Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you – unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected? (2 Corinthians 13:5, Amplified)
Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the LORD. (Lamentations 3:40, NASB)
I considered my ways; I turned my feet to [obey] Your testimonies. (Psalm 119:59, Amplified)
But let a man [thoroughly] examine himself… (1 Corinthians 11:28, Amplified)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3, NKJV)
Where do we start this process of change that we have been addressing? This Beatitude calls out to the Believer to examine and face himself as he truly is: he is utterly dependent upon the Spirit of God.
The Sermon on the Mount is nothing to be achieved by the efforts of man. Remember this Beatitude talks about being destitute. We have no resources; absolutely nothing. We see the sin in our own lives and see no way out. But there is a way out. But we can’t do it! D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stated it well in Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,
“The Sermon on the Mount, in other words, comes to us and says, ‘There is the mountain that you have to scale, the heights you have to climb; and the first thing you must realize, as you look at the mountain which you are told you must ascend, is that you cannot do it, that you are utterly incapable in of yourself, and that any attempt to do it in your own strength is proof positive that you have not understood it.’ It condemns at the very onset the view which regards it as a programme for man to put in operation immediately, just as he is.”
I would like to suggest step one in the process of change: realize that we cannot accomplish this – it is God’s work. What gets in the way of God working is us; it is our will or self. The true enemy of our Christian experience is ourselves who were created in the image of God, but has been corrupted in this fallen world to take on the image of selfish man. We must be emptied of self before Christ can fill us, or renew us by the Holy Spirit. There is nothing we possess that is useful to God – nothing! Do not deceive yourself in to thinking you possess great gifts and talents that you can loan to God in order to build His kingdom. We cannot do anything worthy of the Lord in our own strength. To build Christian character the Believer starts with nothing of himself. Then, and only then, can the Christian be formed into the image of Christ and have His character within him. Is this an easy task? It becomes easy only when we can look at ourselves as helpless before the throne of God – then this becomes possible. It is not possible in the flesh; it must be done in the Spirit; that is why we are to be poor in spirit.
We have to understand that this way of thinking is contrary to the teaching of the world that continues to be in our face day and night with its program for happiness. Poor in spirit is a radical concept in this world of sin and self-promotion. The Christian attitude flies in the face of the self-confident, self-reliant, or any other self-ism of the humanistic society in which we reside, as it indoctrinates or teaches us to believe. There is a clear difference between the natural man and the Christian; it is a defining difference. We are not to believe in ourselves – self is the problem! We need a new way of thinking. I like to call it a brainwashing as Romans 12:1-3 tells us,
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you, not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (NASB; Emphasis added)
We need to pray that we can allow God to work this passage into our lives by submitting to His good and acceptable and perfect will. Let us, according to Scripture, be brainwashed by the Holy Spirit!
Recognize and pray today that you will treat the self-will, though it has been your friend, to be your mortal enemy. The self needs to be sacrificed on the altar to the Lord. Then you can submit to the plans that God has for you…His good, pleasing, and perfect will…