The Divine Atmosphere of Sensitivity

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 4
Subject: Mourning; Sin; Beatitudes; Sermon on the Mount
Series: The Beatitudes - The Divine Atmosphere

The Beatitudes - The Heavenly Atmosphere of Sensitivity

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,


(This is sermon 2 in the series of 8 sermons on The Beatitudes)

Matthew 5:4:

"Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted."

For the mourner to be blessed seems at first counterintuitive, but with God somethings just look upside down, even when they are actually right side up. The Lord tells us that the first shall be last and the last shall be first - in every area of normal life that doesn't make sense - but it makes sense in God's kingdom. Think of Jesus, who wept over Jerusalem. Yet, we are told in Hebrews that He endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-3). Weeping and joy are somehow made into a glad tapestry by the power of God. So, today we look at the fact that those who mourn will actually be blessed and find comfort. Let's look at what this really means.

First, we need to know that each Beatitude grows out of the former Beatitude. So, the second Beatitude flows directly from the first. The first Beatitude speaks of the blessedness of those who are poor in spirit and who come to an awareness of that truth and acknowledge bankruptcy before a Holy, Sovereign God.

The second Beatitude states that there is a blessedness for those who mourn, for they will be comforted. It stands to reason that those who see how bankrupt they are before a Holy God, as we learned that all of us are from the first Beatitude, will be broken because of their sinful nature and sinful actions. This reality leads to mourning in the depths of our hearts. That is what this second Beatitude speaks of.

In essence, Jesus taught that:

  • You  must have tears in order to have triumph.
  • You must mourn in life in order to master life.

Look at what James writes:

James 4:8-10, "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." NKJV

As I said in my opening remarks, this seems to be a contradiction, but in fact it is a principle of heaven. "Mourning leads to mirth."

Please understand that the mourning mentioned in this Beatitude does not speak of:

  • Those who are miserable all the time
  • Those who are perennial crybabies.
  • Those who are constantly seeking sympathy and attention.
  • Those who are complaining all the time.

The word for mourning used in the Greek speaks of the strongest kind of anguish. It represents the kind of sorrow that comes when a loved one dies. What can cause a person to sense this kind of mourning and sorrow on such a deep spiritual level? Look at Isaiah and see how he felt when he got into the presence of Almighty God. In Isaiah 6:1f. Isaiah was broken before God when he saw his sinful condition. He was stricken with grief at his own condition before God. He pleaded for divine cleansing. He made a new and profound commitment to God.

If we catch a glimpse of what our sins did to Christ at Calvary and we see the destiny which was ours until we came to Christ for forgiveness, then we mourn for our sins. James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double-minded. Be afflicted and mourn and weep and let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness; humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up."

There used to be a time when people would fall before God and weep and cry for their sins. But you don't see that happening much anymore. I remember times in the churches I pastored when Christians themselves would become broken before God because the purity of God through light on the darkness of their own hearts. Friend, we need that kind of brokenness now.

Look at how David dealt with His own sin:

Psalm 51:3-4,

"For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight -
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge."

Psalms 51:7-8,

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice."

Psalm 51:17,

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart —
These, O God, You will not despise." NKJV

You see how David clearly reveals his sorrow and mournful nature, but speaks of God's joy and gladness at the promised result of repentance.

Look at the alabaster box of perfume which was broken and poured out on Jesus. Until it was broken it could not do that for which it was made. You are I are like that in our life for the Lord. When we are broken before Him, He supplies as joy we cannot find anywhere else in this world.

Now, think of this again - happy are those who mourn. That sounds like a paradox, doesn't it? In the spiritual world it is not a contradiction or paradox at all. The happiest Christians I've ever known are the ones to honest about their sins and failures, and they stand before God in integrity and joy.

Now, note that Jesus uses the strongest Greek word possible to describe sorrow in this passage. It means to lament a great loss. It means to sorrow deeply. It means that you recognize that you are bankrupt and that you have great sorrow over it.

Jeremiah said in his day that the people had lost their ability to blush at sin. Thus they had no repentance and absolutely no joy.

We need to note three reasons why we ought to be mourning over sin ...

I. The Permeating Power of Sin

Later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points out that sin is committed when the idea is nurtured in our hearts. Jesus spoke about immorality in these very terms. Always remember this:

"Sin is not a matter of practice, but a matter of character."

Look, for example, at Matthew 5 27ff. Here the Lord reveals to us that sin is a matter of the heart, not just the hands.

Paul stated that according to the Law he was perfect, but he called himself the chief of sinners. Why? Paul felt that way because he had reached the point, prior to his salvation experience, to believe that his good life made him right with God. When he faced the reality that he had not and could not ever truly keep the Ten Commandments, he realized just how bankrupt he was.

Good Christianity is not gauged by our outward conduct alone - but in our attitudes - from what is going on in our hearts. We must have something that changes our hearts.

Colossians 2:20-23 is very clear on this matter:

"Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations -  21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using - according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and  neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh."

