“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
In Matthew 3:2 the Bible says that John the Baptist went before Christ crying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 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 his demons believe that. They have an intellectual faith, but not a true saving faith.
The gospel message is for men and 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 preserved in the Church creeds. Consider what the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 declares about repentance unto life and salvation. Paragraph 3 of 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, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in New Jersey, is correct when he points out, “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 seeks to save a soul, He brings to bear upon the conscience the manifold evils of the heart. “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” (Ezekiel 36:31). It is not easy to see sin in self, and to hate it.
However, the soul that God will save, and 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 Christian songwriter, Elizabeth Clephane, 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.”
There is a reason for emphasizing people must turn from sin, and a person 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. It is often exploited by a political party in order to gain power. And it works, because it is hard to compete with Santa Clause. However, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once noted, “The trouble with Socialism is that sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.”
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 America’s coastline 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. They lose everything in the flood waters.
Moreover, there are health risks that these same people face due to polluted drinking water. Many 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 coastal flood waters, 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 great floods, tornados, and hurricanes 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 bad behavior 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, be assured, there is a spiritual problem. I once spoke to a lady who had been a missionary in Scotland for a little more than three years. She thought the present religious decline of the people in Europe 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 a 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. Selfish interests have closed the channels of communication with God.
Second, sin produces negative emotions, and irrational actions. When people are angry without a cause, spirituality is destroyed, and others get hurt. Then again, when people are pre-occupied with inappropriate sensual pleasures, 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, meekness. The skyrocketing statistics of crime testify to the fact that sin produces negative emotions, and irrational acts of conduct.
A woman gives birth to a baby, only to kill it in a rest stop area by placing the baby face down in a toilet. In Springfield, Organ, on May 19, 1983, for the love of a man, a woman took her three children out for a drive one night. Diane Downs stopped the car, went to the trunk, and took out a gun. While a cassette tape was playing Hungry Like a Wolf, by Duran Duran, a British rock band, this 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 a man who did not want children. Sin produces these terrible emotions, which are so destructive.
Angry emotion is no stranger to the church. The New Testament offers many illustrations of arguments and conflicts among the people of God. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:1,2).
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 Him. 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 as a ruling principle in life.
In a response of love, there is a desire to do something in order to advance the kingdom of heaven.
Then, time passes, and sin dulls that first love. The local church becomes like Laodicea, neither hot nor cold. Because of 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. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 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:
18 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.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:15-19).
It is not easy to repent. It is not easy to feel sorrow for transgressions. It is very difficult to turn, and walk in a new direction, once bad habits are entrenched. 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.
One word we should be familiar with is “dysfunctional.” Everyone is declared to be dysfunctional once they get into trouble. Fortunately, some believe that is going too far. In her book, I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional, Wendy Kaminer challenges the idea of uncensored inclusiveness in order to comfort those who should be mourning because of bad behavior. After all, everyone is dysfunction. Not sinful, just dysfunctional.
On December 11, 2019, a 16-year-old boy in Manhattan, New York killed 18-year-old college student Tessa Majors over a winter coat. The defense was made that Luchiano Lewis was suffering from “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,” argued the defense attorney. “The poorer student was really a victim of society. He came from a dysfunctional family.”
The creation of such novel legal concepts, and socially approved words, will keep a person from mourning over sin, thereby never finding the true comfort of God’s grace.
Have you ever 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 is waiting to comfort those who are mourning. The Lord has different ways to comfort those who are broken hearted. God has comforted some by His word. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
God has comforted some by His presence “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4).
God has comforted some by sending them His ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14). There are angels all around us of which we are unaware.
Perhaps someone is struggling with a secret addiction. Self is forsaken, and the heart longs to be forgiven. Come to Christ. Confess every known sin, and be washed by the blood of the Lamb.
“What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
O precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow;
no other fount I know;
nothing but the blood of Jesus.
A sight of the corruption of self is a root of true righteousness. The fruit of righteousness is a saving sight of the crucified Christ. Look at Christ. Behold His wounds. They were made for you, and for me. 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.
Jesus mourned in the Garden of Gethsemane, and at Calvary, in order to cleanse individuals of all their sin, and to comfort those who will repent.
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 the heart. Have we ever bowed under the burden of sin? Have we ever bowed before the Cross? If the answer is, “Yes!” then we are blessed. This favor of God is ours for the asking, and ours for the receiving as we call upon the Lord Jesus Christ to be our personal Saviour.
Perhaps there is someone whose sin is not secret, but it is shameful. There are professing Christians who practice evil, and will not confess their sin, or repent. This is happening in the homosexual community when churches welcome them into the fellowship and have special programs for the children of their father, the Devil. This is happening in the Seeker Sensitive Movement, and it is transforming worship. Pastors are often found preceding over wolves in sheep’s clothing, because they have not preached the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
The behavior of many individuals in the church today is not secret, but it is shameful. It is to be repented of and forsaken, and will be, when God breaks the heart of rebellion. To those who mourn wanting salvation, and to those who do not mourn, but need sanctification, the invitation is the same. Come to Christ, and be blessed.