Sermon Notes:”Spiritual Humility as Godliness” (Matthew 5:3-4)

Sermon Notes

Sermon Title: “Spiritual Humility as Godliness”

Text: Matthew 5:3-4

Date: Sunday, September 2, 2018

Series: “Jesus, Our Righteousness” :The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)

Speaker: Pastor Joseph


  1. Spiritual humility is a genuine mark of godliness

What is spiritual humility?

  • Spiritual humility means spiritual poverty; it is the recognition that God alone can fulfill the spiritual need of every individual. Spiritual humility acknowledges our total dependence on God to heal our spiritual bankruptcy and wound. “The poor in spirit” is against any spiritual pride, spiritual self-sufficiency, and spiritual autonomy of man. Hence, humility is the foundational virtue of all the beatitudes, and a key feature of the Christian life and his or attitude before God.
  • In other words, one cannot approach God or enter the kingdom of God without an attitude of humility before him. Jesus himself is the model of humility and meekness, as he declares in Matthew 11:29
  • “The Poor in spirit are those whose pride is crushed and who are contrite in soul (Adam, Commentary on Matthew)

The case for Spiritual poverty

  • “Jesus is speaking of a spiritual poverty that corresponds to the material poverty of one who is ptochos” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Commentary, Matthew 1-7, p. 53). He also writes, “those who are materially poor do have some advantages in spiritual matters by not having certain distractions and temptations;’ and the materially rich have some disadvantage by having certain distractions and temptations. But material possessions have no necessary relationship to spiritual blessings. Matthew makes clear that Jesus is here talking about the condition of the spirit, not of the wallet” (page 146).
  • MacArthur continues by stating that “to be poor in spirit is to recognize one’s spiritual poverty apart from God. It is to see oneself as one really is: lost, hopeless, helpless. Apart from Jesus Christ every person is spiritual destitute, no matter what his education, wealth, social status, accomplishments, or religious knowledge…The poor in spirit are those who recognize their total spiritual destitution and their complete dependence on God. They perceive that there are no saving resources in themselves and that they can only beg for mercy and grace. They know they have no spiritual merit, and they know they can earn no spiritual reward. Their pride is gone, their self-assurance is gone, and they stand empty-handed before God” (ibid).
  • The most famous sermon in history is the Sermon on the Mount. The greatest words ever spoken were spoken by Jesus of Nazareth; particularly those of the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s turn our hearts and minds towards Matthew 5:3 to hear from the Master
  • As Jesus looked intently in the eyes of his followers; he pronounced his first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This is the first saying of the ten; also known as the ten beatitudes or blessings. Those who are poor in spirit are spiritually bankrupt. They acknowledge their failure and inadequacy before the God of heavens and earth. They know they have nothing good in themselves and nothing worthy to offer to the God of hosts. Apart from God’s imputed righteousness, they are unable to attain absolute holiness demanded by him.
  • These are also the people who confidently believe there is nothing they can do to meet God’s complete standard of uprightness.  The expression poor in spirit can also render as poverty in spirit; also bears the idea of utterly being incapable of attaining any moral goodness on one’s own; apart from divine intervention. This particular saying of Jesus denotes a great reality in the lives of such people; admitting that they are spiritually broken. Because of their humble admission of their hopelessness; they will inherit the kingdom of heaven. O, such a wonderful promise given to those who come before God, bringing nothing but come naked and needy at the foot of the cross to claim Christ’s righteousness.

Matthew 5:4-5

  1. 5:4, godly mourning

Is it spiritual sorrow or mourning? Is it spiritual grief?

  1. Genuine thirst and hunger for God is an indication that you need him and are blessed spiritually:

Ps. 42:1-3

42 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?[b]
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

Ps. 63

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

  1. “Spiritual poverty leads to godly sorrow; the poor in spirit become those who mourn” (MacArthur 157)

Ps. 51

Jesus and the poor in spirit

  • Jesus declares that he is “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29)

Poor in Spirit in the Old Testament

  • 51:17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
  • Isaiah 66:2, All these things my hand has made,
    and so all these things came to be,
    declares the Lord.
    But this is the one to whom I will look:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit
    and trembles at my word.
  • 34:8. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
  • David in Psalm 51:1-3
  • See Ps. 31:1-5, 9-10, 12-17b, 20, 22b; 30:1-3, 5b, 8, 10; 25:1-7, 11, 16-21; 28:1-2, 7-9; 5:1-3; 6:1-6; 13 (godly sorrows)

Ps. 25: 17, 11, 16-21

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

  • Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
    Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.
  • Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
    Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!


