By Eric Wheeler –  (originally posted 9/30/05; re-posted 9/13/13)

When Jesus looked and saw the multitudes of people following Him, He said unto His
disciples, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
What did Jesus mean by this? Who are the “poor in spirit”? And why are they so
“blessed”? I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and this is what the Lord has
revealed to me regarding it. The “poor in spirit” are all of those who realize that they are
spiritually poor! That is, those who recognize that they are “spiritually lacking”.

When a person realizes that they are lacking in something, whether it be knowledge,
understanding, influence, or whatever it is they lack, that person usually becomes humble
and teachable. They realize that they don’t “have it all together” so to speak, or “know it
all”, and as a result, they become teachable and “coachable”. They recognize their own
poverty, and humbly begin to inquire as to how they can change their current state of
inadequacy. That is why Jesus called those people who recognized their own spiritual
poverty, as being “blessed”. Because being humbled before God is the first step in being
exalted by Him
. “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles
himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). For it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace
to the humble” (Jam. 4:6).

When Jesus first began to preach and to teach the people that came to Him, His first
message to them was, “The time has come! The Kingdom of God is near! Repent, and
believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). Notice, His first commandment to them was
“repent”. And His second commandment was “believe”. Repent literally means “you need
to change!”. It means to recognize that you are wrong in the way that you have been
living. It conveys the thought that ‘You have been going in the wrong direction! Now
stop, and turn around’. In other words, you are spiritually mistaken and wrong. Your
spiritual understanding is flawed and incorrect, and “lacking”. When a person realizes
that they have been going the wrong way, and that their decisions and lifestyle choices
are the wrong ones, then they usually become humbled and teachable. That is, they
become open to the idea that they are spiritually lacking and in need of spiritual help. It
is in this state of “repentance”, that a person can receive the good news of salvation in
Jesus Christ, become a believer by being baptized, and then be filled with His Holy Spirit.
In other words, when a person truly realizes that their whole life and existence is only
leading them to a certain death, they become humbled by this fact. They then become
aware that they are spiritually poor and needy. They begin to cry out for help. And then
God, in His infinite mercy, hears them, and spiritually picks them up, by leading them to
His Son, Jesus Christ, and by filling them with His Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus called
those people who recognize their own spiritual state of poverty as being “blessed”. For He
said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

If a person does not realize that they are spiritually lacking or “spiritually poor”, they will
never repent or yield their lives in service to God. They will continue to live for
themselves, thinking that their decisions are the “right ones”, continually serving their
own minds and their own lusts, until they one day die, only to wake-up and find
themselves standing before the judgment seat of Christ, saying to themselves, ‘Hey, you
know what? Maybe there really was something to this “Jesus thing” afterall!’ Ironically, it
reminds me of a quote that I once heard. I believe that it is properly credited to Benjamin
Franklin. He said, “Experience is a hard teacher, but sometimes, that is the only way in
which fools can learn.”

When a person does begin to realize that they are spiritually lacking and poor, then they
will begin to listen. They will begin to ask questions to themselves and to God. They will
begin to “cry out” and to hunger and thirst for understanding in order to fill that void that
they now recognize is in their life. And Jesus will be quick to answer them. For He said,
“Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to
you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it
will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). He said that our Heavenly Father would quickly give His
Holy Spirit to anyone who asks Him (Luke 11:13).

The problem is that most people, including Christians, don’t ask God for His Holy Spirit.
In a lot of cases, they mistakenly believe that they already have it! But if they did already
have it, then they would surely be doing the very same things that Jesus did! For He
said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do what I have been doing. He
will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father… It is for your
good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor [Holy Spirit] will not come
to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 14:12; 16:7). Jesus said that in the last
days, many people would incorrectly think that they truly had His Spirit in them, when
they really didn’t: “Because you say, ‘I am rich (spiritually). I have acquired wealth and
do not need [lack] a thing’. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor,
blind and naked [spiritually]. I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire [the
Holy Spirit], so you can become rich, and have white clothes to wear, so you can cover
your shameful nakedness, and have salve to put on your eyes, so you can see
[spiritually]. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:17-19).

I erroneously believed for years that I had the Holy Spirit. I had faithfully attended a
Christian church regularly for almost thirty years, went to a Bible college and got a degree
in theology, was baptized in water, paid my tithes dutifully, and performed all of the
ceremonies, rituals, and sacraments religiously. Because of these things, I was utterly
convinced that I indeed had His Holy Spirit! But it wasn’t until one day a few years ago,
that I began to question myself, and began to wonder if I truly did have His Holy Spirit.
As I read the Scriptures, I began to see that what supernaturally happened to those
people in the Bible, wasn’t really happening to me. I began to realize that I didn’t know
God in the literal sense as they did. I had never intimately conversed with Him, and He
with me. I had never heard Him speak to me or been used by Him to perform any
miracles by the power of His Holy Spirit. I had to admit that I knew all about Him, but I
didn’t actually know Him personally. He had never talked to me directly. I had never had
the Holy Spirit talk to me and give me instructions like you see in the Scriptures when He
talked directly to Philip, Peter, Paul, and the others (see Acts 8:29; 10:19; 13:2-4; 16:6-
7). I began to realize that I was “poor” spiritually. I really didn’t see God. I really didn’t
hear His voice as the Scriptures said that I should (John 10:27; John 8:47). I had never
“experienced” God! God wasn’t as real to me as my own human father was. God never
spoke to me like I read about in the Scriptures. And I certainly wasn’t doing any miracles
in His name! The more that I read the Bible, and became honest with myself, the more I
realized that I wasn’t as “right with God” as I had thought I was. I realized that I was
spiritually lacking and poor.

These convicting thoughts began to plague me constantly. So one night in prayer, I
finally became real with God and myself, and I cried out to Him in tears confessing my
ignorance and spiritual poverty. And it was at that moment that God heard me and
answered me. It was when I became honest with myself and with Him. It was then that I
heard from Heaven! For it is written, “Because your heart was tender [not hardened] and
you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept in My presence, I
have heard you, says the Lord” (II Chron. 34:27). For it says, “Humble yourselves in the
sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). And in another place He
promises, “Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Ever since that time a few years ago, my life has never been the same. God speaks to
me clearly now. I hear Him. I know Him. And I have His Holy Spirit. He tells me things.
He shows me things. And I now have fellowship with Him daily. I can, and do, attest to
the fact that God is real and that His Scriptures are indeed literal. You can literally know
God. And it is comforting that His Word promises all of us that He is never far from each
one of us (Acts 17:26-27), for He loves us all more than we know.


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