“Comfort for Those Who Mourn Their Sin”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.4
Matthew 5. The entertainment industry—in the United States alone—is responsible each year for $150 billion in expenditures and some 120 billion hours of consumed time. That includes motion pictures, television, music, broadcasting, print media, toys, gaming, gambling, sports, and fine arts.
Global video game market is expected to generate more than $108.9 billion this year…
There seems to be an endless supply of ways to amuse ourselves…
theme parks, circus, concerts, comedy shows, movie and television, music, orchestras, sports…we could go on and on!
Billions of dollars are spent on trying to get you not to do what we’re going to talk to about today. Play play PLAY! But the Son of God never said … “How blessed are they who laugh all the time! Blessed are the havers of pleasure…, Blessed are those with lots of money and leisure time, who visit night clubs every night and gamble with all the flashy clothes and expensive vehicles. Blessed are those who beat the next level, who watch endless movies and television.
Entertainment as become so much a part of our way of life that to have it in the church is expected.
Max Lucado, pastor at Oak Hills church in San Antonio says, “No longer can we afford the luxury of thinking that the people who are sitting in our pews are going to be there every Sunday. We have to arrest their attention. We have to use every device possible to reach them and to teach them and we need not be so apologetic about entertaining them. I mean, they been entertained all week long, every time they turn around. I have no apology for putting a good singer in front of them to entertain them if they’re not Christians. You’ve got to do something to reach them … ” (Preaching magazine, July-August 2005, p. 14).
So strike up the band and bring out the youth pastor/entertainment leader and let’s have some fun! I mean “You’ve got to do something to reach them.”
That’s not at all what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:4…
Matthew 5:4 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Little do even so-called Christians realize that Ecclesiastes 7:4 4 The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
Where is your mind this mourning? If you’re a fool, it is in the house of pleasure. That’s what captivates your mind.
We’re continuing our series on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. And we’re in what’s called the beatitudes, as we have them in verses 3-10. “Beatitude” is a Latin term referring to the word “blessed.” Verse 3 and verse 10 ends the same way: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And that’s why we consider there to be 8 beatitudes in verses 3-10.
And all these characteristics in vv. 3-10 are true of disciples of Jesus.
The way I will structure these messages is that each beatitude will have the exact same three points: Pronouncement, pledge, and prescription.
The pronouncement (for example, “Blessed are those who mourn”) and the pledge (for example, “for they shall be comforted”). The pronouncement and the pledge are found explicitly in the text. I’ve added a third point “prescription” to explain what to do about it.
Pronouncement: Spiritual prosperity for those who mourn sin
So first the pronouncement. Here, the pronouncement is this: spiritual prosperity for those who mourn.
The word “blessed” as we saw last time means “spiritual prosperity from divine favour.” “Blessed” or spiritually prosperous, spiritually rich is the one who mourns.
The word “mourn” is very interesting. It is a very intense kind of mourning. In the LXX it is used to describe grief and it expresses itself in tears, lamentation, and mourning, like mourning for the dead. It is the word used to describe what the followers of Jesus experienced after his death.
We learn from a story dated to the second century that this kind of mourning is such an intense form of grief that some would even consider it beyond what is appropriate when someone dies. Some would say “Don’t express this grief when someone dies, that’s too much!” This is extreme grief!
But extreme grief over what?
EXP: Well, it is not mourning over some missed goal or possession, like when king Ahab was grieved and saddened that Naboth didn’t give him his vineyard.
It is not mourning the loss of a loved one, for surely many have and will do that. Like “Rachel weeping for her children” when Jesus was very young and Herod commanded all the little ones in Bethlehem to be destroyed. But just mourning over death doesn’t deserve Jesus’ pronouncement of blessing.
What is it a mourning over? The context demands that the mourning be over your spiritual poverty. Back to verse 3…
Matthew 5:3–4 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.
