The salutation.

Grace, peace, and mercy to you beloved in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I pray that your soul is prospering in Christ as you love and serve Him.  Today is our sixth study in the Beatitudes. You remember the Beatitudes are found within the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel.  Please take out your Bible and read along with me in Matthew chapter five. I will Read Matthew 5:1-12.  Read.

Now let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit’s blessing upon our study of His word. Pray.

As I said this is our sixth study. In the beginning we had two introductory studies, so today we are actually on Beatitude #4.

Let me read the Matthew version and then the Luke version. 

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Luke 6:21. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.  

Luke 6:25. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.

The Blesser.

The OT ends with the promise of God’s blessing upon God’s people to take away their sins and to restore their wayward and worldly hearts to one of love and loyalty to Him.

Malachi 4:6   “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

In the New Testament, in the book of Matthew, here at the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, God has made good on His promise.  The Lord of Glory has come in the Flesh, He has come into His Temple, and opens His storehouse of heavenly blessings, His beatitudes upon His blood bought people.

As a side note this is the reason that the Bible says that we as NT Christians exist in the newer and the better administration of the covenant of grace than the Believers of OT did. (Heb.7:22, 8:6, 12:24, WCF 7.3-6) Christ has come. The shadows are gone. The Substance is here.

The blessed.

You remember in the Beatitudes Christ lists the spiritual character and the spiritual blessings of His disciples, and He numbers them one by one.  We move on from the meek in Christ inheriting the heavenly Promised Land purchased and prepared by Christ. I commend to your reading on this John chapters 14 and 17.  The main idea of the passage, hungering for holiness or rightness to God’s law is the fruit of new birth.  Being joined to holy Christ produces in us holy living, godly thinking, heavenly desires, and the like. (Mt.5:10, 20-48)

Again, true Christianity produces not only a recognition that we have fallen short of God’s standard for holiness, but an active desire for holiness, out of love and esteem for God.

If we look around, what is moral appetite of most of the world?  Do you see a great clamor and thirst for holiness, godliness, a concern for God’s honor?  A great hatred of sin and a great fighting against sin?  A yearning to have Christ?

Martin Lloyd-Jones says the world is far too busy with pleasure-mania (to give any attention to God’s righteousness). (Lloyd-Jones, On The Sermon on the Mount, p.63)

The hunger.

The kind of hunger is indicated by the thing hungered after – righteousness.

Right away we know that Jesus is speaking about a spiritual hunger, a religious hunger.

And not a hunger after physical food. I know that seems painfully obvious.  But if you look around at people who teach on this beatitude you will see that they sometimes equate this with physical hunger. Almost along the idea of blessed are the physically poor and blessed are those that have no physical food. This is how heretical liberation theology works.  This is not what Christ is speaking about.

As an aside, as we have opportunity, we should help people if they need actual food.  But let’s not twist Scripture to make it say something it does not.

Hunger is being used for desire, eagerly desiring something, longing for something. So the main idea is that spiritual people desire spiritual things.

Christ in this beatitude shows us the intensity of this desire for righteousness akin to a starving man craving sustenance or a man about to perish in a desert for lack of water who must have a drink.  This is an earnest yearning, a relentless pursuit. (Amos 8:11, Jn.4:34, 6:35, 7:37, Rev.22:17)

Psalm 42:1.  For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.  2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

In order for us to receive the blessing of God, we really, honestly, personally must desire His things, which is to desire Him.  And people that desire these things seek for them, pray for them, labor for them, and so on.

Christ is training us to set our minds on things above and not on things below, to value God’s things, holy things. (Col.3:1-3)

The righteousness.

Christ speaks about hungering for righteousness. Righteousness has to do with what is morally right, right before God.

