“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
The Bible says that John the Baptist went before Christ crying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Jesus preached the same message. “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).
By these words, neither John nor Jesus meant that people were to simply have an intellectual change in their mind that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. The devil and all of his demons believe that. They have an intellectual faith, but not a true saving faith. The gospel message is for men, woman, and young people to be broken over sin, and to submit to the Lordship of Christ in the obedience of baptism and in spiritual service.
These gospel demands of Christ have been faithfully preached by the church for 2000 years, and articulated in the creeds of Christendom.
Consider what the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 declares about repentance unto life and salvation. Paragraph 3 under section 15 declares that saving repentance is, “…an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.”
Dr. Al Martin, former pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in New Jersey, is absolutely correct when he points out that, “Repentance is a major theme of the Bible. It was preached by the Prophets, by John the Baptist, by Jesus Christ, and by the Apostles. The only alternative to perishing is to repent.”
When God Almighty seeks to save a soul, He brings to bear upon the conscience the manifold evils of the heart. Ezekiel 36:31 says, “Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.”
It is not easy to see sin in self, and to hate it. But the soul that God will save, the heart that God will sanctify, is the life that sees self as a sinner, and is willing to turn from sin to the Righteous Lord of Glory. The song writer captured this concept and wrote,
“Upon that Cross of Jesus,
Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One
Who suffered there for me.
And from my smitten heart with tears,
Two wonders I confess.
The wonders of redeeming love,
And my unworthiness.
I take, O cross thy shadow,
From my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross.”
There is a reason for emphasizing that people must turn from sin, and that souls must be sorry in order to be saved. The reason is because Jesus taught this concept when He said, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”
The Lord does not mean by these words that people should mourn because they do not have more of the goods of this world. Some people do mourn that. There is class envy that is very natural to the human heart, and is sometimes exploited by particular political parties in order to gain power.
But mourning over having less items, is not the type of mourning Jesus had in mind, as painful as losing our treasures of time may be.
Neither does the Lord have in mind the mourning that comes over the loss of health, or wealth, job, or career, as difficult as these burdens are to bear. Such people are not blessed, or happy. If the Lord did have such a concept, and such a group of people in mind, then those along the Mississippi River should be the most blessed of all people in America.
From time to time hundreds of thousands of people in several states face financial ruin from flooding. Many of the people in the Mississippi Valley region do not have flood insurance. They lose everything in the flood waters. Moreover, there are health risks that these people face due to polluted drinking water. People do try to move to higher ground in order to be safe, when the waters come. But they are not safe in the higher regions of the land because the snakes and rats follow them.
The news coverage captures the sorrow and sadness on the faces of the people in the flood waters of the Mississippi Valley, but it is obvious the people are not happy over the destruction of their property. There is much mourning. Time does not soon erase the horrors that the great floods bring to millions. But this type of mourning is not what Jesus meant.
In contrast to the mourning of personal losses in time, there is something to be sorrowful about, and that is what sin does to ourselves, and to our relationship with the Lord. The honest heart knows what sin does to spiritual relationships.
First, sin closes the channels of communication with God. As the children of Adam and Eve, we do wrong, and then we run from God. When a person begins to move away from the Lord there is a spiritual problem. I spoke to a lady who had been a missionary in Scotland for over three years. She said that the religious decline of the people can be traced in part to World War II. During the war the people worked in factories for long hours almost every day of the week. Worship was set aside. The heart of the people grew cold. The next generation was not encouraged to remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. The missionary told me that today many of the children in Scotland have never even been inside a church. Sin has closed down the channels of communication with God. Second, sin produces negative emotions, and irrational actions. When people are angry without a cause, spirituality is destroyed. When people are pre-occupied with sensual pleasure, they do not like to pray, read the Bible, or desire to be holy.
Sin robs the soul of peace, love, joy, goodness, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, and meekness. The skyrocketing statistics of crime testify to the fact that sin produces negative emotions, and irrational acts of conduct. In May, 2013, a Chinese woman gave birth to a baby, only to flush the child down a toilet in a rest stop. Amazingly, the baby did not die. The little boy was rescued from a sewer pipe after neighbors heard the child crying.
