Who Are the Poor in Spirit?

Biblical Authority Devotional: The Beatitudes, Part 3

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Steve Ham, AiG–U.S., discusses what it means to be poor in spirit.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

Today’s big question: who are the poor in spirit?

I have heard people say that they would rather be in hell with the sinners than in heaven with the saints. This statement is often made by people who have a distorted understanding of happiness, as if they are truly happy when living under their own rule. Who wants to answer to a higher authority when we can live any lifestyle we want to with anyone we want? The biggest problem with this statement is that it is opposite of what the inevitable and everlasting outcome will be. 

Jesus commenced the Beatitudes by applying standards that are the opposite of worldly thinking. The world would consider it absurd that we can find true happiness in having a lowly spirit. In fact, Jesus was not just talking about a general lowliness in our spirit but an absolute poverty in our spirit.

Why are we truly blessed when we are at our lowest ebb? There are many evidences of people who have been brought to such poverty of spirit. For example, Isaiah was given a glimpse of the throne room of heaven, similar to the experiences of Ezekiel and the Apostle John (Isaiah 6; Ezekiel 1; Revelation 4–5).

After seeing the awesome glory of God on the throne and the creatures around the throne proclaiming God’s holiness, Isaiah found out what it is like to have the holiness of God shedding light on his life. He immediately proclaimed, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). 

We all have unclean lips and dwell among people with unclean lips. We have all sinned, and Jesus Christ is the only one who can save us from our sin. But that is the point. True happiness is only found in the Savior, and it is when we are willing to admit our guilt that our sin can be dealt with.

The darkness and dirt of sin is only truly uncovered in the light of God. The kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who had their eyes opened by the gracious and merciful God, recognize their shame, and gloriously cry out and plead for His mercy. Oh what joy to know that there is a Savior! Oh what joy that He has shown us the truth of our desperate situation, so we may call upon His mercy! Only then can one inherit the kingdom of heaven. Thank You God, Thank You.

Today’s big idea: bring on God’s sin exposing light—we need it.

What to pray: ask God to expose any sin in the light of His holiness and repent.    


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