Here is the Sunday morning sermon for April 19th, 2009.
DEVELOPING A BE-ATTITUDE ATTITUDE PART 5
ARE YOU HUNGRY AND THIRSTY?
Matthew 5:6 ISV – “How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, for it is they who will be satisfied!
In our culture, very few people know what it means to truly hunger and thirst for something. When we are hungry, we are usually talking about desiring a particular type of food, or when we are thirsty, we are usually talking about a particular kind of drink. Most of us don’t go a day without food and drink, it is more about what we desire than actually providing for a very physical need.
However, in the time that Jesus spoke this sermon, those who heard Him, knew what true physical hunger was and what true physical thirst was.
According to the Barclay’s Daily Study Bible concerning this verse, the average working man’s wage in the time of Christ was the equivalent of three pence a day, and, even making every allowance for the difference in the purchasing power of money, no man ever got fat on that wage. A working man in Palestine ate meat only once a week, and in Palestine the working man and the day laborer were never far from the border-line of real hunger and actual starvation. It was still more so in the case of thirst. It was not possible for the vast majority of people to turn a tap and find the clear, cold water pouring into their house. A man might be on a journey, and in the midst of it the hot wind which brought the sand-storm might begin to blow. There was nothing for him to do but to wrap his head in his headwrap and turn his back to the wind, and wait, while the swirling sand filled his nostrils and his throat until he was likely to suffocate, and until he was parched with an imperious thirst.
This is something that we in the States primarily don’t have to experience.
Well, this morning, we are going to look at what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and the promise that Jesus gives to those who are in that condition.
What does it mean to truly hunger and thirst after righteousness?
Matthew 5:6a ISV – How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness…
First off, hungry and thirsty here in the text is not talking about a literal hunger that comes from the stomach, or a literal thirst that comes from the throat. They are what are called, “Metaphors”. The Bible is loaded with Metaphors.
For those of you who have been out of school for a long time let me refresh your memory as to what a metaphor is, because it is important to know what they are when you are studying the bible.
• A figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.
In other words, Jesus is using natural terms, to express a condition that they resemble in spiritual truths. In this case He is using the terms hunger and thirst.
Well, let’s look at the terms and see what they mean.
• The English dictionary definition is, “a strong or compelling desire or craving.”
• The Greek word definition is, “When someone is literally starving for food, without eating soon he will die.”
• You see, the type of hungering for righteousness that Jesus is talking about here is more than just a strong compelling desire for righteousness, but recognizing that without God’s righteousness you are hopeless and you will die – it is a matter of life or death.
• The English dictionary definition: “a sensation of dryness in the mouth and throat caused by need of liquid. Strong or eager desire; craving: a thirst for knowledge.”
• The Greek word definition: “A desire and craving wherein a person will die if they do not drink.”
• Again, this thirst is more than a desire for a beverage, or coffee, or after a hard day’s work getting a drink. It means to not have any water for days and you are at a moment of crisis that if you don’t drink soon – you will die.
This is the description of what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Your spiritual condition is own the line and if you don’t have righteousness, you recognize that you will hopelessly die in your sin.
We’ve watered down this type of desire in our day. We tell people to come to Christ so that your needs might be meet, so that He will be your best friend, and using gimmicks and a sinner’s prayer and other methods to try to draw them into the Kingdom. Well, we may have drawn them into the church, but we haven’t drawn them into the Kingdom.
In order for people to be truly hungry and thirsty for righteousness, they have to recognize their condition before God. You see, we all have one thing in common, our condition before God is we are sinners, depraved in mind, hopelessly lost and not even seeking after Him.
Let’s just look at the Apostle Paul for a few moments and see what not only He says, but what he experienced himself.
Romans 3:20 ISV – Therefore, no human being will be justified in God’s sight by means of the works prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the full knowledge of sin.
Romans 7:14-24 ISV – 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am mere flesh, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I don’t understand what I am doing. For I don’t do what I want to do, but instead do what I hate. 16 Now if I do what I don’t want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, I am no longer the one who is doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I don’t do the good I want to do, but instead do the evil that I don’t want to do. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am no longer the one who is doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I find this to be a law: when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inner being, 23 but I see in my body a different law waging war with the law in my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin that exists in my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
The answer to Paul’s question is going to be found in our second point.
