Matthew 5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 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. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As we move through the Beatitudes it is interesting to think about their order. We have not talked much about the order of them. Jesus began with “blessed are the poor in spirit.” The poor in spirit are those who come to an understanding of their total inability to achieve real meaning and purpose in life outside of God Himself. They begin to see themselves for who they really are; that is, they are wrecked apart from the work of God in them. They are needy, helpless on their own, in need of rescue, in need of a savior. Whatever they have believed about their own good, their own worth, has been brought into the light of truth and what is seen is wretchedness.
Next “blessed are those who mourn.” Those who mourn, cry out, have true sorrow over sin, are those who see how sinful they are, how poor in spirit they are and are moved by what they see to a place of mourning and sorrow. They are like David who confessed “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”
And then meekness, “blessed are the meek.” Who are the meek? They are those who have seen their poverty of spirit, who have mourned over their sin. The meek see who they are and who God is and know now that everything about them is from God, good or bad, God is in control, He is king. I am no longer some kind of pretend king trying to rule my world and the world of others. I am a subject of God’s. My place is to submit to the real King’s rule and authority. My King loves me and is taking care of me so I will bow low before Him and trust His every move. And I can live this way with other people because God has got that too. I don’t have to worry or fret over what others may or may not do because God is taking care of me even in their presence. We can say with Jesus, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell,” Matthew 10:28. Meekness is towards God and our neighbors.
And so from meekness we get to righteousness.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
The meek are those who are hungry and thirsty – those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness! Blessed are those who are hungry. Happy or joyful are those who are hungry and thirsty.
Hunger and thirst (physical hunger and thirst) tend to have an opposite effect on me. Most men are probably that way, not too happy if we are hungry! Thirst is even worse. There is not much worse, a very uncomfortable even miserable feeling to be really, really thirsty. Even just talking about it can make me thirsty.
But Jesus said, blessed, again happy or joyful or at peace, are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…for they shall be satisfied!
You know if you sit down for dinner as usual, and there is a glass of water in front of you and a plate of food, if you have been well hydrated and eaten plenty all day then eating and drinking is not that big of a deal. But if you had not eaten or had anything to drink for days, then there is something different about the satisfaction you receive from that food and drink. If we are really hungry and really thirsty, that food and water takes on all new significance.
The longest I have gone without food or water was 6 days. I was in the hospital with complications associated with a gallbladder removal and I was not allowed food or water to drink for 6 days. I was so hungry and thirsty, mostly thirsty, that most other desires I had were insignificant to my desire to drink and eat. When I got to eat and drink, wow! Even a little bit brought with it great physical satisfaction. God gave us bodies that are made to eat and to drink and to be satisfied.
What does Jesus mean by hunger and thirst for righteousness? Hunger and thirst speak of appetite, strong appetite. Or you could say hunger and thirst speak of desire, strong desire. If an analogy is going to be used for strong desire, what is more powerful than hunger and thirst? We are talking about spiritual hunger, spiritual thirst, where the soul, the inner man, pants after what he sees as most desired. It springs from a sense of want, again, desire. Isaiah said in Isaiah 26:9, “My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.”
Or in Psalm 42:1-2:
Psalm 42:1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Both in Isaiah and in Psalm 42 we see this longing for, desire for, an appetite for, the Lord who is righteous.
If a person, you or I, if we understand our true poverty of spirit, our sin nature that keeps us from God, our sin nature that serves as an impenetrable wall from our side that keeps us from our loving Savior, if we see unrighteousness on our part as what keeps us from living as God created us to live and from being who God created us to be and seeing this we feel deep grief and sorrow, we mourn over our sin. And in meekness we see God as able to save us, able to create in us what we are unable to create in ourselves and we see all of this tied to righteousness, a need, a desperate need, for righteousness so we can enter into God’s family, be right with Him, be His child. Then our appetite, our desire, should grow strong for righteousness – that is what is missing. That is what we need, and if we don’t have it, we will forever live to pay for our sins in eternal hell. We need righteousness, to be changed; we need it or we are without hope, we are eternally doomed to live in misery.
There is a way out, there is righteousness. It is the way out. That righteousness that we need is Christ. We need the imputed righteousness of Christ. There are two types of righteousness that we can talk about. First there is imputed righteousness – that is we are given the righteousness of Christ, it is a gift, and we simply receive it. It is lawfully Christ’s righteousness, He earned it, He lived it and He gives it to us. We are to long for this gift. This is what happens the moment we are justified, the moment we become Christians, we receive the imputed righteousness of Christ. Without this there is no salvation, there is no peace with God, there is no heaven for people, you or me, and there is no paradise to be enjoyed. We are sinful, we are lowly, we are undeserving, but as sinful people we can receive what is Christ’s, that is, His righteousness. It is a gift and it is perfect. Just to be sure we all understand: You are not righteous on your own and neither am I. We see this in places like Romans 3:10-18:
Romans 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. 13 Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. 14 Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known. 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
We are doomed on our own. We are lost on our own. We have no hope on our own. We must have the righteousness of another to see God and that can only come through Christ. Apart from the righteousness, perfection of another, Jesus Christ, we are lost forever. The poor in spirit, those who mourn over sin, those who are meek understand this and understanding this will hunger and thirst for what is needed to be in relationship with God, will hunger and thirst for righteousness. Their desire will be for God. Happy are those who have been enlightened by the spirit, enlightened by this truth because they will be satisfied.