Righteousness is one aspect of God’s divine nature. God is righteous. He is morally perfect. (Gen.18:25, Dt.32:5)

Psalm 119:136. My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your law. Tsadhe.  137 Righteous are You, O LORD, And upright are Your judgments.  138 You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness And exceeding faithfulness. (God is the righteous Judge – Ps.7:11)

God created man righteous, morally perfect. Perfect yet mutable. Man fell in Adam and we lost that original created righteousness. Fallen man no longer has true knowledge of God, true rightness to God’s law or true holiness before God.  This can only be restored in Christ. More on this as we go along. (Gen.1:31, Eccles.7:29, Rom.8:29, 2 Cor.3:18)

This is key to understand, righteousness is conformity with the moral law of God.

The Moral Law of God is summarized in the Ten Commandments and further summarized as loving God and loving man perfectly.  Righteousness is law-keeping and not law-breaking. Righteousness and holiness are very close in meaning, moral purity in the presence of God.  We will unpack this more as we go along.

The unbelief.

Regarding Christ, when He came in the flesh, the Bible tells us that He came to His own and His own knew Him not. (Jn.1:10-13) One of the reasons the people of Israel rejected their Messiah Jesus is that they had desires for a different kind of Savior Christ.

They sought Messiah by sight and not by faith. (Rom.9:30-33, Rom. 10:1-6, Gal.3:2-3, Lk.19:14)

They hungered for a political Christ that would crush the Romans and restore earthly glory to the physical nation of Israel.  In brief, they hungered for an earthly political king to give them the desires of their earthly fleshly minded heart.  (Jn.6:15, Acts 1:6-11, Mt.21:33-46, Jn.18:36, Rom.14:17, Jn.6:26-35) They did not hunger for the righteous Messiah bringing in righteousness – satisfying the moral law of God.

Romans 9:31. but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.  32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone,  33 just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.  2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

This is carnal earthly socio-political cultural hunger.  It does not come from God in Christ and it receives no blessing from God.  (2 Cor.7:10-11, Jas.3:15-18)

What lessons for those professing Christians that likewise hunger for a Christ contrary to the true Christ of Scripture with no reference to their sin and His salvation. (Mt.24:4, 23-24)  And thus, they want a political Christ for their culture and then they seek their own so-called good works for their righteousness with God – to go to heaven when they die.  

The faith.

But faith can see what the flesh cannot. By faith in God’s we see our need of righteousness. By faith in God’s word we see Christ is all the righteousness we need. Our faith produces our spiritual hunger after God. This is what has His blessing. (Isa.60:21)

Isaiah 26:9   At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

Jeremiah 23:5.  Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.  6 “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’

Spiritual hunger for righteousness – perfection to the Moral Law of God is twofold. To be free of sin and to have holiness.  The man who hungers after Christ, wants to be like Christ, morally spotless like Christ. (2 Cor.5:17, Eph.2:1-9, I Pt.1:3, Jn.3:1-16, Gal.2:20)

The justification.

The first kind of blessed righteousness is that which is imputed to us by faith in Christ.  We can call this, the righteousness of faith which comes to us in the gospel of Christ.

We acknowledge and grieve that after the fall of Adam in ourselves we lack righteousness. (Rom.3:10-18) As we have said, being righteous is being in right standing with the moral law of God.  Left to ourselves, we are not righteous or holy, but sinful law breakers.  (WSC 18, 19, WCF 15.2, WLC 72)

Our righteousness is that which Christ our Lord Himself merits.  He is our righteousness.  He keeps the Law on our behalf.  Jer.23:6, Num.23:21, Col.2:10, Gen.15:6,Ps.32:1, Rom.4:9)  He keeps the precepts of the Law.  He pays the penalty of law for our law breaking.  He is the source of all our satisfaction.  He feeds us with Himself, with His righteousness, with His law-keeper.

Listen to God’s word.

Philippians 3:8. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,  9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,  10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;  11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Isa.55:1-3, Rev.21:6, Jn.7:37)  

I John 2:1. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;  2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.   

I Peter 3:18. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

Here is how our secondary standards summarize our Primary Standard.

WSC 33  What is justification? A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins,(1) and accepts us as righteous in his sight,(2) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,(3) and received by faith alone.(4)   (1) Rom. 3:24,25; Rom. 4:6-8  (2) 2 Cor. 5:19,21  (3) Rom. 5:17-19  (4) Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9

The sanctification.

