This is the sermon for Sunday, November 13th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture from the ESV.

Matthew part 11

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 2

Righteousness and happiness.

Matthew 5:6-9  –  6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Introduction

Last time we began this portion of the Gospel of Matthew that I’m calling, “The great Rabbi’s sermon.”  This is traditionally called, “The sermon on the mount.”  It begins in Matthew chapter 5 and ends in Chapter 7.

The total theme of this sermon is, that Jesus is teaching the people as a Jewish Rabbi, and he is revealing that the Jews are unable to keep the Law and also that true right standing (righteousness) with God is found in the King and the Kingdom of Heaven.

There is also this sense of shock that Jesus is going to expose in this sermon that I would consider the theme  to His Jewish audience –  that they cannot keep the Law because God requires absolute perfection.

Matthew 5:48 – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Last time we looked at the point that Divinely given happiness begins with humbling ourselves before God and man (verses 3-5).  Let’s begin unpacking the remainder of our text today.

Divinely given happiness is found in seeking after God and His righteousness and being merciful to fellow sinners.

Matthew 5:6-9 – 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Divine happiness is given to those hungering and thirsting after being found right in God’s eyes (verse 6).

In fact, those who strongly desire this right standing before God will be filled with this right standing before Him.  This is not performing works based righteousness based on keeping the Law, because in God’s sight, those works of righteousness on our part are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

The Sadducees and Pharisees of Jesus day thought that right standing with God was based on your own personal performance in Law keeping.  It is what enslaved the common Jew of the first century.  Why did works based righteousness enslave them?  Well, because God demands absolute perfection, and they could not achieve that.

Paul says something in a couple of verses I want us to look at quickly.

Romans 10:3-4 – 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Philippians 3:8-9 – 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…

 

Here we see that in both passages Paul says that righteousness (which is this perfect moral standing before a holy, righteous God) comes from faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.  It is not based on human works or effort on our part.  In fact, according to Romans he states that those who try to find righteousness by keeping the Law are not submitting to God’s righteousness.

Let’s go back to our text.  It says that those who , “hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled or satisfied.”  This hungering and thirsting is describing a strong desire – a desire to be pleasing to God; to be found by Him as holy, righteous, and perfect.  This is only found in Jesus Christ.  And those who seek after Christ, pleading for Him to be merciful to them in their sin are given the righteousness of Christ (another way of saying this, it is imputed to them).  They are filled with God’s righteousness.

Let’s look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – 26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Divine happiness is given to those who are merciful to those who sinned against them; they will be shown mercy by God (verse 7).

The one who has been most offended by personal offense is God Almighty.  We have offended Him by our sins; and yet, when we cried out for mercy – He heard and forgave us.  True Disciples of Christ are merciful to those who have sinned against them or injured them.  It isn’t a human mercy, but it is a mercy that comes from the Spirit living in us.  But if we refuse to be merciful to those who wrong us, God will discipline us.

James 2:13 – For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Divine happiness is given to those whose hearts have been made pure – they shall see God (verse 8).

This is talking about fellowship with God, not only in the next life, but in this present one as well.  The problem is God only fellowships with those who are pure in heart.  How is that a problem?  Well, none of us are pure in heart.  It is only through Jesus Christ, that are sins are forgiven, are hearts are made pure, and therefore will see and fellowship with God.

Notice what Jesus Himself has said.

John 14:9 – Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Paul says something as well that is rather powerful.

Colossians 1:15-20 – 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Notice in verse 20 it says, “and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things…”  It is through Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection that our hearts have been made pure – therefore not only in the next life, but in this life, we can see and have fellowship with our Father God.

Conclusion

Let’s try to apply some of these truths this morning:

  • As Christians, it should be our desire to be righteous before our Father.
  • But we must recognize this righteousness is not found in an obedience to some moral code; it is only found in Christ Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection.
  • Through Christ our hearts have been made pure – therefore we have total and complete fellowship with the Father that no one can take away.
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