I remember very well, listening to the young man in my church office a few years ago. He was burdened with some temptations to sin that he was experiencing. He couldn’t understand why he would have such feelings and temptations; and at one point he said, “It makes me wonder if I am even a Christian.”
Those feelings are very common — some of you here today, if you were honest, would admit that you have those same feelings as well. But what that young man needed to know — and what some of YOU need to realize today, is that genuine Christians DO experience temptations to sin — and those “bad feelings” you have, grieving over your tendency to sin, are actually GOOD. They are actually signs of a genuine Christian life!
— Jonathan Edwards, a pastor from the 1700’s, considered by many to be THE greatest American theologian, wrote that since he became a Christian, “I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness and the badness of my heart than ever I had before my conversion.”
— Donald Whitney, professor of spiritual growth at our Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, in his book 10 Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, wrote “the fact that there is a struggle with sin, and a sense of grief because of sin, is good. Unbelievers have no such struggles or griefs.”
That’s true. I’ve seen Christian guys who’ve just mourned over the fact that they had used pornography — but then I’ve also heard lost guys just laugh and boast about it! What’s the difference? The Christian person MOURNS over their sin. So, understand Christian person: feeling bad about your sin doesn’t mean you’re NOT a Christian — in fact, it may be the very best sign that you really ARE a Christian — or that you are about to become one!
This morning we are continuing our study on God’s goal for each of us, which is to build the character of Jesus Christ into our lives. We’ve seen that these qualities are spelled out for us in Matthew 5:3-12, in the passage we often call “The Beatitudes.” But the qualities we find here are not just 8 random qualities God blesses, but together they form a picture of the character of Jesus Himself, that God is causing “all things” to work together for good (Rom. 8:28-29) to build into our lives.
Last Sunday we saw that the first quality was “poor in spirit”, which means depending on God, first of all, for our salvation, but then also for everything in our Christian lives, and that we show how much we depend on Him, by the way we pray. If you missed that message, I hope you will go to our website at www.fbcangleton.com and listen to it, or go to my website at shawnethomas.com and read the text. It’s SO foundational to all that we are talking about here. You MUST learn to depend upon God to even enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, or to grow in it. But today we are moving on to the 2nd quality Jesus gives us in this passage: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”