving you a gift of a penny or 1 million dollars. It is not giving you two cents instead of one.
We look at this next time. For now, read this again and again and ask God to open your eyes to His Narrow Way of Life.