There is a progression between these Beatitudes. Once you recognize that you are poor in spirit v.3, what ought you to do about it? The answer is you should mourn over your condition, v.4
Mourning is the action associated with poverty of spirit; those who truly recognize their poverty of spirit will be moved to mourn over it.
But this mourning over sin and poverty of spirit is not just a regret of having sinned. For certainly those who are hell-bound regret at least some sin.
ILL: This is like Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to the Pharisees and had him arrested. We know he regretted his actions. He even said “I have sinned” and returned the 30 pieces of silver he earned to the priests. His though was not a repentance to life but a regret he carried to the grave, drowning himself in tears, but not coming to the only one who could save.
This mourning Jesus speaks of is not regret. It is not hypocritical. For example, King Saul. On one occasion when he was instructed to destroy the Amalekites he admits his sin after not obeying the voice of the Lord. He says, “I have sinned. I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord.” But there was no shame! Instead, he still seeks honor to himself.
1 Samuel 15:30 30 Then he said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.”
He attempts to lessen the seriousness of his sin and he even blames others in another and says I did this “because I feared the people.”
But as Thomas Watson said [paraphrase], “A true mourner over sin works hard at drawing out [their] sin in all of its blood, and he attempts to accent it with all its murder, that he may be deeply humbled before the Lord.”
The true mourner makes the worst of his sin. “I am the chief of sinners.” It is all too easy to be a hypocrite about your sin and then to deceive yourself.
But then there is the mourner who is mourning not over his sin but over the punishment of his sin. How many times have you seen children cry because they got caught… Or they are crying because of the punishment. They are not crying because they are sinners against God!
In any one of these people I mentioned could be mourning on the outside, but their hearts are yet hard. They tear their clothes but they do not tear their hearts. Like in some countries where those who have lost loved ones hire professionals to weep at the funeral. We even see this in the Bible in 2 Chronicles 35:25 where the singing men and women speak of Josiah in their lamentations. Or in Matthew 9:23 when Jesus comes in the rulers house to raise up that little girl from the dead, he sees the flute players and the crowd in noisy disorder. And when he tells them that the girl is simply sleeping, they laugh at him. These are professional mourners, but they aren’t really mourning.
Like a geyser spewing hot water because of the hot rock beneath, there is a kind of salt water coming from their eyes, but it’s source is not a river of grief over sin, but of a rocky heart that covers sin up.
EXP: This mourning that Jesus speaks of is not a mourning over a missed goal or possession, it is not a mourning over the loss of a loved one, but it is mourning over your spiritual poverty. But it’s not simply regretting your sin, or doing so hypocritically, or crying because of the punishment for it, and neither is it simply evidenced by tears.
But as Joel 2:12 says…
Joel 2:12 12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
Return to the Lord with mourning. There is a mourning that is a result of repentance and there is a mourning that leads to death.
If you would turn now to 2 Co. 7:9-10 you’ll see that Paul makes this difference. There is a difference between types of sorrow. One leads to repentance and the other doesn’t.
2 Corinthians 7:9–10 9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
There is the sorrow of the world that produces death. And there is a sorrow that is from God that produces a repentance that leads to salvation.
ILL: It is like in Matthew 26:75, after Peter denied the Lord Jesus three times, he remembered the word which Jesus had said, “before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly… And then after Jesus was raised from the dead, he restores Peter similarly, asking the same three times, “do you love me?” And Jesus restores Peter, brings him to repentance.
This shows Peter’s was a mourning that produced repentance which lead to his eternal salvation. So, clearly when Jesus speaks of “Blessed are those who mourn [their spiritual poverty]” he is speaking of those who have a sorrow that leads them to repentance.
As Thomas Watson in another work points out that someone who is repentant has an awful sight of his sin. Like the prodigal son, a sinner first “comes to himself” … That is he comes to his senses. He sees himself as nothing but a sinner… As someone whose every motive of every thought is exclusively evil all the time. He knows his heart is desperately sick.