2 Corinthians 5:21 for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
It is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe,” Romans 3:22
Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Philippians 3:9 And may 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.
Galatians 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
We as sinners are covered with, clothed in, have put on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is our righteousness. This is what satisfies and pleases the Father. This is what makes us children of God. God has said of Jesus, this is my Son in whom I am well pleased. If we are in Him, in Christ, then God looks down upon us and sees what has been imputed to us, He sees the perfect work of his son and He is pleased. We are imputed with His righteousness.
Colossians 2:10 says it this way, speaking to believers: “For in Him (in Christ) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” This is it for us. This is the great exchange, our rags for His righteousness! This is true of the least of all saints. So when we speak of imputed righteousness, again, righteousness of Christ given to us, imputed to us, no work on our part, no effort, we can see that we are blessed and we are satisfied.
Think of it like this - if you have hungered and thirsted to receive from God ability to be in His family, and have by faith trusted in Christ, then you have received fully what you have craved. You’ve got it, you’ve gotten Him. He is yours. You have been satisfied! What you have longed for is yours. Heaven is yours. Paradise is yours. Peace with God is yours. Your future is secure. The Holy Spirit has been given to you as a guarantee. You have been filled with Christ. What you do tomorrow does not change the fact that you are His. How you treat your neighbor or your spouse or your child tomorrow does not take away your imputed righteousness if you have it to begin with.
Listen to some examples of being satisfied with righteousness, the righteousness of Christ:
Psalm 107:8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
God satisfies the longing of the person’s soul who is hungry for Him, who hungers for what he cannot have on his own, hungers for righteousness in Christ.
Psalm 34:9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Jeremiah 31:14 “I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the Lord.
John 4:14 But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Matt. 11:28 28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
This is a righteousness worth hungering after! I hope you have it and I hope you have been satisfied in it! We have, in a sense, been restored to the place where Adam was in the Garden as he walked with the Father prior to his fall into sin. What I mean by that is he was at peace with God. God was pleased with Adam and they enjoyed each other immensely. We have sinned and yet God sees Christ in us, perfection. Have you been satisfied in Christ?
Our problem is that we say, well thanks Lord, but how about some earthly treasures to go along with eternal life and peace with You? How about along with what you have done, how about an easy life too where I have plenty of things to make me comfortable here and stuff and relationship to give me pleasure here? And we can begin to focus on the here and now and make it most important and then begin grumbling because we want more than what God has promised. We want paradise with Christ, some day, yes, but how about more now? How about peace with all people around me and more stuff?
Can you relate to that? God has given us peace with him and a secure eternity and fellowship with Him and comfort and love and we say it’s not enough!
Maybe it wasn’t righteousness we were hungering and thirsting for? Maybe it wasn’t or isn’t really peace with God that we were wanting. Maybe we have not yet been poor in spirit, mourned over sin, not experienced meekness. What is most important to us? What are we hungering and thirsting after? What do we believe to be our greatest need?
Jesus said, in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Have you gotten to that place in life? Do we want what God wants for us?
There is another type of righteousness. It can be called an imparted righteousness. So we have an imputed righteousness, we have talked about that, but there is also an imparted righteousness as well. Imputed righteousness has to do with the point of our justification as Christians; it is a one-time, final-for-all-time event, it is when you believed. Imparted righteousness has more to do with our ongoing progressive sanctification. It has to do with how we live, what we do, how we think as we go on in this life before we get to our glorified state in heaven with Christ.
We are righteous before God in Christ. But I look at myself and I see what I do and I consider how I think and I conclude, me…righteous…really? We can recognize a disconnect between how God sees us in Christ and how we see ourselves or how others see us. Or if you don’t see that disconnect in your life then surely you see it in that person sitting next to you this morning.
He belongs to Christ, but I’m pretty sure, no I know, he is not perfect.
What do we do with this? Should this concern us? What about how we live with each other?
Having received an imputed righteousness through Christ, are we now hungering and thirsting to live a life of righteousness in Christ, to be more like Christ now on this earth? Do we want our walk to be more in line with our position before God in Christ?
That is where we will go, Lord willing, next week! That is having received the righteousness of Christ in our standing now before God…what now, how then should we live? Next time.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.