“Satisfaction for the Spiritually Hungry”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.6
Matthew 5. After the Nazi concentration camps were liberated, thousands of people who had been starved, beaten, and worked to exhaustion died within their first week of freedom. In one city, the daily death rate in the days following liberation was 200, and in another it was 300. Some Jews who were liberated from concentration camps died from overeating sweets and chocolate provided by friendly soldiers.
“My grandfather,” writes one commenter, “was freed from a POW camp and each POW got a box of chocolate bars and various other things. He ate 2 bars and saved the rest. He said that officers came back a few hours later and tore through clothing and bags to take the chocolate back because of the deaths. [btw, it’s because all the sugar caused them to go into shock. The commenter continues … ] Until the day my grandfather died he complained about the military stealing his chocolate. I trust that was a good-hearted way of dealing with such an awful tragedy.
Because of the emaciated state of those poor people, eating the wrong things greatly harmed them.
Spiritually, things just as gruesome are happening all around us. Unfortunately, there are some emaciated redeemed people eating chocolate bars. They are freed from the power of sin, they are given Christ’s very righteousness by faith, but too often they hunger for the wrong things. Happiness, wealth, financial stability, job or business success, pleasure, scenic holidays, fabulous television and movie productions, and sporting events are too often their diet without true spiritual meat and they are emaciated.
And this is universally common among those who do not know Christ and His righteousness. These exclusively hunger for the things that will, in the end, kill them.
And those who pursue such things are never satisfied. One asks, “How much money does it take to satisfy?” “Just a little bit more” comes the answer. You live in a fleeting world. Everything will turn to dust. The kick you get from the pleasure of this world turns to dust at the end. The adventure of an immoral relationship will leave you guilty, ashamed, and alone and the thrill of the new toy will, in a matter of hours, leave you clamering for a new one.
Nothing in this world truly satisfies; that’s the mercy of God having put eternity into your heart, Ecc. 3:11. You can’t satisfy the human heart with things temporal.
Are you, Jeremiah 2:13, drinking from broken cisterns that can hold no water?
Are you like the prodigal son and you are gladly filling your stomach with what the Lord would call the pigs’ food of this world?
Well, what are you supposed to hunger for? Jesus says Matthew 5:6 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Let me point out at the beginning here, whatever that means if this isn’t you or never has been you, you’re not what the Bible calls a Christian, “a little Christ.” Like any hunger, it comes and goes I suppose, but it is a regular experience! If you’ve never had what Jesus is talking about, you are not a Christian, you are not saved, you are not blessed by God, but you still under His wrath.
Somebody who is a Christian, whom the Lord has redeemed and regenerated, is somebody who has recognized their deep spiritual poverty… They realize that they are poor, destitute, spiritually bankrupt and are simply beggars before God. They are not making a claim to anything good they’ve done. They’re not saying how many times they’ve gone to church or claiming how few people they’ve murdered… and they aren’t looking to their baptism that they underwent as spiritual collateral. They don’t look to the fact that they have grown up in a Christian home or that they don’t cheat people, that they try to do good to others. Someone who is a redeemed makes no claim at all to even approach God’s holy and righteous name!
And then they will mourn over their sinful state and so they will humble themselves before God because of it. And this morning in verse six they would desire the solution to their sinful state before God: the solution of righteousness. That’s the solution to spiritual poverty, spiritual beggary.
They hunger for it, which implies of course they know they don’t have it in themselves at all!
Pronouncement: Blessed are those who long for righteousness
Let us first look at the pronouncement: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
This is not a mediocre desire, but hungering and thirsting.
Jesus is not, I repeat, not pronouncing blessedness on those who have achieved righteousness. For those certainly wouldn’t hunger for something they already have. You remember, Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
This is not longing to appear righteous before others, like the hypocrites do.
Being hungry and thirsty for righteousness is not someone who is hungry for theological debate: they love the difficult questions and controversies. Sharp mind, but dull hearts.
This doesn’t describe the person who has a desire for righteousness but he also wants to indulge in the pet sin he holds so dear.
And this isn’t even a longing to be righteous so that I can go to heaven…it’s not a longing to be righteous so that I can have the crown in heaven…or longing for righteousness so that I can reign with Christ…the longing for righteousness is not so that anything…it is a longing for righteousness itself: righteousness itself is the object of this hunger.