He has a sudden, gripping, and terrifying sight of his own sin.
And it is precisely that that leads to sorrow for sin. Psalm 38:18 18 For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.” It is a holy turmoil of soul, a deep rending, a tearing of the heart … “The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart.”
Godly sorrow is of the heart and so it is a sorrow over heart sins, not just outward sins. A repentant heart will grow to be stirred in his soul over any pride or selfishness. The godless have felt bad over outward sins of anger and lust; but a repentant heart will grieve heart-sins.
Godly sorrow is sorrowful over the offence to God, rather than the punishment. When there is sin, a child of God will mourn primarily because of the offense against God, not because of any punishment or consequences, or because of any outward appearance before man.
As David says, “Against you, you only have I sinned.”
A true and godly mourner will readily confess sin and will make no attempts at hiding it, but sincerely and voluntarily accuses himself of sinning, readily points the finger at himself.
Godly sorrow has a real shame for sin…the sense of guilt, how it separated him from the pleasure of God, how it puts Christ to shame, how foolish it is.
The results of this godly mourning is growing hatred for sin and loathing of sin, a dying to sin, and a changed life.
TRANS: So again, the terrifying sight of sin will lead to his sorrow for sin, sorrow over heart sins not just outward sins, over the fact that it is an offence to God, and the sinner will have shame for his sin. These are they who are blessed by God. Blessed how? Spiritually prosperous how? Because God has favoured you so much to comfort you!
The Pledge: Comfort
Back to Matthew 5:4 …
Matthew 5:4 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. If you mourn over sin, Jesus promised you comfort. This comfort is two-fold: it is both present comfort and eternal comfort. Paul captures this two-fold comfort in…
2 Thessalonians 2:16–17 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, 17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” We have eternal comfort, but may God also give you comfort today.
The Comfort Today
Forgiveness: The comfort for today is first forgiveness of sin!
For those who confess their sins, there is forgiveness! Forgiveness is being set free! Like a prisoner pardoned, like a slave rescued! Forgiveness, liberty, joy, peace, comfort!
Those who mourn sin are blessed because they will be comforted. Comforted because they are forgiven. So clearly there comes a time to stop weeping and rejoice!
ILL: In Nehemiah 8, there is a revival like never before! Ezra brings forth the book of the law of Moses before the assembly and he read from it for six hours! And as he read, others gave the sense of what was being written. And when the people heard the words of the law of Moses, they were convicted! They realized they had not been following the word of God… And so they begin to weep!
But after their weeping, there was comfort. “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep. Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” They were to rejoice because they understood the words of God!
So the Christian is not to be continually dark, or gloomy, sour and glum … always going about in sackcloth and ashes! Why?
Because with the Christian, with the one who mourns over his sin .. with him is the Holy Spirit! And the Holy Spirit, John 14:26, is the Comforter. The Holy Spirit gives comfort to the one who mourns over his sin comfort! “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” And indeed when the one who mourns his sin is controlled by the Holy Spirit, he will have the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, and peace!
The one who mourns his sin must receive with confidence the forgiveness of sins and the comfort and fruit of the Holy Spirit and not stay so sullen and grieved. That is comfort for today.
The Comfort Tomorrow
But there is coming a day when the eternal comfort will be realized.
Speaking to those who seek righteousness…
Isaiah 51:11–12 11 So the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. 12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
And in John’s vision…
Revelation 7:17 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
And speaking of the new universe and the new earth …
Revelation 21:4-7 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
Present and eternal comfort for the one who mourns over his sin.
TRANS: Now, the question is how do you mourn? If I am to receive present and eternal comfort, I need to mourn. How do I do that? The prescription…
I don’t know about you, but there is something in me that does not want to mourn! In myself, I want laughter and happiness. The world ever pulls me away from looking at life and myself so seriously.
If the world is ever pulling you away from mourning, what you should consider doing is making a list of your sins and pray over them.
