Most Christians have heard of the Beatitudes, the section of the Gospel that Biblical scholars have dubbed the greatest sermon ever – The Sermon on the Mount.

Christ begins His sermon by defining what true happiness is. The word blessed means “divinely or happily favored.” The Beatitudes aren’t meant to be a prosperity gospel, nor is it a recipe for success. John MacArthur called The Beatitudes “Jesus’ description of the character of true faith.”

Christ came into this world for one purpose – our salvation. He said, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10b. That full life, or blessedness, begins with salvation and continues with a walk with Christ each and every day of our lives. So the Beatitudes give us, first and foremost, a picture of our salvation, and it continues with our walk in Christ.

Let’s look at this a little closer.


Matthew 5:3

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

What does it mean to be poor in spirit? This is the first step toward salvation. This is the point when the Holy Spirit begins awakening us to our need for Christ.

The Apostle Paul compared us to dead people in his letter to the Ephesians. Prior to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, we are dead spiritually.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…” Ephesians 2:1

A dead person has no desires, no hunger, and no emotions. We had no desire for Christ or those who followed Him. There was no sense of remorse for our sins. We had zero appetite for anything godly and good in our lives.

That doesn’t mean we were deprived of goodness. There are plenty of good people in this world who are the first to volunteer in their community, give generously to worthwhile causes and are known for their charitable acts. They may even attend church each Sunday, thinking that gives them special brownie points in God’s eyes. However, good works don’t get you to heaven.

Being poor in spirit means we have come to the realization that there is nothing spiritually good about us. We are like a leper who desires to be healed but nothing we do brings relief from the painful sores. We realize we are spiritually bankrupt, and there is nothing we can do to remedy our plight.

Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

The knowledge of how spiritually destitute we are leads us to grieve, which is the next step in saving faith. But with our spiritual grief comes a promise of comfort.

Christ painted a picture of this type of spiritual mourning in Luke 18. He tells the story of two men who went to the synagogue to pray. One man was a Pharisee (a devout but arrogant religious leader) and the other man was a tax collector.

Tax collectors were usually Jews who were working for Rome to collect taxes from their fellow Jews. They were viewed as corrupt traitors to their fellow countrymen who often fudged the amount of taxes owed so they could pocket some of the money they collected. They were seen as the chief of sinners.

In his parable, the Pharisee bragged about how spiritual he was and how often he fasted and gave his tithe. In contrast, here is how Jesus described the tax collector or sinner:

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” Luke 18:13

The tax collector was so grieved with conviction he couldn’t lift his head to God but instead beat his chest and pleaded for mercy from God. That is true spiritual mourning that leads to salvation.

This type of mourning over sin in our lives is not a one-time occurrence. After we are saved, we will continue to mourn over sin in our lives. But there is Godly comfort in that while we may sin after we are saved we will never lose our salvation because Christ keeps us for His glory as we strive to be like Him.

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” John 6:37-39

While we mourn over sin in our lives after we are saved we can take comfort that Christ has paid the sacrifice for our sins, has forgiven us and will keep us in Him for all time. This is one of the first signs of true salvation – that we continue to mourn over sin.

Matthew 5:5

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Matthew Henry says, “The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God, to his word and to his rod, who follow his directions, and comply with his designs…”

Someone who is meek is not weak, which is how meekness is often seen by the world. Meekness is humility towards God. Knowing we can’t do any good work to be saved we humbly come to God, asking Him to save us.

Meekness is also the beginning of repentance, which is a fruit of the Spirit. Here’s what the Apostle Paul proclaimed about repentance:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-24

Gentleness and self-control is a perfect definition of meekness. It is given to us at salvation, equipping us to repent of our sin and to crucify the flesh and follow Christ. The Bible is clear on this fact, that a person must show signs of repentance to prove that they have been saved. The Apostle Peter described repentance this way:

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2

This type of self-control is only given by the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 5:6

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

A hunger and thirst for righteousness is one of the very first signs of salvation, after repentance. The Apostle Peter likened it to a newborn baby who cries when he or she is hungry and thirsty.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” 1 Peter 2:2

True saving faith will produce a desire to seek out a godly knowledge, which will manifest itself in the believer’s actions and lifestyle. Where the sinner once could care less about what was in the Bible, now they have a hunger to read their Bible and learn from it. Prayer was something said before eating a meal, now the saved person wants to spend time with God in prayer. Church attendance was something reserved for Easter and Christmas, now the new Christian wants to be in the company of other Christians.

