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Sermon Message

 

"Blessed Mourners"

Matthew 5:4
Theme: Facing the realities of sin, and sorrowing and grieving over them, is a crucial part of the pathway to true blessing.

(Delivered Sunday, June 13, 2004 at Bethany Bible Church. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.)

INTRODUCTION

Whenever we study an entire book of the Bible together, I like to think of it as if we were flying a plane over a large expanse of land. There are some portions of land you get to know best by flying high and getting the big picture. But when it comes to other portions of land, you get to know them best by landing the plane, getting out, and walking around to carefully observe all the details. You may even need to set up camp and live there for a little while.

Well; we've been studying the Gospel of Matthew together; and over the past few weeks, we've landed upon a portion that requires that we set up camp and stay for a while. That portion is The Beatitudes; and we're taking our time in this portion of Scripture so we can carefully consider each of the eight assertions that are made in it.

The Beatitudes is a section of Jesus' great Sermon that describes what it looks like to be a true disciple of His. It serves as a very important introduction to The Sermon on The Mount; because it teaches us what to "be" before the Sermon itself tells us what to "do". And as we've seen, the first three of the eight Beatitudes teach us how to be the kind of person who realizes his or her deep need for the grace of God. The first Beatitude taught us that, in order to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must first come to God in the deep poverty of our soul - as a man or woman who realizes how truly needy he or she is. "Blessed are the poor in spirit", Jesus said, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). And in those words, we learn that the first aspect of being a disciple is to be someone who realizes their need for God's grace; to be a person who has a very realistic view of themselves from God's perspective.

And the message of the second Beatitude builds upon the first. It teaches us that a true disciple starts off not only realizing how desperately needy they are in the sight of God because of their sin, but also goes beyond that to experiencing deep sorrow over the sins that have made them so needy in the first place. They experience a genuine mourning over sin. This is the kind of mourning our Savior is speaking of when He says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (v. 4).

* * * * * * * * * *

As I thought about this Beatitude, a passage from the Old Testament kept coming to my mind. It's not a passage people typically give very much attention to. I certainly can't imagine that it would be among anyone's favorite passages; and to be frank, when we encounter it in the reading of our Bibles, most of us would rather just skim through it . . . or pass it by altogether. It's not very pretty; but please allow me to read to you from portions of this rather unpleasant section of the Bible, and share with you why I think it has something important to say to us as we consider the second Beatitude on the blessedness of those who mourn.

This passage is the description of the offerings found in the first few chapters of the Old Testament book of Leviticus. The first offering that a man of Israel was required to bring to God in the tabernacle was the burnt offering. Listen to all that had to be done to an animal that served as the symbolic substitute for the sinner who seeks to approach the holy God of Israel. We're told,

If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And he shall skin the burn offering and cut it into its pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. Then the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD (Lev. 1:3-9).

That's what a sinner had to do in order to approach God. And as hard as it may be to do, I suggest that we place ourselves, in our imaginations, in the position of the one who offered such a sacrifice. How do you think you would feel about your sin while you watched, as such a thing was being done for you? You'd certainly get a sense of the dreadful seriousness of your sins, wouldn't you?

A simular thing was to be done if the offering was to be made from a sheep from the flocks. Here's what was to be done if it was an offering of a bird;

The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off its head, and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out at the side of the altar, and he shall remove its crop with its feathers and cast it beside the alter on the east side, into the place for ashes. Then he shall split it at its wings, but shall not divide it completely; and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD (vv. 15-17).

Now, your initial reaction to such a thing might be to be repulsed by it and turn away from it. But please, instead, make yourself stop and think about it. Can you imagine watching such an ugly procedure of death being performed, knowing that it was something that was absolutely necessary in order for you - a sinner - to even be able to approach God? Can you imagine how you'd feel, knowing that it was your sins that made such a thing necessary?

Even more gruesome was the description of what needed to be done in the case of a peace offering;

. . . If he offers a lamb as his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD. And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron's sons shall sprinkle its blood all around the altar. Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD, its fat and the whole fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone. And the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire to the LORD (3:6-11).

In the case of the sin offering, we're told;

He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, lay his hand on the bull's head, and kill the bull before the LORD. Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull's blood and bring it to the tabernacle of meeting. The priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the alter of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of meeting; and he shall pour the remaining blood of the bull at the base of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of meeting . . . (4:4-7).