After we come to belief in Christ for our justification, from that point on we begin to hunger and thirst for increased personal practical righteousness which is our progressive sanctification.  (I Thess.4:3-7, Heb.12:14, 2 Cor.7:1, WLC 75, Rom.7:4-25, Jn.17:17, Phil.2:12-13, WSC 35) This is our practical conformity into the image of Christ. (Rom.8:29, 2 Cor.3:18, 2 Thess.2:13, Dt.29:29)

Just as a side note I mention ‘progressive’ sanctification because there are a few Scripture verses in the NT that use sanctification in a definitive sense, which is akin to consecration, setting something apart for holy use. (I Pt.1:1-2, I Cor.1:1, Heb.10:10,29) But the ordinary way we use sanctification is progressive practical holiness or conformity to the Law, conformity into the image of Jesus, the Perfect Law-keeper.

Asaph shows us what spiritual hunger looks like.

Psalm 73:25.   Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.  28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.

The society.

We can use this spiritual hunger for righteousness in a social context, if we use it rightly.  And this is a big if.  IF we desire the righteousness of God’s law and of Christ’s gospel to fill every facet of social interaction THEN we are desiring this rightly.  

God is concerned with social justice.  A casual read of Ezra and Nehemiah will show you that God was offended when the rich took advantage of the poor, and when widows and orphans were prey for charlatans.  But remember this was especially offensive because it happened within the covenant community, the household of faith! (Ps.103:6, Neh.5:1-9, Exod.23:6, Exod.23:11, Dt.15:11)

A desire then for social justice that is blessed by God is a desire to see His law and His gospel, and His word for His glory pervade society and culture.  But to stress this, the desire has to be Godward, Christward, a desire for ALL God’s Law to be upheld. Think of all Ten of the commandments. Think of perfect love to the God of the Bible and to Man. So-called good works apart from Christ are shiny sins. They are offensive to God. (WCF 16.1,7)

Most often in our day social righteousness often means taking money from the rich to give to the poor. But maintaining “the positive social good” of murdering infants in the womb or perverting sexuality!  God is not deceived. Take care Beloved that your desire for “social righteousness” is according to the God of the Bible and not Karl Marx.

The means.

And the evidence of this hunger is often seen in our use and our activity in the means of grace.

Bible.

Especially under the Word preached.  Do we pant for God in preaching?  Do we long to hear his voice, his truth, do we love it, do we miss it when we are prohibited from receiving God’s law and gospel? Do we read and meditate upon the Bible daily? With our family? Do we try to use the Bible as our only rule for doctrine and conduct? (WSC 90, Isa.66:5, Ps.1:1-6, Ps.119, I Pt.1:22-25, 2 Tim.3:14-17)

Prayer.

Do we pray? Daily? With our family? With and for others? What do we pray for? All petitions? Do we praise God? Thank God? Any confessions of sin?  And how do we pray?  What is the posture of our heart.  Do we pray in faith? Fervent prayers or heartless prayers?  For self? (James 4:1-10) Or for God’s glory?  (Mt.6:1-34)

In a similar way with material food and drink if you fill up on junk food you will not be hungry for a healthy meal.  If we fill up on the world, we will rob ourselves of the hunger for heaven.

1 John 2:15.  Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (Isa.22:13, I Cor.15:32)

In a dissimilar way, spiritual hunger works the exact opposite than physical hunger.  In physical hunger, the more you eat the less hungry you become.  In spiritual things, the more you eat, the hungrier you become and the more blessings you receive.

IF we lack spiritual hunger, we ought to repent of it, ask for God’s forgiveness, and pray that He would give it to us.  We ought to go back and do the things we have done when were did have spiritual hunger and thirst.  (Rev.2:5)

IF we do lack spiritual hunger look for the two things that often choke out that hunger, pride and self-indulgence (rather than self-denial).  If we fancy, we are better than we are, we will not hunger for righteousness.  If we stuff ourselves with the world and do not mortify the flesh, we will not hunger for righteousness. (Mt.6:31-34)

The answer is to study Christ and to study His cross. And the cross is a fulfillment of the Law’s demands. So study the moral law of God. (see WLC 93-97)

The promises.