EXP: This spiritual hunger it is rational and it is a heart-hunger. It is a driving desire for something that’s not related to physical necessity, but of things of the heart. And it comes form a deep sense of lack.
ILL: A devoted follower of Socrates asked him the best way to acquire knowledge.
Socrates responded by leading him to a river and plunging him beneath the surface. The man struggled to free himself, but Socrates kept his head submerged. Finally, after much effort, the man was able to break loose and emerge from the water. Socrates then asked, “When you thought you were drowning, what one thing did you want most of all?” Still gasping for breath, the man exclaimed, “I wanted air!” The philosopher wisely commented, “When you want knowledge as much as you wanted air, then you will get it!” That’s clever, but to gain knowledge also requires a certain degree of mental faculty of course. But the illustration proves true in our desire for righteousness.
I wonder if you asked 100 people today “What do you lack?” And I wonder if one of them would say “righteousness.” Money, the right house, a better car, health, good relationships. If you ask many people who go to church, you’d get “a better sermon, a shorter sermon, faster music, slower music, a happier pastor, a hipper pastor, more programs, better programs, etc.” These are they who are not hungering after righteousness, but they hunger after those things.
To hunger spiritually comes from a deep sense of lack, but the most divine spiritual hunger is a hunger for righteousness.
EXP: Righteousness is when you fulfill your obligations, when you do and are what is required of you. Righteousness is having a right standing before God, to have a clean slate…the sin on that slate all gone and it is replace with total and complete righteousness.
ILL: Like when you go to the gas station to pump gas. If you get gas and the pump says it pumps out 50 L, but really it only pumped out 49.5, that is an unrighteous gas pump. It has not conformed to the standard of what is a liter.
A person is righteous when they conform to God’s standards of right and wrong, from the time they were born to the day they die, they never one time sinned and always obeyed God. The gas pump always pumps 50 liters!
But clearly, no one ever has entirely conformed to God’s standards of right and wrong. But God is entirely righteous and he will judge those who are not! You’re living in a fantasy world if you think you’ll slide underneath God’s judgment and He’ll let you into His presence because He’s lenient. He’s not lenient. He’s utterly demanding and an exacting judge!
So here’s the problem: you are not righteous, but God is. And because you are not righteous and because God is righteous and eternal, He will judge you for all of eternity for not being righteous!
So what do you do? The beatitudes! Mourn over your spiritual bankruptcy before God and like a beggar, come crawling to Him for mercy! Let Him control your life and then hunger and thirst for righteousness!
EXP: Hungering for righteousness. description of someone who is spiritually hungry (salvation for lost/sanctification for saved)
Since Jesus draws the comparison, I think if we get more picture of what it is to hunger and thirst physically, we would have more of an understanding of what it is to hunger and thirst spiritually.
ILL: In 1950, a starvation study was conducted on 36 healthy male volunteers, who had to cut their caloric intake in half. Even though they weren’t completely starving (they had just over 1,500 calories a day for 8 weeks) it was enough for them to start to obsess over food.
The men quickly began to fantasize about eating. It was all they thought about and all they ever talked about. Restaurant menus and cook books fascinated them. Meals that normally took a few minutes to eat now took several hours as they savored every bite. They would also vicariously enjoy watching other people eat, and they would even sneak food away so that they could quietly enjoy it in a ritualized fashion.
1. They were obsessed with getting food, it was there one goal. There priority. Someone who is spiritually hungry for righteousness for the first time and God is calling them to salvation … that person has a focus on righteousness: they realize how far short they fall in their own righteousness and they realize how great God’s righteousness is. And everything begins to dwindle in light of that: there is an obsession.
They’ve realized their deep spiritual need and having a righteous standing before God. They have to…they must … they can’t live without … being entirely righteous before God!
2. Starving people are obsessed…Starving people are also trusting. In ancient times, starving people would sell themselves into slavery for food. Today, it’s similar: will work for food signs held up by destitute people at busy intersections. That person is trusting.
A hungry person is obsessed with food and trusting.
Obsessed [take up cross/die to self] and Trust in Christ=get His righteousness. How justification works: hunger for judicial righteousness
That is similar to spiritual hunger. A spiritually hungry person is obsessed with righteousness and he trusts the Lord.