It was the sinner himself who had to kill the sacrifice before the LORD; and then watch as the priest drained the blood and sprinkled it all over. Then, he had to watch as the animal was divided in such a meticulous manner - with fat and entrails taken out and spread upon the wood of the altar. What a sobering pageant of blood and death it must have been to watch - especially knowing that it was because of your sins that it was being done. How vividly the cost of your sin would have been displayed before you - in all its bloody, gory detail! And as I read it, I wonder how anyone making such an offering could do so without going through a deep sense of personal, inward mourning for their sins!

For years, I've read those passages and thought to myself, "How glad I am that I live in the age of grace! How glad I am that such things are no longer necessary!" But I was wrong to think that way. It's true that I live in the age of grace, and that I no longer need to come to God through the sacrifice of an animal. And it's true that I'm very glad for that. But the fact is that death is still as necessary as it ever was for my sins! My sins are as costly now as they ever where! And so are yours. The only difference now is that Jesus became our sacrifice; and He has already paid the price for our sins fully at the cross. He paid that horrible price but once; and now, the price need never be paid again. But we must never forget that our sins still made His gruesome death, and the shedding of His blood, so terribly necessary.

Today, when I look upon the cross and truly understand the great price my sins cost my precious Savior, how can I feel anything about my sins but great mourning, and sorrow, and deep remorse? If I'm truly a disciple of the Son of God, how could I be indifferent, or insensitive, or hard-hearted to the great price of the sins that resulted in so much of His own suffering?

Perhaps you can see now why this second Beatitude must follow from the first. It's because it's not enough to simply recognize - in a merely intellectual way - that I am a bankrupt sinner before God. That's the point at which I must start; but it's not there that I stop. Once I realize the poverty of my soul, I must also feel God's own grief and sorrow and pain for my sins. It's not enough to have made confession; I must also experience contrition! And that sense of mourning over our sins is what this second Beatitude is meant to instill in us: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

* * * * * * * * * *

I probably don't need to tell you that such an idea as I've just described is contrary to almost everything we see in the world around us. The unbelieving world is very glad to embrace the 'sentimental' idea that those who "mourn" in a general sense will be comforted - but certainly not if what they are "mourning" over is sin. The people of this world structure their lives around ignoring and avoiding the whole idea of mourning over sin. Their favorite psychologists and self-help gurus teach them to feel "good" about themselves; and to look upon feeling "bad" as something bad in itself. And if we can't, in our own power, feel "good" about what we should mourn over, there are always drugs and alcohol to deaden the pain or to give us an artificial high.

A famous psychologist once said that all neurotic behavior is, in the end, an attempt to avoid pain; and the world seeks to escape from the sorrow and pain of sin in all sorts of desperate and harmful ways. It celebrates "laughter", and scoffs at "sorrow". But, as the Book of Ecclesiastes says, "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth" (Eccl. 7:4).

And please understand; it's not that God is against laughter and joy. Far from it! He is the original inventor of laughter and joy. In fact, each of these Beatitudes begins with the announcement of eternal "blessedness" or "happiness"; and together, they all show us how to achieve it.

No; God is not opposed to real laughter and joy. Instead, God is opposed to our efforts to use mindless "laughter" and cheep substitutes for true "joy" as a way of drowning out the the truth He is telling us about the desperate condition that our sins have placed us in - and how great a grief and sorrow of heart those sins have caused Him. He is opposed to the temporal versions of laughter that divert us from the pathway to real, eternal joy. "Woe to you who laugh now," Jesus said to such people, "For you shall mourn and weep" (Luke 6:25). But, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

* * * * * * * * * *

Let's look closer at this second Beatitude by asking . . .

1. WHO ARE THE MOURNERS?

First of all, we need to affirm an important truth about mourning in general. And that is that Jesus is very compassionate toward those who sincerely mourn over the loss of a loved one or over the experience of sadness and pain. He knows what such mourning feels like personally.

Perhaps you remember the story of how Jesus raised His dear friend Lazarus from the dead. When He saw Lazarus' sisters weeping and all the Jews weeping who came to comfort them, the Bible tells us that He groaned in His spirit and was troubled at the sight (John 11:33). And as they took Him to the tomb - even knowing that He was about to raise Lazarus gloriously from the dead - we're told that "Jesus wept" (v. 35). He is deeply touched by our sorrows, and feels the pain we feel during times of mourning. He is a compassionate Savior, who 'puts all our tears in His bottle' and write them all in 'His book' (Psalm 56:8). He Himself was "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).