What does it mean to be satisfied?
Matthew 5:6b ISV – for it is they who will be satisfied!
Satisfied in the English dictionary means, “content; completely paid, as a bill; convinced, as in an argument.”
Those are extremely good definitions. In the Greek it is very clear what to be satisfied means.
In the Greek: “To completely fill, to stuff oneself, to gorge oneself until they are completely full and can eat or drink no more.”
In Jesus time the people who own cattle and sheep would take the food out to the animals and let them gorge themselves to fatten them up before they took them to the market to sell them, so that they would make more profit.
In the same way, have you seen a hungry or thirsty man who hasn’t had anything in days? They don’t nibble, or sip the water, but gorge themselves and eat and drink fast and furiously.
This is the satisfaction and the filling that Jesus is talking about. You want to be righteous? Well, your can’t in the flesh, you have got to get to the point that it is a life or death issue and then gorge yourself on Him, you will be completely satisfied and filled with His righteousness when you do.
Let’s go back to Paul again and what he said about the condition of man, and then his own condition.
Romans 3:21-24 & 27-28 ISV – 21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness is revealed and is attested by the Law and the Prophets— 22 God’s righteousness through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and continue to fall short of God’s glory. 24 By his grace they are justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 27 What, then, is there to boast about? That has been eliminated. On what principle? On that of works? No, but on the principle of faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works prescribed by the law.
So this leads us to our final point and the answer to the questions.
The only person that can satisfy the hunger and thirst for righteousness is Jesus Christ.
It is only through Jesus Christ that the deep craving and hunger for being righteous before God is found. It is not found in works of the law, trying to be good, religion, or any other thing.
It is fulfilled in what He did on the cross.
2 Corinthians 5:21 ISV – God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become God’s righteousness in him.
In closing this morning, I want to look at the conversion of Saint Augustine. In his conversion you see a hunger and thirst that religion cannot fill – only Christ. The story is taken from both Augustine’s book, “Confessions,” and John Piper’s new book, “Finally Alive.”
It was late August, 386. Augustine was almost thirty-two years old. With his best friend Alypius, he was talking about the remarkable sacrifice and holiness of Antony, an Egyptian monk. Augustine was stung by his own horrific bondage to lust, when others were free and holy in Christ.
There was a small garden attached to the house where we lodged.…I now found myself driven by the tumult in my breast to take refuge in this garden, where no one could interrupt that fierce struggle in which I was my own contestant.…I was beside myself with madness that would bring me sanity. I was dying a death that would bring me life.…I was frantic, overcome by violent anger with myself for not accepting your will and entering into your covenant.…I tore my hair and hammered my forehead with my fists; I locked my fingers and hugged my knees.
But he began to see more clearly that the gain was far greater than the loss, and by a miracle of grace he began to see the beauty of chastity in the presence of Christ. The battle came down to the beauty of fellowship with Christ versus the sins and desires that plucked at his flesh.
I flung myself down beneath a fig tree and gave way to the tears which now streamed from my eyes….All at once I heard the song of a child in a nearby house. Whether it was the voice of a boy or a girl I cannot say, but again and again it repeated the refrain “Take it and read, take it and read.” So I hurried back to the place where Alypius was sitting… seized [the book of Paul’s epistles] and opened it, and in silence I read the first passage on which my eyes fell: “Not in reveling in drunkenness, not in lust and wantonness, not in quarrels and rivalries. Rather, arm yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ; spend no more thought on nature and nature’s appetites” (Rom. 13:13-14). I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.
Augustine was born again. He never turned back to the old ways. The Wind blew in a garden. It blew with a child’s voice. It blew through a word of Scripture. And the darkness of his heart was dispelled.
This morning, are you struggling with sins and the flesh? It is a struggle you cannot win. It is only won in hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of God that comes through Jesus Christ. He makes us righteous and declares us righteous in God’s sight.
Ask the Lord to give you this type of desire this morning, He promises to satisfy it Himself.