On May 19, 1983, for the love of a man, Diane Downs took her three children out for a drive one night. She stopped the car, went to the trunk and took out a gun. While a cassette tape was playing, Hungry Like A Wolf, the mother shot her three children. One died. Two survived. But the two children who lived have been scarred for life. The little boy, shot in the back, was crippled from the waist down. The woman considered the death of her children to be a small sacrifice to win the love of her life who did not want children.
Sin produces all the negative emotions which are so destructive. Raw emotion is no stranger to the church. The New Testament offers many illustrations of arguments and raw emotions, including the tension that arose between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark.
Third, sin destroys any desire for Christian service. When a person loves the Lord Jesus Christ there is a natural longing in the heart to serve the Lord. Like Martha, Christians take a delight in doing things for the Lord. We see this spirit freshly illustrated in new converts. Those who come to Christ have an unbounded gratitude for their salvation. A great burden of sin has been lifted. A tremendous debt has been paid.The prison gates of the heart have been opened, and there is freedom from the dominion of sin. In love response, there is a desire to do something in order to advance the kingdom of heaven.
Unfortunately, far too often time passes, and sin dulls the passion for Christian service. The local church becomes like Laodicea, neither hot nor cold. Some people are prone to remember past acts of sacrifice, and allow the burden to fall on others, thinking in their heart, “I have done my part!”
Because of this sin in the saints in Laodicea, the Lord was forced to say, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:15-19).
But it is not easy to repent. It is not easy for the unconverted to repent, and it is not easy for those in the church to repent. One reason for this is because novel words have been created to comfort people who should not be comforted. Perhaps the one new word we are most familiar with is the word “dysfunctional.”
In June, 1992, Wendy Kaminer’s book was published with the title, I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional. The author challenges the concept of creating words to comfort those who should be mourning because of bad behavior.
When a student in New York killed another student over a coat, the defense was made that the student was suffering class cultural stress envy. The student who committed the murder was from a low income family, while the student with the coat was from a middle income family. There should be no blame assessed according to the defense attorney. The poorer student was really a victim of society. But then, when wealthy sixteen year old Ethan Anthony Couch got drunk on June 15, 2013, and killed four people with his car in Burleson, Texas, he was said to be suffering from affluenza. His defense lawyer said his client was too wealthy, and too spoiled, to know the difference between right and wrong.
It is certain that the creation of novel words and concepts, provide comfort and keep precious souls from mourning over their sin thereby finding the true comfort of God’s grace.
On a personal level, “Have you ever, in all of your religious experience, mourned over sin?” “Have you ever cried out, ‘God be merciful to me the sinner?’” “Has God ever comforted you?” Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
God waits to comfort those who are mourning. The Lord has many ways to comfort those who are broken hearted. God has comforted some by His word, by His presence, by angels, and by friends.
Perhaps someone is struggling with secret sin. Sin in self is hated, and the heart longs to be forgiven. Come to Christ. Confess your sin, and be washed by the blood of the Lamb. This sight of the corruption of self is the first root of true righteousness.
A second root is a saving sight of the crucified Christ. Look at Christ. Behold His wounds. They were for you. Blood flowed from His head, His hands, and His feet. His side was pierced with a spear. His beard was ripped from His face. The Lord of glory once hung upon a cross, a gory mass of quivering flesh. He was on the cross for you, and for me. He mourned over sin, in order to cleanse individuals of all sin, and to comfort those who will be saved.
It has been said that every soul to be saved is twice bowed. Once before the Law which slays the soul, and once before the Cross which redeems. “Have you ever bowed under the burden of sin?” “Have you ever bowed before the Cross?”
If the answer is, “Yes,” then you are blessed. If the answer is, “No,” there is a blessing waiting for you. It is yours for the asking, yours for the receiving as you call upon the Lord Jesus Christ to be your personal Saviour.
Perhaps there is someone whose sin is not secret, but it is shameful. You are a professing Christian, but have fallen. Christ will comfort you as you come and confess your sin. To those who mourn needing salvation, and to those who mourn needing sanctification, the invitation is the same. Call upon Christ right now.