Jesus promises, and He cannot lie, that everyone that hungers for spiritual food, spiritual holiness will receive what he hungers for.

God will give us the desires of our heart if the desires of our heart are what He desires.   If we want Him, if we want what pleases Him, He will give it to us.  All this is motivates us to pray and to live according to His revealed will.  And therefore, we have every right to expect it.

Psalm 37:3.  Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.  5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.  6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.

Jeremiah 31:25.  For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.

Luke 1:50.  AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.  51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.  52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.  53 “HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed.

Amen

Study Questions.

  1. Why and how is the Triune God the dispenser of blessings and happiness? Describe the character and the attributes of God. (Jn 5:26, Acts 7:2, Ps. 119:68, 1 Tim. 6:15; Rom. 9:5, Acts 17:24-25, Job 22:2-3, Rom. 11:36, Rev. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:15; Dan. 4:25,35, Heb. 4:13, Rom. 11:33-34, Ps. 147:5, Acts 15:18, Ezek. 11:5, Ps. 145:17, Rom. 7:12, Rev. 5:12,13,14, WCF 2.1-3)
  1. Why and how do people hunger or desire a false Christ and a false gospel and self-righteousness?  Give examples.  (Jn.1:10-13, Rom.9:30-33, Rom. 10:1-6, Gal.3:2-3, Lk.19:14, Jn.6:15, Acts 1:6-11, Mt.21:33-46, Jn.18:36, Rom.14:17, Jn.6:26-35, 2 Cor.7:10-11, Jas.3:15-18, Mt.24:4, 23-24)
  1. What is righteousness or holiness? What is the standard?  What does it mean to lack righteousness?  What is sin?  Why do human beings need righteousness? (Dt.32:4, Isa.6:3, Dan.9:14, I Pt.1:19, Gen.1:31, Eccl.7:29, Eph.4:24, Col.3:10, Rom.8:29, 2 Cor.3:18, Gen.18:25, Isa.46:9-13, Isa.53:11, 2 Thess.1:5-9, Rev.19:2)
  1. What is the righteousness we have by faith in Christ? What is justification and how does this relate to the acquisition of righteousness?  (Rom.3:9-23, Gal.2:16, Rom.5:1-17, Acts 13:38-39, I Jn.1:9, 2:2, Rom.6:12-18, Eph.4:24, Eph.5:9, Phil.1:11, WSC 33)
  1. Give examples of your hunger for personal holiness? How does it manifest itself? (Rom.8:29, 2 Cor.3:18, 2 Thess.2:13, Dt.29:29, Amos 8:11, Jn.4:34, 6:35, 7:37, Rev.22:17, Ps.42:1-2, Gal.5:22-23, 2 Cor.1:20)
  1. How would God’s blessed righteousness reign in the greater society? And what affects would this produce in society? (Jn.3:16, Rom.5:1-10, Ps.1, Ps.19, Ps.119, Ps.103:6, Neh.5:1-9, Exod.23:6, Exod.23:11, Dt.15:11)
  1. What are the two main means of grace whereby we receive and increase in God’s blessed righteousness? How should this affect us?  (Lk.1:51-55, Jer.31:25, Ps.24:5, WSC 90, Isa.66:5, Ps.1:1-6, Ps.119, I Pt.1:22-25, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Mt.6:1-34)
  1. How does Jesus fulfill His promise to give us the righteousness that we desire? How does this promise motivate you in your walk with Christ?  Ps.37:3-6, Jer.31:25, Lk.1:50-53, Lk.6:20-38, Mt.13:43, Ps.96:10, Rev.19:6-9, Ps.1:1-6)
  1. Interact with this statement by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the world is trying to find happiness (blessedness), they are making it their goal, their one objective. But they do not find it because, whenever you put happiness before righteousness, you will be doomed to misery.  This is the great message of the Bible from beginning to end.  They alone are truly happy (blessed) who are seeking to be righteous.  Put happiness in the place of righteousness and you will never get it. 

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