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Character is greater than talent, genius, fame, money, friends – there is nothing to compare with it.  A man may have all these and yet remain comparatively useless – be unhappy – and die a bankrupt in soul.  (George Matthew Adams)

Step 3: Recognize that empty vessels are easy to clean

The flesh, or the self, is an enemy we fight with daily, and to become poor in spirit we must become empty of the self and to crucify the flesh, rendering them dead.  In order to be used of God and to enter His presence we first need to be emptied by a work of the Holy Spirit. 

For I know that in me (that I, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  (Romans 7:18, NKJV)

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20, NKJV)

Notice what Scripture tells us about the flesh:

The flesh profits nothing (John 6:63)

In the flesh we are slaves to uncleanness (Romans 6:19)

In the flesh we are driven by the passions of sin (Romans 7:5)

The law of sin verses the law of the Spirit is described (Romans 8:1-13)

Don’t make provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14)

No flesh can glory in God’s presence (1 Corinthians 1:29)

Boasting is in the flesh (2 Corinthians 11:18)

Those in the flesh persecute those in the Spirit (Galatians 4:29)

He who sows to the flesh reaps corruption (Galatians 6:8)

We are not to have confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3-4)

The flesh is put to death by Christ’s suffering (1 Peter 3:18-21)

We know that unclean vessels are not to be used until washed (Leviticus 11:32-34; 15:12; Numbers 19:15).  Jesus was quick to point out the uncleanness of the Pharisees (Luke 11:39-41), and we should likewise take note.  Broken and empty vessels in Scripture show us:

A broken vessel cries out to God (Psalm 31:12)

The rebellious vessel needs to be emptied (Jeremiah 48:11-12; 51:34)

The rebellious vessel needs to be broken (Jeremiah 48:38)

Empty vessels are a sign of God’s working (Jeremiah 14:3)

The bottom line is this: in order to become poor in spirit we need to be emptied of the flesh, or self, and cleansed by the redeeming work of Christ.  We should allow the Spirit to examine us and to fix anything that does not bring Him glory.  Being in the flesh, as we have seen, is contrary to the call of Christ and the work of the Spirit.  The self does not need to be built up in pride as the world tells us.  Consider the following by John MacArthur from his book First Love and how the world uses pride as a cure-all for what ails the human soul:

Our society propagates books and seminars addressing the themes of psychology, self-image, and self-worth that present nonbiblical techniques to help people rid themselves of guilt, fear, and inadequacy.  But no one can develop a true sense of personal fulfillment by playing psychological games of boosting pride.  Such an emphasis is not unlike what the Pharisees did.  They extolled external acts while ignoring spiritual realities (cf. Matt. 23).  Although that kind of effort may establish a feeling of self-worth, there will be no change in the soul.  Instead, guilt, fear, anxiety, and depression are submerged in an effort to hide from the truth. (Emphasis in the original)

Pray and empty your vessel by allowing the Holy Spirit to bring to your attention areas that are unclean, and the direction of how to get rid of the uncleanness.