When a person realizes his deep lack of righteousness and he begins to mourn over that and he humbles himself before God, he will then begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
And he will be satisfied: that is Jesus’ pledge.
But how can Jesus promise righteousness to those who hunger for righteousness? To give righteousness to poor hungry souls is the very reason why He came! He came to earth as Lord of all to live a perfect, sinless life and to die in the place of the sinners of this world.
When Jesus died, he paid the penalty that the sinner deserved: death. God the Father poured out all of his wrath on Jesus Christ. And now, when, like a starving child, he simply trusts in Jesus Christ, the sinner is forgiven of all his sin.
But that’s not all; it’s not just that the person is forgiven of sin. But Jesus’ resurrection from the dead also establishes Christian’s righteous standing before him.
Romans 4:25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised for of our justification.
Jesus’ resurrection gives those who trust in Him a totally righteous standing before Him, that’s justification, being declared righteous in God’s sight.
That’s what Paul means when he says in Ro. 5:10 that “we shall be saved by His life.”
So here’s how it works:
ILL: Like in accounting or if you try to figure out your net worth. If you want to figure out how much money you are worth, on one side of the paper you put your debts, on the other side you’d put your assets…your cash, equity, investments, or whatever.
And in God’s accounting for eternal life, you have to have all your sin debt paid and you have to have Christ’s perfect righteousness credited to your account.
2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches that God the Father put Jesus Christ on that cruel cross to pay the penalty for our sin “so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
And so that righteousness comes by trusting, by committing to Jesus Christ as Lord: Romans 3:25 God displayed Christ publicly as a propitiation (as an appeasement of His own wrath) in His blood through faith.
Getting that righteousness is by faith: but like the starving, someone who is being drawn by God to come to Christ will obsess over his lack righteousness and will deeply hunger for that righteous standing before God and so like a starving person then, he’ll trust, commit to the only One who can give it: Jesus Christ.
LOOK! Jesus is preaching an evangelistic sermon here! So is this sermon! You need to come to Christ if you haven’t; and don’t worry, it’s a low cost transaction: it’s only committing to Him your life, you know. I think sometimes we think too highly of ourselves. All you have to give is your life: that’s low cost.
Isaiah 55:1–3 1 “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. [it’s low cost! The price is right!] 2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. 3 “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
Jesus says, John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
He says again … Revelation 21:6 6…“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. Revelation 22:17 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
Are you willing to give up all things that do not satisfy for the only One who does? Truly, only a righteous standing before God for all of eternity will truly satisfy you.
Why do you set your eyes so low on that which doesn’t satisfy?
ILL: CS Lewis said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Hunger for the righteousness that only comes from God on the basis of faith.
ILL: If someone invites you over for supper, they do not expect that you should bring money to pay for your meal. You simply need to bring an appetite. Do you think God is more stingy?
When a poor rotten sinner sees himself starving to death in his sins and he begins to hunger for righteousness, God will show his infinite pity. Like with the prodigal son, the Lord Jesus will bring forth the fattened calf and will put on you the robe of Christ’s very righteousness, and a crown on your head!
So, come to Him with an appetite for righteousness and He’ll grant to you an eternal, life-saving righteousness.
TRANS: Thus far we’ve been speaking to those here today who are outside of Christ, who have not yet hungered for His righteousness and who have not yet been credited with Christ’s righteousness. But I think this passage has room left over for those who already know what it is to hunger after righteousness.
If trust in Christ and justified, then this hunger for righteousness continues: hunger for practical
This hungering for righteousness continues in the Christian life. Before coming to Christ, one longs to be declared righteous in God’s sight. This is justification. After hungering for and receiving justification, the Christian will now hunger for practical righteousness. This is righteousness lived out in the life: this is sanctification.
So how would a Christian know if he or she is still hungry? Some evidences for the Christian to know if he is hungry for righteousness.
1. The Christian who is hungry for righteousness will show it in his prayers. Question: Do you ask to be like Jesus? Do you ask that others would be like him too? Do you hunger to get over this particular sin and thirst for growth in godliness in this area? And do you express that in your prayers?
2. Play and recreation do not come before seeking righteousness for those who are hungry for Christ’s righteousness. Seeking righteousness is a higher priority than play.
