DEVELOPING A BE-ATTITUDE ATTITUDE PART 3
The Lost Act of Mourning.
Matthew 5:4 ISV – How blessed are those who mourn, for it is they who will be comforted!
If you have been going to church for any length of time you know this one truth: God forgives. You know the promise that we will receive comfort if we cast our burdens, sins, worries, fears, and anxieties over on Him. But how do we do this? There are many people who want freedom from the baggages of guilt, pain, sorrow and sin, but they can’t seem to remove those baggages. Worldly philosophies, religion, and other things don’t help alleviate our problems; in fact, they make our burdens heavier to carry.
I myself was raised in religious circles. I literally cut my teeth underneath the pew. I’ve heard all the sermons on how Jesus loves me, how he forgives me, if I would just come to Him. I’ve also heard how if I would just repeat some prayer someone prayed, it would be alright between me and God. I’ve heard that what I needed to do is just “Pray through,” and then after I have shed enough tears and prayed long enough, I will feel free. Well you know what I have discovered? All those things are untrue and instead of finding freedom, it just created more baggage for me to carry.
Even after God gloriously saved me, everything I thought was alright, until one day I became blinded by my arrogance and pride. I wasn’t even aware of my sin, and justified it before God. Well, God did the gracious thing – He broke me. But even after breaking me, I knew I was forgiven by Him, and forgiven by those I had offended through my pride, but I was still carrying this baggage around of self-guilt. I did not know how to get rid of it. I tried everything people told me to do. I quoted Scripture claiming the promises; I rebuked the devour of my soul – Satan. I even wept in bitter tears. But I still felt self condemned.
Until a few years ago, I read a passage of Scripture that literally freed me, though I will admit I still have times of self-condemnation, I go back to this passage and this particular translation. Here it is.
Romans 8:1-2 Phillips – No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.
When I saw this principle mentioned in this passage, it was like a light came on. I was “in” Christ Jesus. I couldn’t lift myself out of the old vicious circle of sin and death, and the cycle of self-condemnation, but it was Christ that lifts me out, and now the condemnation of my past before Christ saved me and sins I commit after He saved me do not hang over my head. I don’t remove the self-condemnation, I’m incapable: Christ does!!
What a marvelous truth.
This truth produced in me godly sorrow, not sorrow of the flesh. Godly sorrow, which I believe means a sorrow produced in us by God is what leads us to life and repentance. Worldly sorrow will just leave us in the condition we are in.
2 Corinthians 7:10 ISV – For having sorrow in a godly way results in repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets. But the sorrow of the world produces death.
You see, you can’t truly repent unless God produces in you true sorrow, and the sorrow that He produces results in repentance and right standing with Him.
I want us to look at this subject this morning and see what God would speak to us through His Word.
What does it mean to mourn?
Matthew 5:4a ISV – How blessed are those who mourn….
The word, “Mourn” in the passage in Greek literally means, “To wail, to become broken because of your sin or sins of others.”
This type of mourning is not talking about mourning at the loss of a loved one, or because you are having difficulties of some type, but it is to mourn over your sins.
We just don’t hear this taught in our churches anymore. We make salvation and forgiveness just an easy four step plan or so, where there is no remorse, no sorrow, no grieving over what we have done to offend our Creator, and offending others as well.
Sadly, I feel that there are many who are not truly walking in salvation and true forgiveness, and haven’t truly forgiven themselves either because they treat sin and repentance of it so lightly. And the fault lies in the pulpits of America.
We must get back to mourning for our sins, grieving for our offenses against the Lord, others, and ourselves.
And this is not a worldly sorrow that leaves you in your condemned state, but this is a sorrow that is produced by the Holy Spirit Himself. It doesn’t mean you necessarily have to weep, but it does mean that there is a grief that he produces over your sins in you, and as you grieve and mourn, Christ lifts you up and removes the condemnation hanging over you.
Notice the next point.
When we mourn over our sins we have a promise of comfort.
