This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light, because their deeds were evil. – John 3:19
When Jesus came on the scene over 2000 years ago, He came into a very dark world. The nation of Israel, who was the only group who carried the Name of the one true God, was in captivity to the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, they carried His Name very poorly. The religious leaders had reduced following God down to keeping a bunch of rules and any idea of having a relationship with Him was completely lost. Absolutely no one was offering the hope of a changed life. When Jesus came and offered light, very few took it and ran with it . . . most loved darkness.
If there is one thing that I wish I had known when I started my walk with Him, it is that I could be completely honest with Him. I remember always asking Him to forgive me for sin in general, but I’d never get specific. For example, it seemed almost impossible to stop being sexually immoral. I was constantly sinning in this way, asking for forgiveness, promising I wouldn’t do it again, and then repeating the cycle. What was wrong with me?
The answer is pretty simple; I loved the things I did in the dark. So, why wouldn’t I just go ahead and tell God? I look back and I just don’t know. Then again, maybe I do. Maybe in my heart I thought I could have it both ways. If I feigned some sort of humility by asking for forgiveness, and then just went ahead and indulged in my favorite sin, then maybe it would still be well with my soul.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. – Matthew 5:3
The first words Jesus ever spoke as a public teacher are contained in Matthew 5:3. I have read over them so many times, but I never took the time to meditate upon them. I know now what He means: I bring nothing to the table spiritually. I cannot save myself by trying harder, attempting to change, or doing anything on my own. In fact, I tried that. Trying harder only produced more despair on the other side of each failure. I had one weapon and one weapon only and I never once used it. That weapon was admitting that I loved my sin and that there was nothing I could do about it.
To this day, this is my picture of poor in spirit. Just go ahead and confess to God what He already knows. American Christianity looks an awful lot like Judas Iscariot. We want give the appearance of loving Him, so we kiss Him on the cheek when we are in front of everyone else. But, behind the scenes, when we think He isn’t near and no one else will know, we indulge in what we really love . . . the forbidden pleasures of the world. If only he (and we) would just scream to Him, “Help me! I love the sin that lives in me! I can’t change myself! Will you change me?”
Now there is a blank canvas upon which God can paint. There is a workshop He can work in. There is a foundation upon which He can build. When a person finally makes it to this point, he or she is finally poor in spirit. Jesus says he or she now has access to the kingdom of heaven.
It took me more than 10 years after becoming a Christian to finally make it to this point. There was no magic wand that He waved over me, but He did give me a real desire to dive into His word. As it daily washed over me, He slowly began to clean my soul and soften my heart. Every sin that He has washed away in me has been a slow, methodical process. Even now, there remains something in my heart that knows if I were to let Him go, sin would grow right back on some seriously fertile ground.
I still have to remain poor in spirit and admit that without Him, I’d never be clean. I still have to remain poor in spirit.
Right now, I am seriously battling with the sin of pride. As I’ve preached recently, God has given me a new level of anointing. I thought I could handle it, but now I’m not so sure. I’m admitting to Him that it puffs my ego up and that I’m afraid I could be like Lucifer himself and want some of God’s glory for myself. I’m going ahead and admitting to Him that I like the attention. I’m just being honest with Him and giving those desires over to Him. I must trust that His grace covers me. I must trust that He will deal as only He can deal with this sin that has reared it’s ugly head.
Lord, help me to remain poor in spirit.
Nothing in my hands I bring.
Simply to the cross I cling.