ILL: If allowed to, my children would much rather continue playing outside than come inside to eat. Children put playing before food.
I wonder how many Christians make recreation and amusement a higher priority than seeking to live righteously? You are what you eat, you know. If you consume amusement, materialism, pleasures and do not consume the Scripture and quench your thirst in His word, you’ll become a man, woman, child who is committed to this world and your life before God will show it.
Do you have a biblical appetite? Do you value a right relationship before God more than anything?
Christian, how are you doing with your Bible reading? Men are you teaching the word to your children? Children, do you digest the Scripture and ponder it in your heart? Ladies, do you simply run your eyes across the page to check it off that you’ve done it?
Well, where else can you feed? At church. Do you make it a regular habit to expose yourself to biblical preaching and to receive personal encouragement from others? Do you need additional spiritual help and are you hungry for it, but you aren’t getting it? You need to get that and open up.
ILL: And someone who comes to the dinner table and complains of the food, isn’t really hungry. And a Christian who comes to a clear, lengthy exposition of the word of God and complains of its length, isn’t really hungry. What hungry soul would complain of more food?
But a hungry soul knows if the preaching they hear is feeding them or not.
A hungry soul is asking “how can I make sure that God has called me and chosen me for salvation?” not “how can we make the service more enticing to get more people to come?”
ILL: As if you could go on an archaeological dig in Israel where Jesus preached these beatitudes and find Jesus’ impressive stage, complete with state-of-the-art colored lighting systems, and moody background music. Hardly!
No, we shoot it straight like He did. Let’s face it: without Christ’s righteousness, you have nothing …yea, less than nothing for all eternity. Make your calling and election sure by hungering after Jesus’ righteousness made plain in your life.
APP: Can you say that this is you? That you hunger for Christ’s righteousness? Many of you would say you want to hunger more, I understand. And many of you are convicted because you haven’t hungered like you should have. Myself included.
But is this concept totally foreign to you? You didn’t even know that Jesus wanted you to hunger after righteousness? You are not yet a Christian. Maybe you did know it, but you have never hungered and thirsted after righteousness! You haven’t ever pleaded with God to make you like Jesus Christ… You have never cried out to Him that he change your heart. You are not yet a Christian.
But Christian, do you know it. Yes, Christian you do! You have experienced the soul-tearing desire to be like Christ…it has waxed and waned some, but if it were to come down to it, Christ’s righteousness credited to your account forms the very foundation of your life. And in your heart of hearts you want to show it …you want … you really long to live it.
TRANS: If this is you, you get Jesus’ pledge.
You get satisfaction. Matthew 5:6 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Satisifed with what? Righteousness. Not too many things in this world can you long for and you’ll actually get. Money? Just a little bit more. Pleasure, it always takes a little bit more the next time to satisfy.
But not with God’s righteousness. You either have the peace of knowing He’s granted you forgiveness or you don’t.
So today you get justification, as we’ve described and you get sanctification, progression in godliness…a sweeter spirit over the years, sanding the rough edges of your spirit down that you might be smooth and kind to others instead of rough and biting. You get less anger over the years, less and less lust and greed, greater love, greater joy in Christ, greater warmth of fellowship with His people, a deeper sweetness in Him that you carry with you each day. Righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit. That’s what it’s all about!
And you have an eye toward the future for Peter says 2 Peter 3:13 13 … according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwells righteousness.
One day you’ll be totally fulfilled, satisfied no more with just a perfect righteous credited to your account, but then satisfied with an eternal joy and eternal righteousness. Down here you’ll see your faults and long for the Lord to change them, but then face to face all of the glory of God’s righteousness will fill your vision. Soon, full soon you’ll see.
God is sooo good!
Let me briefly conclude with the prescription. What should you do? Again, go through the logic flow of these beatitudes: recognize your poverty of spirit; mourn over your sin; let that drive you to become meek toward God, controlled by him. Ask Him for that. And ask Him to help you hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Meditate on Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.
And meditate on …
Psalm 63:1 O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So, go through the logic of these beatitudes, ask God to help you to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and meditate on Scripture passages that help you with that.
If you would do that, you’ll be in a position to hunger and thirst for righteousness and you will be satisfied here and forever more.
(Our Daily Bread) ↑