There, do you see it? Life in Christ is not found in what we don't do, or even what we do, but in trusting the One who did it all for us. When we are honest with ourselves, it can bring us to the morning-happiness described in our text. I know - mourning and happiness or joy don't seem to go together but they do. When we are honest about our sins or sinful nature, it hurts inside. But, when we bring that to God, He grants us joy unspeakable and full of glory!

So, sin penetrates every part of our lives and that leads to ...

II. The Plundering Power of Sin

Sin never gives us what it promises to give. We, in the end, are always left with an emptiness when sin has finished its work in us. Look at 2 Peter 17-19:

"17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage."

Sin is like a cloud without water. Have you ever lived at a time of drought? For about three years in Atlanta we went through a period with very little rain. The lakes around the city began to dry up. Docks along the riverbanks were sitting on the dry riverbeds. Once in a while a dark cloud would appear. People would actually go outside and look up hoping for rain, but the cloud would pass over and not leave a single drop. There was fear that drinking water would be rationed. One day I was watching television and the reporter was talking with the man who was over the water table for the Atlanta area. The reporter asked the man, "When do you think we will get any measurable rainfall?" The man answered, "Oh, it will rain sooner or later. But, it will be okay." I have to tell you; I thought the water table guy was a french-fry short of a Happy Meal. But, then three weeks later it started to rain. In the community where we lived all the neighbors were on their porches, and some standing out in the rain, watching the precious water fall from the sky. Then it rained, and rained and rained. The joy was so great that I have no way of telling you how wonderful it felt. That is what Jesus is speaking of here. When we come to see the drought of our souls, the water will come. When the water comes, we will leap for joy!

Now, let's think about our problem regarding sin. You will remember that Jesus once said, "If your right hand offends you, cut it off!" Jesus was not speaking of literally cutting off one's hands but was pointing out that there is no way you can avoid sin in the power of your flesh. He said the same thing about the right eye, "If your right eye offend you, pluck it out." Ouch! But, Jesus was not ordering us to actually do that. He was reminding us that not one of us can escape the weakness of our flesh. Sure our hands and eyes are offensive. Sin has a way of making everything about us corrupt, from our hands to our hearts. If we cut out every part that is offensive about us, there would be nothing left of us. That is exactly what Jesus is teaching.

Look at it like this. Sin has plundered everything from us. We are offensive to God in every way because of sin, and that leads us who accept God's convicting Spirit to feel deep sorrow. How sad this is. In the presence of God we are "filthy rags" - even our righteousnesses, our good works, are offensive. Surely, if we are honest about this we will mourn over our sinful state. When we come to the end of ourselves, we find tears. But, when we admit our sin before God and turn from it, we experience the full measure of God's grace - that is true JOY. Then we are BLESSED, just as Jesus said.

Now, we consider ...

III. The Perishing Power of Sin

Sin brings death. Mark Twain once said, "I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure." Actually, seldom is there joy surrounding death. Maybe people felt joy when a Hitler or Osama Bin Laden died, but almost all death results in deep sadness. What we need to know is that sin's power brings about spiritual death in every person. Paul reminds those of us who are saved that once we were all dead in our sins. In other words, sin brings spiritual death to everyone. Jesus is the only hope to a New Birth - to new life - to forgiveness and being right without Creator.

We are told that mourning for our sins will lead to comforting from the Lord. What does this comfort mean? The word "comfort" comes from the word "paraclete". It speaks of God's comforting Spirit that comes along side us when we mourn over our condition. Let me ask you (You don't need to raise your hands), how many of you are often troubled by your own wrong thoughts and bad behavior? No, I'm not just talking about violating God's Law, which we all do; I'm speaking about your inability to even keep your promises to yourself. Sure, we all fail God and we even fail to keep our own standards at times. What is important is to bring our weaknesses to God. To tell Him the truth. To deal with our sins honestly before God. When we do so, God will send the Holy Spirit to fill us.


Now don't miss this one point:

  • God will send the Holy Spirit to comfort and empower us in a measure equal to our brokenness. That is what Jesus is teaching here. God's joy is measured out to those who mourn in direct proportion to the deep grief our sins bring to our hearts. Does not the Bible say? "If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."

Do you feel at times that God is not being fair to you? Maybe the truth is that you are not being honest with God. When we come to Him with a broken heart over our sins and failures, God promises to forgive us, to help us and to grant us a joy that nothing in this world can provide. I can tell you, some of the happiest people I've ever known were not rich, did not have the best of health, did not often get a fair shake from the world around them, but they had a walk with God based on humble honesty.

Jesus desires to bless us. What must we do to know the fulness of his blessings?

  • Admit our need
  • Confess our sins
  • Mourn our weakness
  • Have faith in God's Son
  • Repent and turn to Him
  • Accept His love and grace
  • Rise up with Joy

The songwriter penned,

"Would you be free from your burden of sin,

There's power in the blood, power in the blood;

Would you o'er evil a victory win,

There's wonderful power in the blood."

Turn to the Lord just now. He will renew the saved and save the lost. He will add to the life of those who know Him and give life to those who need Him.

Either way, you will be blessed. The Savior is calling and waiting. Now is the time to respond.