Are you regularly involved in verbal fights and conflicts? Perhaps the need for pleasure waging war in yourself, your lust, your covetousness… If this is you, James 4:4 calls you an adulterous. And you are a friend of the world and you are in a place of hostility toward God, and you are an enemy of God.
And so James counsels you James 4:9
James 4:9 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.
So make a list of your sins and confess them and seek to mourn over them!
Not being convicted over the heinousness of your sin, will keep you in the love of sin. And when you’re in the love of sin you consider your sin to be a small thing. If I hand my kids the binoculars backwards, and they look through the large lens, everything looks small and they laugh and carry on.
Satan hands you large end of the binoculars when you look at your sin and your sin looks small. Adam and Eve could have said … “Oh, but Lord, it was just a piece of fruit!” It’s not the sin itself, but who you sin against that matters most. And that one piece of fruit plunged the whole world into death and darkness. That was the worst sin in the history of the world for it has led to all these other sins: the genocide, the murder, the anger, adultery and divorce, lying and drunkeness. Not to mention all the disasters we experience: the earthquakes, the fires, the hurricanes, the tsunamis. All because of a piece of fruit!
That’s looking at it with the large end of the binoculars. But viewed properly, Adam and Eve sinned against the holy and righteous and eternal God! The one who always lives has always existed whose power is unimaginable whose authority no one can match and who rules over all! Would you dare sin against Him?
It is He who has loved you and given you life and health and good things. Would you sin against his grace? You would! So be miserable and mourn and weep!
Your lack of mourning over your sin, lead to a love of sin that lead you to think that your pet sin is small. So make a list of your sins and get down on your knees before God and ask him to give you mourning over your sin.
Entertainment and improper music listening will keep you from properly mourning. How many today are filled with the world’s teachings through music? And they meditate on that, with little thought that they have offended a righteous and holy God. They are dancing their way to hell, straight over the cliff.
So don’t wait! Don’t procrastinate! Heb. 3:7 … “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION ”
Your love of sin leads you to think your sin is small which will keep you from mourning your sin. Therefore, make a list of your sins and ask Him to help you mourn them and then confess them to God … and burn that list! Because in Christ, there is forgiveness!
If you do that and God gives you mourning over your sin, know this: that is precious is God’s sight: Psalm 56:8 You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? [Yes, the are] Psalm 6:8 The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping!’ Psalm 34:6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
And to motivate you to mourn for your sin … consider that mourning for sin keeps us from mourning for sin later. “Cursed are those who do not mourn their sin for they shall never be comforted.” Hell is a reality and it is a place of weeping. It is a place of outer darkness wherein is weeping and gnashing of teeth from pain. A dark lightless flame that causes continual mourning for ever and ever.” Mourn sin now or mourn later.
Mourning for sin today keeps us from further sinning. For whatever sin is continually mourned for soon shall not be a temptation. You’re not tempted with things you hate!
So “woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep,” Jesus says Luke 6:25.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.4
Finally, to properly mourn your sin, know what it took to pay for it all. See Jesus there dying on the tree. Jesus died with his hands and feet pierced through with rough iron, nailed to jagged wood. It was the most dishonourable death imaginable, typically reserved for slaves. Most corpses on crosses were not allowed to be buried and were left to decompose and be scavenged by animals.
Soldiers all around mocking, the crowds jeering, the disciples fleeing, His hands and feet bleeding, the Father turns His face away, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”
See Him the glorious Son of God, taking on Him the wrath of God for all your sin. Taking on the shameful death for only slaves and criminals…and I think lightly of my sin? When it took the death of the Son of God to satisfy God’s wrath against me?
If you recognize your spiritual poverty and mourn over that and you receive the only sacrifice for sin, Jesus will save you and give you comfort today and comfort for all eternity. 344
Watson’s work on the beatitudes was extremely helpful and is used throughout ↑