But we also need to affirm that not all types of "mourning" are good. Some kinds of "mourning" do not lead to Jesus' promised blessing of eternal comfort. There is, for example, the kind of mourning someone does when they are disappointed over the loss of something that God didn't want them to have in the first place. The Bible tells us about evil King Ahab; who lusted after the vineyard of his neighbor Naboth - which God's law prevented him from possessing. Ahab's wife Jezebel eventually arranged for Naboth's death and the confiscation of his vineyard, and all because her husband had gone to his house "sullen and displeased" over Naboth's refusal (1 Kings 21:4). His mourning was a very ungodly kind of mourning.

We can also "mourn" because God does not accept the sins we want Him to accept. Cain, the son of Adam, sought to worship God through offering to Him the works of his own hands; but God rejected Cain's prideful offering and accepted his brother Able's humble sacrifice of a lamb instead. Cain mourned over this rejection; but God told him, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it" (Gen. 4:6-7). Cain mourned, but only because God had rejected his expression of sinful pride. His mourning, too, was a sinful kind of mourning.

We can "mourn", not because of the sin we've committed, but because of the unwelcomed sense of guilt that sin brings upon us. This is very subtile, because it looks to an outward observer like godly mourning; but it's not true "mourning" for sin at all . . . and it happens far more often that we'd like to admit. Judas the Betrayer of our Lord is an example of this. When he saw that he had sinned by betraying Jesus - an innocent Man - for thirty pieces of silver, he felt remorseful; and he even sought to bring the money back to the chief priests and elders (Matthew 27:3-4). He was "remorseful"; but didn't "mourn" so as to cry out to God for mercy. The priests rejected him, and he threw the money back to them; but he then went out and hung himself. His actions reveal that all he really wanted was to be relieved of his overwhelming sense of remorse. This kind of "mourning" - if that's all there is to it - is also ungodly.

We can certainly "mourn" over the unwanted consequences sin has upon our reputation. This happened to King Saul in the Old Testament. He had disobeyed God's command; and the prophet Samuel confronted him for his sinful rebelliousness. But Saul's sorrow was very superficial. He said, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD" (1 Sam. 15:24-25). Saul's confession of mouth was faster than his contrition of heart. He didn't genuinely grieve over his sin. He just wanted to get the public scandal out of the way as soon as possible, so that he could look "holy" before the people once again. Such superficial "mourning" is very sinful.

And we can "mourn" over the physical pain and suffering that we bring upon ourselves because of our sin. Many of us are all too familiar with this kind of "mourning". For example, the book of Proverbs warns against the dangers of immorality; urging us to depart from this particular sin while we can; lest we suffer its consequences; ". . . and you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed" (Proverbs 5:11). Such mourning is real, and very grievous; but it's not a godly mourning over the sinfulness of the sin - just a fleshly mourning over the painful consequences of it. That isn't the kind of "mourning" God is pleased to bless either.

* * * * * * * * * *

So then, what kind of mourning over sin does God bless? Real mourning is a matter, not merely of words or actions, but of the condition of the heart before God. I suggest that there are two ways of looking at the kind of mourning Jesus is speaking of: first, with respect to our own sin; and second, with respect to the fact of sin in general.

First, with respect to our own sin, God wants us to mourn over how it has offended Him. Sin is a horrible thing for many reasons; but the greatest reason of all is because it is a rebellious shaking of the fist at Him. The Bible tells us that sin is essentially "lawlessness" (1 John 3:4), that it is the opposite of faith (Rom. 14:23), that it is the deliberate devising of foolishness (Prov. 24:9), that it is knowingly doing the opposite of good (James 4:17), and that it is the expression of unrighteousness (1 John 5:17) - and all of this in the sight of a holy God! No wonder it should be grieved over! Do we recognize this and feel the pain of it that God Himself feels?

The guilt of sin that we've inherited from Adam brought about the loss of our innocence before God; and our own sins caused us to stand before Him as guilty and condemned. Our sin made it necessary for a holy God to separate us from Himself; and each individual sin hinders our fellowship with Him. It brought the curse of death upon us; warranted the outpouring of God's wrath upon us; and makes the sacrifice of the holy Son of God on our behalf necessary. It robs us of the blessings that God wishes to pour out upon us, and gives us nothing in return but shame and loss. And what's more, it brings dishonor to the name of the one we call "Lord". There are so many reasons to mourn over our sin; and what Jesus is calling us to do in this Beatitude is to feel something about it deep in our heart - to feel about our sin as God Himself feels about it.

