Qualities of Genuine Happiness, Pt. 5
Study Guide, November 8, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
So, they call them ‘comfort foods’. And, of course, that refers to those foods that you know you can always count on to help you feel more relaxed, satisfied, and to just give you an overall sense of well-being…kind of ‘happy comfort zone’…for a while that is. Like what are your ‘comfort foods’? How about the ‘go to’ chicken noodle soup? Perfect for when you’re a little under the weather…or feeling a bit ‘quamished’ as they say in some parts around here. Or then there’s the gold standard favorite of mashed potatoes and steak. And then there’s the feel-good dessert of pecan pie. How about the popular birthday choice…chocolate cake? And then the hands down, or hands up selection for this one….Coffee and donuts! You remember, even in Genesis, when the vegetation and plants and fruits were created on the third day, and God called it ‘very good’?… the Hebrew adds, “especially the coffee”; the coffee was ‘very good’. God even included a whole book about coffee in the New Testament … ‘He-brews’! Ahh, an oldie, but a goodie! And, it’s like they say, the only circle of trust you need is a donut. Ahhh, the simple life, right?
Well, now that everyone is really hungry and really thirsty, that brings us to our next Beatitude, which says this: Matt 5:6- “Blessed (Happy) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” NASU Isn’t that great? ‘Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.’ What’s that all about? Well, there are many fascinating facets of this great pronouncement of Jesus’ here, so let’s explore a few together.
Do you remember that great picture the Psalmist gives us of a believer thirsting for a deeper fellowship and closer relationship with God in Ps 42:1-2- “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?” NASU There’s even that great chorus about this longing for a deeper experience with God of ‘As the Deer’ that we love to sing. And notice that the Psalmist is not first longing for the commandments of God, which he also loves, but he longs for, he thirsts for the God of the commandments. In fact, it is his hungering and thirsting for this communion with his Creator and Redeemer that makes him also hunger and thirst for the commandments, since they are the pathway to a deeper walk with God.
Which then brings us to the way the Psalmist then talked about his love for the words of God. Do you remember how the Psalmist described God’s Word? Ps 19:7-11- “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.” NLT
This is one of the most beautiful and blessed passages in the Scriptures. In just five verses we are promised seven blessings and rewards for loving and living out the words of God. 1- Refreshed and restored strength; 2- A wise mind; 3- A joyful heart; 4- An understanding spirit; 5- A wealthy eternal status; 6- A happy and satisfied soul; and 7- Assurance of rewards. How like our wonderful God to link all of this to our hunger and thirst for God and thus for godly living!
But notice again… the words of the Lord are ‘sweeter than honey, even honey from the comb.’ And like the Psalmist found, the more you ‘feed’ on the Word of God, the sweeter it becomes and the hungrier you grow for partaking of it. My college Pastor used to say that some people talk about the Bible like it’s just sort of like ‘crème of wheat’…dry but nourishing. But no, it’s way beyond that, it’s more like peaches and crème, it’s the dessert of life! And even Diabetics can eat all they want of this sweet dessert! Isn’t that great?
So the hungering and thirsting for righteousness that Jesus is talking about here is for this deeper communing with God in your spirit. But remember, communing with God follows conversion of your soul. To pursue right living, you first have to become right with God. This pursuit of right living or righteous living is called ‘Sanctification righteousness’. It means that once you become converted or born again in your spirit, you can then become ‘sanctified’ or ‘set apart’ in your commitment to living according to righteousness and godliness for the sake of your Lord who saved you. Again, these Beatitudes describe a pathway for a Disciple; a step by step path for a born again follower of Christ to walk in obedience to Christ.
But remember, as we pointed out, before one can pursue right living you have to become right with God. And that is what is called ‘Salvation righteousness’. And that righteousness that makes us ‘right with God’ is not one that we can produce on our own. We can practice righteousness, once we are made right with God, but no human can produce righteousness on their own…or we cannot produce our own ‘Salvation righteousness’.
And friends, this, right here, is where the world, and many world religions, even many social gospel churches, completely distort the understanding of Biblical righteousness by always making it a man-centered concept, a human produced concept. They start with themselves, and they then start comparing themselves with others, and then they hope…they falsely hope, that by their life and works, that their ‘so called righteousness’ will merit them a place in Heaven. But, we know that the Bible completely rules out any human being meriting or earning a place in Heaven based upon their own works…regardless of how seemingly ‘righteous’ they think they are.
In fact, the Scriptures present mankind with a problem that is impossible for any human to solve. As Romans 3:9-10 reveals: “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one…” NKJV
And to this all people say: “Uh Oh!” And then add to this what Jesus said in Matt 25:46 – “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” NASU So here is mankind’s dilemma…only the righteous enter into eternal life in Heaven, but then the Scriptures declare: “there is none righteous!” That presents human beings with a problem that cannot be humanly solved.