Matthew 5:4b ISV – for it is they who will be comforted!
The Greek word for “comforted” means, “To comfort, to drawn close or near to, to be called to rest.” All those things are what Christ does when we cry out to Him through the pain and sorrow of our sins. He draws us close to Him, He calls us to come to Him and rest from the pain and sorrow of our sin. It is more than just forgiveness of sin and being free from them, but to actually to be drawn up into His presence!!! What a fantastic truth!
As a little child have you ever done something wrong and one of your parents scolded you for it? You felt so guilty that you became sorrowful and maybe began to weep and you truly apologized to your parent. And then maybe they sat down beside you, and took you in their arms and held you tight, and close and spoke comforting words too you. That is the picture that we have here with the word “comforted.”
One last point.
Comforting us in our mourning is the present day ministry of Jesus Christ.
This passage was written 800 years before Jesus came, yet it describes His ministry so wonderfully to us. Let’s read it and just quickly skim through what it says.
Isaiah 61:1-3 NET – 1 The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has chose me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners, 2 to announce the year when the Lord will show his favor, the day when our God will seek vengeance, to console all who mourn, 3 to strengthen those who mourn in Zion, by giving them a turban, instead of ashes, oil symbolizing joy, instead of mourning, a garment symbolizing praise, instead of discouragement. They will be called oaks of righteousness, trees planted by the Lord to reveal his splendor.
Let’s look at just a few things from this passage:
• God the Father chose (anointed) Jesus for the task of bringing salvation to the people (v. 1).
• He encourages those who are poor.
• Helps the brokenhearted.
• Releases those bound by sin.
• Announces that God’s favor has come.
• Consoles those who mourn over their sin.
Just a side note, if you study Isaiah 61 and Matthew 5, you will see that many things that Isaiah talks about here are actually addressed within Matthew 5.
How does He strengthen those who mourn over their sin?
• He gives them a turban for their head instead of ashes. Some translations state, “beauty” instead of Turban. The Hebrew says it is an “ornamental head covering.” In Hebrew culture when you sinned, you poured ashes over your head as a sign of mourning. Here it says that he is going to cover your head, not with ashes for mourning, but an ornamental turban. You are covered! Does anyone know by the way who wore an ornamental head covering in the Old Testament – it was the High Priest! Think about that for just a moment. He is going to cover us who mourn over our sin with His own head covering – truly beauty for ashes!
• He gives us oil symbolizing joy. In times of grief in the Hebrew culture, they would not clean themselves up or put on any perfumed oil, and people all knew you were mourning. While I feel our mourning should be between us and God, when we come before Him mourning our sin, He replaces our mourning with perfumed anointing oil – which in Hebrew cultures they put on guests during times of celebration. We have been forgiven, and the Lord is going to put anoint us with His Spirit for us to rejoice in His forgiveness!
• He gives us a garment symbolizing praise. This garment I believe is also the garment of the High Priest of Israel. They would have stones on the garment representing the 12 tribes of Israel, plus the Urim and the Thummim, which represented the voice and leading of God to the nation. Jesus, as our High Priest, clothes us with His garment! In other words, we rejoice over the forgiveness of our sins because He rejoices over them!
• We who mourned over our sins are now called oaks of righteousness (v. 3). An Oak tree symbolized strength in the Old Testament. How can we that are weak humans who are prone to sin be called oaks of righteousness? Because we have been planted by the Lord Himself for one purpose alone – to reveal His splendor and glory!
We could spend weeks on this one subject, but we are going to stop here today. God does not want us to treat our past, nor our present sins flippantly and just say some casual prayer. He wants us to repent in Godly sorrow. Which means turning to Him and allow Him to produce the sorrow that produces a change of heart in you. When we come to Him in godly sorrow, we are comforted – taken up in His arms and loved as children. We also put on a new type of clothing, we are clothed in Christ.
Won’t you approach Him this morning mourning over your sins, so that He might restore you?