And second, God wants us to mourn over sin in general in the same way - that is, to feel as He feels about the sin all around us. The Bible tells us that, through the one sin of Adam, "sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned - " (Rom. 5:12). Just think of all the human suffering and death that has been caused in the world through sin! God wants us to look realistically at all of this suffering and death, and feel the pain and sorrow He feels. He wants us to mourn over all the injustice, and hurt, and alienation, and spiritual darkness, and war, and hatred, and conflict that it has brought upon the people of this world that He loves. He wants us to mourn over the fact that there are so many people in this world - people that He has made for His own glory - who refuse to worship or honor or thank Him. He wants us to mourn over the fact that people who reject His grace through Christ will suffer eternal loss - eternal separation from Him - because of their refusal. God takes no delight in pouring out His wrath upon unrepentant and hardened sinners. It breaks His heart to do so; and He wants us to have broken hearts too.

Dear brother or sister in Christ; think for a moment of the movies we watch, the television sit-coms we laugh at, the songs we bounce our knees to. Isn't it true that - very often - sin is a major theme in many of these things? I wonder what would happen if we took stock of how often we allow ourselves laugh at, and are entertained by, the very sins that break God's heart. I'm far too guilty of this, and so are you! We rest in God's grace, as we should; but we can take God's grace so much for granted that we forget to be truly grieved over sin!

And what's more, if we're honest, we'd have to admit that - even as believers - we tend to turn our eyes away from the troubles and sorrow in this world that has been brought about by sin. We prefer to "escape" from it all through the stupefying entertainment the world throws at us. Think of the last time you watched one of those "Cops" shows on television. Did you feel the way God feels about what you saw? Did you mourn at what you saw; or where you entertained by it, and then turn the channel to the next 'entertaining' show? Think about the last "judge" show you watched? Did you mourn, as those poor people stood before the judge, over the terrible mess they've made of their lives through their sin and lust and greed; or did you just shake your head and laugh at their pettiness and stupidity?

Perhaps, then, we should add to this that we should mourn more over the fact that we don't mourn more! We easily become like the proverbial frog boiling in our own kettle when it comes to mourning over sin. We don't mourn anymore, and we don't even notice that we should! Would to God that He helped us to see what He sees, and feels what He feels, about the sin all around us! Would to God that we laughed less and mourned more!

* * * * * * * * * *

Mourning is unpleasant. No one wants to mourn. But we note that Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." The sort of mourning He calls us to in this Beatitude leads to something good. It leads to a great blessedness. It leads to His own promise of comfort.

We rarely think of "mourners" as "blessed". We typically see mourners as people to be pitied, or helped, or comforted. But here, we're encouraged to see them as people to be envied! This leads us, next, to ask . . .

2. WHY ARE THEY BLESSED?

First of all, understand that there's nothing of sentimentalism in Jesus' idea of "comfort". These words aren't meant as a mere pat on the head - a mere, condescending little "There, there . . ." - to those who mourn. The Greek word translated "comforted" is a strong and - if I may put it this way - a very "manly" word.

It's a compound word (parakale§) that basically means "to call for" or "to invite" someone to "come alongside" someone else. Figuratively, it means "to admonish" or "exhort" someone; but it also can mean "to encourage" or "comfort" or "console" someone. It's related to the word used to describe the ministry of the Lord Jesus; "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). It's related to the name given to the Holy Spirit when Jesus said, "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper . . ." (John 14:16).

To "be comforted", as Jesus means it in this Beatitude, isn't a "comfort" or "consolation" we bring upon ourselves. It's a consolation He Himself gives. It means that He Himself instills us with encouragement, comfort and cheer; "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ" (2 Cor. 5). Jesus once quoted Isaiah 61:1-3 in reference to Himself (see Luke 4:17-19); and that passage says this about our Savior:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified (Isa. 61:1-3).

And this teaches us that those who truly mourn over sin will be comforted by Christ Himself. This is because Jesus deals completely with the sin over which true mourners mourn! He doesn't bring comfort for a problem that continues to exist, in spite of His comfort. No; He brings a complete comfort and consolation to those who mourn, because the cause of their mourning is completely removed!