Add to this these additional revelations about this humanly unsolvable problem. For Paul goes on in Rom 3:23- “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” NLT But, what if people try to do some righteous works…wouldn’t that solve the problem? The Prophet Isaiah already answered that in Isa 64:6- “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” NASU
Again, ‘Uh oh’! And then to simply make our sin and separation from God problem as clear as it can be the Apostle Paul says it straight up to the now saved believers in Ephesus: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Eph 2:1-2 NASU And Friends, that is the spiritual condition of any human being that has not repented toward God and placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. Every person in the world, every person in your community, every person around you at your job or in your neighborhood is either spiritually dead or spiritually alive.
Which clarifies the fundamental reason that no one can be saved by their works. It is not just because their works are still stained with the presence of sin, like the Prophet Isaiah says, but it’s even deeper than that. The fundamental reason that no one can be saved by their works is because you cannot work your way out of ‘death’. Let’s say that again, because it explains mankind’s problem and false religion’s guilt in leading their people into false beliefs. “The fundamental reason that no one can be saved by their works is because you cannot work your way out of ‘death’; out of spiritual death.” You first have to be given life from a Life Source outside of yourself. And the only Life Source there is, is the ‘Life Giver’, Jesus Christ. When you are spiritually dead in trespasses and sin, your only hope is for God to give you a new spiritual life.
And that is what the Apostle Paul reveals that Christ does for all who come to Him to be saved, to have their dead spirit brought back to life. Listen to what he said: Eph 2:4-10- “But God’s mercy is so abundant, and His love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience He brought us to life with Christ. It is by God’s grace that you have been saved. In our union with Christ Jesus He raised us up with Him to rule with Him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of His grace in the love He showed us in Christ Jesus. For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” TEV
So again, before we can practice the righteousness that the Beatitudes speak about, we have to first receive the perfect righteousness that Christ gives to us when we give our life to Him in repentance and receive His new life by faith. This is referred to as ‘the great exchange’. Look at how this is precisely described in 2 Cor 5:21- “Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made Him share our sin in order that in union with Him we might share the righteousness of God.” TEV
Again, mankind is incapable of producing the kind of righteousness that makes a person right with God. That kind of righteousness can only be obtained from Jesus Christ and it can only be attained by God’s grace through our faith in Christ alone.
And to help us understand that even further, the Apostle Paul put it this way: Phil 3:9- “I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.” TEV
Thank you Apostle Paul, for that is as clear as can be made. In order to be right with God we have to have a ‘righteousness’ that comes ‘from God.’ We have to have a righteousness that is not our own. We have to have a righteousness that we did not produce, for, in fact, again, a dead person cannot produce anything until he or she is brought back to life again; is ‘born again’. And that ‘life’, that spiritual life, can only be received through receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior. And when you do, you are then also given this ‘righteousness of Christ’, which then makes you ‘right with God’. In theology, this is called ‘imputed righteousness’. It is when God credits the sinless righteousness of Christ to you and to me, so that we are declared righteous before God, and also then born again in our spirit…made alive again in our spirit by becoming united to Jesus’ own eternal life and spirit.
Those of you that have been with us for a long time know that we have talked much about this before, but the reason we do so is because most people around all of us still somehow think and believe that they can produce enough righteousness or do enough good works in their life that will qualify them or merit them a place in Heaven. Most people still do not realize that they are way past any hope of that! And the reason they are way past any hope of that is because they are already dead in their trespasses and sin and are already condemned. The verdict is already in. Their only hope is outside of themselves and in the Blessed Hope, Jesus Christ alone. So we have to understand that this is how most people still think, how unsaved people still think, like they are probably okay, and that hopefully they are a good enough person to go to Heaven. And this is why they so desperately need to be given or told or shown the truth of the Gospel of Grace on how to be saved. And this is why, in these desperate times in which we live, the best thing we can do for others around us is to share the Gospel of Salvation with them. This is the greatest need in everyone’s life and the greatest gift we can give to them.
So again, no one on Earth can produce the righteousness they need in order to be right with God. That righteousness was produced by the sinless obedience of Jesus Christ alone. But He will share it with everyone who comes to Him to be saved, to be raised up out of their dead spirit to become alive again, to become born again, and given eternal life and declared righteous…right with God because they are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
This is important that we go through this, because that’s what the Apostle was revealing to all the world; that before we can ‘practice righteousness’, this ‘sanctification righteousness’, as a follower of Christ, we first have to receive the ‘perfect righteousness’, the ‘salvation righteousness’, of Christ as our Savior. And we pray that each one going through this study with us has had your dead spirit brought to life again, been born again. That is the greatest need of any person in the whole world. If your spirit is dead, you are in desperate need of having your dead spirit brought back to life again…to have it ‘born again’. That is what the terms ‘born again’ are referring to. And that is what this ‘great exchange’ is all about in that Scripture we read. Make sure that you have made this great exchange of giving your life to God in repentance and then receiving Jesus and His righteousness into your life by faith. If you have any doubt or question about being right with God, just call out to Jesus in prayer to make you right with God. And then trust in His great promise that whoever calls upon the name of Jesus to be saved will be saved.
And so, in our next study we’ll next look at this practice of righteousness in following Christ for those who have been clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ; along with all the genuine happiness it brings into your life.