Christ gives us a promise. If we truly seek Him out; if we earnestly hunger and thirst for righteousness then we will be satisfied.

Matthew 5:7

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Those who know The Lord exercises compassion on others, whether they are Christians or not. To be merciful is to be like God in our attitude and actions.

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8

John Calvin said this about those who show mercy:

“Though the whole world may sometimes be ungrateful, and may return the very worst reward to those who have done acts of kindness to them, it ought to be reckoned enough, that grace is laid up with God for the merciful and humane, so that they, in their turn, will find him to be gracious and merciful.”

Matthew 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? When the scriptures talk about the heart, they are mostly talking about the mind and emotional center of a person.

When Jesus confronted the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day, He often challenged them to look inward to what they were thinking and feeling instead of paying so much attention to their outward rules and laws.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

The Apostle Paul described a pure heart this way:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Being pure in heart is having the same mind as God’s. In Matthew 16, Jesus is telling his disciples the fate of His life and Peter pulls Him aside and rebukes Him. Pay close attention to what Jesus tells Peter.

“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’” Matthew 16:22-23

The Apostle Paul said the best way to please God is to have a spiritual mind.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:6-8

“Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

Being pure in heart is a direct result of the hunger and thirst for righteousness we receive from the Holy Spirit when we are saved. Spending time with God in prayer, studying the scriptures, scripture memorization, and Christian fellowship are all ways we can “set our minds on things above.”

Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

A peacemaker is a two-fold work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. First, a peacemaker works diligently toward the goodwill of their fellow friends and even their enemies. Jesus encouraged this type of behavior later in His sermon.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45a

But being a peacemaker also means we long to bring our friends and loved ones to Christ to erase the enmity that’s between them and God. As we grow in Christ we begin developing a burden and love for the lost. Remember what Paul said.

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God…” Romans 8:7

Sometimes we are peacemakers by simply telling others our testimony. When they hear how God brought you to salvation in Christ, they realize their dreadful plight without Christ and become a Christian through your testimony.

It may be something as simple as inviting someone to church where they will hear the Word of God preached and are saved that way.

Some Christians who have grown to a certain maturity in Christ know what scriptures to show lost friends and family to lead them to Christ. These are called “soul winners,” but Jesus calls all of us peacemakers.


Our final Beatitude is not a pleasant one to read.

Matthew 5:10-11

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

When we are actively being peacemakers there will be those who despise us just because we are Christians and there are those who will take their hatred for God out on us. Christ outlined their behavior this way:

      • They will insult you.
      • They will persecute you. The Greek word for persecute means to pursue or to hunt. Some people believe it is their duty to take every chance they can to expose or cause harm to a Christian or church. They are always on the lookout for opportunities to persecute Christians.
      • They will falsely say all kinds of evil against us because of our relationship with Christ.
      • And finally, they will seek to harm us physically. They won’t be satisfied with their attempts to harm us by talking bad about us or spreading lies about us. They won’t be satisfied until they can inflict bodily harm on us. This is what the Jews did to the prophets in the Old Testament.

This progression in persecution was exactly what the Pharisees and religious leaders did to Christ. They tried to discredit His teachings and the miracles he had performed. They flung insults at Him and tried to convince others that Jesus was doing the work of Satan. Then in John 5 we see when they began to take their persecution to a higher level.

“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’ For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.John 5:16-18

But persecution brings with it the promise of the kingdom of heaven. At this point in our Christian walk we will count it all joy when we are persecuted. That joy is the kingdom of heaven in our hearts. And if our persecutors go so far as to cause bodily harm to us, we still have the actual kingdom of heaven as our consolation.

During the 16th Century the nation of Scotland underwent a reformation and Christians in Scotland were persecuted tremendously during that time. A Scottish preacher was arrested and ultimately tortured for his faith in Christ. His persecutors sentenced him to hang from the gallows in three days. As they were taking him by wagon to the gallows holding cells he saw some friends of his watching him go by and they were crying for him.

He lifted himself up and proclaimed, “GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! IN THREE DAYS I SEE CHRIST!”

This is the kind of joy the kingdom of heaven will produce in our hearts.


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