Sermon: Guaranteed Satisfaction
Scripture: Matthew 5:6
In this week’s lessons, we learn of our need to hunger and thirst after righteousness, which only God through Christ can fully satisfy.
Theme: True Righteousness
Now, the verse is most specific about how one can obtain this happiness. The reason why so many people are unhappy spiritually is that they will not accept God’s remedy. What must man do? The answer has three parts. First, he must desire righteousness. Second, he must desire a perfect (and, therefore, a divine) righteousness. Third, he must desire it intensely. That is, he must desire it enough to abandon all hope of achieving salvation by his own efforts and instead cling to the efforts made for him by God. Each of these points is suggested explicitly in the beatitude.
In the first place, the man who would be happy must come to God seeking righteousness. So many come seeking the wrong things. Some seek happiness itself, somewhat like a teenager who is in love with the idea of being in love. But the verse says that the happy people are those who seek, not happiness primarily, but holiness before God. Some people seek happiness through other things—top billing in the school play, a high position in the company, political office, a million dollars, sex, or marriage. However, the Bible teaches that happiness does not come through these things; happiness comes through righteousness alone.
A moment’s reflection will show why this must be so. God is the source of all good things. James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). But God is also holy, and he can have no dealings with those who are not holy. All men are sinners. Sin breaks the fellowship that should exist between men and God, and makes sinners God’s enemies. The only way that man can enter again into fellowship with God and thus find the happiness and general blessing he longs for is somehow to come to possess a righteousness and holiness that will commend him to God.
Can this be done? Not by man! That is certain. But God will do it. The heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that in Christ God has won our redemption and provided all who believe in Christ with that righteousness. The Bible says that Jesus Christ “is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Those who hunger and thirst after his righteousness shall be filled.
Moreover, Christians must hunger and thirst after righteousness also. For that which enters into their becoming a Christian must also characterize their life. Dr. Lloyd-Jones writes:
There are large numbers of people in the Christian Church who seem to spend the whole of their life seeking something which they can never find, seeking for some kind of happiness and blessedness. They go around from meeting to meeting, and convention to convention, always hoping they are going to get this wonderful thing, this experience that is going to fill them with joy, and flood them with some ecstasy. They see that other people have had it, but they themselves do not seem to get it… This is not surprising. We are not meant to hunger and thirst after experiences; we are not meant to hunger and thirst after blessedness. If we want to be truly happy and blessed, we must hunger and thirst after righteousness. We must not put blessedness or happiness or experience in the first place.1
What is the case in your life? Do you put righteousness first or do you seek after something else, even something quite good in itself? Do not forget that righteousness must come first. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
1D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, vol. 1, 76.
What is God’s remedy to obtain the righteousness we need?
Why might Christians focus on experiences for their blessedness or happiness?
Reflection: What does the Bible teach about a Christian’s daily pursuit of holiness? Do you find that this is your model for righteousness, or do you tend to give more attention to certain events throughout the year and the experiences you are looking for from them?
Key Point: Do you put righteousness first or do you seek after something else, even something quite good in itself? Do not forget that righteousness must come first.