On a personal level, He comforts those who mourn over their own sin by the fact that He purchased the complete forgiveness of their sin through His own blood. As John wrote;

. . . If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-9).

Therefore, King David wrote (and note the very first word he uses); "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (Psalm 32:1-2). He could affirm, "The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit" (Psalm 34:18).

And in an ultimate sense, He comforts those who mourn in that He promises one day to glorify them, and bring them into the state of sinless perfection that He Himself enjoys; and then to take them to live with Him forever in a New Heaven and a New Earth in which every trace of sin will be forever removed. We're told in the Book of Revelation this about the New Jerusalem; "But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes and abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life" (Rev. 21:27). And of those who live there with Him, we're told, "They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Rev. 7:16-17).

Truly then, those who mourn will indeed be comforted!

* * * * * * * * * *

All this being true then, we should embrace the kind of mourning for sin that this Beatitude calls us to. Obviously, though, it should never be a "fake" mourning - performed for public display. Jesus warned against that in The Sermon on The Mount. He said, "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward" (Matthew 6:16). That kind of showy "mourning" doesn't result in blessing. It doesn't accomplish anything at all.

Instead, I would suggest three things. First, I would suggest we pray and ask God to take away any hardness of heart that we might have toward sin. Very often, a secret love for sin is the very thing that hardens our hearts against mourning over it; and "hard-heartedness" is the enemy of all true "mourning". One of the Puritan preachers, Thomas Watson, wrote, "It is not heinousness of sin but hardness of heart that damns."1 The Bible says, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart - these, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17). Pray and ask God to take away your hardness of heart, so that you are then set free to feel the pain of sin and properly mourn over it!

Second, I would urge that, when God reveals it to us, we confess our sin immediately! King David wrote,

When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, "I will confess my transgression to the LORD,"
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:3-5).

To "confess" our sins literally means "to say the same thing" about them that God says. We cannot mourn over our sins as God wants us to, until we submit to seeing them and speaking of them as He himself does. And we do this in a very personal way when we confess them to Him and call them for what they are.

Third - as strange as it may sound to the people of this world - I suggest that you allow yourself to be made to feel bad about sin, and don't try to avoid it. If you ask God to take your heard-heartedness away, and if you confess your sins to Him and say the same thing about them that He says about them in the Scriptures, you won't have to work hard at feeling bad. The experience of feeling bad will come on its own. And when it does, don't try to escape it - go ahead and feel it fully! That's probably not advice you'll hear too often; but I believe it's advice that's very biblical.

The apostle James gave us some of the best psychological advice we could have ever been given, and has shown us the quickest route to mental and spiritual health, when he wrote,

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:7-10).

If I may share my own experience, I've found that one of the earliest signs that I'm growing spiritually - and that God is setting me free from some sinful habit or practice - is that I feel really, really bad about it. Usually, I first find out - either from reading the Scriptures, or through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or through the rebuke of a brother in Christ - that my behavior is sinful and has brought dishonor to God. And once it has been brought to my attention, I then begin to feel horribly bad about it. I wonder how in the world I could have ever done such a thing; and I'm gripped with a sense of shame over the fact that I couldn't see what a wicked thing it was that I was doing.

I certainly don't like that experience. In fact, I hate it. No one wants to go through it. But I've also learned to welcome it when it comes, because it means I'm getting better and that God is changing me. So don't try to escape from the experience of feeling bad over sin. Go ahead and mourn! Go ahead and weep and lament! The good news is that we have a Savior who loves us, and who frees us completely from sin. There is now no condemnation for us in Him (Rom. 8:1). And when we feel so much of the pain of our sin that it drives us to Him, then we're truly on the road toward getting better!

And finally, I suggest that your mourning be expressed in a way that leads to genuine, active repentance. Don't stop at "feeling" the mourning; but let your feelings be translated into genuine life-change. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, who were sorrowing over sin that they had been harboring in their midst; and he encouraged them with the fact that he saw the right kind of sorrow being expressed in them. He told them;

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: what diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourself to be clear in this matter (2 Cor. 7:10- 11).

* * * * * * * * * *

We have Jesus' own word on it. Those who genuinely mourn in this way are truly blessed; "for they shall be comforted". How happy are the mourners!


1Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971), p. 72.

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