  1. For your name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great.for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

31 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!

For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,

12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.

20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.

22 I had said in my alarm,[b]
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.

 Examples of “poor in spirit” in the New Testament

  • Mary: Luke 1:46-55, 48, 52


46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”


  • David in Psalm 51:1-3
  • Example of Humility is found in Matthew 18:1-5, “Who is the Greatest?

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.


  • The Parable of the Pharisee and the Collector: Luke 18:9-14

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  1.  The poor in spirit does not trust in himself for producing righteousness or righteous act. They’re not arrogant in their spiritual journey and growth or are not prideful. Spiritual humility is a hallmark characteristic of these individuals. They do not brag about their spiritual acumen, as if they possess special revelation from God or they are the holiest of all.
  2. They recognize their spiritual void and emptiness before God and know that they are sinners. They are justified before God because of their humility.

***Pride has no part in Christ’s Kingdom, and until a person surrenders pride he cannot enter the kingdom. The door into His kingdom is low, and no one who stands tall will ever go through it. We cannot be filed until we are empty; we cannot be made worthy until we recognize our unworthiness; we cannot live until we admit we are dead. We might as well expect fruit to grow without a tree as to expect the other graces of the Christian life to grow without humility. We cannot begin the Christian life without humility, and we cannot live the Christian life with pride” (Macarthur 148)

The call to humility or to humble oneself:

  • Luke 18:4, “For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man”
  • Matthew 18:4, “ Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Matthew 23:12, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
  • James 4:10, “ Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
  • 1 Peter 5:5, “ Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
  1. Godly Mourning: The Call to mourn over sins (Matthew 5:4)
  •  “Spiritual poverty leads to godly sorrow; the poor in spirit become those who mourn” (MacArthur 157)
  • The Church father Cyril of Alexandria in his Commentary on Luke writes, “for their sins, not for things of this life. Christ, said, they that mourn, that is, they that are mourning incessantly and not just one time; and not only for our own sins, but for those of our neighbor” (Quoted in Allison, Sermon on the Mount, 47)
  • Those who mourn genuine over their sins will be comforted. It is a promise from the Lord (Isaiah 61:2)
  1. What should Christians in this society mourn over?
  2. What is it in our culture that we should mourn over?
  3. What is the sin in your life you need to mourn over?
  4. Do you mourn over your sins, the sins of your friends, the sins of the people in your church and your city? If you do not mourn for them, why not? Ask God to give you a mourning heart for the people?

 Examples of genuine mourning over sins in Scripture

Ps. 5:1-3

5 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch.

Ps. 6:1-6

6 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.

What can we learn from Biblical figures who reported their laments and complaints to God:

  • Moses (Exod. 32:11-14, Numbers 11:11-15)
  • Joshua (Josh.7:7-9)
  • Jeremiah (Jer. 12:1-6, 20:7-13) mourns sins, unrighteousness, and the prosperity of the wicked:

Jeremiah’s Complaint to God

12 You are always righteous, Lord,
when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted them, and they have taken root;
they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
but far from their hearts.
Yet you know me, Lord;
you see me and test my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!
Set them apart for the day of slaughter!
How long will the land lie parched
and the grass in every field be withered?
Because those who live in it are wicked,
the animals and birds have perished.
Moreover, the people are saying,
“He will not see what happens to us.” –Jeremiah, 20:7-13

Hope and Promises for Those Who Mourn

  1. Promises from the Old Testament
  • Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

·         Psalm 30:5

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

·         Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

·         Lamentations 3:31-33

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.

  1. Promises from the New Testament

·         2 Corinthians 7:10

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

·         Revelation 7:15-17

“Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Three Steps to achieve humility

  1. “The first step in experiencing humility is to turn our eyes off ourselves and to look to God.”
  2. “Second, we must starve the flesh by removing the things on which it feeds.”
  3. “The third and balancing principle in coming to humility is asking God for it” (Read Ps. 51:10) (John MacArthur

How to cultivate genuine godly sorrows and spiritual humility?


  1. Ask God to examine your heart.
  2. Ask him to give you a contrite heart, a heart that is sensitive to his holiness and a heart that despises sin.
  3. Ask God to make you honest about your sins and be a mourner.
  4. Ask God to make you weep over the sins of the church and the sins of the people in the city.
  5. Learn from the great confessors in the Bible: men such as Moses, David, Abraham, Paul,
  6. Ask God for forgiveness and repentance
  7. Ask him for strength and commitment to holiness and godliness.